My first exposure to the Read or Die series was through Read or Die TV. Read or Die TV was decidedly average in every way (except in the quantity of lesbianism), so I had low expectations for the OVA. But I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
First of all, the action sequences are fantastic. There’s a creative variety of powers, and just the way Yomiko uses paper is interesting in and of itself (see the paper airplane above). You wouldn’t expect this from a series about books where the main character, Yomiko, is a clumsy airhead and bookworm. It’s partially her clumsiness which makes the fight scenes so gripping— she has no trouble fighting off giant robots with scraps of paper, but it looks like she’s going to trip and fall over at any moment. For example, in the above scene with the paper airplane, Yomiko made short work of constructing the enormous airplane, but just forgot to attach the tail fin, with nearly fatal results. The creators managed to make a very convincing portrayal of Yomiko as someone who’s both extremely capable and extremely clumsy.
Another strong point of the OVA is its setting, where agents of the British library with special powers fight for books. The agents travel from city to city in search of these books, so parts of the show take place in England, Hong Kong, India, America, and the middle of the ocean. There’s quite the variety here.
If I had to point out a flaw, the villains are much less fleshed out than the protagonists. They’re clones of famous people from history, and most of their motivations aren’t entirely clear. As another nitpick, a running gag is that the president of the US pisses his pants whenever he shows up. I personally just found this kind of dumb and not particularly funny. It’s certainly not on the level of a Legend of Koizumi presidential portrayal.
Still, the good points greatly outweigh the bad, and I highly recommend the Read or Die OVA, especially if you’re looking for some good action.
- Plot / Script – 9 / 10 – The British library goes to war, we have giant underwater steampunk rockets, and the final boss is Ludwig van Beethoven. What more needs to be said?
- Characters – 9 / 10 – Examines Yomiko and Nancy in depth. Other characters, particularly the villains, are less well developed since time is limited.
- Production – 9 / 10 – Fluid animation, especially in fight scenes.
- Overall – A-
Recommendations – Darker than Black, Book of Bantorra, Read or Die TV (although it isn’t as good as the OVA)