I've read contrasting reveiws about .hack//sign. What I personally think is that I could very well have avoided wasting my time watching it. I don't know, maybe there is a good story somewhere along the way and I missed it because I was sleeping - but really, even if that is the case, then you must agree with me that the execution is terrible. The reasons I'm rating it so low are: the pacing is painstakingly slow; there is very little character development; the backstory is only hinted at; there are several issues (even main ones) and sub-plots that are left without a conclusion. It only gets interesting towards the end, so it could have been developed perfectly well in 12 episodes instead of forcing the viewers to watch all those epidoses where basically nothing happens and the characters are only discussing what they should or could do and summarising the very little information they have - I honestly found all these conversations extremely boring and stupid.
The idea behind it is probably original if .hack//sign is the first anime to narrate the story of someone trapped in an online game. Tsukasa, the protagonist, is in fact unable to log out from this game which is set in a virtual reality called "The World". He also seems to be suffering from amnesia and to have weird powers and this sparks the interest and curiosity of some other players; some of them feel for Tsukasa and are worried about him, while others are intrigued by the fact that there is a player who is not subject to the general rules of the game, an anomaly. So the plot revolves around Tsukasa (reluctant at first) and this group of players trying to understand what's going on and solve the mystery. The plot could be interesting, but as already said the execution is bad; apart from the pacing, at the end we do get an explanation of sorts but too many things are left unresolved and unexplained: who is the mysterious entity that trapped Tsukasa? why doesn't she want Aura to awaken? what exactly is Aura's role in the game supposed to be? why was Tsukasa chosen? what happens to Sora? and what about Macha the cat?...and so on and so forth. So to summarise: plot holes, unresolved issues, unexplained backstory, slow pacing and dialogues so nonsensical they made me want to cry.
As for the characters, Tsukasa is extremely unlikeable for 2/3 of the anime. You don't get why the other characters care for him nor why should the veiwer. Towards the end he starts getting more likeable and as he changes I guess you could say he also develops. But I'd say that when you start off with a character who can only say "Leave me alone" and "You're so selfish" it doesn't take a lot to make him undergo some development just by showing him open up a bit more to other people. As for the rest, no development. They just have a few quirks to make them distinguishable from one another and the backstory of some of them at a certain point is revealed.
The animation and visuals in my opinion are quite bad. The music is good and varied, but several times it sounded a bit off to me, as if there was no connection between the soundtrack and what was going on in the anime.
Overall, I wasn't impressed at all by this anime. To me, it was a waste of time. But, as I said at the beginning, there are many who don't agree with me and consider .hack//sign a good anime. So watch it and decide for yourself :-)
A very good anime, I enjoied this show from the beginning 'till the end, even if it has a lot of chatting (A LOT!!!).
It has a very interesting plot, sometimes it doesn't evolve at a fast pace, but every episode will add a bit more at the plot, lefting the watcher with some questions (a bit) solved and even more to be answered, but allthis add more to the interest the watcher will put in this show. Perhaps it lacks a bit on the side stories, but maybe it was already difficult to exhaust the main plot.
It is really good, I like the way the characters are drawn, but it seems a bit old to me, and this is strange giving the fact that this anime was released in the 2002. The animation is smooth, even if there aren't so many action scenes. Colors are ok, I would have liked a bit more of them, but in some episodes they really make great use of them! Backgrounds tend to be really fashinating.
The background music is beautiful! The only think that I have to say is that sometimes it seems a bit off with what is happening on the screen, but all the songs are enjoinable. Voice actors are ok, they suit very well every character; among them we found Hiramatsu Akiko (Miyabi in AYA; Mary in E's Otherwise), she does a good work, even if she doesn't shine; Tanaka Rie (Chii in Chobits), doesn't play a so important role, but surely knows how to work (and she is so kawaii too ); however, considering the kind of hack sign, where there is a lot of chatting, you can be sure that the voice acting was really good, or it couldn't have so many fans. Opening theme is good, you'll not skip it all the time (well, sometimes I did
The character development is absolutly perfect. Every character has his/her own unique personification, you will not have two persons that look alike. They evolve while the show goes on, in their way of interacting with others and in what they think. You'll be really amazed for a couple of them, considering how much they could change in this show. Talking about the background could feel a bit strange, because the anime is localized in a game, but even it isn't left as it stands, giving hints about how the characters are in the real life. I really loved Mimiru!
Overall Rating: (9/10)
What I can say, as perhaps you noticed I liked this anime very much, I would have liked a bit more of action scenes, because pratically there is only one: every time it seems a battle is going to start the focus goes in another direction, or they make a jump to the end without letting you watch it. But even without the action, I think this one is an anime that is a must for everyone, however perhaps you can get a bit bored by all the chatting.
Well, I think it has about time that I get into checking this series out, considering when at the time I was watching Sword Art Online, people were making such references to this series and I having no idea about this show or this franchise, as a matter of fact and while this has the digital world aspect, it also had a RPG (Role-Playing Game) element in it and considering my disinterest in the latter (not hatred, just not that into it) but more into the former, this might be a hard feat to accomplish and wonder how will I enjoy the series.
