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FROM THE ASHES: Segment # 15

Read...or Die!


A bit more than your average action series, this sexy spy filled adventure brings a bit of James Bond mixed with Kung Fu movies and a touch of the supernatural and historical. Director Koji Masunari (1965-) directed not only this film, but the sequential anime series as well. I will be focusing on just the OVA/film released in 2001, as there is much story to cover from the manga, OVA, series, and light novels. The staff on this project have covered a lot more range in anime series rather than in feature films. Koji Masunari has worked on: Azumanga Dioh!, Kamichu!, Magi: the Kingdom of Magic, Naruto, Tenchi Universe, Read or Die, and more. Producer Keiichi Matsuda has a much shorter resume list, but still impressive projects such as: Hetalia, Read or Die, Rurouni Kenshin, You're Under Arrest!, and a few more. One area this project shines is in the films soundtrack, with composer Taku Iwasaki (1968-) at the helm. Known for his upbeat, contemporary style, Iwasaki also brings a great sense of scale with his scores, working on the following: Black Cat, Black Butler, Getbackers, Gurren Lagann, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Origins: Sprits Of The Past, Read or Die, Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal, Rurouni Kenshin: Reflections, Soul Eater, The Soul Taker, Witch Hunter Robin, Yakitate! Japan, and many others. Another quality aspect of this film is it's crisp, fluid, and lively animation; brought to the screen by Studio DEEN, whose more popular projects include: Ah! My Goddess, Akira, Angel's Egg, Batman: Gotham Knight, Blade Of The Immortal, Blood+, Cowboy Bebop, Darker Than Black, Ergo Proxy, Mobile Suit Gundam, Naruto, Queen Emeraldes, Ranma 1/2, and oh my GAWD does the list go on! I'm sure you see my point; this film is pretty in multiple facets. Now for the film itself.

Dear goodness, this film is shiny! Everything, seriously, just about every surface with detail practically shimmers. I digress. From the introductory sceane, a supernatural and epic scale comes across quite seamlessly. Then, a smooth transition into the opening musical number, and boy is it a good one. I can't listen to the opening theme without feeling like a secret agent, its great. This film has a solid mix of action, comedy, the supernatural, science, other anime and historical references, and all around fun. The story isn't really meant to be overly complex or thematic,but its more like a fun for fun's sake kind of tale. Superpowered secret agents retrieving stolen historical objects out in the field, and using their powers and quick wit to save the day. Sweet! It's quick to bring a smile to my face with its rather dry humor, but its not the kind to give you side splitting laughter. This doesn't mean the story and writing is bad or sub par, it's just not amazing or anything. I find that a consistent theme here. While the music, animation quality and concepts here are all great, the overall writing, acting and impact are "just" good. Solid, but not spectacular. Which is kinda blah really, because the concepts here are just so damn cool! Historical figures brought to life with one track minds on serving their masters goal?! Come on, that sounds awesome. I don't want to give away much more, but I can say that if you're looking for a quick, fast paced action adventure with a touch of comedy and reference humor, then this is definitely for you. If however you are seeking a more philosophical, story driven and heavy plot, then you may find this OVA a bit lacking. The voice actors for both Japanese and English are okay; the script here is not a wonderment, so the actors only have so much to work with. The story of Agent Paper and her associates is not a dull one; but is better executed in the manga and light novels, in my personal opinion. At least, the story is given more time and complexity there. Still, this is definitely a fun one so check it out!

From The Ashes, V. ~

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