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
Critic’s Log - Earthdate: July 17, 2014. Supplemental Review to .Hack//SIGN I looked into the .Hack video games and I really couldn’t get interested in playing them…However there was something else that came along with it… here’s .Hack//Liminality In the year 2007, the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) known as 'The World' was released in the US and became insanely popular, spreading worldwide and reaching up to 20 million players. One day, a mysterious phenomenon occurs where all the monsters in the game become increasingly powerful and harbour unheard of abilities. Along with this, players are unable to make any progress with their characters. Naturally, these occurrences render The World rather unplayable, so a player who goes by the name of Kite decides to get to the bottom of it. To be technical, this is a Bee Train production and like I said before with my .Hack//SIGN review about Bee Train. They have done some decent works since the studio’s foundation to today. There is one thing that is completely different from .Hack//SIGN and that is the character designs. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto did not do the character designs for this 4-part OVA series, instead we have Toshiya Washida, who usually does Key animations for the most part in his career. For this short OVA series, I do not like the character designs in this one, and it’s not because Yoshiyuki Sadamoto did not do the character designs. It’s because some of the design choices look a little awkward on some characters. At least some non-character designs are drawn in well… and that’s one of the things that surprisingly stand out in LIMINALITY unlike SIGN. When I reviewed .Hack//SIGN, I did rant about how the animation hardly moves in some parts… Well, Liminality is an upgrade on that. For what this anime is… The animation is decent in this anime. The artwork and visuals are also not bad either. The only real problem I had with the animation is the openings. The openings used clips from each part of the .Hack video games. It’s a unique approach but I didn’t care for those openings that much. Anyway, When I saw .Hack//SIGN, I found myself bored because .Hack/SIGN hardly moved when it comes to animation. On the other hand, .Hack//Liminality is also boring as well but not because of the animation. The animation here is actually decent… a lot more decent than .Hack//SIGN with the expection of a different character designer. The music by Yuki Kaijura may have been memorable in .Hack//SIGN and I do commend her for having a different vibe for this anime’s soundtrack considering that it’s placed in the real world and not in “The World”. However, the soundtrack is kind of forgettable but it fits in the show somehow...I really don’t have much to comment about the soundtrack of .Hack//Liminality. The opening themes are okay I guess but I find them forgettable because the opening and closing themes aren’t really talked about these days and for a 4-part OVA series. I guess that is to be expected. The soundtrack might not be some of Kaijura-san’s best work and that is totally fine… At least the soundtrack was somewhat decent. When voice acting is concerned. I don’t think either casting between Sub and Dub are worth saying a mouthful over because of the length of .Hack//Liminality. Mabashi Ebara, Sanae Kobayashi, Saeko Chiba, and Aya Hisakawa are competent seiyus but since they are playing characters that are rather forgettable. The voice acting alone does not save the show. I could say the same with its English Dub and the dub has a competent voice cast. Some big names, some unknowns. Jamieson Price, Michelle Ruff, and Sherry Lynn do play their roles fine but… The voice acting doesn’t do the show justice. That’s all I can say about the voice acting. If there is one weak aspect of .Hack//Liminality, it is the characters. For something thats around 2 and a half hours consisting of 4 OVA’s and part of an Anime franchise that these characters are only in...There’s bound to be some issues. I gave the characters a chance but… I found them forgettable…Even with 4 OVA’s, The only relevant character is Junichiro because of the fact that he is the creator of "The World" other than that, The characters were still forgettable. That’s all I can really say about the characters. Do you want to know something? Assuming you were aware that .Hack//Liminality was released alongside the 4 part .Hack Video games. Each of these episodes came with each part of the game. 4 games and 4 OVA episodes. Also, these OVA’s are in the point of view of the real world and not in “The World”. Would you like to know what would be a great idea? Having the point of view focused on the real life counterparts of the characters in the 4 part video game… This OVA did come with the 4-part .hack games anyway. What does Junichiro Tokuoka, Mai Minase, Yuki Aihara, and Kyoko Tohno have to do with the games? Pretty much nothing… To stress this even further, the characters that you will see in this OVA do not appear anywhere else unless there’s cameos elsewhere. .Hack//SIGN was an interesting anime even in its slowness. The .hack video games felt normally paced but the game series was considered to be repetitive at times and even though I was looking into the story of the games… The games’ story felt boring at times. THIS ANIME ON THE OTHER HAND FELT POINTLESS. Why? The 4-part video games of .hack were inbetween .Hack//SIGN’s chronology…Liminality is within the .hack video games. We have one .hack entry within another .Hack entry within the .hack entry that started it all. The games were near the end of .Hack//SIGN’s chronology which is fine I guess. What’s not fine is that the video game’s OVA companion has little connection to the fucking game to begin with. When I heard that Liminality was taking place during the video games and that the real world was the point of view it was focused on, I thought this would deal with the real-life counterparts of Kite, Black Rose, and others… The fact that the main characters in Liminality have no connection to the video games, it kind of makes .Hack//Liminality pointless… And you know what else is a problem with .Hack//Liminality, it feels like .Hack//SIGN… The show is filled with dialogue and intrigue...The games are different which is understandable. .Hack//Liminality is unacceptable for not parallelling the OVA to the games between characters we know in “The World” and their real-life counterparts. .Hack//Liminality was released alongside .Hack//Infection, .Hack//Mutation, .Hack//Outbreak, and .Hack//Quarantine… There has not been a re-release since and the games were for the PlayStation 2. That being said, .Hack//Liminality is out of print. With everything said, .Hack//Liminality was conceived to be a companion to the video games that it was released with concerning that the point of view is in the real world during the events of the video games. this OVA of .Hack fails due to a slow pace, and forgettable characters who only are involved in this .Hack entry. Yuki Kaijura’s soundtrack is decent, and the animation is also decent despite the different character designs in this .Hack entry to .Hack//SIGN. If you like the games… Feel free to watch this one since they technically go together. if you were not fond of the games… This doesn’t do the games justice. I give .Hack//Liminality a 3.1 out of 10. it is WEAK! Feel free to leave a comment.
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