Read Or Die TV Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Read Or Die / R.O.D.

Read Or Die TV Vol. #3

By Bryan Morton     November 14, 2005
Release Date: October 17, 2005

Read Or Die TV Vol. #3
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
Nenene's finished! At long last she delivers her new novel and Mr. Lee couldn't be happier. While the paper sisters are sad that their job has ended, they decide to celebrate with Nenene in Hong Kong. One tearful farewell at school and a long plane ride later, their world shatters. Gunmen assault the Paper Sisters home and seize Nenene forcing the sisters to choose between wealth and security or friendship and being hunted by the world!

Episodes Comprise
9 - Heart of Darkness
10 - Christmas Carol
11 - Goodbye Japan
12 - Twilight of the Papers

The Review!
Read or Die TV kicks into high gear with this volume, as events begin to overtake the girls. Don't blink...

Audio is provided in three versions - 5.1 and 2.0 Japanese language tracks, and a 5.1 English track. I listened primarily to the Japanese 5.1 track. Audio is extremely clear and makes a lot of use of the front channels to provide depth and direction to both dialog and effects. Music comes across particularly well. The rear channels don't get as much use as they could have, though. There were no obvious audio glitches.

Presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame format, the video continues to be of very high quality. Great use is made of backgrounds and vibrant colours to produce a disc that just looks great. Subtitles use a yellow-on-black font and are clear and readable. Two tracks are provided - one full translation, and a songs & signs track for dub watchers. There were no apparent problems either with the transfer or the subtitles.

No packaging was provided with our review copy.

The main menu is a simple static screen, as before using an open book as its main feature. Maggie features on one 'page', with the 'camera' at an unusual angle between her legs (no, fanservice junkies, she's not wearing a skirt), while the other page has options for Play, Episodes, Extras and Setup. The show's theme tune plays throughout. The Episode menu has a static screenshot for each episode (no option to select individual scenes), the Setup menu is plain text against a line-art background, while the book theme continues onto the Extras menu, with the artwork this time featuring Maggie tucking into a Chinese carryout.

The main extra here is the episode commentary, with the dub director and producer talking about how the dub was produced and why certain decisions were made. There's also an art gallery featuring a selection of illustrations from the Japanese DVD packaging and some production line-art pieces, and the original web trailers that tie in with the episodes on this release - these weren't part of the original TV showing, which is why they're relegated to the extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
ROD seemed to have settled into a nice little routine up until now - an action episode while the sisters carried out a job for Dokusensha, followed by a visit to high school to keep track of Anita's as-normal-as-possible life. As routines go it worked really well, but any trace of "routine" get thrown out as events begin to pick up speed and the story kicks into high gear.

The first episode on this volume sees Nenene & the sisters in a hot-springs resort. Nenene's there for a wedding, initially unaware that Michelle and the others are also in town. They're searching some recently-uncovered ruins for another book that's on Dokusensha's wish-list, and as you would expect, no job for Dokusensha is simple - two other people also on the trail of the book reach the ruins ahead of the girls (one of whom will be instantly recognisable if you've seen the OVA series), while Dokusensha have taken steps to make sure nothing comes between them and their aims, even if that means targeting the girls themselves.

This episode's quite different in style from previous episodes - for a start there's a lot fanservice from one of the "guest" characters, on a level that's so blatant compared to what's been done up to now that it feels a little out-of-place. The general tone of the episode is also darker and considerably more violent. Whereas previous action scenes have had an almost comic-book feel to them, here it gets bloody and personal. It's also where people begin to take sides and the line between the "good guys" and the "bad buys" begins to be more clearly drawn, all of which makes for compelling viewing.

The next two episodes give the audience a bit of a breather by first filling in some back-story for both Nenene, who's taken back to the scene of her first major book award, and the sisters. It's an experience that gives her another nudge along the road to being able to write again. For the girls we're given a flashback to two years previously when they first met - this is quite an emotional sequence that also shows how much they've changed in the time they've been together.

By this stage, almost a year has passed since the first attack on Nenene, and her editor has decided she no longer needs bodyguards - meaning Michelle, Maggie and Anita are out of a job. For Anita it's a particularly painful experience, as she's become settled in her school and doesn't want to say goodbye to her friends there, but she's not left with any choice in the matter. Given her past experiences, saying "goodbye" isn't something that's easy for her and the way her final day at school plays out is definitely one of ROD's more touching sequences.

Nenene accompanies the girls on their return to Hong Kong (the film of her first book is about to be released there), but no sooner have they arrived than Dokusensha make their first openly aggressive move towards completing their aims. I'm not going to spoil the details of what happens here as it seems to me to be a key turning point in the story, but I was genuinely surprised by how these scenes played out and the level of betrayal involved, and wouldn't want to ruin the effect for anyone. The final episode on the disc deals with the after-effects of what happens here, before the disc ends on something of a cliff-hanger that left me hugely impatient to find out what happens next.

I'm hoping they haven't entirely moved away form the "slice-of-life" aspect that Anita's school stories provided, though - fast-paced action is all very well, but it's good to have a break from that every so often to give everyone - characters and audience - a little bit of breathing space.

In Summary:
There's a fine line in writing a story, in terms of how big changes or surprises are dealt with - they're not satisfying to watch if they can be seen coming a mile off, but equally you don't want to leave the audience feeling as if the changes have been pulled out of nowhere. This volume of ROD manages to stay on that line almost perfectly - looking back you can see pointers that lead up to the major events & can believe the reactions of the characters involved. In my experience, that's not something that many recent series can claim to have done, and it's part of what makes ROD the TV such a good show.

Japanese Language 5.1 ,Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Japanese Previews (Episodes 9-12),Art Gallery,Episode 12 Commentary (Taliesin Jaffe; ADR Director & Jonathan Klein; English Language Producer)

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.


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