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.Hack//Sign DVD 1: Login
Violence: Very mild
Sex/Nudity: None
Runtime Episodes: 24 / 26
Overall Rating: B
Artwork: A
Story: B -
Comments: There are two other spinoff series to this show. The first is called hack/liminality and the other is hack/Legend of the Twilight Bracelet. There are also about four games for the playstation that this anime was originally based on.
Voice Acting English: Shudder. Just listen to it in Japanese.
Voice Acting Japanese: A
Genre: Drama
Extras: Clean opening, clean closing, character sketches, trailers, trailer for the hack//sign game.

Date Reviewed: 6/17/05 Last Updated: 11/11/09

Basic Premise: Tsukasa wakes up playing an MMORPG called the World and soon discovers that he is unable to log out.
Review: Do you ever just want to escape from the real world for a while? Does the world seem so overwhelming that you just don't want to face it anymore or talk to anyone or do anything and you just want to do nothing at all? Do you ever feel like you want to be left alone and be away from everyone for a very long time like years or forever?  If you can't understand what it is like to feel that way then I don't think that you will get much out of this series.

There are lots of ways to escape the real world. Some involve tv others involve drinking or books or in this case video games. Video games are a bit of a different way to escape the real world. In this story Tsubasa wakes up already playing the world famous game called The World. In this online rpg world people can do and be whatever they want. They can fight creatures to become more powerful, they can go on quests, or just hang out and chat with friends. They can even attack each other.  It is a lot of fun for many people and a great way to escape from the duldrums of the real world for a while. To gain access to the world you merely boot up your computer and put on the head set, which has goggles and a mic to speak into. The movement is done via a joystick or a keyboard, depending on the user. In this anime we don't really get to see any of that. We see things as the gamers see things happening in the World.

Tsukasa doesn't really care to do any of those things. He just wants to be in the world to be left alone. Tsukasa plays a character known as a wavemaster and is not all that powerful. As can be expected he does end up running into a few people, but he never speaks to them for long for fear they will want to talk to him more. Tsukasa is a bit rude in fact. When all was said and done Tsukasa decided to log out and join the real world again, but to his horror he discovers that unlike other times, he is now unable to log out of the real world. This does not make any sense to him or anyone else. Suppose that the game would not let him log off. Why doesn't he just take off his headgear or just unplug his computer? It is these things that make Tsukasa a little different from other players. The other thing is that for Tsukasa the World is a bit more real than it is for other people. For one Tsukasa can feel pain and can smell things, he can even smell if someone has not showered in a few days.

Along the way Tsukasa is befriended by a mysterious non entity that grants Tsukasa gifts, like a guardian who is undefeatable and can fight all of his battles for him and protect him. He is also given the ability to travel from one server to another without having to logout. Lastly he is given a special section of the world where he can be alone if he so chooses and Tsukasa likes that very much. To tell the truth Tsukasa doesn't really care all that much that he is unable to log out and go back to the real world. The real world didn't have all that much to offer anyway.

He may not want to at first, but very slowly Tsukasa does make a few tentative friends, but not without a lot of work on Tsukasa's friends part.

The English version of this is just bad.  The actors over act mostly and do it poorly.  It's like they are trying to tell some children's story.  Something that was popular to do when anime began to become popular in the early 90's.  I am not saying that was the case, but it is just what I have observed of the anime that I have seen from that period.  The Japanese version is much better.  The english just grates on the nerves to the pont where it is just unlistenable.  

The music is interesting, but mostly average.  It might be a bit annoying though with so much of it going on almost all the time.  I don't really blame the director though because this is a very very slow paced anime to say the least, but I have to say that that is one of the things that I like about it.  It is very relaxing to watch and is just what the doctor ordered for when you want to get away from everyone and the world for a  very long while.

The strength in this anime lies in trying to understand the difference between solitude and escapism.  It also tries to explore the culture of the video game world and for the most part I think it does pretty well.  It shows how people become emotionally attached to other people in the game and the work and time that people who play mmorpg games put into such games.  It shows a world where people can't physically hurt other players or die without being able to start playing again from the last save point.  

This DVD then changes the rules slightly by making the game a bit more important by Tsukasa who can't log out, because he is not sitting in front of a computer, at least as far as he knows he isn't and who doesn't follow the same game rules that most other people have to abide.  Tsukasa can also hurt other players more than he is supposed to be able to.

Conclusion: You have to know what you are getting into if you want to watch this series. It is highly rated, but the series is very very slow on action and plot. This is not to say that there is no plot, only that it is very slow in getting started. This series is mostly about the life and culture of people who play massively multiplayer online role playing games known as MMORPGs or massively multiplayer online role playing games.

It is also the story of someone who wants to be left alone and what it takes for him to break out of his shell. It is a slow slow story, but it is enjoyable and relaxing if you want something that is very non-threatening. I hope you enjoy it, but it is hard to imagine that too many people will have the patience for this series. I did and loved it though.

Publisher: Bandai
Related Website: http://www.dothack.com/index2.html
Where Found: amazon, suncoast, rightstuf
Copyright: 2002/2003
Author: Koichi Mashimo is the director
If you enjoyed this anime try: .hack//liminality


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