Yomiko Readman’s boss, the commander of the Special Operations Division, codenamed Joker. Joseph Carpenter is a stereotypical upper-class Englishman. (Hideyuki Kurata describes him as “someone whose photo you would expect to see in the entry for “Englishman” in the Encyclopedia Britannica”); his cool head and skill with words are his primary weapons.
Joseph Carpenter is a tall, slim Englishman with short blond hair. At the time of the OVA, he is 30 years old. His appearance varies very little in the different ROD continuities. In the TV series he sometimes wears conventional business suits, but he usually appears in the costume of an English gentleman of the early 20th century: a green cutaway, vest with watch fob, tie, and wing collar. His hair is slightly longer and his face is somewhat more mature and careworn in the TV series. He also has a slight limp and walks with a cane, having suffered a serious injury in the interval between the end of the OVA and the beginning of the TV continuity.
Joseph Carpenter’s background is not fully known. At one point in the OVA, a screenshot of Joseph Carpenter’s office shows a photograph of a British officer in World War I or World War II uniform. This may be a picture of one of Joseph Carpenter’s ancestors, but this is uncertain. Joseph Carpenter likes to downplay his intellectual abilities (he says he doesn’t read much) but he has obviously had an excellent education, presumably at a public school and one of the great British universities.
Role in RODEdit
Joseph Carpenter is arguably the most complex and contradictory figure in the entire ROD universe. As the head of the British Library’s Special Operations Division, Joseph Carpenter’s task is to win the British Library’s clandestine war against the Chinese Library organization of Dokusensha. For Joseph Carpenter, however, victory over Dokusensha is merely a means to an end. Joseph Carpenter also seeks to prolong the life of the chief librarian, Mr. Gentleman, who is also Joseph Carpenter’s master and mentor. Like Mr. Gentleman, Joseph Carpenter is dedicated to the support of the British Empire, and to reviving its former glory.
To achieve these ends, Joseph Carpenter will use any and every means, fair or foul. Joseph Carpenter is a master of deception, and it is not always easy in some of the ROD continuities to determine whether he is meant to be a hero or a villain. That is, he generally assumes the role of an anti-hero.
Novels and mangaEdit
Joseph Carpenter’s role in the ROD novels is to obtain and overtake the power of Mr. Gentleman. After Mr. Gentleman gave him almost full authority over all British forces, which allowed Joseph Carpenter to infiltrate Dokusensha’s China commander center, Joseph Carpenter realised the position is beyond his capabilities, and struggled to maintain the status quo. Mr. Gentleman further demonstrated his omnipotence by ordering Joseph Carpenter to launch a satellite laser against Mr. Gentleman. With the laser being completely ineffective against Mr. Gentleman, Joseph Carpenter only further realized the degree of the former’s overwhelming power.
In Volume 1 of the ROD manga, Joseph Carpenter initially figures as a fairly sympathetic figure, albeit a strange and eccentric one. He employs Yomiko Readman as a book-authenticator (for which she has a peculiar talent) and supports her in her efforts to rescue Nenene Sumiregawa from a crazed fan.
The remaining volumes of the manga, however, show Joseph Carpenter in a much more sinister light. He seeks to gain control of the secret “Underground Library,” a powerful (and lethally dangerous) depository of all the world’s knowledge. This is concealed on the grounds of the bizarre Manshu School. Yomiko, Wendy Earheart, and Drake Anderson act as Joseph Carpenter’s agents in this quest. The key figures in the story, however, are Donny Nakajima, Yomiko’s boyfriend and predecessor as the British Library’s chief papermaster, and Ridley Wan, Donny’s close friend and Joseph Carpenter’s former chief assassin. The story goes into some detail on the uglier side of the British Library’s operations, including murder and a savage system of recruitment and training for its “powered” agents. Joseph Carpenter deceives and destroys both Ridley and Donny, and manipulates Yomiko into killing the person she loves most. Joseph Carpenter’s plans fail when Yomiko and his other agents learn the truth and turn against him, but at the end of the story Joseph Carpenter (though physically maimed) is still in a position of power.
