Review

by Jon Hayward, Mar 15th 2007

Read or Dream

Synopsis:
Read or Dream V1

Michelle is a romantic daydreamer and hardcore book collector. Maggie is a soft-spoken bookworm who always gets mistaken for a boy. Anita is a tomboy who doesn't have time for reading. Together, they're the Paper Sisters, thee very different siblings united by a strange power, the ability to control paper in any way they desire! And from their Hong Kong detective agency, they solve any and all cases involving books!

In this volume, the sisters check out books from a local library, use the power of literature to save the planet from an alien attack and finally organize their massive book collection. There's never a dull moment at Paper Sisters Detective Company!

Review:

The power of paper manipulation is back with vengeance in this first volume of Read or Dream. There is however, no sign of the lovable bookworm Yomiko, replaced instead by 3 very different paper masters, Michelle, Maggie, and Anita, who can kick some serious behinds when it needs to be done. Enjoyment is the keyword for Read or Dream, and there is plenty of it. Each chapter generally delivers a complete short story from start to finish, whilst giving each character equal overall screen time. This particular volume contains a number of stories based around the theme of love, whether it is for someone else, or for an object such as a book, which is something we learn these three sisters cannot live without.

This first volume of Read or Dream includes a total of 6 short stories and a bonus story which runs throughout the volumes. These short stories range from the thievery of a precious novel, returning a book to a magic library, stopping an alien from destroying the earth and a very nice story spanning two chapters concerned with helping a blind girl who refuses to go through with surgery. Storywriter Hideyuki Kurata deserves a lot of credit for allowing each of the three sisters almost equal screen time over the course of these stories, as well as managing to keep each story interesting and different.

The art of Read or Dream is penned by Ran Ayanaga. The characters look very much like their anime counterparts, which is quite pleasing on the eyes. You almost feel like you are watching the anime as you read each page. The backgrounds are not as detailed as they could have been however, but this is only a minor thing that does not change the overall effect at all. Action effects such as speed lines are used wisely in Read or Dream. In order to not clutter the screen in lines, many of the action scenes featuring paper, use a somewhat thick smudged line effect, manipulating the intended feeling, but without blinding the frame in lines. Overall though, Ayanaga has done a wonderfully job with the art. It looks and feels like its anime counterparts, contains a good amount of detail, and it is clear that Ayanaga has thought through on how some of the frames should be shown. Although there is room for improvement, I could not imagine Read or Dream having any other style.

Viz continue to once again keep close to the norm that we expect from them. The sound effects are once again translated and given a slightly larger than required cartoony font. Surprisingly though, Read or Dream is quite low on sound effects, so they aren't as much of an annoyance as you would usually find them. On the production side, the detail is printed nicely. However I cannot shake the feeling that it could have been printed a little sharper. The back includes a small interview with the writer and artists from Read or Die and Read or Dream, as well as the bonus story and Viz advertisements.

This initial instalment of Read or Dream reminded me once again of how much I enjoy the paper sisters and their continual mishaps and oddities. As much as I would hope they bring Yomiko into the picture, I feel that it is perfect the way it is. This is nothing more than a new set of adventures; similar to that of what you may have experienced watching Read or Die: the TV Series. Not that this is a bad thing however, as it works well. If you enjoy reading a somewhat light hearted story with a hint of seriousness to it, then Read or Dream may be worth checking it. If you're already a fan of Read or Die, the anime or manga, then it is a no-brainier to check this out. This format suits the story greatly; however it'll be interesting to see if the story slowly takes on a story line like its predecessor.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : A
Story : A
Art : A-

+ Nice Depth in the Characters. Comedic Scenes usually hit the mark. Characters interaction very well done.
Stories aren't dramatically different. Surprising Lack of Paper Use

Story:Hideyuki Kurata
Art:Ran Ayanaga

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