Read or Die OVA

[Screenshot]Read or Die is one peculiar little story. There’s anime about all manner of topics, which is one of the things I like about it. Above and beyond the standard fare of giant robots, slice-of-life school comedy, high-magic fantasy, and hermetic weirdshit (or, in the case of The Vision of Escaflowne, all of these at the same time), you have niche-interest stuff. A series all about girls’ baseball, or film-making, or tennis, or bread-baking. So R.O.D. seemed, from all I could tell, like it was in this vein with writing and literature. I guess it’d be unfair to call waht I experienced “disappointment”, but I have to go with at least “surprise”. One of the things which surprised me most about R.O.D. is that it doesn’t seem to consider books as symbols in any sense. They’re no more and no less than bound volumes of paper, and on rare occasions artifacts of unimaginable power. This doesn’t seem like much, but it suffuses the plot, powers, and motivations. Yomiko’s peculiar fondness for books, for instance, doesn’t seem born of a thirst for the knowledge or literary qualities within, but merely because books are her thing, like philately or baseball cards (I’m wondering if Japan has authentic bibliophiles, because the similarly geeky Scieszka in Full Metal Alchemist seems to suffer from the exact same superficial consideration of reading material). This might not be a problem but for her extraordinary attachment to one book, whose contents are at best hinted at.

But we get over my Issues with the mountain-of-unread-books collecter aspect and my surprise that literary styles and great books don’t figure into the story at all, and what’s left is not too bad. It’s a straight-up forces-of-good-against-evil-conspiracy story with book-related window-dressing (for instance, the special-ops team is actually a branch of the British Library but, really, it might as well be MI6 or the OSS or the underground shinsengumi or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for all the plot relevance it has). ROll with its punches and enjoy it for what it is and it’s actually pretty nifty. Take it too seriously and you wend up like me, bitter and crochety about a project which, really, is just having a little fun with us all.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia, Anime News Network, AniDB.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

2 Responses to Read or Die OVA

  1. rax says:

    For what it’s worth, both the manga and the TV series play more with the characters’ appreciation for the insides of books, though I expect they still wouldn’t go far enough to necessarily make you happy with them. The TV is really fun, though; I’m not sure how I could loan you my DVDs, but maybe I could find you a copy or something?

    • jackbishop says:

      Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to take a look. I have The Netflix; no need for a loan, although my queue is getting rapidly clogged with the first episodes of a lot of anime series.
      FWIW, the OVA was fun too, but it was fun in a way which made no real sense looked at the slightest bit closely.

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