In the Read or Die OVA, Joseph Carpenter is closely assisted by his secretary, Wendy Earheart. In this ROD continuity, Joseph Carpenter appears to be a straightforward “good guy”. Under Mr. Gentleman’s direction, Joseph Carpenter leads the British Library’s struggle against the I-Jin. Despite many setbacks, including betrayal by Nancy Makuhari, one of his own agents, Joseph Carpenter shows himself to be a calm and resourceful leader. With Wendy’s help, he detects the traitor within the British Library’s ranks. He then inserts Yomiko and Drake into the I-Jin fortress. Despite Mr. Gentleman’s doubts, Joseph Carpenter’s faith in his agents is rewarded when they destroy the I-Jin.
In the OVA, as in the first volume of the manga, Joseph Carpenter seems to have both respect and some affection for Yomiko, and she certainly looks up to him. At the end of the OVA, it is revealed that Nancy Makuhari (or rather Nancy 2) is being held in the prison ward of a hospital. Joseph Carpenter says that Nancy will face a trial if she recovers from her injuries, but Yomiko becomes close to Nancy 2 and seeks to look after her in fulfillment of a promise she made earlier to Nancy 1.
Joseph Carpenter’s harsh treatment of those whom Yomiko cares for ultimately leads to disastrous consequences for the British Library. In the TV series, Joseph Carpenter tells Yomiko that he has taken Junior, Nancy 2’s child, from his mother without her consent and plans to use the boy for his own purposes. In fact, Joseph Carpenter intends to use Junior as the physical vessel for Mr. Gentleman’s resurrection. Joseph Carpenter speaks harshly of Nancy and repeats that she will be tried as a traitor. Joseph Carpenter then reveals that he has done something ghastly to Donny, whom Yomiko had believed to be dead. The nature of this particular crime of Joseph Carpenter’s is not revealed, but it drives Yomiko into an uncontrollable rage. Yomiko releases her paper powers, destroying the British Library and crippling Joseph Carpenter in the process. This triggers a series of events that gravely weaken Great Britain.
Undeterred, Joseph Carpenter embarks on a mission with several goals. These are to rebuild the British Library to its former glory, continue the Sleeping Book Collection Operation to resurrect Mr. Gentleman to lead the new and re-energised British Library, and ultimately to re-establish the United Kingdom as the dominant world power.
Joseph Carpenter believes in a world of high class peace, and is convinced that Great Britain, headed by Mr. Gentleman, is the only country capable of leading such a peace. He is extremely proud of his own resolve, yet is disdainful towards Yomiko’s belief that all humans are individually capable of deciding what is best for themselves.
Joseph Carpenter is willing to both endure and inflict any pain in order to achieve the reinstallation of Mr. Gentleman and the peace he believes only that man can create. He feels strong emotions and feels great anger and bitterness at the collapse of British power and the humiliation of the United Kingdom in the process as it was ejected from many of the world’s major institutions such as the European Union. He is also motivated by a personal desire for revenge against both Yomiko and Nancy, who have fled to Japan and hidden themselves in the National Diet Library.
To set the stage for the revival of Mr.Gentleman and the creation of a new world, Joseph Carpenter enacts a plan to destroy and ultimately take over Dokusensha by destroying its main headquarters in Hong Kong (largely destroying much of the city in the process). By doing a deal with and deceiving both Dokusensha and the Americans, Joseph Carpenter gains the diplomatic leverage to catapault the UK back onto the world stage and into a dominant position to enact his final plan. At the highest level, Joseph Carpenter intends to seize control of all libraries, bookstores, and print and electronic media outlets worldwide, thus ensuring the British Library’s monopoly of all knowledge. This aspect of the plan succeeds very quickly.
On the more personal level, Joseph Carpenter seeks to neutralize Yomiko and the Paper Sisters and to re-capture Junior, who has deserted the British Library’s cause. To do so, Joseph Carpenter uses trickery, kidnaps Nenene, and sows doubt amongst the Paper Sisters by revealing the truth about their origins. This last part of the plan is performed by Joseph Carpenter himself while he is held hostage by Yomiko, Drake, Nancy, and the Paper Sisters.
This plan works for a short while but is thwarted when the Paper users reunite and storm the new British Library headquarters in London to rescue Junior, stop the Sleeping Book Collection Operation and end the creation of a fictional high class peace.
- Joseph Carpenter’s name is symbolic of his objective. “Joe” is used to refer to the everyman. The father of Jesus was a carpenter. Joseph’s objective was to create a new ideal world for humanity. The codename Joker refers to the wild card in a deck of playing cards.