.hack//SIGN - Reviews

haize78's avatar
Apr 16, 2016

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 :-)

5.5/10 story
5/10 animation
6.5/10 sound
4.5/10 characters
4.8/10 overall
MagicalWay's avatar
Aug 16, 2012

A very good anime, I enjoied this show from the beginning 'till the end, even if it has a lot of chatting (A LOT!!!).

Story: (9/10)

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.

Animation: (8/10)

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.

Sound: (9/10)

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

Character: (10/10)

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.

9/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9/10 overall
suiru's avatar
Oct 26, 2009

Story: 6/10

   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.

Animation: 8/10

    .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.

Sound: 6.5/10

       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!”

Characters: 6/10

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.

Overall: 7/10

Not a bad show, but I’d sooner pop in the soundtrack for another round than sit down and watch it a second time.

6/10 story
8.5/10 animation
6.5/10 sound
6/10 characters
7/10 overall
Wander's avatar
Oct 5, 2012


.hack//sign is an anime set in the world of a video game called, well, The World.  The series opened up a lot of complex issues and is a real eye opener to what online gaming can do to the mind.  The series itself revolves around the main characters and the characters themselves are crucial to the plot of the series.  In fact, the plot, which is highly confusing, is an afterthought compared to the characters themselves.  The story itself is highly thought out and engaging, to say the least.  Before The World was created a virus called Pluto's Kiss was released by a young, nefarious hacker.  This virus caused a massive internet black out causing massive conflict in the real world including, but not limited to, nuclear missiles nearly being launched.  The virus infected every operating system except one: The Altimit OS.  The World was created several years after Pluto's Kiss was created and follows the typical fanfare of online games; classes, usernames, text/voice chatting, user customizibility and a vast array of weaponry, armors and items.  A few episodes are dedicated to dungeon raiding, which is the core of the game, however most of the series revolves around the mysterious Tsukasa, the protagonist of the series.  Tsukasa is unable to log out of The World and it is up to Tsukasa's friends to figure out why.


The animation is rather dull, even for its time.  The series relies on a lot of still shots to pass the time and the action scenes are rather dull.  In all honesty, the animation sequence to the credits is probably the most fascinating animation you will see during the series.  But that doesn't mean the animation is necessarily bad.  The character designs are interesting and some of the fields are quite magnificent, especially the snow fields.  And the grunties, the game's transportation method, are quite adorable to look at.


The music scores big points with me.  I actually went out and bought the soundtracks to the series.  A lot of care was put into the series OST.  The lyrics to the sung songs are nothing less than beautiful and when listened to at night leave a strong emotional impact.  In fact, the music itself is what makes the series so great and it really pushes the series forward.  The emotion of the music fits perfectly with the heavy parts of the show.  The voice acting in the dubbed version is superb.


The series itself revolves around the characters.  There is a great degree of character development in the series and without such intriguing characters this show would fall flat.  The characters' backstories are nothing less than brilliant.  Tsukasa, for example, for some reason cannot log out of the world.  He is a loner and a recluse.  Suburu, Tsukasa's best friend in the game, is the leader of a group of players called the Crimson Knights.  Think of them like an unnofical gaming clan, united to promote well-being in the game and to stomp out player killers like Sora.  Sora is my favorite character in the series.  His personality tends to reflect his age.  Think of him as a wild card.  Each character's story is highlighted in the series as we learn about them in the game and out in the real world.  But the most interesting characters are the ones who aren't controlled by humans including Macha and Aura.


I have a special attachment to .hack//sign primarily because is was the first anime that I had ever watched.  I remember as a kid at my grandmother's house staying up late to watch Cartoon Network just so I could watch this series.  This series has a loyal fanbase and has opened up numerous sequels and spin offs in the forms of other animes, movies, video games, and books.

8/10 story
5/10 animation
10/10 sound
9/10 characters
8/10 overall
Aurora3500's avatar
Mar 23, 2015

Premise: A virtual reality MMORPG exists with "The World" in the game. Our mysterious protagonist Tsukasa is the only player who can't log out and is the focus of an ingame mystery item called the Key of the Twilight.

Story(8/10): The focus of the story is based on the mystery of Tsukasa. He is the only player who can't log out and he has strange powers that the other players don't have which are summoning a personal strong monster called a Guardian, and the ability to move to any Town/Dungeon/Field without using a Gate (A warp point in the game). It is believed he is connected with The Key of the Twilight. A group of commited players work together to try and uncover this mystery. 

The plot looks simple at a glance, but there are subtle things working behind the scenes that give even more mysteries than just the Key of the Twilight mystery. Such as what Macha is. What the Girl is there for, and why no other players can go to where Tsukasa is. The story is slow paced, so it can feel slightly draggy at times, but it is nessacary to soak in all the knowledge that the players learn and for the viewers to piece together what's happening.

Despite this being a mmo, there is very little fighting which may alienate people who are constantly hungry for action in a series. The important part of the show is the interactions between the characters discussing philosophy of gaming and the nature of reality.

Animation(9/10): This anime was made around 2002, so it doesn't have as many fancy effects like in some of the more modern anime like SAO. The characters look great and The World feels very vibrant and exciting to be at. When the characters discover a new area, it sparks curiosity at what awaits there for them to find. There are enough enviornments in the virtual world to make it feel very fresh.

The Real World is contrasted compared to the World by being full of brown/grey as a sort of symbolism of how the real world is lifeless, while "The World" is full of life. It makes for a good effect of somewhat showing how Tsukasa and the other characters think about reality and "The World".

Sound(10/10): Yuki Kajiura is involved in this anime and her music is always extremely great. Some of the most memorable songs she has composed like "Aura" and "Key of the Twilight" are in this anime being sung by Emily Bindiger. Yuki Kajiura has also composed for Noir, Madlax, Fate/Zero, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, and Sword Art Online. The music generally fits the atmosphere of the characters present and what they are discussing. The soundtrack is very likely to stick with you even long after you've finished this anime.

Characters(10/10): Along with the main character Tsukasa, the anime also focuses on Mimiru who is a sword wielder in-game, Bear also a sword wielder, BT a wavemaster like Tsukasa. Subaru who is a leader for the ingame Crimson Knights that funtion like a police force. And Sora a rogue-style player. Each character mentioned gets involved in the mystery of Tsukasa and has their own motivations for helping Tsukasa and finding the Key of the Twilight. As the anime progresses the characters develop more and become a close group.

Other Notes: This anime is frequently compared to Sword Art Online because they both take place in MMORPG virtual worlds. Despite this similarity however, I would consider this anime and SAO to be opposites, in terms of style and characters. SAO is very fast paced, fast forwarding the plot while skipping over information. While .Hack//Sign is slow paced and doesn't load a ton of info into one episode but rather gradually throughout episodes. The protagonist of SAO Kirito is strong and has a straightforward personality, while Tsukasa is more introverted, doesn't want to interact with other players, and doesn't fight as much. If you come into this anime from SAO expecting a similar feeling, it will feel very different and you may be disapointed. 

Overall(10/10): .Hack//Sign's strengths lie with the characters and their development with the Key of the Twilight mystery being more of a "sidequest" type of thing. The soundtrack is the brilliant result of Yuki Kajiura's work, and is heavily focused on the interactions of the characters rather than action like what you would expect from a rpg.

It is a great anime to watch if you focus on the characters and their development. I have rewatched it a few times as well. If you come into this anime expecting action and fast-paced excitement, this anime will disappoint you. Regardless of what you are looking for, the anime was well made and hit many great points about gamers, gaming, and reality.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall