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Episode by episode...

(This will give away the surprises)

Episode One

Stereotypical characters all present and correct. Actually, the main heroine is introduced efficiently, and is generally interesting if hugely irritating throughout. The other heroes don't come off quite so well: the blond guy is bland, the boss isn't on screen long enough to find out anything about, and the other girl is the standard hard-as-nails agent who turns out (shock!) to have a heart of gold beneath her implausible frontage.

The plot... barely deserves the name. The episode basically divides into the standard three acts: the introduction of the girl (complete with battle against a supervillain refugee from a 70s Marvel comic), a wodge of exposition in which the baddy's plan is revealed to be 'something vaguely evil' , and then an extended chase sequence that takes up the last half. Which is where it really falls apart because the one bit of plot there is, which gets them into the chase, revolves around the monumental stupidity of letting the speccy girl carry around, in plain view, the Plot Token which they know the baddies are after, and which is supposed to be locked up safely in the vaults. If these are the people trying to save the world, we're all doomed, I'm afraid (it's also interesting no one mentions the White House being blown up. You'd think that that might have made the news. But no. Maybe after the World Trade Centre the Americans are blase about their landmarks).

Oh, and the dialogue is so bad I actually had to take breaks every five or so minutes. That's par for the course, really, but could they not have got someone who speaks English as if it was their first language to write it? They also bizarrely leave random words in the original instead of translating them, while providing a key along the top. Could you not have just translated them in the main subtitles, guys? This isn't part of a 'learn Japanese' course.

Some of the bad writing though can't be blamed on the translators, unless they've totally changed the structure of some scenes. The exposition is just badly paced however you try to rewrite the individual lines, and points that should be left in subtext are laboured: for example, in one scene Speccy meets another agent for the first time and they give their codenames (Speccy's is 'The Paper' -- not 'Paper', but 'The Paper', like she's the Guardian or something. Presumably this is the original Japanese writers not getting the English right, but couldn't little things like this have been cleaned up in the translation? How difficult would that have been? I mean, really?). Speccy gives her real name, and asks for the other agent's. The other agent refuses to give it. Right, great, the difference in their characters has been established; any decent editor would realise that and cut away. But instead we have another half-dozen redundant lines that tell us nothing about the characters we couldn't have inferred from the initial exchange. It's just sloppy writing of the kind that should have been pruned off the first draft.

The animation is generally good: there's only a few of those naff 'everything still except one thing moving' shots. It's not the quality of a cinema release like Spirited Away but it's passable. The artwork is good if you like that kind of style, and never falls into being overly cartoony; though it's not Alex Ross either. 

The background paintings of New York at night are very very pretty, though. And it must have taken hours to draw all those books.

Its real triumph though is in Speccy. Though her power to control paper isn't really any different from any of a million other 'control X' powers (clearly whoever wrote this has been brought up on Marvel!) and the 'ditzy agent' schtick isn't original, she manages to avoid falling either into the cliche of 'ditzy agent who turns out to be super-competent' or 'ditzy agent who is utterly useless and succeeds only by luck'. She makes mistakes, she succeeds, but she walks the line between either extreme. The result is that, though you want to strangle her, she never bores you in the way that Miss low-cut catsuit does. This is a main character who you could see people being fond of.

Not me, obviously. But, you know. People. 

It remains to be seen whether more will be built on this solid foundation. Blond guy and the gruff guy who has a liking for horoscopes instead of a character might get some depth too (I think it's too late for Codename: Wonderbra sorry I mean Miss Deep). And we might find out what 'something evil' actually is, but I'm not putting any money on it.

You may be surprised (mostly pleasantly) by the turns the characters take.  Or you may not, of course.  I'd like to ask a couple of questions, though: firstly, which subtitling group subtitled the particular version of the first episode that you watched?  Because there are at least 4 versions done by different groups, and half your complaints seem to be at the particular subbing group's idioms.  The only "official" subtitling would be that on the DVD, but I suspect (although I'm not sure) that's not the version you're describing here.  You can hear the voice actors saying "Zer Paper" a lot in the audio, so you can't really blame the subbers for translating Yomiko's title as "The Paper" rather than "Paper".  That's a style of naming chosen by the original Japanese creators.  And secondly, um, welcome! and stuff, and who are you?  This is hardly an unbiased review given it's on page /Review, which isn't a problem -- see most of Vitenka's reviews, for example -- but it's conventional to sign one's reviews somehow.  We can call you "NrthNtliPerson?" if you really really want, but you might prefer some other designation...  --AlexChurchill

Heh.  I quite like this review, though it disagrees with me.  Codename? Wonderbra? is a wonderful title ;)  Whilst yes, the characters are largely stereotypes - sit back!  It's supposed to be silly, not deep.  For crying out loud, it's got monkey in it.  You can't take it seriously after that.  (Uh, he doesn't show up until the second one)  As for the 'random words untranslated'... that's a personal choice thing.  I wish more groups released as ogm or something else where you can choose which subtitles to show.  But in general I find it preferable that they not mistranslate some words.  Since language is not a OnetoOne? thing - a single word can have a host of meanings, and be relying upon that fact (to make a pun, for example)  That kind of thing needs not to be translated, as do names.  The WTC crack is off base - this was released well in advance of that event, and is more of an homage to ID4 than anything.  Plus, part of the whole point of the fun is how silly the library is, focussing on books to the exclusion of all else.  The americans lost a white house?  Oh dear, what a shame, pass the tea would you?  --Vitenka (still, if you didn't like it, well, that's fine - you've certainly got a decent nutshell description of it.  Not everyone likes re-runs of ManFromUncle?, after all.  Just, you know, people.  :)  Oh - you do find out what the 'something evil' is.  You won't like it, but you do.  It's on the main ReadOrDie page - hidden in plain view, as it were.


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