Amidst a popular online role playing game in the near future, characters try to play out the goals they set for entertainment and passing of time. The World as the RPG is called is one with a setting of monsters, player characters and dungeons. Tsukasa is a detached and introverted character that has a number of mysteries about his player character. Many weird happenings seem to surround Tsukasa and his involvement in a rare item called 'The Key Of The Twilight' sparks Tsukasa's meeting with different online characters and the befriending of their real life counterparts; All without ever meeting face to face in reality. What is strange about Tsukasa is that he can't seem to log out of The World. Subaru and Silver Knight of The Crimson Knights continue to look for proof of why Tsukasa cannot log out or the existence of The Key of the Twilight. Meanwhile Bear, Mimiru, and BT as Tsukasa's friends try to help him understand who he really is and how he can return to the real world.
Here’s the one thing in this show that might tune out a lot of people out: At the first beginning of the series, it felt very slow-paced and the plot is mostly hard to follow at a few times or even sometimes if you went to take a bathroom break, you won’t miss any important detail considering it’s very scatter-brained. Also, the plotline where the character Tsukasa can’t log out in the game and the whole “you die in the game, you die for real” aspect, which I still call bullshit considering people would check that before any game’s initial release and yes, it may be just an anime but it doesn’t mean any type of logic should back thrown in the backseat. There’s also that this is a dialogue-heavy show, which is fine for an anime although the dialogue can be dull a few times, possibly enough to put you into sleep.
Characters in here are actually……decent although slightly askew with more character than meets the eye. Tsukasa, the lead character, is kind of a jerkass in the game, but in the real world has been through a lot of depressing things in his life. Mimiru, one of the first characters we met in the show is the tomboyish energetic player who, like any other player, plays there for fun and when it comes to helping Tsukasa, she seems more like the lead rather than him. If it would’ve been focused on her from the beginning, I would have liked it more. Bear is the older yet kind of wiser player; Subaru (which I did joked about her name because I didn’t know at first, ‘Subaru’ is also the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster.) is the one of the heads-in-charge of the Crimson Knights, who wants to keep things civil in “The World” (BTW, most generic name for a MMORPG game) and Crim is the one who helped mentored Subaru for when she first enter “The World”. BT is the insider of all things “The World” and……she hates lettuce? Wait, what was important about that? Oh, and Sora is the douchebaggish character who apparently assaults women when playing the game.
The animation supplied by Bee Train is not really that stellar but offers nothing in the first half. Bee Train is being responsible for the infamous girls-with-guns trilogy (Noir, Madlax, El Cazador de la Bruja), which only two of them are my favorite (Noir, ECDLB) and most of it is just talking and talking and for a game that is RPG, I expected to be at least more balanced with the action and dialogue but it was a major drag. Character and art design are nothing risqué and mostly very safe territory and the closest thing to some fan service is the outfits that Mimiru and Subaru got on in the game.
One thing I can say about the music is that it’s the best thing going for the show as I found every piece of music, including the opening “Obsession” , the ending “Gentle Dawn” and the background music, made by Yuki Kajiura, to be the more interesting part of the show. Hell, I hear on the DVD you can select an option to only hear the music and there’s the Bandai/PCB Productions dub, which is decent as best but has some stilted acting from the cast as they are really no standouts, although this is the first time I hear noticed Brianne Siddall, who usually play young boy roles in anime, and hearing more of Amanda Winn-Lee since she went from Texas voice-acting from being in L.A.
FINAL VERDICT: This has a good premise going for it but met with lackluster execution but manages to go somewhere in the final part of the series. I can honestly see why most people love it, which associates it with the RPG element, which I will recommended to those who loved it but if you’re like me and you enjoyed the soundtrack more, just get that and don’t look back.
Let’s let every video-game addicted youngster out there heave a sigh of relief that they can locate the “log out” buttons on their monitors. The protagonist of this anime is not so lucky: for while Tsukasa runs around in the massive online adventure game titled “the World,” his body in the real world is lying in a coma.
Well, that sure seems like a compelling enough premise for a cute little 13-episode series, right? Right. Which is why the stretches of time between the periods of action seem so tedious. Entire episodes are devoted to the players in “the World” lazing about in fields, theorizing about Tsukasa’s plight, swapping information, and sharing their speculations. The story plods on at an excruciatingly slow pace, with many seemingly pointless conversations peppered throughout.
Once in a while, the show teases us with a glimpse of the players in the outside world, but these glimpses are brief and unyieldingly cryptic.
.Hack//SIGN is a decidedly good-looking show. When it first aired in the U.S, several years ago on Adult Swim, I remember thinking that the animation was superior to anything else airing at the time. (Granted, we still had oldy-goldies such as "Trigun" and "Rurouni Kenshin" queued up in the late night television line-up, and I didn’t have anything more contemporary to compare it to, art-wise.)
The pastel colors make “the World” seem beautiful and surreal, the characters are very appealing-looking, and the backgrounds are lush and imaginative.
I have nothing against the soundtrack, personally- in fact, I own the CD. Almost every track bears a sense of poignancy and beauty, and I’ve spent many car rides enjoying the soaring vocals of those Japanese ladies singing their enigmatic English lyrics.
