R.O.D. the TV Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • 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.

R.O.D. the TV Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     October 25, 2004
Release Date: October 26, 2004


R.O.D. the TV Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


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!

The Review!
When it's good, it's good. When it's this good, it's great.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. In a continuing trend, albeit a slow one, this series sports a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix that makes good use of the surround setup. While not as active as some other recent 5.1 series we've seen, the additional clarity to the soundtrack in general is a real plus here in allowing for not only the vocals to be sharp and price but for the simple fluttering of the papers across the forward soundstage. Right from the opening song, the audio here is just a solid mix that sounds great even on small tinny speakers such as a portable player. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, ROD the TV is presented here in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for this show is practically flawless as far as my setup is concerned. The visuals are striking to begin with as the show has a great sense of color and utilizes backgrounds in a near painted sense, some backgrounds being direct lifts from the OVA release itself. Colors are beautifully vivid and solid, cross coloration is non-existent and I'm hard pressed to recall any aliasing during camera panning moments. Some of the dark night time sky sequences are just great to look at as they maintain a very solid feel and avoid macroblocking. This is a transfer that you can simply lose yourself in once it starts playing.

Packaging:
Using the character artwork from the Japanese release, we get an action shot for Maggie with her doing a bit of a leap and amazingly enough it's one of the few times that I think they actually make her look attractive and actually make note of her assets. The back cover goes for the case work format as along the top it lists seven color coded tabs for each volume. With this being disc one, we get a series of images and typed up notes related to these episodes next to a brief paragraph giving the gist of the shows premise. The discs features and extras are all clearly listed just above the big chunk of production information. The insert has a neat black and white illustration of Maggie and opens two a two panel spread with some small pictures and messages from the Japanese staff about their intentions and what they wanted to put into the show. Amusingly, as much as I like all the packaging, it's all getting tossed so the disc goes into the limited edition book casing. The reverse side of the cover has a nice double panel spread of the trio in their combat outfits with papers flying around set against a blue hazy background.

Menu:
With a style that fits the show perfectly, Nightjar scores big with this new series. From the opening animation moment (very brief) of the series logo flashing in and papers fluttering about, it settles to a very detailed image of an old book with ornate writing and artwork where in the center clips from the show play to the action theme from the show. The selections are laid out as a table of contents, though a touch hard to read due to the moving lighting at times, it's all very in-theme and you can imagine any of the girls just poring over such a piece. The layout is pretty intuitive and easy to navigate with fast access times and quick loading submenus. Unfortunately, the release did not register our players preset language selections in regards to the subtitles, resulting in Japanese language with English on-screen text subtitles instead of full translation subtitles.

Extras:
The extras are somewhat minimal in a way with this release. The original previews for the four episodes are provided in the extras section and we also get a series of production artwork that you can manually move through. The big extra once again in this release, though with an appeal to only part of the market, is a commentary track by some of the voice actors and staff at New Generation Pictures that runs for one episode.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
ROD the TV continues to be a really fun show that does a lot of things really well but two in particular; one is that it can do an action episode and just leap right into it and have fun with a solid execution and providing both humor and details along the way. Secondly, it's able to do an episode that's little more than going to a party and just having characters converse but at the same time be able to bring out their strengths and bonds without even realizing it. This series in just the first half has built up some really interesting characters that you can care about pretty quickly that it's almost surprising.

This volume is just as much fun as the past two which is definitely a good sign to me. The opening episode, which stands alone but serves the larger plot, has a bit of fun where everyone gets separated early on to do their own thing but ends up back together pretty quickly. Another of the parties that are in search of the missing books is working with her mercenary bodyguard to find it in a jungle-like area but has to deal not only with the group opposed to Dokusensha trying to get it from them but also from Dokusensha itself as they've brought the Three Sisters Agency into play again to try and stop her and find it themselves. Naturally, Nenene ends up getting into the mix as well as she's out on a trip in the same area and she can't trust that trio to run alone. The episode brings some good paper action into the mix and pushes the story along a bit more with the hunt for the books but it also stands alone pretty well.

The remaining three episodes all play together into the next arc of the story where things shift their focus. Nenene gets some nice focus during parts of this, especially during the Christmas episode, where she's invited to a party where the next award winner that she won herself ten years prior is going to be at. She's initially not interested in going but since the others so want to go and meet writers and talk about books that she gives in on it. The episode is a lot of fun since it shows another side to Nenene, especially when she gets a dressing down over her performance in the last few years, as well as seeing what really does inspire her to do what she's doing. Nenene comes off well here as a multifaceted character and not just another stock piece.

The big change that occurs in this volume and changes the stage of things considerably is that since it's been just about a year since the Three Sisters came to live with Nenene, she's not really been attacked. With the timing that occurs, Nenene is about to head back to Hong Kong for the movie premier of her book and Mr. Lee decides that things have been going so well that it's time to let the trio return home and continue on with their lives. While the response is less than muted, they all end up agreeing to it without even the thought of figuring something else out. This leads into all of them working towards the closure of things within the week before the flight to Hong Kong and getting their affairs in order.

Most of those affairs are mild if not comical, such as the two elder sisters having to go and not only tell the booksellers that they're leaving the country but that they have to settle up their tab with them as well. The real heart of the story for this though is with Anita as she's having to give up the first real set of friends she's had in a number of years. After seeing the tale earlier in this volume where we learned how the three sisters first got together, you can understand all the more easily about how this is going to affect her. Watching her close out her life at school as well with her friends is almost painful to watch but it's very well done.

Their return to Hong Kong is filled with all sorts of changes and revelations though that alters the course of the series. This change presents a whole new round of questions based on the search for the books and makes you wonder what the real goals are now with them and those associated with it. I may be oblivious but I found some of the changes to be completely surprising and unexpected which is a good sign to me and one that shows a well written script since often the changes in characters can be so telegraphed these days. The series has been highly enjoyable in its first half and now that part of the second half is shaping up I can't wait to see more of it.

In Summary:
Right from the first note of the opening song through the very end of the episodes, this is one of those series that simply captures and holds my attention the entire way. No looking at the timer and no getting up for breaks. This volume only made that a firmer thing as the revelations that come out here after the copious amounts of great character moments have heightened our interest in the show. There's such a subtle beauty to it at times, particularly the moments where Michelle gets that sparkle in her eye about buying new books, that it just completely sucks me in. This series gets plenty of praise and general and I'm adding to the choir; this is great fun to watch.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Previews,Art Gallery,Episode Commentary (US Production Staff)

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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