Yomiko Readman, aka The Paper, is a Paper Master- a British Library agent with the special ability to manipulate paper in any way she wishes. It should come as no surprise that such a person is also an avid bibliophile, and so what better person to be asked to stick close to than up and coming author Nenene Sumiregawa? Unfortunately, there won’t be much time for reading books on this mission, for someone out there has an unhealthy interest in Nenene, and they are prepared to use any means to retrieve her…
As a fan of the original Read or Die OVA and, to a lesser extent, the ROD TV series, I was looking forward to sampling the manga, especially as it filled in the back story of the main characters. Unfortunately, this first volume turned out to be a bit of a disappointment; the basic concept may have been sound, but it lost far too much in the execution.
Read or Die’s chief flaw lies in its layout, which is simply far too cluttered for its own good. Action scenes (of which there are many) are hard to follow, and exposition is crammed in so tightly that it is headache-inducing to even tell who is speaking, let alone care about what they are saying. Even the novelty of having a lead who can manipulate paper is somewhat obscured by the fact the manga is simply a struggle to read and enjoy.
Visually, the basic character designs are solid and aesthetically pleasing, but as mentioned above, the artwork largely fails to come together on the page- it isn’t that it looks bad, it is just not particularly effective at conveying the events of a scene.
I haven’t said much about the actual content of this volume, simply because it is so completely overshadowed by how difficult it is to properly read and get into it without ending up with a headache. No doubt dedicated ROD fans will be interested in this, but despite my keen anticipation of this manga, the first volume proved to be highly disappointing.