The place, setting and time has been set as our four mysterious and strange travelers head inside the Grid to find the rest of the crew that Hybrid swore to get back together. As they went in, they have been assigned to codenames: the first being GSXR, who was assigned to the name Black Rose; second is Pancho, who’s assigned name is Sakuma; then is Ani, who was given the nickname of Pleiades and then there’s Hybrid and his given username is….. “.MAK? I’m sorry but what the hell does that mean?” he replied after having his name. Pancho then asked him, “Wait, I don’t get the MAK name, unless it has something to do with this one guy that I heard of who was traveling with a wolf—“, Then GSXR interrupted him at that sentence saying, “Guys!! We’re close to arriving there.” reliving Hybrid on something that most people (meaning Ani & GSXR) already know, at least the surface points of that. So they started to search the first district for some answers and familiar faces and after an hour of searching, they ran into this merchant who was rushing back into his building due to an electric storm and that’s when Hybrid (or .MAK) noticed the bunny ears coming out of his head, so we decided to go into the building and then the next thing, let’s just say we saw a ghost today…………and now onto the review of .Hack//sign.
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.
This is going to be a tough one for me, but I rate .Hack//Sign….
5.5/10 – HIGH An Acquired Taste
The group noticed that guy somewhere before as he walks past by Ani and she whispered into Hybrid’s ear and said, “Doesn’t that guy look like Tron?”, but Hybrid reiterated the fact that Tron is no longer alive but Ani swore that he just saw him coming around here. “But isn’t there the other issue that merchant that looks like a rabbit might be either Neon or Lucky?” Pancho said. “But you said it was a ‘he’,” GSXR pointed out, “And we all know that……you know what, does anybody know if Lucky is a male or female?” The group either shrugged, wondered, or they didn’t know. Soon the four split into separate ways, which had Ani & Hybrid looking for the rabbit-eared merchant and possibly Tron. “Hey! You with the rabbit ears! I need to talk to you!” Hybrid shouted at him (or her) and then the merchant kept running and running from Hybrid with him throwing things at him including a banana peel and yet, the rabbit avoided the cliché trap of slipping on one but yet Hybrid didn’t. “OW! Dammit.” As Hybrid felt the pain from the fall, Ani was tracking down possible Tron and remained incognito, that as until a grim voice being whispered into Ani’s ear and said, “You can’t escape the FATES, my dear Ani-chan!” and then after being creeped out by what she think is some random guy, Possi-Tron spotted her and deliberately asked her why is she following and/or stalking him. Well, that’s saved up for the next episode and it does involve FATE……..
P.S., I picked this theme song because in my opinion, I liked it better than the two original openings. (But yeah, I’m reviewing Fate/Stay Night next time.)
And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka The Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.
.HACK//SIGN – animation by BEE TRAIN, distributed by BANDAI ENTERTAINMENT.
THE MIND OF THE HYBRID ONE – my Tumblr page.