Mania Grade: A
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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. #5
By Chris Beveridge
February 21, 2005
Release Date: February 22, 2005
R.O.D. the TV Vol. #5
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running for their lives, our heroes seclude themselves in Yomiko’s parents cabin deep in the woods to plan their next steps. Yomiko then enlightens everyone about what happened during the British Library incident and Anita is re-acquainted with her past. Meanwhile, Joker, who has been aware of their every move, sends another agent with his own unique abilities to retrieve the remaining book in his plan.The Review!
After everything that's come before and the climaxes resolved, it's time to take stock of the situation before the final arc really gets underway.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, Nancy gets her turn at being alone on the cover and while the position is awkward, it does what these covers do best and showcase the female form in fanservice oriented ways. 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 Junior 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 brown 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 even though the language menu indicated it was set up properly.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. Also included in this release is a textless ending for the new one.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For lovers of books, the last scenes in the previous volume are ones that you never want to see in any shape or form and the book burning continues at the start of this volume as our heroes are faced with imminent capture by Wendy and her forces. With Anita slightly out of sorts due to the visuals she's gotten from this and Yomiko unsure of what's really going to go down as she can't believe Wendy would be like this, it's a tense standoff that suddenly explodes as the crowd of booksellers and onlookers become involved.
While it's not surprising that the girls escape the situation relatively unscathed, what is a surprise is that it's with the help of Drake that it gets pulled off and we have the crew barreling out of the city in a minivan and everything doing introductions, though some seem to know each other more than others. It's an interesting group that's been built up in the past few episodes as its gone from the core four women to now including Yomiko and Nancy and now Drake. His arrival seems to bring a more professional feel to their misadventures though since he's more of a military man with that kind of thinking about defenses, routes and other things so it ends up bringing the group into a more smooth flowing operation, though for the most part they do seem to just be going wherever they can.
What ends up being their best hideout for the time being as Joker and those behind him in the British Library set about taking over the world is Yomiko's mother's residence in Saitama in the mountains. The house is an amusing piece that looks like one of the very old structures still in good shape that you'd find in such an area but inside it's a marvel, a house that's filled room to room with nothing but bookcases and tons of neatly organized books. There are a few cute revelations about Yomiko's upbringing from this but for the most part its a setup that allows for everyone to settle down a bit and try to recuperate from their adventures.
A couple of key things come from all this down time before the action starts up towards the end of the volume that leads into the next arc; one is that Junior manages to wriggle his way into the residence so he can steal the book that Joker needs but his encounter brings him full square with Nancy again and she's able to stop him from his phasing. This side story is really quite interesting and it helps to show some of the larger picture of what's going on in the world and what Joker's plans are really all about. The other side of this down time is that it allows for Anita to try and sort out what she saw in the last volume, and having Drake there, is able to actually question someone about it that's not intimately tied to her "family" so she won't ruffle any of their feathers. There are a lot of really intriguing things that come of all of this and of Yomiko's finally telling the story of what happened after the Great Men incident that helps fill in numerous gaps and broadens the overall storyline.
One of the aspects of the storyline that I'm really enjoying is the way that the British Library under Joker is seemingly taking over the world by doing so through their attempts at a Perfect Literature and via the means of books and bookstores. Their first attempts of doing this via Japan by taking over all the book stores and their distribution routes is such a different way of dealing with things. In particular, the taking over of the distribution methods in Japan is just amusing considering how strangely structured that is with so many middle men and deals that their ease of taking it over is either meant to gloss over that or to show just how easily they were able to do it.In Summary:
Much like past installments of the series, this volume covers all the bases of what's making this show so much fun. The characters have plenty of moments to shine with their quirks while not standing out with them, there's plenty of revelations about the larger picture on both sides of the fence and the action sequences, which are generally all too brief at times but are beautifully choreographed, make their way just when needed and shine just right. With this one having a bit more down time in order to set the stage for the final six episodes, the action is a bit less but no less intense when it gets going. This show just flies by and demands multiple viewings, I can't get enough of it.
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Previews,Art Gallery,Episode Commentary (US Production Staff),Textless Ending #2
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.