I would agree with several other reviewers that the series' pacing is rather bad, bluntly. You could trim a LOT of bits down and have it be a much faster, more action driven series.
Despite that, I still liked it. It's a interesting if dark series, and one of the first of the 'trapped in a game' genre anime.
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 :-)
Story: The plot primarily focuses around Tsukasa who is trapped in a game known as The World for about six months with no recollection of the past initially. We start out in a dungeon where Tsukasa wakes up and we're immediately introduced to Mimiru but then abruptly leaves because of his anti-social attitude trying to remember what happened before the start. Our protagonist then encounters Silver Knight of the Crimson Knights who inquires about the relationship with a strange character, Macha. After finding out been unable to log out we stumble upon Bear and BT which are other important characters. Subaru who's the leader of the Crimson Knights shows up a couple of times who is another important recurring character. Tsukasa then meets up with Macha and is then given his guardian which protects against Silver Knight's ambush. At the end of the first debut what we get is a glimpse of Tsukasa's real body in a coma. The first half of the show is trying to figure out why Tsukasa can't log out or who exactly what Aura is. Our main characters are interested why that is along with the other anomalies that happen in the game while trying to build a relationship with Tsukasa. Crim is introduced later on to embark on that mystery too. They first investigate about what they think is a legendary in game item known as the Key of the Twilight which leads them into a strange dungeon where they meet up with a bizarre character uttering words about a sleeping girl that only Tsukasa knows about at first. The later half of the show is about figuring out the intentions of a powerful entity who transcends the game's system like Tsukasa does. This is where Subaru and Sora who is also introduced earlier in the story gets more involved when Subaru expresses her intention to meet up with Tsukasa which conflicts with Silver Knight's view so that leads her to disbanding the Crimson Knights. Later on Sora hooks up Bear with a hacker known as Helba and is important for revealing a lot of the revelations near the end. As Subaru gets closer to Tsukasa, it is then decided that they go to where Aura once was. Tsukasa then breaks down when Morganna takes the Aura away. Bear and the group goes on meeting that bizarre man that apparently looks like Herald Hoerwick once again to better understand Morganna's intentions. A chain of Helba's statement reveals everything about Tsukasa and Aura. It's revealed that Tsukasa was trapped by Morganna to be used as a tool to stop Aura from awakening. Sora then decides to side with Morganna but when Mimiru, Subaru, and Tsukasa comes to thwart her plans he turns against Morganna which results Sora going into a coma. The whole entire gang is then confronted by Skeith who was created by Morganna only to suddenly have every one of them to forced to log out when Helba deletes the Net Slum for an anticlimactic ending which shows Tsukasa and Subaru meeting in the real world. Despite the enthralling character driven story it has some of the worst pacing issues with the character's extended dialogues. It starts out very slow and doesn't reveal the background behind The World until the near end. Another big issue is that .hack//SIGN fails to contain itself in the end so you have to rely on the tetrology of the original games to explain plot holes like how Tsukasa got trapped or the The World's entire background. Subplots like Sora's fate or what happens when it comes to Morganna are disappointingly terminated unless you explore the said games. The story does a good job on focusing Tsukasa but fails to go further about the game's background and the immediate future.
Animation: I would describe it as very low quality when there's hardly any camera or character movement to be had. The art quality is low too.
Sound: I would say this is the best part about .hack//SIGN. It got me hooked into Yuki Kajiura's work and it's specifically beacuse of this soundtrack that I am exclusively her fan as far as music in anime goes. It's my favourite soundtrack when it comes to anime and I think it represents Yuki Kajiura's best work.
Characters: Let's start with Tsukasa. She starts off as some mopey, anti-social person with a bad attitude for the first half. She does not develop likeable qualities of a usual heroic protagonist until the the near end of the later half. Her background consists of been raised by an abusive father while her other memories have likely been erased by Morganna. Mimiru doesn't really get any significant development through out the entire story or an extensive past like the flashbacks that shows Tsukasa's issues with her father. Bear, BT, Crim, and Sora also remains the same for the most part too. Subaru takes a step down from been in power to a more humble position to interact with Tsukasa when The World is the most free place for her considering that she's a parapalegic. The Silver Knight also gets notable character development too as he makes it obvious that he wants to protect Subaru even if it goes against his interests. As for the antagonist because of the over reliance .hack//SIGN makes to other media within it's franchise we're left wondering what her motivation was behind keeping Aura from awakening. The interactions between each character are very meaningful to each other so the dialogue is very well thought out for every characters.
