R.O.D. the TV Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     December 05, 2004
Release Date: December 28, 2004

R.O.D. the TV Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
The paper Sisters declare war on Dokusensha! Anita, Maggie and Michelle launch an attack on Dokusensha's headquarters in Hong Kong to rescue Nenene and face off against a building full of machinegun-armed private security guards and robots and a paper master even stronger than they are! As they carry out their dangerous plan, Mr. Carpenter, Junior and Wendy execute their plot in the background taking advantage of the chaos. The world will soon tremble from the conflict!

The Review!
The series hits a real peak with the resolution of one arc of the story and then it gets into the real meat of things.

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.

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.

Using the character artwork from the Japanese release, Wendy takes the stage and she looks really good here with a nice tight sweater, short skirt and all the attractive features about her. Though she's not been in the show much until now, she definitely needed a cover shot. 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 muted brownish-green background.

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 even though the language menu indicated it was set up properly.

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. The conversation covers a lot of pieces here, from their own interest in the show to how they were chosen and some interesting language anecdotes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this volume of ROD TV, I almost expected the energy to drop off since we're not at the halfway mark of the show and the first half really comes to its own conclusion here before setting the pace for the second half. With it being concluded rather quickly all told in the first episode, this review is extremely spoiler-heavy in that we can't talk about the other episodes without spoiling the resolution to the first half. So skip the rest of this if you haven't seen it yet.

Seriously, stop, skip it. The second half of the two-part storyline is pretty simple for a lot of it in that it focuses pretty heavily on the action aspects of the rescue of Sumiregawa. It's a great action set piece and though they overuse the piece of music associated with their paper movements, it's a very engaging piece and they pull off a lot of really fun maneuvers with it. While there is a lot of action, there's a fair bit of revelations going on and some of the motives of the characters, particularly Lee, are intriguing to watch. But it's just how far Dokusensha will go to ensure their security that's the most fascinating. This series, when tied in with the OVAs, has seriously worked over this world and this episode adds Hong Kong to that list of cities that are really left in ruins by their projects.

But they certainly won't take the blame for it, and since our heroines all survived, they've begun using their images as being the terrorists responsible for the sinking of an entire city. This leaves them sneaking back into Japan with some amusingly bad disguises and trying to figure out what to do next. Though things seem to be working against them still as the police seemingly know where they are before they've even done anything that could be construed as noticeable, they're often spending their time on the run or with their heads down. But a small clue given to them lights a serious fire under Sumiregawa as she finds out exactly where Yomiko has been all these five years.

Yomiko was hinted to be coming back into the show for awhile now and her return is definitely not what one would expect, particularly as it seems like half of that episode was outsourced for its animation and the designs look rather… plump at times. Bringing her back into the story helps get the second half of the series underway as it ties together a lot of material from the OVA series that while it made sense back then makes even more sense now that we're getting a far larger picture of it. Much of the material regarding the original burning of the British Library is expanded upon here, the history of the UK becomes even more highlighted and what Joker has been working on all these years comes into a laser-like focus. Doing what they do best, the writers have used the material here to make you wonder just who are the bad guys once more and who you should be rooting for. Though one of the episodes is so completely heavy in exposition as it has Wendy providing a report for Joker, it's critically needed here since it's tying in events from the OVA series that people may not have seen, or hadn't seen in a number of years now, and showing what happened there as well as new angles to look at it from. It's a real edge of your seat kind of exposition piece since it provides so much new material and fills in so many blanks.

With a greater understanding of the situation, Joker and the Gentleman all now in place, the shows second half looks to be really entertaining in a lot of ways. But it's also disturbing as hell in others, particularly the last episode where Joker shows just how far he'll go to get what he needs for the Library and their projects. Much like in the past, when everything is gathered in the street and the people just look on, you have to wonder what's going through their minds. How can they let that happen? Even with our lovely trio of women there, none move an inch but simply stare. How can no on act? Much of history is wrapped up in that very question and adding it here works wonderfully.

In Summary:
While hearing from some people that the second half of the series just collapses, I'm once again finding myself feeling the complete opposite and am even more interested in the show than I was before. With the revelations made throughout here and the new direction that the show is moving, an organic evolution and not a forced one, it's exciting and filled with something very big for the paper masters to deal with. The tying in of the various properties continues to help make this a much richer series and the return of one of the missing characters brings a new kind of quirkiness to the show. It simply goes by too fast and is too enjoyable.

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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