Voiced by: Rieko Miura (JP), Kimberly Yates (EN, OVA), Helena Taylor (EN, R.O.D the TV)
Yomiko, codenamed "The Paper" by the British Library, is a half-Japanese and half-British bookworm and able to telekinetically manipulate paper objects into many useful products.Appears in: all incarnationsnote
Tropes associated with Yomiko:
- Accent Adaptation: A rather strange variant in the dub. In the OVA, she speaks in a regular tone with no accent despite being British. In the TV series, this was rectified and she suddenly gains one. Can be rather jarring for anyone who watches both dubs back to back.
- Badass Bookworm: Her extraordinary power stems directly from her love of books.
- Badass Longcoat: She wears a large overcoat whose pockets are stuffed full of assorted reading materials. It looks harmless at first glance, until you remember that her abilities as a Paper Master make it the equivalent of Neo's trenchcoat full of guns.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Off work, a nice teacher with a love of books. On the job, one of the more deadly agents around. And God help you and all your kin should you manage to genuinely enrage her.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She's extremely eccentric but her quirks are tolerated because of her undeniable talent.
- But Not Too Foreign: Half-Japanese and half-British.
- Buxom Is Better: One the students on Yomiko's class noticed (manga). And Nenene, too (manga). Her measurements are 86-59-87 (34-23-34 in inches).
- Cute Bookworm: Her outright giddiness over books qualifies her, and she spends thousands per week on books.
- Cute Clumsy Girl: Not as bad as Wendy though she can be distracted easily.
- Geeky Turn-On: She gets sexually aroused by especially rare and valuable books (she reads, touches and even smells them to get a full experience).
- I'm Taking Her Home with Me!: The reaction she usually provokes in fans of both sexes.
- Limited Wardrobe: More than any of the other characters. Apparently always wears the same blouse, vest, skirt, and baggy, pocket-lined trench coat, even to sleep.
- Meganekko: Considered in some corners to be Queen of the Meganekko.
- Paper Master: The Trope Namer. She has the power to telekinetically control paper.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When she found out, that the British Library took away the baby of Nancy and made a modified clone-minion from of her dead lover, she torched the British Library, SHE, WHO LOVES BOOKS TO A SEXUAL DEGREE!! (OVA)
- Red Baron: Codename: The Paper, the nineteenth person to be assigned that code name by the British Library.
- Repetitive Name. Yomiko means "Reading Child" in Japanese, and "Readman" speaks for itself.
Voiced by: Michiko Neya (JP), Amanda Winn-Lee (EN, OVA), Carrie Savage (EN, TV series)
Nancy is an agent for the British Library who works alongside Yomiko. She possesses the ability to phase through solid objects at will.Appears in: OVA, TV series.
Tropes associated with Nancy:
- Action Mom: Mother to Junior in the TV series. However, the British Library took him away from her.
- Cultural Translation: In the original Japanese, she complains she doesn't like her codename because it isn't cute. In the dub, she complains she doesn't like her codename because it makes her sound like a porn star.
- Cloning Blues: She is an I-Jin, a clone of historical spy Mata Hari.
- Intangibility: She has a special ability to pass through objects.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: The second clone of her develops this and ironically forms an attachment to Yomiko just as the first did.
- Mirror Match: Fights the "evil" clone of her in the OVA.
- Red Baron: Codename: Miss Deep (which she doesn't care for as she feels it sounds like a Stripper's name).
- Redemption Equals Death: The first Nancy stays behind on the rocket with Ikkyu both as penance to her deception to Yomiko and to be with her lover (despite all the crap he did). The Nancy seen at the end of the OVA and TV Series is the second clone that tried to kill her.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Ikkyu clones another Nancy and tries to kill the original when he realizes she developed an attachment to Yomiko.
Voiced by: Masami Iwasaki (JP), Lee Everest (EN, TV)
Drake is an American soldier assigned to work with Yomiko and Nancy. Unlike those two, however, he has no special powers, instead relying on his weapons training to see him through tough situations. Little is known about him outside of his line of work, other than the fact that he has a young daughter named Maggie (no relation to Maggie Mui).Appears in: Manga, OVA, TV series
- Badass Normal: He's fought Paper Masters and lived to tell the tale.
- Eagle Land: Flavour 1 - He's gruff and unapproachable, but he's loyal to a fault, and a thoroughly decent human being underneath it all.