First impressions of this series after several episodes leave me wondering when does it come alive? The lead character, Tsukasa, has more in common with a zombie or a empty shell lifeless robot than a human character with any sort of story, appeal, character, or emotions. He is about the most boring, lifeless, dead weight character I have ever seen in any media so far. I keep waiting for something to wake him up and make me, the viewer, take any sort of interest in him, but so far I am constantly disappointed. It should not take this many episodes for a character to feel or project some sort of life and interest. The story itself is pretty bland, lifeless, and boring. No character seems to do much more than stand or sit around and chat about their problems with each other, the game, or the lifeless interloper, Tsukasa. Treatises on this show talk about it having a mystery appeal but, if there is never a life line to pull you into the story, how can there be a mystery let alone a interest in it? They drag on the whole, what is going on with Tsukasa, episode after episode with no character taking a serious effort to resolve it beyond whining and idle banter, and usually with each other and not Tsukasa. Tsukasa himself seems to have no interest in life, the game, or anyone anywhere, so where is his appeal? I get the whole "I wanna be alone thing", but this is dragging on too long and too slow to appeal to anyone who wants to stay awake. However, it presents a problem, if he never takes an interest nor effort in anything then how can he ever hope to help himself or solve his problems? I am not seeing anything yet to draw a viewer in nor to identify with him or understand him. When he is alone, even, he never says or does much of anything so there is really little more but seeing his body walking around to even suggest he is really alive or a character at all.
Usually when people, even loners, have issues, you might hear their thoughts or them talking to themselves or seeking answers, not wandering around aimlessly like a hopelessly lost puppy with no personality or ability to speak more than a half a minute to any other life form. They made his character so far, a bit too aloof and disinterested in anything or life itself. Not only that, but the way he behaves and treats everyone else, especially those who try to help or befriend him comes off as rude, arrogant, bad behavior, negative appeal, and general jerk qualities. So if anything, so far there is more to turn viewers away from him or taking an interest or identifying with him. Now, I can be pretty aloof and isolated myself, but to be such a rude jackhole on top of that is pretty bad. You are more likely to drive people to anger or hostile behavior and stand out more and in negative light with such a bad personality. And this so called lead character has one of the worst, rudest, and dullest personalities I have ever seen in media. I am having real trouble even rooting for him at this point let alone understanding, liking, or identifying with him in anyway. Usually aloof loners do not like to make waves, it makes them stand out more and worse, in a negative light which in fact can draw more attention. He plays the loner very poorly and makes loners in general look bad.
So far also, all I hear in the show are the questions that he is disrupting the game, but no one, not even Tsukasa himself, seems to have any thoughts or concerns about what is keeping his so called real body alive after a month or more of being stuck mentally in a game world. I do not consider this a spoiler statement since it is revealed what happened to him within like the first 5 minutes of the first episode. We never really get an idea much about the game world itself, skills, quests, what drives people to play really, nor their real life selves, which kind of counters the whole concept given the main character is stuck. Instead of aid, he gets accused of hacking the game or disrupting others. He seems to have the arrogant belief that nothing he does matters. Perhaps he gave up way to easily and early for any hope and takes it out on everyone else like the pathetic looser he is. Not only is he not helping himself, solving his own issues, or actually putting effort into being alone, but he actually draws attention to himself by his negative bad behavior and actions. In fact, it is more like, HE is the opposite and is really an attention seeking jerkwad bent on getting in everyone's face and ruining everyone else's existance as much as possible. It is clear he is also very selfish and self centered. It is a miracle anyone tries to help him or gives a crap about him at all. So for a guy trying to be left alone, he sure sucks at it by doing everything he can to ensure he is never left alone and is even hated by all but the most guilable simpleton characters who still think he is a nice guy that needs help.
The fact also that the so called question if his own real life existance is dragged on so long without any hint of what is happening other than he is stuck in a game is also a big negative. For a show that pretends, it is about drama and mystery, it is doing a pretty poor job. Drama and mysteries rarely are so boring nor take so long to get things rolling.
PS. If things change as I try my hardest to watch the show despite the intence boredom at least for a few more episodes, I will adjust the review, however, the issue remains that so far it is taking too many episodes to get things rolling.
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.
This was the first anime I ever watched so I hope I am not being Nostalgia-blinded. The story is great, the animation is okay but my favourite aspect of .hack//SIGN is its excellent characters and amazing soundtrack. I still listen to the soundtrack even after all these years. Key of The Twilight is one of my favourite songs from any anime. The characters....where do I even begin. All of them felt so bland to me during the first few episodes where I thought of dropping this entirely (I was nine but I knew blandness when I was exposed to it) but I kept on going. After I finished watching all 26 episode and Intermezzo, I got attached to all the characters to the point I wanted to stay with them rather than real people (note, I didnt have much friends back then). I hope all their lives turned out well in the real world after all that happened.
