R.O.D. The TV – episodes 1-13

November 11, 2007 on 10:37 pm | In R.O.D. | 3 Comments

It’s a series about people who can manipulate paper! Is it action? Is it comedy? Is it slice of life? Is it a pleasant show about a school girl and her blossoming friendships? Is it a show packed full of barely repressed (female) homoerotic undertones?
Why, I believe it’s all of the above! Although perhaps not all at once?

Apparently the R.O.D. OVA isn’t quite highbrow enough for certain anime connoisseurs. I like to think of them as “weekend warriors”, who treat anime like a wine and cheese tasting: if the bouquet isn’t fruity enough, then why bother swallowing when you can spit it out in disgust?
The original OVA was a long held favourite of mine, because it was a fun action story that also invested a lot of stock in the relationship between the two leads, who throbbed with that special “female friendship” that you only get in anime. I really don’t see how you can fault it, although I admittedly have not watched it since 2003. I don’t care where you’re from, an incontinent, nuke happy President of the United States is funny.

So that brings us to R.O.D. The TV. Where’s Yomiko, you say? Where is the British Library, the “Last Literary Defence Line of the UK”? All will be answered in time: funky awesome time.

The Paper Sisters, Maggie, Anita, and Michelle, are hired to be bodyguards for hit author Sumiregawa Nenene. Nenene hasn’t written a book for four years, and apparently some fanatics hate her. After a spectacular aeronautical save, the Sisters go to live with Nenene in Japan … where they do less bodyguarding than they do nuisance making, school attending, and completing a few other jobs for the mysterious agency Dokusensha.

I think that a big problem that people have with watching anime is that they can’t get themselves past the concepts. I don’t see what’s so hard to understand about “Paper Masters”: provided they have paper, they can bend it to their wills – beyond the generic barrier building and manipulation, the Paper Sisters specialise in familiars, archery and cutting. Seeing the ability put to practical use, it doesn’t seem stupid at all. While the OVA was pretty much a parade of strange powers used by stranger people, there’s less variety thus far: that said, I would argue that the first episode’s action defeats the entire three episode OVA straight off the bat.

Yet, given its 26 episode format, R.O.D. The TV has the luxury of not having to be endless action. While it may seem at first that we’re being subjected to a display of disparate yet ostensibly related personalities, including the “huge quiet girl” look that was inexplicably popular a few years back. The shifting of genre is a good deal of fun to watch, and the classroom scenes are reminiscent of Sugar (complete with Anita’s own “rival”) and some of Kuroda’s best work on Magical Project S and the like.

The reason that it can shift around so effortlessly is because of the grand idea of having characters exist as “keys” to the other characters. I’m sure that the Paper Sisters are designed to be annoying, initially, and that’s not difficult because Nenene, who is misleadingly presented as the heroine, is constantly annoyed by them.
Nenene, voiced by my increasingly respected Satsuki Yukino (I came into this directly after watching Planetes, and more on that later), is remarkably presented as something perhaps best described as a “shrew”. I wondered if I would be able to cope with all of these characters but, as I had half expected, they complimented each other well. Anita and Nenene were the two firebrands and therefore didn’t get along well, but they act as softeners to one another. Thus opened up by Nenene, Anita is given free licence to bring out the humanity of the mysteriously feminine “Junior”. Junior is blank and not incredibly interesting, but he makes Anita more interesting and works on that level.
Michelle and Maggie are closer to supporting roles – I’m giving this show to Anita – but they also become more fun to watch as the show progresses.

Despite the total change of focus from the OVA, R.O.D. The TV is subtly influenced by its predecessor. A picture of Yomiko (and a terribly illustrated picture at that) is featured from the first episode, and eagle-memoried watchers will recall that Nenene’s notes were plastered all over Yomiko’s building in the OVA. I know that the “Missing Yomiko” elements will come into play later on, but it’s worthwhile to plant the seeds of … growth … in these early stages. Just play dumb, please.
As I said, I haven’t seen the OVA since 2003, but the gradual introduction of further characters from that continuum sent excitement through to my very core. Seeing the same characters in extremely different contexts is a source of intrigue, which is something that doesn’t go astray in a series quite so diverse as this one. The “prior to halfway point” twist was actually fairly amazing to me – I let myself get surprised – and the excitement generated is both genuine and palpable. I’ll grant that some of this is fueled by four year old nostalgia, but it cannot be denied that the action and drama spawned by all of this is beyond reproach.

I’m hoping that the whole “girl love” leanings will warrant further investigation for another time, even if Hisa-chan is not returned to the fold. It’s a strange thing to see, and I’ve never understood how it got quite so ingrained in anime culture, but it’s interesting nonetheless. I know very well that the first major arc has concluded, but I cannot run on cynicism, I cannot believe in the law of diminishing returns; not for something that I bought and owned all of. R.O.D. The TV will continue to be subject to my scrutiny, and I do not believe that it will be found wanting.
Do not let your animated joy be fleeting, my friends: grow and nurture it, until it becomes a phoenix in your heart.


  1. Episode 14 will explain all of the OVA connection. ^^

    I loved both of the shows, even if a lot of the plot points are a stretch.

    Comment by kacpy — November 12, 2007 #

  2. I really liked the majority of this series. However, I thought the ending was really lame and contrived. Unfortunate, too, because so much of the series was quality.

    Comment by BrikHaus — November 12, 2007 #

  3. As you know, I really disliked it. Not because I had problems with the idea of “paper masters”; that was cool. The problem was that the first episode, and the OP, promised me things the series didn’t deliver.

    The OP of RODTV is right up there with “Misaki Chronicles” in terms of deceiving the audience about what the series will deliver. The difference is that “Misaki Chronicles” is much better than its OP seems to suggest it will be — and RODTV was a lot worse.

    Comment by Steven Den Beste — November 25, 2007 #

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