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"You three are all paper masters?"
Nenene Sumiragawa

R.O.D The TV is the sequel to the Read or Die OVA. Like its predecessor, it was created and written by Hideyuki Kurata. This 26-episode series focuses on the Paper Sisters – Michelle Cheung, Maggie Mui, and Anita King – three young women who have paper-manipulation abilities. Although older sisters Maggie and Michelle are fanatical bibliophiles, Shorttank Anita paradoxically hates books, which shouldn't be possible for a Paper Master. The three work together as detectives and independent agents in Hong Kong until the day Nenene Sumiregawa, an author who Maggie and Michelle are fans of, comes to the island for a book signing. The three are hired as her chaperones and drivers, but become her bodyguards as well when her life is threatened. After Nenene returns to Japan she enlists their help in looking for her missing friend Yomiko.


The rather strange title of the show refers to its fusion of the Read or Die OVA and the cast from Read or Dream, a manga centered around three sisters with powers similar to Yomiko's. Adding to the confusion were both animated adaptations being somewhat different in tone from their respective manga. Regardless, it's proved to be an interesting blend of both series that worked out particularly well.

The anime was released in North America in 2004/5 by Geneon. It was re-released years later by Aniplex's US branch, but at a much higher price point and lacking nearly all of the features of Geneon's release. Viz Media translated and released Read Or Dream stateside, just as they had the Read Or Die manga. It can also be legally viewed on Crunchyroll.

Has a character sheet.


R.O.D The TV provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Yomiko and the Paper Sisters.
  • Affably Evil: Joker is the personification of an Affably Evil foe.
  • Alliterative Name: Alice Alice Arquet, known to intelligence agencies as "Triple-A".
  • Alternate Continuity: The Read Or Die novels, the Read Or Die manga, the Read Or Dream manga and the TV adaption (consisting of the Read or Die OVA and this series) are all separate continuities, but borrow key concepts and characters from each other.
  • Anti-Villain: Junior
  • Apocalypse How: Class 0, Hong Kong sinking.
  • Apologises a Lot: Junior, Maggie
  • Artificial Human: Nancy, Anita King In fact it's heavily implied that all the Paper Sisters and indeed most paper-masters are constructs of Dokusensha.
  • Assimilation Plot: The British Library's ultimate plan is to transmit the power of their god, the Gentleman, and rewrite the minds of everyone on Earth.
  • Badass Adorable: Definitely Yomiko, and each of the Paper Sisters could probably count in their own ways as well.
    • Junior is one cute kid, and capable of carrying out stealth and assassination missions without so much as an ounce of difficulty or hesitation.
  • Badass Bookworm: Pretty much all the protagonists except for Drake. Even Anita has a weird sort of Tsundere relationship with books.
  • Badass Normal: Drake Anderson. Nenene's stubbornness and determination are also quite something:
    "It has a be a bug in the system. Only .9% of the population has enough of a sense of identity to resist the Brainwashing."
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The Paper Sisters.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Yomiko is usually just about the sweetest, most forgiving person on the planet... but God help you if you manage to make her mad.
  • Bifauxnen: Maggie
  • Big Bad Friend: Joker. Well, he used to be Yomiko's friend.
  • Blessed with Suck: As in the original OAV, being a Paper Master usually goes hand-in-hand with life-crippling bibliophilia; Maggie and Michelle basically depend on Anita, the only Paper Sister who isn't obsessed with books, to run their lives for them and keep them from starving to death. Which raises some dark implications about what's going to happen once Anita too succumbs to bibliophilia...
  • Blood from the Mouth: Alice Alice Arquet. Sign that the series is taking a real turn for the dark.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Michelle, Maggie, and Anita.
  • Blush Sticker: Maggie, oddly enough, gets these a lot.
  • Book Burning: The British Library is doing this to books that would not fit under their new "unified culture." Naturally, the protagonists object to this.
  • Bookends: Lee smoking after he is revealed as The Mole ("Has it always tasted this bad?"), and just before he dies ("Delicious...").
