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R.O.D. Episode 1 August 3, 2006

Posted by animerambler in Late to the Party, R.O.D., Series.
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I lied.  Something in my head just said: “Hey, blog for newbies, posting a series which, as it’s high point, involves father-daughter incest may not be the best idea.”  Honestly, that’s not the entire story of it.  The father-daughter thing wasn’t as bad as it (necessarily) sounds, and it was really more of a “Sunrise doesn’t have a f@^&ing clue where this is going, do they?” thing.  Yeah, comical incest, that’s the ticket.

 

So anyway you get Read or Die the TV instead.  Aside from it’s unfortunate title, this really was one of the high points of Studio Deen and J.C. Staff over the past few years.  Deen is pretty much a all-or-nothing outfit, for instance after doing faithful translations of Rurouni Kenshin for two well-received seasons, they do a third of filler and get it cancelled.  Alternatively, after doing 8 excellent episodes of a translation of a doujin (fan-made) original computer game/book Higurashi, they turn the main character into a natural gas bomb who wipes out the whole village (everything in that sentence was the literal truth).  Meanwhile, J.C. Staff has done Slayers, Excel Saga, and Azumanga Daioh, so they’re gold in my book.

On with the pretty pictures! (At this point I’m restarting given brownouts in the area, naturally they would come at night, after the tempreture drops and after our 110 or higher heat index day.)

As we start protagonist #1, or Nenene Sumiregawa, is flying from Japan to China where her book is being turned into a (cut-rate) (Chinese) movie.  Apparently her publisher is paying for her to fly out and do book signings.  All goes peachily until arrival, when her guide has misspelled her name on possibly the biggest single sheet of paper in Red China

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After a brief discusion regarding spelling, and protagonist #2’s (Michele, the blonde) further futile attempt to pronounce “Nenene” (or maybe it’s a Japanese word-play, some of those are so awful I really can’t tell) (not that I have anything against awful puns mind you) Michele reveals that she’s 24 and a fan of the Harry Potter series.  Anime checklist: not-quite togather hot blonde, check.  Afterwards Nenene proceeds to the car, while Michele punsihes herself (cutely).  Estimates of Michele’s mental prowess further decline after it appears she’s locked herself out

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when in truth protagonist #3 (Maggie, it stops soon, I swear) has simply availed herself of the facilities.  Introduced as Michele’s sister, Maggie is 19, and a fan of Hemingway.  While typically easy to sign off on as “the tall” one, I dig the quiet depressive types, and besides she blushes when telling Nenene that she also enjoys her books as well, leading to Lesbian Undercurrents #1!

The publisher has set Nenene up in a fairly swank hotel, pinthouse suite even, although they couldn’t decide on the smoking or non-smoking pinthouse, so they just blow it up:

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Maggie then has to do a little combat driving in order to avoid the flaming wreckage, and unfortunately that’s all the action we get for the A-side, as the next scene has Nenene steadfastly refusing to cancel the book signing (don’t celebs hate these things, and here we have one wantingto do it!) since the terrorists (who hate her books) win if she cancels.  She delivers this with such a passion that Michele exclaims that she is truly an ideal author, so aggressive, and that she won’t be able to think of Nenene as a woman again (Lesbian Undercurrents #2!).

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In fact she’s so taken by Nenene’s passion that she volunteers their help for the security detail, swearing to defend the author with Maggie’s life.

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Maggie’s “oh!?” face is priceless, although we quickly get to Lesbian Undercurrents #3 as she blushes thinking of laying down her life for Nenene.  The discussion turns to where Nenene can stay until the event, and Michele immediately volunteers their apartment.  Naturally though Nenene is put in immediate danger upon their arrival from a “book-draft”, which also serves to introduce Protagonist #4, Sister #3, requisite pink-haired anime chick #1, Anita!  She’d be the hand in frame 2.

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Immediately pissing off Nenene by calling her name stupid, pink-hair assume’s kung-fu stance as the author prepares to strike! Anita’s the black-sheep in the family, and her political platform seems to include “aggressively anti-book”, to the point Nene feels unwelcome.  A vote is called with Michele and Maggie voting for Nenene to spend the night

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and Anita and the milk carton, protagonist #5, (just kidding) voting against.  As milk cartons have been regularly disenfranchised from the dawn of their creation though, author-lady stays.  Until she disappears from bed that night, prompting the three to search for her.  Naturally Anita finds her, and we get the tie-in to the pre-existing OVA/manga/novel, as Nenene references an old acquaintance who loved books, her’s too, and she disappeared, and now she’s got writter’s block not knowing what the friend thought of the last book, so now Nenene’s become old news in Japan’s literary world.  Boo woo, action already!

Anita tries to comfort her, is momentarily put off by the friend that Nenene didn’t “love” per se is a woman (Undercurrent #4! Youza!), but recovers by being cute (see below) and commenting that the world is made to help people find each other.  Which is, of course, why she lives with two lunatics who all claim to be sisters and is nearly crushed to death on a regular basis by copious amounts of books.  Come to think of it that sounds better than my current workplace, so where do I sign up?  Oh, yeah, cute pink haired chick:

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Doesn’t that first one just say “oh, you’re ‘friend’ is a woman…what kind of series am I in, aren’t I a little young for this context?”.  And now for the break (I think).