- Good Is Not Nice: He's a very scary man if you don't know him. If you do you know he's really just a big grouchy teddy-bear.
- Papa Wolf: A family man, loves his daughter. She is his reason for helping Yomiko against Joker in the TV series.
- Phenotype Stereotype: Blonde, blue-eyed, built like a slab of pure muscle.
- Unfazed Everyman: The only operative who doesn't have any powers and bemoans the fact he has to work with and against those that do.
Joseph Carpenter (Joker)
Voiced by: Hozumi Goda (JP), JB Blanc (EN, TV), Crispin Freeman (EN, OVA)
Joseph Carpenter (a.k.a. "Joker") is Yomiko and Nancy's boss, and head of the British Library Special Operations Division.Appears in: OVA, Read or Die manga, TV series
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: In episode 16 of the TV series, he pulls out a gold-plated handgun.
- The Starscream: In the manga, scheming to usurp the Gentleman's position.
- Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Between the OVA, where he's on the side of the good guys, and the TV series, the death of Gentleman shifts Joker into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory, working toward what he sees as Gentleman's dream by means ranging from ethically dubious to outright evil. Then again the manga pretty much showed he was flat out evil to begin with. So this may not have come as a surprise.
Voiced by: Mika Sakenobe (JP), Siobhan Flynn (EN, TV)
Wendy is Joker's young assistant.Appears in: OVA, Read or Die manga, TV series
- Cute Clumsy Girl: In spades in the OVA. She got rid of this persona though in the TV series.
- Dark Action Girl: Becomes a rather effective agent in the TV series and later shoots Yomiko in the arm.
- The Dragon: She later moves up to Joker's right-hand woman during the events of the TV series.
- Face–Heel Turn: Joins Joker's plan in the TV Series.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Anita, the one who she tried to break after she seemingly loses her sister, is the one who kicks her ass in the finale.
- Love Makes You Evil: Her actions are more out of love for the Joker then his beliefs.
- Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Much more jarring then Joker since you'd never suspect a sweet girl like her suddenly going over to the dark side.
- Took a Level in Badass: Lost her clumsy side and turned into a rather deadly agent in her own right. However...
- Took a Level in Jerkass: She loses any nice traits she had before hand and doesn't have a shred of empathy. Case in point: burning books in front of Yomiko before shooting her, mocking Anita when some of the Gentleman's power is used to mindwipe her school, and telling Junior she never cared for him as her trainer.
The Paper Sisters
A trio of siblings from Hong Kong who, like Yomiko, are Paper Masters.Appear in: Read or Dream manga, TV series
- Badass Bookworm: Michelle and Maggie are powerful Paper Masters and they love books. Anita, on the other hand...
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Michelle is the blonde, Maggie is the brunette and Anita is the redhead.
- Fight Off the Kryptonite: They use some giant sheets of paper to disrupt incapacitating sound waves, allowing them to snipe the guy controlling them.
- Marshmallow Hell:
- Anita was once introduced to a faceful of Michelle's rather big "marshmallows", after they heard a horror story about a vengeful spirit, that drowned someone's third child.
- Maggie dived into Anita's currently non-existing "marshmallows" after hearing a horror story about a kid going missing in a print shop, dying there and coming back as a ghost a the comic book.
- Perpetual Poverty: The three are always in the red as Michelle and Maggie tend to buy more books then provisions. Anita has to constantly reign them back so they won't be completely broke.
- Personality Powers: Despite all three sisters using paper, each uses a preferred combat for it. Anita mostly fashions her papers into handheld weapons for close range combat. Michelle is mostly a longer range fighter fashioning her papers into a bow and arrow. And Maggie turns her paper into animal familiars, a mixture of both long and short range combat.
- Anita is considered the Attacker, Maggie the Defender, and Michelle as the Support. Likewise, Anita is argumentative and attacks everyone, Maggie is withdrawn and defensive, and Michelle is nurturing and supportive.
- Pretty Freeloaders: In Nenene's apartment.
- Secret Project Refugee Family: In the TV series they're experimental by products part of Dokusensha to create their own paper masters.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh and Anita Mui starred in the Hong Kong action film Heroic Trio.
- Town Girls: Michelle is the Femme, Maggie is the Neither and Anita is the Butch.