  • Brainwashed: Much of the world aside from the major characters after the British Library begins to "unify the world" at the end of Episode 20. Most sadly, the secondary characters lost all their memories of Anita.
  • Brainwash Residue: Anita becomes a bookworm like her sisters after she gets a part of The Gentleman's memories. Take note, Anita used to hate books. But this may simply be her Paper Master nature finally overcoming her PTSD.
  • Brown Note: Webber's giant pipe organ.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Joker's attitude toward Yomiko when she aired her grievances, culminating with him casually showing her what had happened to her love interest. And he did all of this inside an enormous library. Which not-so-coincidentally did not exist the next day.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Yomiko is half-Japanese and half-British, while Wendy Earhart is half-Indian, half-English.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: "It's amazing how quickly the nations of Europe fall into line"
  • Chekhov's Gun: Nenene's novel she works on throughout the series.
  • Christmas Cake: Yomiko is 30 years old.
  • Christmas Episode: The three sisters share birthday cake with Nenene.
  • Cliffhanger: Frequently, the series pulls you along from one episodes to the next.
  • Cloning Blues: It is eventually revealed that Anita is an Artificial Human.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Michelle
  • Cool Big Sis: Michelle.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Michelle is drawn to Anita's friends Hisami and Junior.
  • Cute Bruiser: Anita
  • The Cutie: Anita and Junior.
  • Darker and Edgier: The series is notably darker than both the over the top superheroics of the Read or Die manga, and the whimsical friendly nature of the Read or Dream manga. On the other hand, it's not half as bloody as the OVA, though it does do away with most of the 1960s spy gadgetry. Of course, the TV is darker and edgier than the OVA, even if less bloody.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Wendy
  • Determinator: Would you believe it's the villain this time? When Yomiko has him cornered, Joker makes a speech about how no matter what the heroes do, he or his survivors will pick up and begin their plan again, and that nothing they can do can crush the ideals they believe in. It's a downright inspiring speech, the type that normally gets reserved for the hero. It is also a pack of lies, he was informed minutes earlier by an underling that they could not try again if they failed. His response was simply "Well we better not fail then"
  • Disturbed Doves: Parodied with a pigeon named John Woo.
  • The Ditz: Michelle can be this at times.
  • Dramatic Wind
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Junior. The long hair and strange choices of clothing don't help.
    Michelle: "Ah! So cute! Hey, do you want to be my little sister?"
    Junior: "I'm... a boy..."
  • Egopolis: Britain (or at least the British Library) really thinks too highly of themselves in this universe. So much so that they revert everything back to a 19-century version of the world they ruled, when the British Empire was at its peak of power.
  • Evil Brit: Several, most notably Joker, Wendy, and Elite Mook Mirrorman.
  • Evil Cripple: A milder example than most, but Joker becoming a villain also coincides with him walking with a cane because he has bad legs.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Lee
  • Expy: Alice Alice Arquet bears more than a passing resemblance to Lara Croft, both in terms of physical appearance and in terms of character backstories (Daughters of British aristocrats who indulge in adventure archaeology)
  • Face–Heel Turn: Joker, Wendy and the entire British Library (sans Yomiko and Nancy) undergo one in-between the OVA and the TV series.
  • Faceless Goons: Dokusensha operatives wears something that resembles Highly Visible Ninja outfits, while British Library agents wears hats and sunglasses to cover their faces.
  • Flashback Echo: Anita's memories of burning books.
  • Flipping the Bird: Nenene does this to a literary terrorist in the first episode, and Anita does it to her in the next one.
  • Funbag Airbag: When Nenene is reunited with Yomiko in the National Diet Library.
  • Gainaxing: Enough to make Yoko-sama herself jealous.
    • Episode 15 (Yomiko's reappearance) has so much of this it's basically Played for Laughs.
