At a Glance: Read or Die the T.V. (R.O.D.)
If you're a writer as you claim to be, why don't you kill me with your work?
With a mere bomb, I will never die!— Nenene
I was first introduced to this series based on the OVA Read or Die, which used to air on Adult Swim, but this anime series is very different. In it, the main character of the OVA (Yomiko Readman) has mysteriously disappeared. This is of great concern to Nenene, a famous author acquainted with her. But instead of revolving around the British intelligence sort of things the OVA series did, R.O.D. the TV is closer to the Read or Dream manga, focusing on three characters who are papermasters (able to magically manipulate paper) in Hong Kong.
The girls, Maggie, Anita, and Michelle, are all pretty good at combat. They have to protect Nenene from all sorts of threats. Maggie and Michelle love Nenene's work, but Anita, the youngest with pink hair, hates books. This is probably not about books themselves, but because she finds her older sisters' obsession with book annoying. Nenene herself lives with them but is a bit cold and distant. In the first episode, this is revealed to be because she's still upset about the disappearance of her friend. She's also sad because she hasn't written anything in a long time, even though Michelle and Maggie think she should be super happy that her book is being made into a movie.
Basically Maggie and Michelle go gaga over Nenene as a famous author they're fans of, but along with their little sister, as papermasters, they also have to protect her. And in this world, books are a deadly game.
R.O.D. the TV
Action, Science Fantasy, Mystery, Supernatural
Light Novels and Manga by Hideyuki Kurata
J.C. Staff, Studio Deen
OVA (Read or Die), prequel
The premise of many anime series seems to be "what if X were taken way the hell too seriously?". You have that with card games and you get Yu-Gi-Oh!, with astrology and your get Sailor Moon. In this case, it's books/paper. The funny thing here is, as in the original Read or Die OVA, the main characters all seem to love books quite a bit for people whose magic revolves around the wanton destruction of paper. It takes a ton of paper to make anything solid, and they do this a lot in every episode, so uh... yeah, math. Just try not to get hung up on all the paper/books that are being destroyed.
It's kind of interesting that it takes place in Hong Kong, because it makes the Japanese character Nenene a foreigner to the other characters. That's rare for anime, which uses Tokyo as a default location. But not much is added to the story because of that change, because all big modern cities kind of look similar.
This series is basically James Bond with girls and books, which is just as awesome as it sounds. However, the plot of the R.O.D. the TV anime series is basically a sequel to the OVA series Read or Die, so I would recommend watching that first. One thing I like is that the show has the archetypal trio of the butch, femme, and neither (Maggie, Michelle, and Anita) without the characters being too annoyingly exaggerated in exhibiting these qualities. They seem like real people. The show is really good about making the audience feel what the characters are feeling. Nenene is an interesting character in this series. She's sad, but perseverant. She is humble about her own work, but she also defends herself passionately when attacked. This anime got me to fall in love with the characters, and I don't often do that.