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Which is an excellent time to thank Geneon for licensing this, as they are purveyors of all that is typically seen as eccentrically unprofitable in licensing, and Lord knows this series has some pacing issues midway through.  Arrigato!

Alright, we’re back and being overwhelmed by the security precautions for a book-signing.

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Yep, even got metal detectors and a SWAT team (off camera here).  So how’d this get through!?!

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That pen would be the detonator for the bomb (in the foreground book), the ball in the pen touches either side and boom!  OK, Keanu, you’ve got a author held hostage by an explosive book and pen (you’d expect less from a series titled “Read or Die”?), what do you do? What do you do? And if you say ‘shoot the hostage’ I will require you to watch Matrix Revolutions over and over until your eyes bleed (typical time: 30 min. to an hour depending on intellect level). Oh, and the author’s forcing your hand by majorly pissing off the guy with the bomb. Naturally the Paper Sisters (protagonists #2-5, minus the milk carton, which got left at home this time) have this in hand, correct answer:

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have the pink-haired re-incarnation of Bruce Lee karate chop the bomb off of Nenene’s wrist (with a paper knife), tackle bitter Chinese author with paper wolf, shoot bomb out window with paper bow & arrow, then form a paper wall across the floor-to-cieling windows to prevent deaths from impending exploding + fragmentation.  This whole sequence reminds me of the Sam & Max adventure game published by Lucas Arts in the early nineties, specifically the point where the dog and lagomorph (rabbit) detective duo find a bomb planted in their office, I believe the conversation went something like this:

Max (Lagomorph): What should we do with this bomb Sam?

Sam (Dog): Put it somewhere it won’t hurt anyone we know or care about, Max.

Max: Out the window?

Sam: Yep, nobody but strangers out there. (World rocking explosion)

Max: Hope there was no one we knew or cared about on that bus.

But obviously I’m living in an anime fantasy world where actions are considered to have consequences which logically follow them, and not one where pink-haired little girls could whup the entire cast of the Street Fighter games, simultaneously, or people can bend the physics of paper to their will.  Then again that world wouldn’t be as cool.

OK, so Nenene recognizes the three as paper masters and asks if they’ve seen her friend, yada yada, I’m bored already so now they’re at the airport and Nenene is giving them autographed books before she flies back, naturally Maggie blushes

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and Anita immediately considers it’s value on the black market.  Given that this is China (ok Hong Kong), we all have a good laugh given the respect intellectual property is given in the land of rice and being shot in the head by the ruling regime if you don’t win the Olympics.  Nenene exits right, Michele enters left, having furiously read the book by the mad-bomber author, and exclaims that there are two sets of hand-writing. Only in China would the authors be hand-writing copies of their books, but on to action sequence #2!

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Same verse as before, terrorist author confronts well-endowed Japanese author, Nenene pisses off crazed man with gun.  Honestly, how many times would this woman be dead by age 25 in South Central LA, or even the capital of Iowa (I have no idea, the Iowa thing that is).  Luckily she’s saved by:

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Anita knocking on the window.  At cruising altitude for a 747.  I thought I was on drugs the first time I saw this, and apparently Nenene does to.  Crazed gunman does not however, and Anita gets a bullet in the chest for her troubles.

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Luckily she’s picked up by her sister’s in a giant paper flying dragon/bird/pokemon looking thing.  Unfazed by the bullet, plan two involves smashing her through the cockpit windshield using the dragon’s tail.

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rod_vol1-49.jpgrod_vol1-50.jpgPhase three: cutting crazed gunman’s gun, rending him a crazed gun-less man, and setting him up for Phase four: spinning kick halfway down the cabin aisle.  Nenene’s expression speaks for us all:

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Followed of course by the congratulatory headlock (after Anita asks for her to write a thicker book next time, this one barely stopped the bullet), and the realization that they’re gonna die since crazed unconscious man shot out an engine (don’t 747’s have like four?) and it makes sense, dramatically speaking.

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Despite their impending doom, Anita seems to be in a good place right now in her life

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and expresses her confidence that her sisters will save them (forgive the breast jokes, too much Sunabozu/Desert Punk recently).  Which of course they do by engulfing the 747 in their paper Lugia(let’s call a rabbit a rabbit, huh?) and flying it, san’s wings (too much weight don’cha know!) in for a perfect landing!

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Provided a perfect landing is one where you scrap the bottom of a multimillion dollar jet off on the tarmac and then run it gently into the terminal.  Afterwards Michele and Maggie take a well-deserved break on the runway and discuss visiting Jinbo-cho, the bookstore district of Tokyo.  After this they’ve earned it, and after that brown-out 3 hours ago so have I, reflections on Ep. 1 of R.O.D. later on!

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