Read or Die: the manga

well I re-read the two R.O.D mangas, it hasn’t been as long a time since I watched the anime, but it’s been a while, I read the first Read or Die manga in fall of 2006 when all the volumes had been released and I read Read or Dream in 2007 when it was released, that’s sadly been the last of the R.O.D franchise I’ve experienced since

first off is the Read or Die manga, this was released around the time the OVA was released I think and well I wont beat around the bush, any way you slice it Read or Die the manga is just not as good as Read or Die the anime, this was a big disappointment to me when I first read it back in 2006, but mainly I was under the impression that the manga was a prequel to the anime (it’s not, it’s a separate continuity), however I also noticed that it just didn’t grab me, something seemed off about it, re-reading years later I think I have a better understanding why

the first volume is the best, it’s a re-telling of the first novel and it details Yomiko meeting Nenene for the first time, the rest of the volumes are a separate story about Yomiko going undercover at private school in Japan that has a secret underground library that contains “the book of truth” and it’s where most of the problems lie

it’s hard to put my finger on exactly WHY the manga is not as good, but first off the translation seems a bit rough (especially the first volume), it can be a little confusing

I think the biggest problem is there’s just not much character development, it’s not completely devoid of it of course, but the story chugs along with little time to really get to know the characters, yes I know the OVA was action packed too, but it still had enough scenes where you get to know the characters a little more, the manga has stuff like Nenene showing up at the school and doing absolutely nothing save for standing around and later looking sad

I think the story also stretches suspension of disbelief too far, the anime has plenty of surrealistic stuff of course, but it still managed to have a certain logic to it that made sense within the world, in the manga the rule of thumb is making sure something is cool before it makes any sense, there’s one thing in particular that appears near the end of the series that’s really cool, but there’s no explanation at all, it’s just “now this is happening”, maybe part of this is due to the translation, but I don’t think the blame can be solely laid there

I don’t mean to rag on the manga too much though, it’s not terrible, there’s still some cool and interesting stuff that happens in it, in some ways it’s a bit darker than the anime and hey more R.O.D is more R.O.D, if you’re a big fan of the series definitely check it out, but it may be only for big fans of the series, if you’re a newcomer I would recommend the anime first by far

next up is Read or Dream, which follows the Paper Sisters from R.O.D The TV (and was in fact their first appearance) and I’m happy to say that this manga is MUCH better than the first

like the previous manga it’s a separate continuity from the anime, but the Paper Sisters feel the same here as they do in the anime

if there’s one complaint I can lodge though it’s that there’s not much action, early on it’s episodic stories (that have interconnections) and they’re mostly “slice of life” stories or humorous ones, it does seems like a bit of a waste to not have the Paper Sisters go on more adventures, but the stories that are here are good enough and funny enough that it’s not a big deal and besides, it’s just great to get to hang out with the paper sisters more

and I mean funny, there’s some seriously hilarious stuff in it, like one story where Michelle decides she wants to write books as well as read them and spins a yarn that becomes a spoof of The Matrix Reloaded with Anita fighting off an endless army of Maggie clones dressed as Agent Smith, there’s also the story where Michelle becomes fat

as it goes on it becomes less episodic and more like an alternate dimension version of R.O.D The TV, some characters from that make appearances (no Nenene though), but it never loses steam and wraps up with a really neat ending

well that’s the manga folks and tragically I get the feeling that the publisher Viz planned on translating the novels as well (they’ve also released Full metal Alchemist novels), but the manga was not a big seller and that was canceled, so shame on all you for not buying it!

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