R.O.D. The TV Series - Undercover Student
Geneon // Unrated // $29.98 // September 7, 2004
Review by John Sinnott | posted October 31, 2004
Highly Recommended
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Graphical Version
Title: R.O.D. Volume 2 - The Undercover Student

Body of Review: The Paper Masters return in the second volume of R.O.D. These four stand alone episodes have the sisters traveling abroad on some paying assignments, and staying Japan helping Nenene. There are a good mix of shows that keeps the interest level high.

The nice thing about this volume is that these episodes are all complete in themselves, but they still advance the story. There are revelations about the sisters past, some interesting developments with Nenene that are a cause of concern, and we learn a little more about the mysterious book in the school library. Each of the shows taken by themselves are enjoyable, but when you look at the overriding plot that get to be downright exciting.

Episode 5 : They Shout
The sisters take an assignment in Romania. It seems that a rare book has been stolen from the British Library, and the three paper masters have been hired to steal it back from a castle in the middle of a lake. But the simple sounding job soon turns complicated. As they arrive on the island, they find out that most of their powers don't work. What has the mysterious Professor Weber done to nullify their powers, and will the three young women be able to escape from the trap?

Episode 6 : The Right Stuff
Back in Japan again, Anita finds out that there's an open house coming up at her school. She has to write a book report to read in front of the class, but she doesn't want to because she hates books. So she decides not to tell her sisters or Nenene about the event. The most fun in this show is when Anita actually brings a friend from school home with her. The reaction of her sisters is wonderful.

Episode 7 : In a Grove
This is one of the most eerie episodes in the series so far. The sisters are on assignment again, looking for a rare and powerful book. They are searching for an actor named John Smith, who is rumored to posses the important tome. But while they are sitting in a café deciding their next move, Michele goes to the bathroom and never comes out. All of the customers, the waitress and the bartender all say that she was never in the place. Anita and Maggie go back to their hotel where they find all of Michele's clothes missing. Before they can decide on their next course of action, the police pound on the door and arrest Maggie for murdering Michele. Things get even more bizarre when Anita goes to the police station to see her sister, and is informed that they've never heard of her. A very mysterious show that keeps you guessing.

Episode 8 : Seduced by the Night
Back in Japan, the library at Anita's school is being vandalized at night. The books are thrown from the shelves and scattered everywhere. Some of the students are convinced that a poltergeist is responsible, so the class all meets at the library that night to catch the ghost.

The DVD:

Extras: This disc includes the Japanese previews for the episodes presented on the disc, an art gallery, and some trailers. There is also a commentary track on episode five by the voice director and the three actresses who play the sisters. Geneon had a lot of problems with the levels on this disc. The menu is blaring, and this commentary track is incredibly low. I really had to crank my receiver up a lot just to hear it. This is something that they should have checked on the test discs.

Video: Being a recent program, the video quality was for this episode was very good. The full frame video had bright colors and excellent detail. You could clearly see the steam rising from the morning coffee, and discern the strands of hair trailing behind the women as they ran. There was some aliasing in the picture, a little more than I'd like, but it didn't distract from my enjoyment of the show. I was very pleased with the way this show looked.

Audio: This DVD has the original language track in stereo and in 5.1 also. Usually the Japanese track doesn't get the multi-track treatment. There is also an English dub in 5.1. I viewed the disc listening to both 5.1 soundtracks, and I had a slight preference for the Japanese audio. The main thing I had against the English track was that Anita, being a young girl, had a high-pitched voice that was whiney and irritating. The other voices sounded appropriate though. On both tracks, the rear channels were used to very good effect, with effects and voices coming from all corners of the room. The voice of Prof. Weber in episode 5 was made particularly eerie by having it circle around the room when he was off camera. While the explosions were not terribly forceful, they sounded adequate.

The one critique I have is that the level on the menus are higher than the levels on the shows themselves. When the show is over and the disc reverts back to the menu, the sound is blaring.

Final Thoughts: This volume is even better than the first one, something that doesn't happen too often. The characters are developing well, but not at the expense of a good story. The episodes work well as stand alone stories, but they also include pieces that fit into the larger puzzle. A fun show that is equal parts mystery and adventure with a dollop of comedy through in for good measure. Highly recommended.

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