- True Companions: They aren't sisters by blood but they definitely love each other as such.
- Weaksauce Weakness: They can't control wet paper, so the bad guys often neutralize them with glorified squirt guns.
Voiced by: Shoko Kikuchi (JP), Hunter Mackenzie Austin (EN)The eldest sister. She is responsible for acquiring jobs for the detective agency, which include translation work, lost book and person finding, and bodyguard duty.
- Anime Chinese Girl: She wears a qipao on occasion, usually in an effort to impress others—which she pulls off rather well.
- Cuteness Proximity: Michelle is drawn to Anita's friends Hisami and Junior.
- Lethal Chef: According to the other three sisters.
- Pretty in Mink: Michelle sometimes wears a fur-trimmed coat in winter.
- Rapunzel Hair: She has waist-length hair.
- Self-Harm: A very harmless one: If Michelle makes a mistake, she gives herself a slight pinch in the cheek.
- Talking in Your Sleep: Michelle doesn't exactly talk in her sleep, but makes meows in her sleep (and some indeterminate babbling in the Japanese original).
Voiced by: Hiromi Hirata (JP), Sarah Lahti (EN)The middle sister. She is the tallest of the three and is shown to love dark and confined spaces such as a small closet or even underneath a table.
- Adorkable: She's adorably awkward.
- Bifauxnen: She looks like a pretty boy due to her height, short hair, tendency to wear masculine clothing and husky voice.
Voiced by: Chiwa Saito (JP), Rachel Hirschfield (EN)The youngest sister. She does not possess the same love of books that Michelle and Maggie do. In fact, she hates them.
- Artificial Human: Anita was created by the British Library as an experiment to see if a Paper Master who didn't love books could exist.
- Book Burning: Anita's first memory and childhood trauma seems to be in some way connected with book burning, creating unconsciously a dislike to books. It's reveled later that it's the British Library burning as she happened to be there when it happened which traumatized her. However it turns out Dokusensha messing with her DNA had more of a hand in her dislike of books, the book burning incident just happened to be a stroke of bad timing. By the end of the series, she eventually overcome this and became a bibliophile like her sisters.
- Cry Cute: Given her personality and attitude, she rare gets emotional enough to cry. But when she does....
- Flipping the Bird: Nenene told them all to be quiet and not disturb her work and hinted at the alternative with a thumb-slashes-the-throat gesture. Anita told her to fuck herself with the middle finger, but was pinnned down by Michelle, so that Anita wouldn't provoke Nenene any further.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She is bratty, brash and outspoken, but she really does care about those close to her.
- Misblamed: When the truth comes out about the Library incident, Anita blames Yomiko for her trauma. But as she learns more about her origins, she does come to realize that Dokusensha and the British Library is more at fault for her condition.
- Odango Hair: She has two bun covers on either side of her head when she puts on her Chinese combat outfit.
- Shorttank: She's not very sensitive about her height, but she does have a shorter fuse than Michelle and Maggie.
- Ninja: Not officially but she more or less qualifies, with her reflexes, stealth skill, hyper awareness, fighting style, and most of all her using paper like shuriken.
- Panty Shot: Several times, mainly when she's in her school uniform.
- Symbol Swearing: Anita does this, when an visitor of her Lost Books Service opens a door against her face.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Anita loves her milk (probably, cause she wants Michelle's bust size).
- Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Her paper powers never manifested until Yomiko's terrorist attack on the British Library.
- Waif-Fu: Anita is very strong, capable of stunning a "vampire" by throwing a book into his face and breaking his nose from 20 feet away without using her paper powers. She can knock out grown men three times her size; and her fighting style was developed by animators via "observing monkeys and the Chinese Royal Acrobats."
- Wise Beyond Her Years: Anita despite being the youngest is probably the most mature of the three. Having to keep the other two from blowing their budget on books.
Voiced by: Satsuki Yukino (JP), Tricia Dickson (EN, TV)
Nenene is a young, world-renowned author under the protection of the Paper Masters (Yomiko in the manga series, and then Michelle, Maggie and Anita in the TV series).Appears in: Read or Die manga, TV series
- Badass Normal: Her older version in the TV series is hardly afraid of anything and she won't let anyone talk down to her.
- Chekhov's Gun: Her novel which she has been writing through the series. Also counts as a "Shaggy Dog" Story as at the beginning she's been suffering writer's block but slowly managed to make the novel over time.
