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R.O.D (Read or Die)
ANN; Wikia; Wikipedia

Caution: potential spoilers.

Okay. The British Library is a powerful organization, with is own Special Operations Division, which fights book-related crimes around the world. The division is headed up by a man called Joker (not to be confused with Batman's archnemesis). But the manga is mainly about one of his agents, codename "the Paper," Yomiko Readman. She's not the first Paper, but they've all been Paper Masters. A Paper Master can basically make paper take any form he or she wishes, to use as tools, weapons, shields, whatever. Of course, they also love books. Yomiko... really loves books. One might almost say in the biblical sense. Anyway... there are plenty of people in this series, both good guys and bad, who have special powers.

Volume 1 starts with Yomiko recovering a book stolen from the Library 20 years earlier, from a man named Mr. Woo. But most of the volume follows another story, when Yomiko takes a job as substitute teacher at a Kakinesaka High School. Which happens to be attended by a world-famous teenaged author named Sumiregawa Nenene. Yomiko is a big fan. Yomiko and Nenene are kidnapped by someone called Fire Inc., who has power over fire, which she intends to prove is stronger than paper. But she's actually working for a crazy bibliophile named Marihara Kazumi, who is also a big fan of Nenene's. He wants to get her to write, like, the greatest book ever, to divert people's attentions from more modern entertainments that have been making people read less these days. However, he first wants to forcibly evolve her already great talents... by doing terrible things to her. So, Yomiko has to fight Fire, then Marihara, to rescue Nenene.

In volume 2, Yomiko receives a letter addressed to her, from Donnie Nakajima. Which is surprising, considering Donnie is dead, but more on that later. She goes to Manshu Academy as a world history teacher, where she meets up with Wendy Earhart (Joker's assistant), who has been undercover as a student there for three months (using the name Wendy Mifune). Donnie's letter told Yomiko the Library of Englad was about to send her on assignment to the academy, and that the biggest secret in the world was there. Well, Wendy filled Yomiko in on their mission: to find the secret underground library that was hidden on the campus. The Library of England has been searching for the secret library for a long time, and finally received an anonymous letter saying it was here.

Well, the academy is divided into A-level and B-level students. The A-levels are more intelligent, but they treat the B-levels like dirt. Yomiko (a B-level teacher) breaks up a fight between a B-level student named Harada and an A-level student named Kazuto. Kazuto starts fighting Yomiko, but that is stopped by the student body president, Amahisa Iraka. Anyway, apparently some of the A-level students receive "special training," which helps them develop certain powers. And their training causes earthquakes, which eventually reveal destroys the B-level building, so the B-level students move to an old, unused school house.

Meanwhile, Donnie reappears to Yomiko, who thought she had killed him using her power. It was an accident of course, as he was her teacher and lover, the Paper before her. Now he tells her he faked his death to escape the Library of England. He tells her everything she believed was a lie, written by the Gentleman (the head of the Library's Special Operations Division, and Joker's superior). He also tells her Gentleman is immortal. Donnie wants Yomiko to help him find the underground library, and protect the Book of Truth from Gentleman. Later, Nenene shows up to enroll at the school. She and Wendy are both worried about how strangely Yomiko's been acting recently...

The volume ends with a bonus story about a little girl Yomiko encounters who doesn't want to do a book report, but eventually she changes her mind, and loves the book.

That's all I can say so far, but I'll try to write a bit about volumes 3 and 4 soon. I should also mention this is my first proper manga I've ever had a chance to read. I've already seen the OVA version of R.O.D, which tells a different story. Anyway, I love Yomiko, she's definitely one of my favorite characters ever. And, yeah... I guess that's all I can say. Good stuff, though. Interesting, amusing, weird, whatever.... Oh yes, definitely good stuff. I'm afraid I suck at following everything that goes on in any manga, and prefer anime. Consequently I fear my rating of this is lower than it deserves to be, but it's still really good.


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