Standing alone as a piece of music, it’s lovely. Married to an anime where there’s episode after episode of static discussion? It’s overpowering, to say the least. Most of these songs are just not “background music” material. To make matters worse, two of the main protagonists are very soft-spoken, and the music seems to blare over their quiet conversations.
As a final note, most of the songs seem to have the same sound and tone. It often feels as if the director just pulled up the soundtrack on his media player, hit “shuffle,” and said: “Okay, plug it in! We’re good to go!”
I like to be able to root for certain characters from the get-go. But even about ten episodes into the show, I was hard-pressed to name my favorite. Tsukasa seemed too brooding and anti-social to form any kind of attachment to. The better part of the first few episodes were preoccupied with his sulking and pissing, and his only lines seemed to alternate between “leave me alone” and “you’re so selfish.” The reason why everyone seemed so genuinely concerned about his predicament is a little confusing, considering how many times he cuts down people who are trying to help him. It isn't until the end of the series- and we're talking the last damn episode, that he borders upon anything approaching “niceness.”
Mimiru is pig-headed and immature. B.T is aloof and conniving. The Silver Knight is the very definition of a “power-hungry admin,” and Sora behaves as though he's a momma’s-basement-dwelling rapist, in real life.
A few of the side-characters manage to rise above the sea of mediocrity, and proved to be pretty likeable. Bear is a very fatherly sort of figure, attempting to compensate for his perceived failure at his parental duties in the real world by protecting Tsukasa and Mimiru in the virtual one. Krim, as well, is a very positive sort of character: he alone behaves like a real person just trying have fun playing a game.
I can’t help but feel that the show would have benefited from investing a little more time developing the players' lives in the outside world. It could have made the more distasteful characters sympathetic if the audience were privy to the reasons why they act the way they do.
Not a bad show, but I’d sooner pop in the soundtrack for another round than sit down and watch it a second time.
I always thought the .hack franchise was rather unique. Never before had I seen an anime series and video games so intertwined. Pretty much, what happens in the games continues the story that the anime leaves off, and also ties loose ends. Which I think is really cool, because I have yet to see anything other than .hack do something quite like that. Usually, the anime or game will be separate and have no effect on each other, or one will be an adaptation of another, but that is not the case with .hack. So, when I started watching .hack//SIGN I had no idea what to expect, but in the end I was very glad I watched it, and it has since become one of my favorite anime.
The story itself is brilliant. Without going into major spoilers, the series is about a bunch of players in an MMORPG called The World. The show is set in 2007 (which, at the time, was the future), and a bunch of strange things have been happening when people play this game. People go into comas and the like, and the programmers just keep making new patches so that the game won't go off shelves. Tsukasa, the main protagonist, is one of the characters affected by these strange occurances, which is why he cannot log out. The whole series focuses mostly on how Tsukasa grows as a person, and its major theme is escapism and how MMORPGs affect the lives of troubled individuals. For that story alone, the show is simply fantastic. The story is extremely well written, and the ending, while open ended, still ties enough loose ends to leave the viewer satisfied, even if they don't plan on playing the games or watching .hack//Liminality.
The animation is also great, as it truly captures the MMO world perfectly. The characters very much look like they could be straight out of an MMO, and they are very cool looking, to say the least. The environments are standard RPG fare, but well done, and really with the animation, BEE TRAIN succeeded at everything they set out to accomplish.
The music in this show is one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. Yuki Kajiura makes the atmosphere straight out of a video game, and it works every time with the dialogue and what's happening on the screen. One may complain the show plays the same songs too often, but these songs are so outstanding, I have no problem hearing them over and over.
Tsukasa is one of the greatest anime protagonists I have seen. At first, you see him as this unlikable and whiny character, but the major changes he goes through, and the more and more you figure out about him, the more sympathetic he becomes as a character, and you really end up rooting for him in the end. Overall, his development is perfectly done. We have a good supporting cast as well, with Bear and Mimiru, and while neither develop per se, there are indeed memorable characters, and you learn more about Mimiru's past in .hack//Intermezzo. Lady Subaru also develops in the show, as you see her become a better leader. Sora is an interesting character, as he sort of represents the "gaming troll" of today, and I really like that, as .hack once again is able to convey a realistic portrayal of an MMORPG. Especially since Sora's character is very important for .hack//Roots, a sequel series.
Here's where the show slightly stumbles. Its pacing isn't that great early on. Most of the time it is just really boring and hard to watch, as there isn't much excitement. I find that the show's pacing gets better later on, as there are more exciting moments that made me really surprised. After watching the first few episodes, I wasn't a big fan of the show, because it was indeed rather boring, however the more and more episodes I saw, the more exciting and interesting it gets. Thus, overall, .hack//SIGN is a worthwhile watch. I will definitely say it is not for everyone, especially to people who don't like absurdly slow pacing, and probably to people expecting the show to be similar to Sword Art Online, because it actually shares very little in common with that show. To those who like a show with a great story and atmosphere, I think .hack//SIGN would be right up your alley.