- Damsel in Distress: Kidnapped three times in the TV series (once at the beginning of the series by deranged fans, again by Dokushensha and again by British Library)
- Sacred First Kiss: Averted. In the manga she gives her first kiss (rather forcefully) to a surprised Yomiko (who she didn't even know at that point) because she needed some inspiration for a love scene she was writing. Compared to finishing the book, her first kiss wasn't that important to her.
Voiced by: Mitsuki Saiga (JP), Jessica D. Stone (EN)
Junior (sometimes known as "Agent J") is a kid agent of the British Library sent to retrieve books for Joker.Appears in: TV series
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Michelle mistakes him to be a girl.
- Heel–Face Turn: After learning his past and being treated with kindness by Anita and Michelle, he turns against the British Library.
- Intangibility: He contains the same "phasing" abilities as his mother.
- Tyke Bomb: Was taken from Nancy to be "experimented" on and groomed to be the new host of the Gentleman.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: He was light blue hair.
Voiced by: Shin-ichiro Miki (JP), Patrick Seitz (EN)Linho first appeared as Nenene's fan and public promoter. Though he didn't lie when he said he liked her work.Appears in: TV series
- Redemption Equals Death: He chose to distract the Dokushensha in their Collapsing Lair to let Nenene and others escape.
- The Mole: He turns out to be a Dokushensha agent who want to make use of Nenene's writings.
- One Last Smoke: After his true nature is reveal but he helps save Nenene and get mortally wounded. He spends his last moment smoking a cigerette.
- Oral Fixation: He's trying to quit smoking and is seen biting on a pen to cope.
John WooA pigeon that delivers the Paper Sisters their missions.Appears in: TV series
- Instant Messenger Pigeon: Whenever Dokushensha has a mission for the sisters. They send John Woo to deliver the message.
- Insistent Terminology: It's John Woo-san (Or Sir in the dub). Anyone who doesn't address him as such, he gives a sharp peck to the noggin.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Obviously named after the famous Hong Kong action director.
Voiced by: Taeko Kawata (JP), Megan Harvey (EN)Hisami is a soft-spoken elementary school student and book lover, and one of Anita's classmates and closest friends.Appears in: Read or Dream manga, TV series
Voiced by: Yukari Tamura (JP), J-Ray Hochfield (EN)Another of Anita's classmate. She has an elder sister, Haruhi who she likes to brags about and likes to offer her sister's books for free in her class.Appears in: TV series
- Large Ham: She really goes OTT when talking about her big sister's novels.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Sure sounds like an annoying class bully at first, but she just want to become friends with Anita, and she really didn't mind when Anita accidentally knocked her out over the head with a ball during a volleyball game.
Voiced by: Reiko Takagi (JP), Steven Bendik (EN)A boy from Anita's class, he often argues with her and appears to have some feelings for Hisami.Appears in: Read or Dream manga, TV series
- She Is All Grown Up: Hisami said that she used to be taller than him
Mr. KimA Dokushensha agent who often seen followed by Sonny. He gives the paper sisters missions from the Dokushensha.Appears in: TV series
- * Heel–Face Revolving Door: He is seen working with The British Library later.
Sonny WongA Dokushensha agent usually escorting Mr Kim and handing the payment to the paper sisters. Quoted to be the most powerful paper master seen by Nenene.Appears in: TV series
- Artificial Human: Implied, given that Dokushensa were working to make their own Paper Masters...
- Kick the Dog: Kills Alice after Drake surrenders and specifically asks him not to harm her.
- Taking You with Me: Tries to do this to Maggie, but fails.
The GentlemanFounder of the British Library, a reality warper of enormous power.Appears in: All incarnations
- Department of Redundancy Department: He's often referred to as "Mister Gentleman."
- Death Seeker: Possibly, considering Joker was using him as an excuse for his plans. When some of Junior's power is put in him, Junior tells Joker "he [Gentleman] want him to have something" and shocked him with some kind of power which left Joker catatonic for the reminder of the finale.
- Pieces of God: His body was divided into 5 books.
Donny NakajmiaYomiko's lover and mentor, and previous holder of the codename "The Paper"
- Posthumous Character: Already dead by the start of all the adaptations, but is an important part of Yomiko's backstory in the novels and manga.