Joe Carpenter

Joe Carpenter

Infobox animanga character
name = Joe Carpenter
series = Read or Die

caption =
first =
last =
creator =
voiced by = Hozumi Gōda (Japanese)
Crispin Freeman (OVA, English)
JB Blanc (TV, English)
nickname =
alias = Joker
age =
gender =
born =
death =
occupation = President and Chief Director of the British Library and its Special Operations Division
title =
relatives =

Joe Carpenter, also known as "Mr. Joker", is a fictional character in the Japanese novel series "Read or Die", the manga and anime spin-offs of the books, and the sequel, "R.O.D the TV". Though his real name is unknown, as "Joe Carpenter" may simply be another alias, it is still safe to assume that it may be his real name.

Background and personality

Joseph Carpenter, also known as "Mr. Joker," is the chief director and president of the British Library and its Special Operations Division. He is the boss of Yomiko Readman as well as other agents, including his rather clumsy assistant, Wendy Earhart. He was the former employer of Donnie Nakajima, Yomiko's lover, and is the subordinate to Gentleman, who is the "all-seeing eye" of the British Library, as well as the world. Later it is reviewed that he has his own ambition as well, which is to become the second in command in all of Britain, only under Gentleman alone. Even going as far as to follow Gentleman's orders to shoot with a Satellite Beam thinking that might kill Gentleman and becoming the sole leader of Britain.

Though Joker at most times appears to be a humorous, calm and laid back kind of character throughout most of the original series, his true intentions and personality are serious and frightening. He is the second character to appear in the manga, the mysterious and eerie Gentleman being the first. Joker's personality is constantly at ease even in the worse of situations, and his character is often determined by nothing else but his own actions. Hideyuki Kurata described him once 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.


Joker's true intentions and history are dark and shrouded in ruthlessness and inhumanity. He is an expert on the methods of torture using books, as can be seen in the first volume of the manga, and his knowledge is so vast that it is possible, with certain references, he could change history according to his views. This actually, however, is the goal of he and his superior, "Gentleman."

Gentleman is a mysterious, eerie old man whose super-being like knowledge raises more questions than answers. Later in the series, it is determined that Gentleman is not only a normal man, but one who has lived for so long that his age is not able to be estimated, it is only known that he lived 500,000 years ago with his wife, China, and gave birth to the race of human. He is also the true father of the Queen, who in the series, also has extreme long life and have a second, younger appearance other than the usual old one as normal people see. He has such power and knowledge that he not only knows nearly everything happening on the planet, but as the keeper of so many historical records is able to change history as civilization today knows it. As Joker once states, "when a lie is lied enough, it soon becomes fact." Joker's actions are initially to assist Gentleman, but later it is revealed that Joker has his own plan to destroy Gentleman and gain control over the entire British Empire. His plans are later reorganized into 'resurrecting' Gentleman and continuing to control the Earth under him as he plans for Britain to influence all of history. This plan consists of Gentleman killing himself and transforming his form into what is known as the "Seven Books of Gentleman," which contain his knowledge of mankind, the world, and his personality. Transferring the books into data, Gentleman's vast knowledge would then be poured into a helpless 'specimen' who is able to control Gentleman's frighteningly incredible mind. As almost no human being on the planet is able to hold such knowledge, Joker and his subordinates decide to adopt the I-Jin program, which consists of taking the DNA of eight historical geniuses and constructing living clones of them as 'hosts' for a new Gentleman. The I-Jin later retake their own minds and are able to run free, resulting in great disasters striking all over the world. These events are covered in the OVA.

"Read or Die" Manga

In the manga version of the "R.O.D." franchise, Joker retains his role as the second in command of the British Library and his relaxed sense of humour and calm personality are also kept; however, this version of the Joker is more sinister and ambitious. In the manga, Joker treats his life like a book and as such does everything in his power to keep his story interesting. He has no problem with lying, killing or making others kill for him. He wanted to become an immortal like Gentleman and surpass him to be the new leader.

Joker, in an effort to get the Book of Truth—said to be the oldest and most accurate record of history in existence and a resource that can control the world—sends Agent Donnie "The Paper" Nakajima to find it. Nakajima realises that Joker would only use it for his own benefit, so he lies, claiming he could not find it. Joker, aware of the lie, captures and beats Donnie, then manipulates Yomiko into killing him. Years later he sets up Yomiko and Ridley Wan, a former agent whom he manipulated into becoming a killing machine, on a mission to find the book of truth knowing that Yomiko would probably die in the process.

At the conclusion of the last volume, after storming the Manshu Academy with soldiers, taking Nenene Sumiregawa hostage, stabbing Ridley Wan, and shooting Yomiko in the leg for disobedience, Ridley Wan cuts off both of Joker's hands. Joker then returns to working for the British Library with a new set of prosthetic arms.

Read or Die OVA & TV

Joker's ambition of being the sole leader of Britain was fulfilled in the TV, yet he soon found out that he himself does not have Gentleman's ability to control the world and Britain's power fades much faster than he expected. If Gentleman is not resurrected, commanding Britain is not going to be anything enjoyable as when Gentleman is around and British secretly controls all western countries.

As the I-Jin are destroyed and Joker's plans are saved, an opportunity arises. One of the I-Jin, a clone of Mata Hari, was a lover of the clone of Ikkyu Soujun, and gave birth to a child almost as powerful as Gentleman. Stealing the child from the surviving mother's own captivity, Joker plans to raise the child himself and later dump all of the Gentleman Books into the child's mind, thus creating a new Gentleman and rebuilding the world for Great Britain, as well as himself.

These plans, however, are stopped at its peak of success by a group of heroes: Yomiko Readman; the famous "Paper Sisters;" Nenene Sumiregawa; Drake Anderson; and Nancy Makuhari, the mother of the I-Jin-born child Junior in the TV series "ROD: The TV". Though not much is understood about what exactly happens to Joker, what appears to occur is during the data transferring process Junior, who was being slowly carried away into Gentleman's mind, grabbed Joker's head and somehow mentally and physically shocked him, nearly draining him of his life as well as causing him to turn old and pale.

Appearing later living with and under the care of his assistant, Wendy, Joker disappears at the end of the final episode at the sight of a lone wolf in the bushes before him. Wendy reacts to his vanishing as if it were normal. (As he seems to regain consciousness at the end of the scene, it is more accurate to state that Joker left the chair off screen and did not disappear. He's there but unseen, probably ready to go on with a new plan. The clue is Wendy smiling just before throwing her apron (aka her nursing role) on the empty chair. Joker is OK and Wendy will follow him as always.)

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