Secret Santa Review:
Story: the stongpoint of this anime is certainlly the plot. i don't know if this is the 1st of it's kind. i say this because at the time of this writing, there seems to be quite a few of anime about people trapped in a video game. either way, this was the 1st of that type of anime i have seen therefore, it had the impact of a new idea. hopefully, i'm not too bias. the story starts off slow but get better with time by leaps and bounds. apparently, there are many psychological themes in the story that deal with why people who escape reality because of it's harshness, in favor of a world where they are perhaps more important, more capable, and independent.
animation: the animation looked as if it was from the 1990's. i can't tell if this was done on purpose to give it a "throwback" feel or if it just was simply...poor quality. i don't recall any recycled scenes so, that's a plus. i will say this though, i suspect a good reason as to why the studio protrayed the scenes from the video game vs the way they protrayed the scenes from the real world, in that manner. my best guess is one is meant to represent life and excitement, as opposed to a place of misery, dull and painful.
sound: this was my least favoirite aspect of the anime. opening and ending songs were apporpiate to the setting, i suppose. however, Subaru's theme (Fake Wings) was the bane of my ears, especially in the 1st few episodes. every time she was on screne that theme would play. sometimes depending on the scene, one of these themes would play and the tempo might be altered to match the pacing of the scene. needless to say, don't go and youtube the song "fake wings" because there will be enough for that should u choose to watch this anime. it made me hate Subaru's face, not her actions, just her face.
characters: which leads us to character design. this is another saving grace of the anime: the character developement. early on, the support characters really carry the anime far. we have a good foundation in them while some main characters are still developing to more likeable ways. they each serve their purpose: silly ass comic reliefs, mentors, leaders, the numb skull followers, anti socials, friends, and whatnot. the point is though, they become different people as the plot moves.
overall: watch it. i feel the anime is good but the franchise is strong. it's a bit dialog heavy but how else do you lay the foundation to a good story. as a result, there are many complimentary OVA's and animes that follow it, making this anime worth the time. a lot of times we see an anime based off of some different media (video game, live action movie, you name it) soley for the purpose as a money maker or the milking of a francise. i don't see that here. i see a base for a good journey.
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.
Critic’s Log - Earthdate: May 22, 2013. Review #87: .Hack//SIGN
In the real world, I enjoy watching anime, in “The World”... I really don’t want to talk about this.
Welcome to The World
In the near future, there is a popular virtual reality online role playing game, characters try to play out the goals they set for entertainment and also passing of time. It is called “The World” and it is an RPG with a setting of monsters, player characters and dungeons. Tsukasa is a detached and introverted player and individual that has a number of mysteries about his player character. Many weird events surround Tsukasa and his involvement in a rare item called 'The Key Of The Twilight' and this sparks Tsukasa's meetings 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 can not log out or the existance of The Key Of The Twilight. Meanwhile Tsukasa befriends Bear, Mimiru, and BT and they try to help him understand who he really is and how he can come back to the real world.
To be technical, .Hack//SIGN is a Bee Train production and this studio has done some decent works since .Hack//SIGN but their production resume isn’t top notch and it doesn’t have to be. Just because I review anime doesn’t mean that I would perceive a show’s success or downfall would determine what studio it is from. I have seen some animes from Studio GONZO and my conclusion so far is that even though their CG animation looks terrible, not every single anime made by them is bad. Bee Train is not a big name and .Hack//SIGN is a notable anime from them. I hate to state the obvious, but you probably heard it from someone… somewhere. This is a review, what do you expect? The animation is the most brought up factor of this show. It’s character designs and artwork are great in .Hack//SIGN. This one has a major problem though… There are times where it hardly ever moves. .Hack//SIGN was known to be a dialogue heavy show. This is one of those “talking head” animes where pretty much most of the show is full of conversations. This is the show’s double-edged sword and I will get to that later in this review. I will say that it was nice to see the animation improve over time, even though it can be obvious to notice around the last few episodes. The animation looks good, it is a little boring to look at because it hardly moves at times.
If there is one thing that .Hack//SIGN excels in is its soundtrack. In my opinion, This soundtrack has some of Yuki Kaijura’s best work. She is no Yoko Kanno, even though she is an amazing music composer, Yuki Kaijura is also a good composer. With the way the soundtrack is composed, it is the biggest strength of .Hack//SIGN. Hell, The opening theme song is really damn catchy, the closing song is a nice calm theme which I can tell the contrast this show is going for. First off, the opening has a very catchy beat and extremely exciting and energetic, the closing theme is calm and peaceful, there’s a bit of contrast there. Secondly, the show’s opening is misleading and it fits… The show led me to think that this would be an exciting series with a virtual video game setting with some fantasy in it and the show got that right. The show wasn’t as exciting as I thought it could be. Regardless of the situation. The opening kicks ass, and the closing theme is not bad either. There are some calm pieces as well as some ominous ones. The use of the themes used is pitch-perfect as most as it can get. Kaijura-san is well known because of her work in .Hack//SIGN and I look forward to hearing more of her work for years to come as well as animes I have not seen yet a few years since .Hack//SIGN. .
