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Read Or Die: The TV - volume two
voice cast: Rachel Hirschfeld, Hunter Mackenzie Austin, and Sara Lahti

director: Kouji Masunari

120 minutes (15) 2003
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Michael Bunning
This is the second disc of the Read Or Die series, and I've rarely been looking forward to an anime release with as much anticipation as I have been with this one. I loved the first disc, and something would have had to go seriously wrong for me not to love this one too.

Well, nothing's gone wrong, but the series has taken an unexpected direction in episodes five to eight. The main characters were introduced and developed quite well in the first four episodes, and I was expecting the central story to continue full steam ahead. Instead, one of the main characters, Nenene, has been sidelined as she starts her new novel, and Anita (the youngest of the Chan sisters) has had her part enlarged considerably. She's now attending school and making friends, and this second disc rather looks like the series is winding down into a preteen school show with the odd bit of book fetishism and some shadowy goings-on backstage. Luckily there are two episodes that don't have any of Anita's giggling friends in, and in these episodes the Chan sisters are working for the Dokusensha company who are very interested on getting their hands on antique books with odd titles ('Book of the Pulsing Flesh', for one). Even when we are treated to a school slumber party episode, it moves the story arc forward in an interesting way, giving some more depth to the characters along the way.

If that last paragraph meant nothing to you, it might be an idea to start at the beginning and read the review of Read Or Die: The TV volume one. As with most anime series, the episodes really have to be watched in order, and jumping in at episode five won't do you any favours. This series is good enough that it deserves to be watched from episode one, and I urge you to do just that.

The voice acting is great, and as with volume one, I'm a big fan of the English track, which is the best I've ever heard. I'd still recommend watching the original Japanese track, but then I'm a purist at heart. DVD extras are good too, being the same as on the first disc: trailers, episode previews, some production artwork, and commentary tracks. Oddly, all of the extras are slightly less impressive than they were on volume one, but they're still worth a gander.

Overall, I'd still highly recommend this series. The stories are good, the voice work excellent and the animation outstanding. My only problem with it is that the series seems to have slowed down a little, and that at the rate of four episodes per disc, it's going to cost about �100 to buy the whole series.

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