Anime Quick Information
|Average Rating: 8.14|
Martin scored this with 9/10. Disagree?
When priceless Beethoven manuscripts start disappearing around the world, Section A of the British Library Special Operations are assigned to retrieve them and track down those responsible. One of the agents is Yomiko Readman, codenamed ‘The Paper’. Although apparently clumsy and absent-minded she is in fact capable of manipulating ordinary pieces of paper into any shape required for her work and joins the operation which soon becomes a frantic struggle to save the world.
Like the TV series that it inspired, Read or Die is something special right from the opening credits. Firstly, there’s the music, which includes an opening theme that could well be the coolest song since Cowboy Bebop’s ‘Tank!’. Catchy, almost corny and reminiscent of a James Bond film, it is perfectly in keeping with the action-adventure theme of the series, which is in some ways surprisingly old-fashioned. In fact there is an almost nostalgic vibe to the series, from the soundtrack to the hidden HQ setup of the Library Special Operations or the shift in scene location as the heroes visit various places around the world to find the mastermind behind the cloned historical figures who are stealing the manuscripts.
Being an OVA the animation is of an extremely high standard, which is perfect for the fast pace and combat scenes. Don’t be under any illusion that there is a deep philosophical theme or social commentary behind it all though. Read or Die is intended purely to entertain, and it makes a thorough job of it. The placing of historical figures in a contemporary setting makes for some unexpected but very original confrontations, and although the premise might seem a bit weird, once the action kicks off it’s easy to put this to one side and enjoy the story play out.
The series also has the advantage of having memorable characters, including the ditzy heroine with her book obsession, laconic Agent Drake and a female agent named Miss Deep, whose special ability is that of being able to pass through solid objects at will and quite literally adds another dimension to the combat scenes. In only three episodes, Read or Die manages to tell a great story and wrap it all up with a brilliant ending, even throwing in some character development along the way.
And therein lies the only downside to the series: its running time. When the closing credits roll the viewer is left amazed but wishing for more. Fortunately there is a nice selection of extra features on the DVD, including some fascinating historical biographies (many will be familiar with Beethoven and the name Mata Hari but only those clued up on Japanese history will know anything about Gen-nai Hiraga!), an interview with the creators and a photo gallery.
Read or Die is a rollercoaster ride of a series, with a plot opting for quality over quantity and running at a breakneck speed. Three episodes hardly seem enough for what’s on offer but that doesn’t stop it from being an amazingly well made piece of entertainment that never leaves the viewer feeling bored for a moment.
|Score:||9 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Sun, 17 Jul 2005|
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