When voice acting is concerned. The Japanese cast has some good choices. Mitsuki Saiga is terrific as Tsukasa. For the majority of the show, I thought Tsukasa was voiced by Megumi Ogata. I say this because when I was watching this anime subbed, Tsukasa sounded a lot like Shinji Ikari (The original Japanese voice of course). I later looked this up and found out it’s a completely different person. Long story short, the performance is terrific. Megumi Toyoguchi fits as Mimiru. Kazuhiro Nakata also fits as Bear. Akiko Hiramatsu is also good as BT and Kaori Nazuka is great as Subaru. A Noteworthy extra in the subbed version is Shinichiro Miki as Crim which he did alright in this one. I won’t drag too long about the subbed version of .Hack//SIGN any longer The casting is mostly pretty good. As for the English Dub. Brianne Siddall is also terrific as Tsukasa and it is one of her most recognizable roles, which is saying a lot considering what the show mostly consists of. Mimiru also has an interesting casting choice for the dub, she happens to be voiced by voice actress Amanda Winn-Lee. Does Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion ring a bell? Well, she is mostly known for being the original English voice of Rei Ayanami and she plays a character who is the complete opposite in personality than Rei Ayanami, and Amanda Winn-Lee’s portrayal of Mimiru is fitting. Paul Mercier is also memorable as Bear. Donna Rawlings is alright as BT even though she hasn’t had many roles and did not really stick around in the industry since. hmm, oh well! Kim Mai Guest is great as Subaru, and Dave Wittenberg has a lot of fun playing Sora here. Noteworthy extras of the dub include Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Helba, do I need to say anymore about this voice actress? No, not really. It’s freaking Mary Elizabeth McGlynn! Crispin Freeman as Balmung. Doug Rye as Silver Knight despite he hasn’t voice acted much before or since, but his voice clicks with the character, and Lex Lang as Crim. Why am I going to some length in talking about both casts. It’s because both versions have some good casting. The Japanese cast is mostly great, The English dub cast is great too but there are a few hiccups but it is a miniscule issue with the dub. The dub performances may feel a little different with the original intent with some characters but it is a solid dub none the less.
There is one thing interesting about .Hack//SIGN and that would be its characters. Tsukasa is the main protagonist of this anime and… I’ll get to him later. Mimiru does have a bit of an attitude but she plays her part alright, she turned out to be a good friend to Tsukasa. Bear is likeable in the show and he is likeable in the long run as well as interesting, even though his tattoo design is kind of similar to William Wallace from Braveheart (For the most part)
BT is also an interesting character, but I really don’t have much to say about her, she is just as interesting as Bear and she has differences too compared to other characters. Subaru is not a bad character and there is an interesting side to her but because it goes into spoiler territory, I can’t say why she’s interesting, but she is, even though she has the Silver Knight around her a lot. Sora is bit annoying at first but there is a reason for that… again, because of spoiler territory… I can’t say why, but he’s part of the character balance. There’s got to be a character that either screws things up or is annoying. Just saying. For a show that’s dialogue heavy, the characters do leave some impression due to the fact that this show somehow has character development. It would be cheating to say that Tsukasa did not develop that much. That would be an understatement. Tsukasa may not fare well for some because of his depressive state of mind. I will say that when this anime comes full circle, Tsukasa has a little interesting feature about him. Tsukasa does develop, I would have favored Tsukasa a lot if this anime didn’t take its slow ass time in its running time of 28 episodes
My major problem in .Hack//SIGN is its pacing. It…is…so…damn… SLOW. With 26 episodes, including two extra ones. This show is full of dialogue. Dialogue-heavy shows are not necessarily a bad thing. Like I said earlier, it hardly moves at times. The show’s dialogue is part of .Hack//SIGN’s slow pacing and this is the biggest flaw with the show. If this anime were half as long, I would welcome this anime as a dialogue heavy series. But 26 episodes, with 2 extra ones in which counts up to 28 episodes, it does exceed my limits. Even with 28 episodes total of dialogue heavy material, the show is actually interesting with its themes of escapism and anxiety. You could say that the psychological aspect can be compared to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Both main leads tend to have anxiety issues as well as both of them with that vibe of depression for the majority of the series. The Evangelion franchise really made it clear to the viewer while .Hack//SIGN keeps it a mystery for quite a while. The Evangelion franchise makes it clear that it is a series that gives room for character study to the viewer, so does .Hack//SIGN. Here’s a fun fact. Both animes have the same character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. So, what do I