Read or Die

For other things abbreviated R.O.D., see Rod.
"Papermaster" redirects here. For the former Senior Vice President of Devices Hardware Engineering at Apple Inc, see Mark Papermaster.
Read or Die

Cover of first light novel volume
(Rīdo Oa Dai)
Genre Spy, Supernatural, Science fantasy
Light novel
Written by Hideyuki Kurata
Illustrated by Taraku Uon
Published by Shueisha
Imprint Super Dash Bunko
Original run 2000 – present
Volumes 12
Written by Hideyuki Kurata
Illustrated by Shutaro Yamada
Published by Shueisha
English publisher
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Ultra Jump
Original run 200019 August 2005
Volumes 4 (die) + 4 (dream)

R.O.D: Read or Die (リード・オア・ダイ Rīdo Oa Dai) is a series of light novels authored by Hideyuki Kurata, published under Shueisha's Super Dash Bunko imprint. Read or Die follows Yomiko Readman, codename "The Paper", an agent for the Special Operations Division of the British Library. There are currently 11 Read or Die novels. In volume 11, a note stated that the series would end with the upcoming volume 12. In of June 2016, it was announced via Twitter that volume 12 would be released in August, and that there would be a volume 13.[1]

Along with the novels, Kurata scripted the official R.O.D manga illustrated by Shutaro Yamada, which was originally published in Ultra Jump magazine and later printed into four paperback volumes, and Read or Dream, a manga illustrated by Ran Ayanaga set in the same universe as Read or Die.

The popularity of the Read or Die novels and manga resulted in the production of the Read or Die Original Video Animation (OVA) in 2001, which was directed by Koji Masunari and produced by SME Visual Works. In 2003, Aniplex produced R.O.D the TV, a 26-episode animated television series, which served as a sequel to the OVA and introduced Read or Dream's characters to those from Read or Die.

25 February 2012, a new manga called R.O.D Rehabilitation started in the Super Dash & Go magazine, the story tells of a city created by Bibliomania, Bibliopolis.[2]

On August 22, 2016, the twelfth light novel was announced, slated for release on August 26. The possibility of a new R.O.D anime was also hinted at in the announcement.[3]


Read or Die takes place in an alternate history world where the British Empire has remained a major superpower. The Empire's continued existence is guaranteed by the British Library (大英図書館 Daiei-toshokan), an external intelligence agency working within the actual British Library and its Special Operations Division (the British Secret Intelligence Service, more widely known as MI6) is also often mentioned, despite Kurata's editors (erroneously) telling him it no longer existed.[4]

The series follows Yomiko Readman, also known as "The Paper", a superhuman agent of the Library's Special Operations (possessing a "double 0" certification that denotes a "license to kill", as in the James Bond series, although she rarely invokes it). In both the novels and manga, her adventures alternate between doing missions for the British Library and helping young novelist Nenene Sumiregawa.

Only the first novel and first manga have similar stories, involving rescuing Nenene Sumiregawa from a vicious kidnapper. Otherwise, the novels, manga, and animated versions of the stories have divergent plotlines. While characterizations are usually consistent even when storylines are not, some characters have different origins in different versions of the story, or do not appear at all. Still, it's mostly an ongoing story told through different media from the novels to the animated series so far.


British Library

The British Library is an institution devoted to the promotion of literacy and the greater glory of the British Empire. More than a mere library, the British Library is a powerful political organization with branches all over the world. The organization is led by Gentleman (ジェントルメン Jentorumen), an old man of extreme longevity and the power behind the throne of the British Empire.

The British Library Special Operations Division (大英図書館 特殊工作部 Daiei-toshokan Tokushu-kousakubu) is the secret enforcement branch of the British Library. Based in a giant underground complex concealed beneath the Great Court at the British Museum, the Special Operations Division employs a number of agents with special powers and runs operations all over the world to fight book-related crime and terrorism, and to acquire rare works for the Library. Their slogan is "Peace to the books of the world, an iron hammer to those who would abuse them, and glory and wisdom to the British Empire!"


Dokusensha (読仙社) is the series' main antagonist, a secret organization based in Sichuan devoted to Chinese supremacy and led by China (チャイナ Chaina). Known as Grandma (おばあさん Obaa-san) to Dokusensha's high ranked agents, China is a "little girl" who, like Gentleman, has lived for a long enough time to know the hidden history of humankind.

Supporting characters



The Read or Die manga series was written by Hideyuki Kurata, illustrated by Shutaro Yamada, and published in Ultra Jump from 2000 to 2005. It was later collected into four bound volumes by Shueisha and later licensed for translation and release in North America by Viz Media.

Volume list

No.TitleJapanese releaseNorth American release
1Mr. Woo's WoesOctober 2000March 21, 2006[5]
ISBN 978-1-4215-0248-9
  • Episodes 1-8
  • Postscript
2Ancient Chinese SecretsJune 2001May 16, 2006[6]
ISBN 978-1-4215-0257-1
  • Episodes 9-15
  • Episode 16: Bonus Chapter
  • Postscript
3Reading Can Be DeadlyJanuary 2002July 18, 2006[7]
ISBN 978-1-4215-0508-4
  • Episodes 17-23
  • Author's Note
4Dear Deadly DiaryJuly 19, 2002September 19, 2006[8]
ISBN 978-1-4215-0509-1
  • Episodes 24-30
  • Postscript

Additionally, Kurata scripted and Ran Ayanaga illustrated the manga Read or Dream, about the three Hong Kong papermasters Anita King, Michelle Cheung and Maggie Mui who form the "Paper Sisters Detective Company." It was published in Japan in four trade paperback volumes by Shueisha in 2002.

No.TitleJapanese releaseNorth American release
1Three Sisters - One PowerJuly 18, 2003November 14, 2006[9]
ISBN 1-4215-0510-X
2The Clock StrikesMarch 19, 2004January 9, 2007[10]
ISBN 1-4215-0511-8
3Many MaggiesNovember 19, 2004March 13, 2007[11]
ISBN 1-4215-0862-1
4The Last ChapterAugust 19, 2005May 8, 2007[12]
ISBN 1-4215-0863-X


Main article: Read or Die (OVA)

Based on the Read or Die manga series, the film was directed by Koji Masunari and released in early 2001 in Japan by Studio Deen in early 2001 and outside Japan by Manga Entertainment in 2003. The story, featuring main characters such as Yomiko Readman and Joker, is a continuation of the Read or Die storyline, taking place a few years after the events of the manga.


Main article: R.O.D the TV

R.O.D the TV is a 26-episode anime TV sequel to the Read or Die OVA, animated by J.C.Staff and produced by Aniplex, directed by Koji Masunari and scripted by Hideyuki Kurata, about the adventures of three paper-manipulating sisters, Michelle, Maggie and Anita, who become the bodyguards of Nenene Sumiregawa. Its official title of R.O.D -THE TV- is a catch-all acronym referring to the inclusion of characters from both the Read or Die novels, manga and OVA and the Read or Dream manga, which revolves solely around the Paper Sisters.


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