R.O.D. The TV Series
Volume 2 - The Undercover Student

Starring (voice): Chiwa Saito, Hiromi Hirata and Shoko Kikuci
RRP: 19.99
MVD 2078
Certificate: E
Available 18 July 2005

Anita, Maggie and Michelle run the Paper Sisters Detective Company. Their primary role is to recover lost or stolen books, a role that leads the sisters into adventure and danger...

This is the second disc from the R.O.D. television series, which is a spin-off of the Read or Die OVA/Manga, and is set around five years after the original, hence the change of name to R.O.D. to avoid confusion. Now, from the basic premise you would think that the series was a little too odd for most tastes, but give it a go. The writing is superb, with strong engaging plots. The girls use a number of high tech gadgets in their work as well as an ability to manipulate paper into shapes including flying dragons which helps them get around.

There are only four stories on the disc covering episodes five to eight of the twenty-six part series.

In episode five (They shout) the girls are sent off to Romania to recover a stolen book called The Pulsating Flesh. This is basically a pseudo vampire story. The scenes when the girls meet Professor Webber, the reclusive who owns the book, are genuinely creepy with good use of the 5.1 soundtrack.

Episode six (The Right Stuff) is a more personal story revolving around Anita's hatred of books. It's a slow moving piece with little action to speak off, but well worth a watch.

Episode seven (In a Grove) is the best story on the disc. It involves the girls being sent to a small town to recover a book, but as soon as they get there Maggie is arrested for Michelle's murder. In a race against time the girls must find Michelle and the mysterious 'John Smith' who has the book. This episode is very weird and surreal, touches of film noir just add to the whole strangeness of the story. Is Michelle dead? What is up with the creepy villagers who insist that she was never there? The ending comes out of nowhere and surprised even me; it was more like an episode of The Prisoner.

The last episode on the disc (episode eight, Seduced by the Night) is a real oddity. Anita and some friends break into the school at night as they have heard that there is a poltergeist. The reason that it's odd is that the story goes nowhere. While it does succeed in highlighting some of Anita's friends' relationships, you never really find out if there was a ghost at all. Maybe that is saved for future episodes.

The disc is well packed with extras. The commentary track is more fun than informative, but well worth listening too. It features Taiiesin Jaffe, the English dub director as well as Rachel Hirschfeld (Anita), Sara Lahti (Maggie) and Hunter Mackenzie (Michelle), it would have been nice to have some input from the original Japanese cast to contrast how the various voice over actors approached their work. The art gallery is okay, as are the trailers for other shows, but they are a 'watch once only' sort of affair, as are the episode trailers.

Picture quality is as usual superb, with no noticeable artifacting. The disc comes with the usual English subtitles, but even more impressive is that the audio track contains both the Japanese and English soundtrack in 5.1. Whilst the rear speakers do not have a lot to do through most of the show, they are used to good effect in the more action/atmospheric moments.

So there you have it another good anime show that just leaves you wanting more.

Charles Packer

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