think of .Hack//SIGN as a whole. I’m afraid this review from here on out will be completely subjective because .Hack//SIGN is an anime with a love/hate reception after its completion. The story is slow as hell but it does devote its time to the characters. I will say that the show is thought-provoking, but I feel it is also quite pretentious at the same time. For example, the red herring moments where the viewer is mislead at first but the twists that do come in don’t really answer much. I also feel that the real world scenes could’ve had more screentime than the final result of this anime as a whole. Also, I felt that the 26th Episode could’ve ended the series, but NOPE!. When the chronology of the .hack franchise is concerned. There are 4 games that follow the 26th episode, a 4-part series simply titled “.Hack” for the PlayStation 2. were made to continue the storyline of the anime. The games at least have more action than the anime did, but the game series continuation is a little boring to me and not even the main cast is shown much in the game either. I would be contempt if the video game series concluded the story after .Hack//SIGN, however… THERE WAS A LITTLE MORE LEFT TO TELL. Two extra episodes were made after the 26th Episode. One being “Intermezzo” where Tsukasa is not even in it which in my opinion felt “filler-ish”, and the second one called “Unison” that really concludes the .Hack//SIGN anime. If you didn’t play or watch the games and jumped into the “final” episode, you will be somewhat confused. We have Episodes 1 through 26, then the 4-part .Hack games as well as the Liminality OVA’s with it, and then the final two episodes. Wanna know why I felt it should’ve ended after Episode 26? With all due respect to the .Hack fans it does have what seemed to be an ending (albeit oddly rushed). the games take it from there (plus the OVA’s) The show resumes after with two extra episodes which (in my honest opinion) FEELS POINTLESS. Call me crazy if you’d like, but this is probably why .Hack//SIGN has gotten the love/hate reputation. I still think it’s interesting, but I think it could’ve answered some confusion later on. I will say that it is good that this show doesn’t hold your hand. This is a show where the viewer has to really pay attention and it does require some thinking to do as well. It is a unique anime, but I can’t say I enjoyed it.
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.Hack//SIGN was available by Bandai Entertainment. It was out of print after Bandai went under but it has been rescued and re-licensed by Funimation. The 4-part .Hack video games (Infection, Mutation, Outbreak, and Quarantine) were available for the PlayStation 2, a PlayStation Network download re-release has not been made for these games and it doesn’t look like it will. The .Hack//Liminality OVA's are under the same situation as .Hack//SIGN as well as its parody .Hack//GIFT
WIth all that said, .Hack//SIGN is a unique series with psychological intrigue as well as some series. It is a slow series and there are some stuff that will make sense along the way. However, not all questions are answered. The soundtrack by Yuki Kaijura is the show’s saving grace and is definitely worth listening to outside of this anime. The artwork is also good-looking, but unfortunately the animation hardly moves and does look stale. The character development is great but the layout of the plot felt awkward to me considering it led into a 4-part game series which also leads to two more episodes of the anime set after the games which I felt didn’t really add much to the story. I can agree this is a love/hate anime and that’s where I draw the line with this one.
I give .Hack//SIGN a 5.1 out of 10, it is AVERAGE!
Feel free to leave a comment, now if you’ll excuse me… I’ll be logging out.
==== Warning some spoilers ====
So the Story over all is oke, the concept of a game world becoming a little more than a game is something most of us can relate too. Though- Honestly if there is just one word that sums up this Anime its "oke". after 28 episodes I can't say I regret watching it but I dont end this show with any great urge to watch it again. The story has some deep moments, mostly focused around the personal development of the charcters - infact the main story arch is some what in the background of the anime over all.This Anime is a bit like Lettuce, it doesnt have enough of a taste to dislike and it doesnt smell bad. ( After you watch the anime and read this- you'll be all " I see what you did there.")
Animation wise its pretty typical/average. I am not the type that is overly picky about the animation style of the shows so I am not one to write detailed critiques of every thing the animators did wrong ( and those people frankly annoy the hell out of me).
Sound... well, the game certainly had some funky sound track. Again not unpleasent... just funky. Different for sure.
Charcters, probably the high point of this Anime. Lots of Charcter growth, most of the charcters are likable and their stories are interesting. Some questions about the charcters dont get answered but its some what better that way. I really really lked the Charcter arches because we can all relate to them in one way or another. Though I will comment that the Anti-social card was over played with the main charcter.