  • Genki Girl: Anita
  • Gratuitous English: Anita's homeroom teacher seems to speak as much Gratuitous English as Japanese, but he is actually teaching English and asking the students to translate, so it is not gratuitous at all. How does he teach them English? He quotes The Godfather. Students around the world would probably do better in their studies if their teachers made them an offer they couldn't refuse. The English dub opted to Keep It Foreign and changed the scenes to Gratuitous Japanese, which seems a little odd to someone used to the original, since it means a Japanese teacher is teaching Japanese to Japanese schoolchildren.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Joker gives one to Yomiko when they meet for the first time in the series. Nenene cuts him short.
  • Hot Librarian + Badass Bookworm: Yomiko. Her extreme love of books can get to be a very expensive habit (at one point, she even asks her boss for a cash advance so that she can purchase more books), but the British Library still regards her as one of the best in her field.
  • Ill Girl: Hisami
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Alice Alice Arquet
  • Improbable Weapon User:
  • I'm Taking Her Home with Me!: Michelle to Junior. See the entry for Dude Looks Like a Lady above.
  • Intangible Man: Nancy has the ability to phase her body through just about anything: walls, doors, machinery – even flesh and blood. Junior also possesses this power until he phases through his own body to remove a homing device implanted in his chest cavity.
  • Invisibility / Master of Illusion: Mirrorman.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Okahara towards Hisami, after she tells him that she likes Anita.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Natsume and Okahara
  • Kick the Dog: Joker kicks many many dogs over the course of the series, but it culminates with burning the photograph of Yomiko and Nenene that Yomiko's been pining over for the past five episodes. He then tells her she will be happier when she is brainwashed. Wendy, who goes from clumsy cutie in the OVA to a cold individual in the TV series, is even worse. Notable examples being burning books right in front of Yomiko, rubbing salt in Anita's emotional wounds after she thinks she lost her sisters, and telling Junior she never really cared about him outside of being a tool. Sunny Wong killing Alice Alice Arquet after she and Drake surrender is quite a blunt indication of the fact that the Dokusensha are not nice people.
  • Koreans in Japan: "Mr. Kim" is a Korean name, but he looks and acts more stereotypically Chinese than Korean. It may well be a pseudonym especially since he seems to be involved on the shifty side of two very shifty organizations.
  • Large Ham: Nishizone Natsume, who seems to take every possible opportunity to tell the world about her sister's novels.
  • Limp and Livid: Non-angry example when Maggie is forbidden from visiting bookstores when visiting a town full of them. Apparently it takes all she has to resist the lure.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Wendy's reason for her actions.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Yomiko reveals that Junior is Nancy's son (whom Yomiko had earlier told Nancy was dead).
  • Madness Mantra
    "John Smith got his forest burned down.
    That's why he planted new trees.
    A lot, a whole lot, and a lot more...
    A lot, a whole lot, and a lot more..."
    A lot, a whole lot, and a lot more..."
  • Male Gaze: The show really likes to linger on shots of bare and socked feet throughout it's run.
  • Mama Bear: Nancy, after she regains her memories.
  • Manchild: Michelle and Yomiko. Nancy too, though this has less to do about her personality quirks and more to do with brain damage and amnesia.
  • Meaningful Echo: In early episodes, Michelle only calls for a "Three Sisters Vote" so that she and like-minded Maggie can get their way instead of Anita. Halfway into the series, though, she calls for a vote on whether or not to risk their lives to rescue Nenene. This time it is unanimous.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Some of the defenses in the Dokusensha base.
  • The Men in Black: culturally quirky variants.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: It is all the British Library's fault.
  • The Mole: Lee Linho
  • Mood Whiplash: Awww, Anita is having her first day at school, and she is really popular, and now she is hanging out with Hisami, her new best friend and cutest character in the whole school, and Anita is getting that little bit of childhood that she never had before, and holy shit, that dude got shot!
