14 December 2004 | film-critic
The Pen is mightier than the Sword!
I am constantly impressed with the level of animation that is coming from overseas. I think it is because they are going places that our native animators are afraid to go. We still see cartoons for children, where overseas they see it as a form of entertainment for both adults and children. Why can't they see that it is a form of cinema that will and can take us to places that live-action never will, and give us characters that no actor could ever conjure up? Who knows? I hope that one day we get there, but until then I can sit on my comfy couch and watch amazing cinema like that of Read or Die.
To begin, this was a fantastic story. I loved the literary references throughout the course of the film. I loved that there was so much to see or do in the story that you never really knew where it was going to go next. This was a very unpredictable story that left so much up to the imagination. It was futuristic, yet somewhat present day. There was a feeling that you were seeing on old novel opened for the first time and remastered for today's generation. It was breathtaking, uncontrollably mesmerizing, and spellbinding to say the least. I mentioned before about the imagination that this film held, well let me say that it flowed like water from this Read or Die. It is hard to explain, but if you watch so much live-action cinema, it is hard to comprehend, but there was more alive in this film than I have seen in any of Spielberg's epics. Keep in mind that I am also relatively new to the Anime genre, and probably am missing some of the better stuff, but for a newbie like myself, Read or Die was perfection in its purest form.
In live-action films I always mention the characters, and am normally nervous to mention them in animation (because it is actors voicing not really acting), but I need to applaud the animators in this film. The way that the characters in this film carried themselves, to their facial expressions, to the intensity that they brought to the screen is equal to that of most live-actors out there. There was enough back-story and future story for these characters that you knew them, you honestly knew them as if they were real. This was a character-based film. While some may argue with me on that topic, it was about friendship, love, and a desire to read and be successful. These are not emotions that you feel or see with just simple drawings. The animators went above and beyond their call of duty with this film, and it was demonstrated through cunning visionary and smart characters.
With a gripping story that took us all over the world (showed the vast horror that could be found, instead of just making it centralized) and characters that literally jumped out of the screen with heart-pounding animation and style, there is only one more thing to say about this film. The action. Growing up in a post-Matrix style film world, it is getting harder and harder to see fight sequences choreographed without the use that made The Matrix so popular. I continually see more and more films ripping off the "bullet-time" effect and making their money back on just that one effect alone. While I do realize that this was
a cartoon, the action in it seemed more real than in most action films. Sly and AH-NOLD have nothing on "The Paper" as she uses brains and strength to outwit her opponents. This continued to keep my attention throughout the entire film and nearly pushed me to watch it again. I know there was something that I probably missed the first time because my jaw was stapled to the floor. The action sequences were, for lack of a better word, beautiful. Like a ballet gone wrong, this film stepped into the screen with simplicity, violence, and this subtle delicacy that is unmatched in American cinema today.
Overall, this was an impressive film for me. I loved everything about it from the beginning to the end. Again, perhaps it has something to do with my amateurish nature around Anime (which is going to change soon), but this is one of the best that I have seen. It left me satisfied, yet with this strong desire to watch again and again. Not many films do that to me, so it was great to see something as powerful as this pull me into the Anime world. I cannot wait for my next adventure! Grade: ***** out of *****