The anime doesnt answer the questions it built up through the show and that ticks me off! The ending isn't a real ending- they are all dancing around happy like with some charcters that had nothign to do with the main story arch in this series..presumably they are part of the follow up series which presumably answers the questions the Anime asked in the first one.
Long story meets short story, I am Neutral on this anime. I will proably que up the follow up .Hack Anime- just because I hate leaving stories unfinished but after this anime I fully expect that the follow up will be "Oke" as well. This anime, as I said does have some redeeming qualities in its Charcter arch- It ultimately balances out how vague and background dwelling the main story was and even how-at times obnoxius the main charcter was.
What I Liked: The art and the character designs. The plot and premise were interesting, especially in relation to the game world and Tsubasa's identity. Great character development, Sora was a stand-out character. The juxtaposition of the colourful The World scenes VS. the bleak reality scenes.
What I Didn't: Some of the red herrings felt unnecessary. Execution of Episode 19 could've been better.
Final Verdict: A good mesh of swords-and-sorcery with psychological themes. Warrants more than one watch in order to catch anything you might have missed the first time around.
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.
*SPOILER FREE* * I HATE SPOILERS WITH A PASSION, SO DONT WORRY* :)
I recently watched Sword Art Online and LOVED the anime so much that I wanted to find more animes like it. I didn't like .hack // sign at first, but I thought I would try to give it some time and maybe it would grow on me ( I love to play mmo's and am a big gamer). It didn't sadly. I watched the whole series and found myself saying SEVERAL times how did this character get to this location?? There was little explanation for certain points aswell as the ending. (the other series DO NOT continue the story).
I like love stories and this ones was not so good... (lack of creativity from the authors)
This series is not worth watching and if you loved SAO watch BTOOOM!. Or scryed, berserk, gungrave, Gurren Lagann, anything but this series.... ( I fell asleep several times due to the lack of entertainment from this show)
I'm still on the hunt for more anime like Sword Art Online...
.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.
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.
ANIME MARKETING SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
SPOILERS! Lots of them! This is a review for those who HAVE SEEN .hack but understood squat about the story or the plot. You have been warned!
Most anime fans prefer a balanced pace of a good story, along with cool battles in between to keep them on their toes. .hack is limited to one of the two main things: Talking with a deep meaning behind it. That made it quality material but hardly bearable. It cares too much on having long philosophical discussions or aimless walking around, while neglecting entirely to tell the otherwise good story. Full Metal Alchemist for example had a bit of everything and is worthy one of the best fantasy adventures ever made. The plot here is all talking and no fighting, a thing that DID make me watch most of it at X8 speed. And, no, I didn’t miss any important voice acting or music themes this way, as the pace remains the same in all episodes. If I were otherwise left to choose between talking or fighting, I would definitely pick the first. Series that are only about fighting and shallow talking/storytelling are AWFUL. Just try to watch Devil May Cry and you’ll understand what I mean. That is the only reason I didn’t give Enjoyment a score of 3 or lower.
Other than that it is boring; something which is self-given if you are aware of the studio which animated it. Bee Train’s trademarks are the extremely moody shows, full of nice soundtracks and slow plots, with very dull or unexiting action. .hack is like that too but at least in this case there was far more context in the story than just some chicks with guns acting all emo and shooting people in the most improbable ways.
The story AROUND the plot of .hack is AWESOME and it’s a real shame most won’t get to figure it out because of boredom or lack of motivation to search further. In case you want to learn about it, read the bottom entry of this review. The backdrop story of the show is incredibly detailed and captivation yet the series hardly evolved it any further. It focused almost entirely on getting to know the characters and exposing the main mystery by feeding you with a spoon. All that hardly needed a full season to be told and thus the only bad thing in here is the dreadfully slow pacing and absence of action and tension peaks.
Tsukasa is the protagonist. We originally know nothing of him, he knows nothing of himself. The whole “amnesia” theme is so commonly used in movies and series, that I almost stopped watching .hack because of it. I mean, the main character is a wimp who doesn’t trust anyone or fights anything. He was just talking about how harsh life is and the like. But, as the story goes on (in a very slow pace as always), I loved the guy! Why? Well, for starters, because he is not a guy! He is a girl playing a male character! She was being beaten by her father in the real world and when Morgana gave her the chance to escape reality, she willfully trapped her consciousness in the game permanently and erased her memories to forget the cruel past (all these, thanks to the Key of Twilight). As Tsukasa, he/she was avoiding others until other players (mostly Bear, Mimiru and Subaru) help him/her face reality, just to be together for real. His/her character development can’t get any better, as he/she is 180 degrees different when the series end. Go Tsukasa!
