Isn't this the library?
August 19, 2012 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Yomiko Readman is a librarian with amazing paper-manipulating abilities who works for a secret division of the British library, when she isn't a substitute schoolteacher. The division, run by the ancient Mr. Gentleman, is in charge of collecting and monitoring rare books throughout the world. And that's where the trouble starts. The R.O.D. world started with the first of 12 novels in 2000, followed by a manga series and then a three episode OVA (original video animation, usually short direct-to-video series). Each format covers different stories, with the OVA being the most dramatic, opening with a seemingly magical samurai attacking the White House. The samurai is an artificial human clone (or I-Jin in R.O.D.) of Hiraga Gennai, Edo-era samurai, pharmacologist, writer and inventor, showing off a greatly improved electrostatic generator. There are two more episodes in the OVA, then two further spin-offs: Read or Dream manga, which follows the three unrelated young ladies who can manipulate paper and work together in the Paper Sisters Detective Company; and the 26 episodes of R.O.D the TV, a series about three actual sisters with the power to control paper.

If you're a bit confused about the appearance of characters in the different continuities, Wikipedia has a good breakdown of characters, with short biographies. Then there's the Read or Die Wiki, which has a lot of good information, but isn't organized all that well, and went dormant a few years ago.
posted by filthy light thief (15 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I remember seeing the OVA at least twice... must've been four years ago or so. I liked it, and was a bit tantalized by the hints of lesbianism (that was there, right?).
Is the manga worth a read? And...any lesbians?
posted by Baethan at 1:27 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

The OVA is full of crazy literary references, and both series have absolutely killer music (with ridiculous track titles that I just love, like "Does a Sleeping Book have Dreams of Being Republished?"). And as I recall, ROD the TV (different characters, as mentioned above) ups the lesbian romance quotient a little bit.
posted by wintersweet at 2:28 PM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh man, I loved Read or Die. That was the most amazing idea for a doomsday device I've ever heard.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:50 PM on August 19, 2012

The 3-episode OVA can be played in sequence as if it were a feature-length movie in three chapters. It is my go-to introduction video when someone asks me "what is this anime stuff I keep hearing about?" It has thriller action, sex appeal, nerd appeal, and that quirky culture-appropriation that shows up in Japanese pop-fiction. The English voice-actors are satisfactory, which helps since few people care for reading subtitles of foreign films.
posted by Mozai at 2:54 PM on August 19, 2012

If anyone is now hesitant to watch or read these, I don't think the lesbian love story is that strong a feature. In the OVA, Yomiko Readman, aka The Paper, is a bespectacled bookworm who can get lost in old books, and she falls for Nancy Makuhari, codename "Miss Deep," who has the ability to pass through objects, and in the anime, she is a "cyber-clone" of the famous courtesan and possible spy Mata Hari. I think that element was overshadowed by the battles against the enhanced clones of Otto Lilienthal, the Glider King, Beethoven (who will play his Suicide Symphony that will "cleanse" the planet), and Jean-Henri Fabre with his giant mechanical insects.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:02 PM on August 19, 2012

Yeah, I should have said "literary/historical/scientific" references, which were a lot of fun. At any rate, romance isn't the main theme in the series, and it's certainly not an X-rated series (but it's also not aimed at kids).

Yomiko Readman is one of my favorite characters ever.
posted by wintersweet at 4:35 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

After watching ROD TV, my husband and I still turn to each other and say "zha pay-pah" out of nowhere.
posted by subbes at 4:45 PM on August 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

My wife and I are both huge Yomiko Readman fans.
posted by tdismukes at 5:16 PM on August 19, 2012

I think papercrafting is an awesome superpower. Especially when fueled by the power of literature.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:05 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

About a month ago I went to Jinbochou, the old book center of Tokyo, for the first time. Wandering around I came to a certain point on the street and a wave of memory washed over me - I knew I'd seen the place somewhere before, but I couldn't place it. It would had to have been when I'd first come to Tokyo, a week I spent mostly in a haze due to sleeping poorly, wandering on foot around various parts of the city without any aim or clue. But I couldn't remember ever coming to that part of town.

And then it hit me - for a few seconds near the beginning of ROD, this exact spot is in-frame.

It's a fun series.
posted by 23 at 7:52 PM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Reminds me of Agent Lemming of the British Dental Association.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 7:54 PM on August 19, 2012

I saw a fan-sub of the OAV originally. My wife and I also ask for "za pay-pah" whenever the need arises, but the other thing was, in the fan-sub, when Ginnai attacks the White House, someone shouts, "Who are you? Why are you doing this?" and he turns and says:

"I'm a genius."

With the building burning behind him, as though it's the most self-evident thing in the world.

Turns out that was just an erroneous translation, and all the subs I've seen since then have just had him say "I'm an I-Jin." Also, "The Genius Wars" become just "The I-Jin Wars." And yet even now, when someone asks me why I've done something, I turn to them and explain the obvious truth...
posted by Scattercat at 8:09 PM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

wait, we can post about our favorite anime to mefi?? Uh oh...
posted by luvcraft at 11:40 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I thought the OVA was blazing hot but that ROD the TV had a lot of problems. Paper manipulation is still one of the most interesting superpowers I've encountered in years.
posted by koucha at 10:15 AM on August 20, 2012

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