  • Ms. Fanservice: Alice Arquet is a clear Lara Croft expy and doesn't have a nudity taboo. She even tells Drake to "grow up" when he gets embarrassed by her stripping in front of him. Turns into Ms. Fan Disservice when she is suddenly and brutally killed partway through putting her clothes back on.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: It is an action/espionage series about books.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Seriously.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: And so is Yomiko. Michelle, Maggie, and Nenene surely qualify too. ROD loves its nerds.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Archaeologist Alice Arquette also gets butt-arse-nekkid to get some artifact without getting her clothes wet.
  • No Place for Me There: Joker and Wendy believe that they will be rewritten in a way that punishes them in the Gentleman's new world.
  • The Other Darrin: The TV series has an entirely different English dub cast than the OAV (save for Tricia Dickson† , who goes from playing Wendy in the OAV to Nenene in the TV series), which was not too jarring for the most part, except that Yomiko went from having a very American accent§  to having a very English accent§ . According to the DVD commentary, this is because the Japanese creators specifically asked Geneon to give Yomiko an English accent since she is supposed to be half-British).
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Dr. Weber. Really, though he certainly has all the appearances of a vampire, he does not seem to possess any kind of extraordinary abilities.
  • One Last Smoke: Lee Linho
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with Maggie Mui and Drake's daughter Maggie. Drake of course has a double take when he hears Maggie Mui's name.
  • Paper Master: Along with the OVA, it's the Trope Namer.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Drake Anderson, fulfilling the common anime stereotype of Americans being pale-skinned, blond-haired, and blue-eyed.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The terrorists trying to murder Nenene seem to be motivated by anti-Japanese sentiment (they e.g. call her a "sophomoric Japanese bitch", among other charming sobriquets) besides envy of her success as a writer.
  • Portmanteau: Joker uses the name Joe Carpenter. Whether this is his real name or a pseudonym is unstated, but either way Joker is clearly a portmanteau of Joe Carpenter.
  • Posthumous Character: The Gentleman.
  • The Power of Friendship
  • Precocious Crush: Junior to Michelle; especially after the writers found that Junior and Anita had no chemistry.
  • Pre-Explosion Glow: Several times. Chances are high it's happening during a Wham Episode.
  • Prophetic Names: "Yomiko" = "reading child"; "Readman" is obvious.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Mr. Kim is rather personable if a bit reticent and seems to have an amicable working relationship with Mr. John Woo. Nonetheless he works for both Dokusensha and the British Library, and the only thing that stops him from outright being a Double Agent canonically is most likely the small amount of screen time he gets.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes
  • The Quiet One: Maggie.
  • Reality Warper: The Gentleman. Just a fraction of his power transforms London into his memories of it, circa the late Victorian Period.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Lee is fatally wounded while helping Nenene and Anita escape from the Dokusensha's base.
  • Rubber Face: Michelle sometimes does this to herself (one cheek only) after being told off for doing something silly. Anita gets it a lot from various characters, and Yomiko says that getting Rubber Faced helps when she is anxious. She's genuinely surprised when it does not work that way on Anita.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Nenene gets these when she gets angry (i.e. quite often). Yomiko's glasses also go shiny a lot, but in her case it usually signifies emotional trauma.
  • Secret Project Refugee Family: The Paper Sisters. Sort of. They do not actually know they are all products of the project to artificially create Paper Masters when they meet.
  • Sentai (sort of)
  • Serious Business: Books, books, books.
  • Shapeshifter: The Mirror Man.
  • Shorttank: Anita
  • Shout-Out: There's a few shout outs to Hong Kong action films in reference to the Paper Sisters: Anita, Maggie, and Michelle are named for the famous actresses Anita Mui, Maggie Cheung, and Michelle Yeoh (also known as Michelle Khan), who starred together in the Heroic Trio, a film about three superheroines from Hong Kong. They also name their white pigeon John Woo, in reference to the symbolic white doves that frequently appear in the director's films. Additionally for shout outs, the titles for the vast majority of the soundtrack are references to various works of literature, and a number of episodes are also named for famous stories:
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: "Don't be tricked, you idiot! He's the bad guy!"