Besides Tsukasa, all others are there for flavor. Sure, it was interesting when they described what they do or how they look like in the real world. But besides that, they didn’t really do anything else other than talking and giving advices to Tsukasa. Not that they were shallow, it’s just that they had weak presence in the series or before Tsukasa’s character. Only the few points in the story, were some try to deceive others or criticize their actions in the game were noteworthy. Subaru is the only other character that truly develops, as she dismantles an entire organization and even falls in love with Tsukasa (a possible yuri relationship is blooming here!). If the show was just about these two alone, I would gladly give the cast a 10 but unfortunately it is far bigger and far less interesting.
You will love the visuals if you’re into MMORPG and phantasy worlds. They lack stylized CG and flashy effects, but I didn’t care about that; the atmosphere rocked for its time. It is true that it may seem like a generic videogame setting but unlike all other adaptations, it really did its best to make the world look dreamy and scary at the same time. The production values are high and there are lots of details which make each area to be like a fairy tale. The only problem is the lack of motions; the characters will be too stiff most of the time and there is not much action for you to stare at. It’s closer to a well made picture book than an animated feature.
Hands down; .hack has the best music themes and amongst the best voice acting I have ever heard. They may talk all the time and most music themes repeat too often to the point of boredom, but nevertheless they are exceptionally great to listen to. You may not like the show but the OST is to die for. Even the dialogues are there to provide immersion to the characters and hint various things around the mystery, so even those serve their purpose.
There is nothing else exactly like .hack//SIGN; even its sequels are very different and inferior to it. Its originality in setting, scenario, and way of storytelling, make it special and memorable even if you hated it. A perfect mark for a controversial series that alters the way you look at “childish cartoons”.
Welcome to the NHK, Zegapain and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya are also about people who are absorbed in their worlds and refuse to face reality.
Mamoru Oshii’s movies, such as Ghost in the Shell and Sky Crawlers are also mostly about dialogues, interesting concepts, and character immersion, rather action and big explosions.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (great)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (dreamy)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 9/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (mature)
Music Themes 4/4 (dreamy)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 7/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (terrible)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 1/2 (so-so)
Conclusion 2/2 (solid)
CHARACTER SECTION: 8/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (well founded)
Backdrop 2/2 (everyone has some)
Development 1/2 (only for the protagonist and it is strong)
Catharsis 2/2 (all is resolved)
VALUE SECTION: 7/10
Historical Value 2/3 (very famous)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of the too slow plot)
Memorability 4/4 (extremely artsy to the point of forever remembering it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
Art 0/1 (looks dreamy)
Sound 2/2 (sounds dreamy)
Story 1/3 (great concept but the presentation lacks)
Characters 2/4 (the main ones are fine but not amazing; the rest are passable)
And now something extra for those who care:
THE BACKDROP STORY OF .HACK (spoilers follow)
In the near future, a super virus destroys all but one web networks, plunging the world into chaos. A few years later, the same events are slowly repeating through the most famous on-line game of the time, simply called THE WORLD. As gameplay goes, the game is not better than Lineage, but it features a revolutionary originality: Virtual Reality! VR helmets and gloves make the sensation of the game a lot more realistic, although feeling pain when hit is not possible.
But even that is beginning to get dangerous, as many are struck by a virus in the game that throws them into coma. The producers of the game keep this a secret because it sells like crazy and simply order several programmers and moderators to secretly “fix” any problems the game may have.
The reason of the virus is The Key of the Twilight, a forbidden artifact in the game that can alter the very programming of the game and effectively make anything possible. Even making NPCs act like players and throw players into coma!
The Key was made by the now deceased original programmer of the game, who was in love with a woman poet/phantasy novelist. When she died in a traffic accident, his grief led him to secretly create a simulation of her personality with the name of Aura and sent her dormant and hidden in the game. A program called Morgana was responsible for gathering information on players that would help Aura become artificially intelligent. She would move freely in the game, without any game programming restrictions, thanks to the Key’s power to alter anything.
And here is where the problem arose. Morgana became self-aware and like all living/sentient beings, it wanted to stay alive. If Aura would awake, its reason-for-being would end and effectively, it would be erased/killed. So, in order to prevent Aura’s awakening indefinitely, it gave the Key to someone who didn’t want to change or face reality (not awake from the illusion of the game, so to speak). That person was Tsukasa, someone who wished to stay in the game forever (the reason is described in the Character section). So, Tsukasa almost willfully chooses to forget who “he” is and stay in the game forever, in order to escape the harsh reality.
