Read or Die (OVA)

Read or Die (2001)

Other names tend to grace lists of ‘favourite/best studios’ more often, but maybe it’s easy to forget that Studio DEEN can certainly pull out all the stops too.

And Read or Die has some cracking action sequences indeed.

On that note, everything really did feel fluid and vivid to me, with scenes usually full of exciting near-misses. I was usually glued to the screen, partially due to the direction, but also since ‘The Paper’ is a less typical heroine when it comes to action leads.

Her ability to use paper as both protection and weapon was fascinating, and that’s another aspect I really enjoyed. Her fights were less about brute force and more problem-solving, in a way. And the anime really casts an unreservedly wide net for its historical villains and their powers too – more unconventional stuff that was most welcome, especially if you’ve seen a whole host of classic choices for weapons or powers.

Now, if you haven’t seen Read or Die (as I hadn’t until quite recently) and you’re getting a superhero vibe from that previous paragraph, then that’s not precisely inaccurate, but ‘secret agents with super-powers’ is probably better. Here and there, I was put in the mind of other action shows but rarely enough to pull me out of the storytelling.

I will note that at times, Yomiko sounds like a lost lamb, which you could argue is meant to link to her role as a ‘bookworm’, and it’s an interesting contradiction to her character. She’s pretty cool under pressure but kinda goes to pieces over books – something which is usually played for laughs, but the OVA does feature a certain book as a MacGuffin to kick things off too. So literature is not just a comedic element.

As is my way, I haven’t said much about the premise or plot, but it’s very much classic ‘save the world’ stuff but with fantastic animation and very few ‘stock’ characters or settings. There’s also a fun steampunk aesthetic – something else I loved a lot about Read or Die.

Decision time?

Well, if you want to see Mata Hari, Genjo Sanzo and Ludwig van Beethoven (among others), battling it out with secret agent heroes with inventive powers, in an easy to digest 3-part OVA, then this is worth finding.

5 Stars

18 thoughts on “Read or Die (OVA)

  1. Yes! I really liked the Read or Die series. That OVA is always a fun watch. There’s also no bigger bookworm than Yomiko. Not sure if I mentioned this to you or if you read my review of that same series, but my DVD copy was autographed in person by Crispin Freeman who was in the dub! I’m happy ROD is getting some love in the aniblogging world.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, I think I may have mentioned it at some point to you. I’m just happy you got a chance to watch and review it. The TV sequel is good, too.

        Yup! Granted, this was a while ago during my teenage years. There was an actual anime exhibit that happened at a museum around where I used to live where Crispin Freeman was a keynote speaker. He was nice to me and everyone. That exhibit had history about anime, played episodes of different series (Witch Hunter Robin was one I remembered walking around), memorabilia, and a station where you can dub a clip from Inu-Yasha.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Cool! The sequel is definitely worth watching even though it involves new characters most of the time. You do see the returning characters later on though.

            It really was and I felt like a kid in a candy store at that museum exhibit. My friend and I did dub that InuYasha clip which was fun with both of us doing all the voices.

            Liked by 1 person

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