I thought that having done so many action reviews I should do a classic anime that involves very little fighting. So I ended up deciding to review .hack//Sign, the first anime in the .hack franchise.
.hack is a gigantic franchise covering games, books, manga, anime and films. Collectively it follows the development of “The World” which is basically an MMO. The World is pretty much lawless, except for the systems program and those created by players, you’re forced pretty much to work this bit out on your own in this anime. There’s also a bunch of classes that never really get explained in this anime, just accept that too. Actually basically none of the MMO gets explained, it’s just a backdrop.
The plot is really convoluted and self-centered, like because it’s part of the much bigger .hack franchise, which already consisted of some major games by that point, it didn’t need to explain itself. If you haven’t got any prior knowledge you just have to accept things and move on. Essentially a guy logs into the MMO, with amnesia of the real world, but still seems to understand he’s in an MMO and he meets a person. His first reaction is to just vanish, then he violates some laws and vanishes and basically he responds to any situation with vanishing. Since he can’t log out though he ends up permanently on the run. And because half the game is arrogant to his plight and just wants to punish him for breaking some rules he’s manipulated and tortured essentially. And the whole solving the mystery behind him is slow, dull and dragged on, which wouldn’t be so bad if it explained half the things it was going on, the anime is all dialogue! There is literally an episode right in the middle which just goes over all those previous to make it a full sized season. The only reason I ended up watching it through to the end was to see the relationship develop between him and the Subaru girl. Did I mention the super anti-climactic ending? Basically this thing just expects you to love it’s story because it’s all about the story. I’m really ranting, but I’m someone who’s all about narrative in fictional works, and this one, despite being something I would love, just expects you to accept its narrative as is. I mean we don’t even get to know who the villain is in this anime, you need to watch the rest of the franchise for that bit to make sense!
Normally I’d go over the characters by this point but, despite being detailed, they are all extremely frustrating. If you’re anything like me you’ll end up watching it for the romance subplot. You’re doing it wrong if people are watching for the subplot.
If you wanna watched a trapped in an MMO with narrative, explanation and a wide cast of characters then watch Log Horizon! Okay I am heavily biased to my favourite anime. Also stay away from Sword Art Online, it’s pretty much the opposite of this.
If your intention is to go through the entire .hack franchise, I’m afraid you won’t be able to skip much at all. So it’ll be a long ride.
“Something is about to happen in this game, The World.”