To be honest, I haven’t visited the “.hack” universe since the original, “.hack://SIGN” almost 10 years ago (wow, 10 years).
I found that series just shy of brilliant, with great animation and an incredible music score. I remember that. I also remember the sequel c0uldn’t keep my attention, and I let it fade from view. I never played the games.
Funimation is releasing the latest in the franchise, “.hack://QUANTUM,” this week, and it sounded like a good way to jump back in — a three-episode OVA. It wouldn’t be too much of a commitment if it, too, bored me. And I’ve been a bit rough on Funimation lately, so I was hoping this would give me something to give a positive review.
Now I’m wondering what I’ve been missing all these years.
“.hack://QUANTUM” is a great stand-alone introduction/reintroduction to the series. The three episodes together make a neat little movie that rehashes the general themes of the franchise and, at least it would seem, moves things forward a bit.
“.hack” is set in the real world and “The World,” an MMO in the future (2017 at this point in the series) that includes the use of virtual reality glasses. From the original until now, you see how things that happen in the game affect the players in the real world.
In this case, a cute little cat character named Hermit causes some trouble in the game, which sends one member of a trio of friends into a coma in real life and slightly injures another. The two other girls, friends in high school, try to find out what happened and discover several other players have lapsed into comas and been sent to hospitals controlled by “The World’s” owner, CC Corp. A cover-up?
That’s all I’ll say to avoid spoilers.
But it’s all pretty neat. A lot more of the story takes place in the real world than it did in “.hack://SIGN,” and I think that’s a nice touch. The original seemed a bit meta at times, and seeing the characters in the real world grounds it and makes it a bit easier to relate to.
It also helps that the characters are friends from the start. You instantly root for them because they share such camaraderie offline, as well. And without the luxury of 26 episodes, it’s good to make that instant connection.
The animation is nicely done. The backgrounds have great detail, and the main art is nice and crisp. The character designs will feel familiar to fans of the franchise. I liked all the details, from the in-game computer interfaces to the lines of power on the weaponry.
It’s briskly paced and doles out enough information to keep newbies up to speed without piling on endless exposition.
There are some definite shades of “.hack:/SIGN” here (even literally, briefly), which is what makes this feel like it’s intended as a jumping on point for potential new viewers. And I think it succeeds. I know I’ll be watching more eagerly for the next installment.