Posted by psgels on 23 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Read or Die is the example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (har har har). I originally watched its first few episodes about four years ago, and even though I liked the premise of a professional writer hiring a bunch of bibliophilic body guards who attack with paper, it didn’t do enough for me to remain interested. However, as the series goes on it definitely proves that it does have its excellent sides.

But yeah, the first half of this series does little to stand out. It consists out of a bunch of episodic stories that either deal with some sort of treasure hunt, or the school life of one of the bodyguards (Anita, who’s just a little kid). These stories however are just too disconnected from each other, and too random to really care about them, and as standalone stories they’re just too formulaic, dull and uninteresting. It’s only when the second half comes and connects the pieces of the puzzle that you can see the merits that this series has.

Because the back-story of this series has tons of creative and original ideas stuffed in. Suddenly from out of nowhere we’re dealt to a multi-layered plot that has to do with books, brilliant minds, political intrigue, and pterodactyls. At the same time, the characters who previously weren’t that interesting suddenly come together as well and gain their share of depth. Especially Nenene was a delight to watch whenever she appeared on the screen, but the rest of the cast also has its merits.

As much as I liked it though, the second half does have its flaws as well. For the back-story to be so creative, sacrifices had to be made unfortunately; in this case, these sacrifices come in the form of plot-holes, and lots of ‘em. While some things are explained quite well, others require a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief to buy, especially the way in which the seemingly random events of the first half somehow magically all turn out to be relevant to the plot.

My biggest beef with this series however is that it tried to go a little too epic in the end. It’s a common mistake of anime (or just about any storytelling medium, really) that the fate of the world is a little too often put at stake as the big climax of the story, but Read or Die really takes it a step too far in the way that the bad guys at one point use politics in order to take control over the entire world: there are no protesters whatsoever, nobody aside from our lead characters finds it strange that suddenly every nation is being united out of the blue, especially considering the rather questionable things that lie in the past of the villains. This series definitely fails in making its setting come alive, because the world feels more like populated by a bunch of sheep rather than human beings.

Nevertheless, Read or Die is a great series with a select number of wonderfully animated action scenes. It’s not among the classics of anime due to its rather boring first half and the other flaws mentioned above, but nevertheless it really does make for a nice watch for anyone looking for something new and creative. And for me, that’s more important than having a plot without plotholes.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

5 Responses

  1. c160 says:

    I considered recommending this series to you before,but thought you wouldn’t like it for pretty much the same reasons you don’t like it in your review.You should watch the prequel OVA too,though don’t expect it to answer many questions ^^;

  2. Protodude says:

    Yeah, you should definitely give the three episode ova a shot some time. You’ll probably like as much, though it does suffer from trying to be epic at the end too.

  3. Wyrdwad says:

    I’m actually really surprised you didn’t like the first half, since I found it to be a really charming slice-of-life show with occasional over-the-top action – something that seems like it would really appeal to you. I actually REALLY enjoyed this series… like, I rank it among my favorites. The characters seemed really likable and well-developed to me, and the random story arcs in the first half really helped me get a feel for their personalities, which then came alive in the amazing second half.

    I also really liked the “epic” ending, as it was just SO over-the-top, SO bombastic, that I couldn’t help but enjoy every last second of it.

    Definitely a top-notch series for me. At least you didn’t hate it, though. (:

    -Tom

  4. cody says:

    yeah I enjoyed the whole thing through as well. I suppose it depends on the viewer though and if they like slow pace or not. I like slow slice of life moments better then the times they try to throw drama in to get something out of people (code geass).