And then the series begin. Tsukasa’s Key is slowly corroding the programming and creates viruses with a thematic motif of those of the woman’s End Of The World novels. These viruses start to expand beyond the game, causing troubles and beginning a new world crisis. But the story is about Tsukasa learning to trust people again, search for his lost memories and face reality. You hardly hear anything about the story I describe so far. The series focuses on him and leaves aside the whole world threat.
The ending is open, as you are supposed to watch .hack//LIMINALITY and play the .hack Playstation game trilogy to get the full picture. But those are just marketing tricks to rob you of your money, as the plot is also boring and slow and not even interesting characters are present.
There! If that is not a good story, I don’t know what it is. It sure beats all those “I want to become No.1 in the world” and “I will beat the crap out of everyone” series.
I find myself severely dissappointed by .Hack//SIGN. It's cool premise with an awesome music compelled me to watch the series. But by the time it ended, I just said, "good riddens." It was boring, there are too many scenes with nothing going on but talking, and about 25% of the characters are attending the next My Chemicle Romance concert and the remaining 75% are talking about it. The best thing I can say about this is at least it showed me pretty pictures and music which a lot of animes now a days don't do.
I never played the video games so I'm not sure if fans of the .Hack//GAMES would enjoy this. I do reccomend this show if you are into electronica music. If you are younger, I think you might be able to appreciate this show.
This gets a Linkin Park out of a Jisatsu Circle (Google it)
The feeling that really describes .hack//SIGN for me is wasted potential. The premise and world are marvelous; the animation smooth and detailed and the graphic design excellent. The plot is decent and the music is superb. But the characters! The voice acting, the script, the personalities, it was all so wrong that it just brought everything crashing down. This show could have been so much, and yet it became so little, like a great play performed by ametuers. Indeed, the only way the characters could seem passable is if you looked for some hidden message in the more conveluted and abstract levels of the plot. I'm not sure if playing the games is necessary to understand the show or what, but for me, this was a failure matched only by the perfection it could have been.
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 believe that this series has a wonderful story concept to base an anime around. The general story concept is that a certain online game called “The World” may be causing some of its players to enter into a coma while playing the game. The only way to stop these comas from occurring is to find the reason for the comas and stop it within the game itself.
As for the story it is engaging and well fleshed out by the end of the series. The story also seems to be fairly original to the best of my knowledge. This series brings up multiple issues in regards to MMORPGs and other online games. It examines the reasons for playing these games, their effects on our real lives and the dangers associated with such things, as well as the taboo of not keeping online lives separate from real life (like meeting game friends in real life).
The anime needed more time to tell its story. As viewers a certain amount of extra information about the story setting and some of the characters and their histories within that setting would have been extremely helpful. The story could have also explored the out of game world more often and I feel that it would have been supremely beneficial in making the story feel more real.
(KiraRin kindly pointed out my forgetfulness concerning some of the better frequently used animation in the series, aka, the gates. This changes my score to from 7.5 to an 8.5)
This animation does not seem to have been on the cutting edge for 2002 when this series came out. That being said it was appropriately clean and smooth from a game world perspective. I feel that a more realistic style would have actually hurt the in game feel of this animation due to the lack of computerized graphics. The animation is nothing to be in awe of but it should not be disregarded as “behind the times” either. It accomplished a very important goal for me…it did not distract from the story or the characters, which leads us to the next section…
(The music being too loud is the real problem here)
Ridiculously quiet/silent main character + minimal sound effects + epic soundtrack = gigantic crappy AMV. Well, that's a bit too harsh, because the story is awesome and should be appreciated. Also, the sound effects are not really that minimal they are just overpowered by the music.
Sadly, our main character is often close lipped or grunting quietly. Often when characters are speaking the music seems to be in the foreground and the characters voices/sounds in the background. Now, that might be due to the source I was watching it from but when I first saw this at a friend’s house I felt the same way about the sound relationship.
The sound earns the rating I gave it because it detracts from the overall feel of the anime and can sometimes interrupt key points in the series when characters have important things to say. At times the sound is used brilliantly, showing the potential for this category to have earned a 10/10.
This series has believable characters that have problems that they attempt to overcome throughout the entirety of the series. There are many well developed characters and I felt myself pulling for certain ones and hating others, which is great! My only real problem in this category was time. There are not enough episodes to fully focus on the characters and the story in the manner in which they required. However, this series does a good job utilizing the time it has to grow the characters and to make them important to the viewer.
In the end I love the characters and enjoy the story a great deal. I find myself wishing the story could continue for another 26 episodes. It was an enjoyable watch and, while not revolutionary, was a positive and memorable experience. The only detractor for me was the sound and story telling time given which dropped this from a 9/10 to its current score.