While characters within the MMORPG entitled "The World" attempt to unravel the mystery that threatens their lives, others are trying to unearth the conspiracy in the real world. This is the story of these people, an unlikely group consisting of a strange middle-aged man, two young girls, and a young woman. United by their desire to find the truth, they delve into the labyrinthine nature of "The World" and its creator.
StoryAhh, .hack. A very strange and interesting story, which unfortunately was stretched out over too many genres and mediums. In this case, the story takes place after the .hack//SIGN universe, and in the middle of a bit of a crisis: people are becoming comatose from their gameplay in The World. The problem with the story in this OVA is that you HAVE to have prior knowledge of the .hack world, and probably the games before it will make sense. There really is no lead in, or at least, not a good one. You are suddenly thrown into events already occuring and have to catch up, which makes this OVA not good for a first time .hack viewer. In addition, over the four episodes, the plot doesn't really have a good flow, making it choppy to watch. Granted, I've only played the first two games, so maybe I am missing a whole hell of a lot. But I'd like to think I'm fairly versed on the .hack universe, and I still was very confused by the end. Too many names and places not explained, and a not so great conclusion. So I gave it a 7 for an interesting idea (just like the other .hack series), but not that great of a follow through. In general, this series focused the most on the things going on behind the scenes that make The World tick and operate, and corruption in the ranks, as opposed to a different focus in the other series. AnimationThe animation was decent like the other .hack series, but looked a bit generic anyways. Characters looked the most odd, with strange jagged lines for hair and facial features, and a fairly poor use of shading. The faces in general seemed a bit skewed and not life-like in any way, and were a bit oddly shaped. I felt the contrast between the dark and light colors was fairly high, and there wasn't a great deal of detail. Colors used were a typical mix, but tended to be on the dark side. Basically none of The World was shown, just real life. Interesting perhaps, but nothing special, especially when measured up to the other .hack series. The only part about the animation that interested me was the devices the kids would wear to connect to the world, and the depiction of the computer screens with the static or game loaded onto it. This gave a nice sci fi feel to the otherwise very normal looking OVA, but still, it could have been better. SoundAnything .hack is able to boast an impressive musical score, given the fact that it's a Beetrain work. Beautiful singing voices and synthy tracks dominate the OVA, making it a very pleasant listen. Unfortunately for most Beetrain works, the music is about as far as it goes for goodness, and I don't feel like .hack//LIMINALITY was an exception. Beautiful music, not so beautiful rest of it. CharactersWe are introduced to a bunch of characters whose backgrounds are explained, but not a lot of character development happens. Besides knowing who they are, you don't really feel any empathy towards any of them. Not to mention, all the random character names thrown at you that you don't know or understand. The characters were definitely on the back burner for the idea of the plot, as well as the music. Fans of the games will be happy to know that the characters within it are mentioned quite frequently, though because of the seperation between game and OVA, we don't actually see these characters. OverallIn general, this OVA didn't impress me. Too hooked to the other series to enjoy as a standalone, this short OVA manages to confuse you while assaulting you with pretty music and imagery. The flow is not spectacular, which leaves a disjointed feeling between episodes. The lack of a good conclusion also leaves a bad taste in the mouth. All in all, probably not a recommended watch, unless you really want to see everything in the .hack universe. Definitely explains more than SIGN, though.
I don’t like repeating myself, so it would be wise to first read my SIGN review before starting with this one. It is part of the same world and should normally be watched after the main series. ART SECTION: 7/10 Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 2/2, Visual Effects 1/2 The setting is the real world, not the game. The graphics are not so dreamy but surely are well made. A lot of effort was given this time to make things look as realistic and normal as possible, which is a huge contrast to the main series but otherwise helps to expand world-building and provide more aspects to the already intriguing setting. Beyond that, they feel too normal and simple to care about after awhile. SOUND SECTION: 6/10 Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 2/3 Sound themes and voice acting were rather common, unlike the deified ones of SIGN. Also well made but you will forget them pretty soon. Unlike in SIGN, all the attention was given on the graphics and the story, leaving the music and even the dialogues to have a backseat. STORY SECTION: 6/10 Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 1/2, Conclusion 1/2 - The story takes place after the events of SIGN and parallel with the events of the PS2 games. In fact, each of the 4 episodes was sold along with each part of the games, to make that even clearer. Everything happens in the real world, a few months after the viruses begin to throw people into comas and cause problems with the networks. It is about everyday people, meeting and trying to uncover the truth the company which is making the game, is hiding. You get to learn a lot of information considering the story around the game, most of which I have already mentioned in my SIGN review.- There are many in-game jokes and references about movies and Japanese traditions that are supposed to make the scenario feel like a mystery/thriller. But they are too bluntly provided, making the story more confusing rather than interesting. - The story also ends without a conclusion, as a way to spur you to follow all the rest of the .hack franchise. Kinda cheap if you ask me. And disappointing too; since there is no conclusion in any other installment no matter how much you look for one. CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10 Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 0/2, Catharsis 1/2 The characters are normal; they have no special powers or weird pasts. They are a bit interesting as they behave like real people in the real world but they also don’t mature or change much, which ruins their appeal. They are not memorable or eye-catchy as those of the main series. VALUE SECTION: 2/10 Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 2/4 LIMINALITY was made solely to explain the various details of the .hack PS2 RPG quatralogy backdrop story. It is otherwise as boring as SIGN and even lacks all the good elements that made it interesting (characters, graphics, sound). So, besides the info you get from it, IT IS UNBEARABLE! Its replay value is really low. ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10 Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 0/2, Story 1/3, Characters 2/4 - One third of the time is wasted on every day situations. They are very well made situations and they could make a fine slice-of-life anime; but they are completely irrelevant with the theme of the story.- Another third is wasted on the characters meeting and getting to trust each other. Of course, it would be stupid to see total strangers becoming buddies so fast; but with the small duration of the series, more episodes were needed to leave more time in order to bind with them and comprehend the theme of the story.- As for the last third, they talk. They talk all the time! There are some stealth/pursuit scenes in it but I can’t say I found them to be interesting. VERDICT: 5/10
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