Before I get to anything else, I want to say it’s pretty clear that whoever wrote this (or the manga it may be adapting) was clearly working out some fierce frustrations with wannabe writers. The inspiration somehow manages to be even more transparent here than it was in that part in LADY IN THE WATER when the film critic gets mauled by a giant monster.
As for this pilot episode on the whole… shit, I don’t know… “page powers?”
It doesn’t seem useful anymore to comment on the sort of bewildering tonal shifts in these shows, but I suppose I ought to give READ OR DIE some credit for at least being on steadily-escalating slope of absurdity instead of a jarring switchback turn. It sure looked like it was going to be a straight drama about a willful author and the tribulations she suffers while navigating her writing career. I was even going to question if there was much sense in animating a story that could very easily play on one cozy on Lifetime. Then they borrowed a big explosion from Michael Bay, followed it up with a death trap out of SAW and then capped a vision of what Green Lantern’s powers would like if they black and white and read all over.
In short, this felt like the most demented READING RAINBOW episode ever conceived...
To its credit, the girls are all good foils for each other and, yes, their interplay actually grounds the ridiculous portions and makes parts like the “rainstorm rescue” even a little touching. But I’m still going to take off the relativist’s hat that I usually TRY to wear and say that this was straight-up silly. Not funny, not imaginative… silly.
I love this field for taking up ideas that are often too “out there” for Western media and pushing them in creative and unpredictable ways. But then shows like this remind how “out there” can sometimes be a synonym for “tenuously conceived.”
Watch this episode “The Papers Have Landed” below and decide for yourself.