  5. dave@scifi says:

    I saw the original OVA series a few years ago,and enjoyed it so much I had to track down the TV series. You really do have to see the OVA first, to help explain the TV series. Just as a correction, the OVA was called “Read or Die”. The TV series is called “R.O.D.” aka “Read or Dream”.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • BrendanVGC
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 06:22 PM)
    Hey guys, any good seinen manga you can recommend me? Im not talking about crap like Death Note or anything like Gantz.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 11:46 AM)
    Wait, wait scratch that, that was an old article/rumour…feck…
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 11:39 AM)
    @Bam: I was quite fond of Gillian Andersons character.
    Apparently Laurence Fishburne wants to quit the show =<
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 10:44 AM)
    I really enjoyed Alana Bloom’s shadow transformation during the season two hypnotherapy sessions. I thought was visually stunning and thematically relevant. Bryan Fuller has managed to gather quite a bit of talent around himself in the recent years, but Mads is undeniably both the egg that holds this cake together as well the cherry that’s sitting on the top.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 10:37 AM)
    Word of mouth and good reception managed to raise the viewership near the tail end of the 2nd season, that and the aforementioned cosponsorship managed to pull a hallelujah and bring the show back from the verge of death. And I’m glad tha happened.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 10:32 AM)
    I also always felt that their screen chemistry was mesmerizing and am very surprised that some critics found that it was lacking in that very same department, but to each his own I guess. The budget is not all that low actually, and the reason the 3rd season was greenlit was in part due to a dedicated fanbase, as well as the fact that this is a joint effort between NBC and a European studio who undertakes portions of the expenses.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 10:08 AM)
    There is this…certain chemistry between Dancy and Mikelson in that show too.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 10:01 AM)
    *their
    As much as I love the inventiveness and creativity of the death/crime scenes I can see how someone would find them silly.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 09:54 AM)
    @Bam: I had heard there were alot of cancellation risks but that there series was cheap to make, if its true the budget is low, then they’ve worked around it effectively.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 09:27 AM)
    But everyone knows that this is Mads Mikkelsen’s show, and it’s really his magnetic charm and the series’ strong cinematography that sells the experience. I also think that the special effects are very well handled, and the whole show has a seriously disturbing edge while still managing to stay classy. Quite sophisticated if nothing else.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Durarara!!X2 – 07

I think the problem with this episode was evident right from the opening scene. I had to do a double take when seeing a very poorly drawn Simon. I even questioned whether it was a new character entirely. But no, the animation budget took a nosedive. Or the guy who was to do the inbetweens […]

Death Parade – 07

Why is the girl from the last episode still around? This episode brought up three rules about arbiters. The third rule, about arbiters not having emotions, Is odd to me. For the arbiters we have been introduced to are very emotional. They state that Decim was given human emotions yet he is the least emotional […]

Durarara!!X2 – 06

Turns out that assassination attempt got Celty to see her life flash before her eyes. I suppose taking a tumble off a moving motorcycle is a fatal thing. But well in the last arc we saw two people survive getting blown away at about the length of a football field. So I cannot say I […]

Death Parade – 06

Death Parade in a risky move has taken things in a new direction. A daring adventurous move that no one expected. And it is…absolutely terrible. Death Parade, what happened? Did no one read over the script and do a shaft head tilt in wonder? Was there not an Animator who said “Excuse me sir. But […]

Durarara!!X2 – 05

We have yet another new character entering the show. A motorcycle gang leader who has a massive fondness for woman. Personally I am not a fan of him. His brand of female overprotective crazy just seems like a downgrade from the shows already huge cast of crazies. He looks like a character whose introduction serves […]

Death Parade – 05

If asked about how I think of death parade so far, my answer would have to be divided. On one hand the premise is rife with potential and it does have moments where it rises above the bar. But it also seems confused as to what it wants to be. We have death games between […]

Durarara!!X2 – 04

The current story arc ends abruptly and unexpectedly. I am rather surprised that it came here. From how this was portrayed it felt this would be a longer arc than it turned out to be. So with its end I must think back and wonder. What exactly did this arc accomplish? We got introduced to […]

Death Parade – 04

Now this is more like it. An arcade game between two strangers with dark pasts. Excellent. But both did have a similar problem. That being they are both people who couldn’t see past themselves. It’s nice to see people react differently to the game. Here we have the two of them mistaking it for a […]

Durarara!!X2 – 03

If its one thing you to can credit Narita for it that just when you think he cannot possibly make a stranger character, he then does. So the monster that Shizu smashed into the air in the last moment gets their story told and I am sure there are not many who would have guessed […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]