Sunday, January 29, 2012

Anime Review No. 20 "Read or Die" (2001 OVA)

Hello, this is the Eclectic Dude and I review it for the lolz. (yes, that's my catchphrase).

Well, to conclude this month, I am looking at another title with a standard genre, but with some interesting aspects to it. The genre of the week is spy film. Most of us know of some of these, from the Bond movies to even Johnny English (which is funny btw), those films with stories with spies, international incidents, baddies trying to conquer the world, etc. Well, Anime has a few entries in this genre. And one of the best, in my opinion, is the subject for this week's review-"Read or Die"
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Read or Die is a 2001 OVA done by Studio Deen and directed by Koji Masanuri. It was then released by Manga Entertainment in 2003 to the States. It was done in 3 episodes, spanning about 90 minutes. Of course, it is better to just watch it as a full-length film feature. The story flows better for it. It is basically a spy action film, much in the style of James Bond, but with interesting characteristics added in. I'll explain.

So, the OVA does a cold open to start things off, as a mysterious guy blows up the White House (a la Independence Day). Of course, he was actually looking for the Library of Congress. He refers to himself 'Ijinn' to the US president, who proceeds to piss himself (a real LOL moment for me).
The opening comes up. In my words, it is AWESOME-sauce. Seriously, it got a even blend of techno and orchestral that is superb.
After the opening, we are introduced to Yomiko Readman, the main character of this OVA. She is 20ish young woman who's a meganekko bibliophile (who lives in an apartment full of books in Tokyo) who seems rather likeable despite being somewhat antsy and naive. She's also voiced by Kim Yates in the english dub, sporting a good British accent. After doing some book shopping, which is a good montage, she picks up 'Immortal Beloved', a book she been looking for some time. But, then a swarm of insects led by an insect dude riding a giant grasshopper. This guy wants her book, for some reason. Yomiko, however, reveals that she can manipulate paper to use as weapons and the like. I'm dead serious. How and why she can do it is not really explained, but then again best to bask in the spectacle of it all. She uses her 'superpower' to get the book back and defeat the insect dude.
After this, we are introduced to Mr. Joker, Yomiko's boss, and played by Crispin Freeman sporting also a British accent. Yomiko's codename is "The Paper" based on her ability. Both of  the part of a secret organization, The Library, led by the elder and mysterious Mr. Gentleman. A evil scheme is revealed to the two involving past historical figures with superpowers. Of course, these are more on the obscure side in terms of historical figures. So, I'll just use nicknames for them. They aim to get Yomiko's book, once for no reason (so far).
So, Yomiko Readman gets teamed up with Drake Anderson and 'Miss Deep'. Drake is your typical 'muscle' guy, the one one character who uses weapons as he has no abilities. He is also quite funny, spouting out memorable one-liners delivered by Jaxon Lee in the dub. 'Miss Deep' is the femme fatale, serving as a foil to Yomiko. She has a special ability in that she can phase through solid objects. Together, they seek to uncover  the truth behind this conspiracy.
That's all I am saying about the plot, no more spoilers. Seriously it is something worth watching.Pretty much, the OVA functions as a three part story, with the first episode being exposition and rising action, second episode continuing the rising action, then reaching the critical point about halfway through the third episode, with a short falling action and conclusion in the last 10 minutes or so. But seriously, check this out.
So, what are the pros and cons of this title? Well there are several pros. For one, the story is interesting story, with unique twists thrown in here and there. It is also well-structured as well. It tells its story and does that very well. Another thing is that voice acting (in the dub) is more consistent, to say the least. Everyone involved are doing the best they can, and it shows. In fact, the 4 VAs I mentioned, this title is probably the best thing any of them have been involved. Lastly, the music is awesome-sauce, much like the opening song.
It works well with the OVA, which is what it has to do.
However, there are some cons to this. There are few weird elements that pop in only to be not mentioned or explained. Yomiko's and Miss Deep's powers, Mr. Gentleman, the baddies, etc are some of these elements of this variety. Other problem I got with this is the animation. Well solid and well done most of the time, being a sort of blend between cel and digital, there are backgrounds in scenes that are very obvious CGI. This being from 2001, no surprise there. Then again, its best to just bask in the spectacle.
Despite that, I definitely recommend it. If you are interested, check out also the TV Series follow up to this OVA, also called Read or Die. Another similar series involving spies include FullMetal Panic, Madlax, etc. are others that I would also recommend.

I will post around Feb. 1st my list of reviews for the month of February.
Laterz ^_^

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