  • Soul Jar: While The Gentleman's books don't strictly speaking contain his entire soul (his personality was simply too vast to be contained), they still contain vital pieces of it.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Action cliffhangers with the girls in peril, leading into the rather chipper end theme.
  • Steampunk: Much of the British Library. They appear to use 19th-century era cell phones (probably just retro-style modern technology).
  • The Stinger: At the very end of the series, we again see the statue of Mary and Jesus in the church where the sisters met. It has their initials carved into it: "MAM". Which means no matter how much of their memories were written by Dokusensha, that part actually happened.
  • Storming the Castle: Twice.
  • Superhero (sort of)
  • Take That!: Butt-Monkey and George W. Bush Expy President Cole returns, to do little else but get manipulated by the villains and piss himself (again).
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Subverted. When Anita comes to rescue Nenene from the Dokusensha, the two of them spend some time talking. In the meanwhile, Lee takes the opportunity to pick up his gun and sneak up behind Anita. Fortunately, this is when he chooses to do a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Technical Pacifist: In series – all of them, even the most of antagonists. Not quite so in OVA.
  • Third-Person Person: Mr. Kim, in the original Japanese. Not so much in the English dub.
  • Throw the Book at Them: Anita likes to do this.
  • Title Drop: Kindasorta. Wendy's speech to Anita after the British Library brainwashes her school.
    "Follow the reality of the British Library or be destroyed. Dream… or Die."
  • Trademark Favorite Drink: Anita really likes drinking milk.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Watered down somewhat, as London and Hong Kong also have fairly major roles in the story.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In the time since the OVA, Wendy goes from a tea-serving klutz to gun-toting badass.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Wendy again.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: "John Smith is in a grove...."
  • Tsundere: Okahara (towards Hisami) – a rare male example. Arguably Nenene, especially in spiky Grumpy Bear mode.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Junior. He is eventually defused by the protagonists (mostly Michelle). Ironically, being reunited with his mother Nancy does not aid in the defusing, but rather makes things worse.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The British Library's plan.
  • Villains Never Lie: Joker averts with this one. We see a scene where a flunky tells him that they only have one chance to make their plan work. A few minutes later, he is straight-facedly telling the heroes that even if they were to somehow fail today, they would just redo everything tomorrow, and the day after that, etc.
  • Visible Sigh: Anita and Michelle both do this.
  • 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."
  • Was It All a Lie?: When Nenene asks Lee whether he really did want to read her new book. He says that it was a lie, but later admits that it was not.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: One of the only specific weaknesses between true Paper Masters like Yomiko and Paper Users like the sisters is the latter makes objects that fall apart if they are damp or disrupted by sound waves. Except when they do not...
    • It could be that they can make paper resistant to such if they create their constructs expecting them to be exposed to fire, sound or water. That would explain how the sisters could make a boat out of paper that doesn't immediately fall apart when in other situations their paper stops working when suddenly soaked.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 9, where Alice gets Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, qualifies.
    • Episode 12, when Nenene is kidnapped, and Lee is revealed to be a Dokusensha agent.
    • Episode 20, where Joker appears to have killed Michelle and Maggie, and the British Library succeeds in rewriting reality, including wiping Anita's schoolmates' memories of her seemingly out of spite.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Maggie mostly wears men's suits. Although one story in the manga has her mistaken for a guy, no one ever does so in the TV series. It is obliquely implied that her choice of dress is due to her being too tall to wear standard women's clothes.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Junior, in a rare female parental figure example.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: "Who the heck would come up with such a fiasco? It's no good! It's not realistic at all!"
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Junior, which is pretty damn amazing, given the below trope:
  • Younger Than They Look: Junior. Chronologically, he is only 6 years old, but due to accelerated aging, he appears to be about 12. This is probably also technically true for his I-Jin mother Nancy.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: The second Wham Episode (see above) begins as a fairly formulaic episode about Anita saying goodbye to her friends before she moves back to Hong Kong, culminating in a sweet moment between herself and Hisa. Time for the credits, right? Right?