|I like watching short OAVs, but after my experience with Angel Sanctuary's three episodes, I initially looked at Read or Die with cynical eyes. Then I realized I shouldn't have, because Read or Die is worlds away from Angel Sanctuary.|
One day Yomiko buys an antiquated book after a brief spat with another woman who also wanted the book. While waiting to cross a street, she opened the book to read it. Suddenly a weird man riding a giant insect appeared out of nowhere and stole the book from Yomiko. Yomiko, all big glasses and dragging her stroller bag, took the book from the man with the finesse of Jet Li.
Surprised? I definitely was. Yomiko Readman is actually a secret agent for the British Library Special Engineer Force. She's codenamed "The Paper", because she has the ability to manipulate paper and use them as her weapons. Ergo her stroller bag full of paper. Yomiko is aided by other agents like Nancy Makuhari codenamed "Miss Deep" because of her talent to go through objects, and Drake Anderson, an explosives expert. They answer to a man called "Joker" (hotter looking than the one in Batman), who then answers to an old man called "The Gentleman."
Yomiko's book is one of the rare ones wanted by a group of people who call themselves "I-jin," and are clones of very important people in history. The leader of the I-jin has a master plan to annihilate all the "useless humans" in the world with the use of the books. Guess who the important historical figure is cloned to make the plan possible?
Uniqueness is what Read or Die is aiming at. The creators tried to deviate from conventional plots by stunning the audience with a seemingly illogical story peopled by heroines as out of the world as The Paper and Miss Deep. And we think only the villains are weird ^_^
Despite the shortness of this anime, at three OAVs, it had amazingly established strong character elements, particularly Yomiko's and Miss Deep's. Read or Die not only has kick-ass action scenes, but also has its share of tender moments as well, particularly Yomiko's and Miss Deep's friendship. Which is laudable because they initially didn't like each other in the first episode (at least, Miss Deep didn't), yet by the third episode, I could feel the tears coming simply because I was touched at how their friendship had evolved and was challenged.
The artwork is great, detailed even, and smooth. The opening music is reminiscent of a James Bond theme, you'd think it's an English cartoon if you're only listening to it at first. Oh, and did I tell you the plot is unique?
As with some animes, I can't help but gripe though. Never mind that the plot is unique, but there should at least be a modicum of sense in it. For one thing, there isn't much background on the I-jins. What triggered the leader to suddenly think of exterminating all the humans on the face of the planet? Second, are all these historical figures cloned randomly, or is there a reason why they're cloned in the first place? And there's the part where Miss Deep would go all cynical against Yomiko's ideals on love. Is Miss Deep actually referring to the leader of the I-jins (not really a pretty sight) as the one who captured her heart? I shudder to think about it. Miss Deep certainly has poor taste -_;
My gripes aside, I also have to admit that Read or Die didn't grab my interest at first, but that's because I was looking at it with the usual eyes of an otaku. Then I watched it from a different perspective, and gee, did I have fun. Lots of it.