Saturday, February 26, 2005

.hack//Legend of the Twilight

Genre: Cyberpunk / Adventure
General Audience
Credits: 2003 Koichi Mashimo, Project Hack, Bee Train, Bandai Visual

.hack Item Shop
.hack Manga and Artbooks
.hack Toys and Games

Cover Description:
It has been four years since the in cident that has come to be known as the Twilight. Many of those who witnessed it no longer come to “The World.” It is a different place. A safer place. Shugo and his twin sister Rena are two of the newest players to join “The World.” And they’ve won a very special prize in a contest—they get to use the character likenesses of the legendary Kite and Black Rose. Such a prize is very rare indeed, and it makes them the center of a lot of attention. The pair will encounter friends and allies, but it soon becomes very clear that they are not ordinary players. Unusual things keep happening around them, but they’re too busy having fun to really worry. It’s probably nothing. Probably.

(12 Episodes)

The most entertaining .hack anime >>> by skysenshi (02.25.2005)
.hack: Legend of the Twilight is another spin-off from the dotHack Project. Like all other .hack anime titles out there, this is mostly based on the .hack series of video games. Assume that everything here happens within the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) called The World. For those who have played the game, you will immediately recognize Kite and Black Rose. But they're not the same people in Legend of the Twilight. The sprites are the same, but the gamers behind the sprites weren't the ones who saved The World four years ago. The characters are now controlled by twins Shugo and Rena.

Now, if you have seen .hack//SIGN and played at least .hack//INFECTION, you might notice a pattern when it comes to conflicts. Another group of hackers have come to wreak havoc on The World, in an effort to control it. This isn't anything new. This was the basic plot scenario that we've encountered in SIGN and the game.

It's also a common occurence for CC Corporation to become a bit paranoid about situations, that they would make rash, baseless decisions. In Legend of the Twilight, CC Corporation actually goes overboard by deleting playable characters for something as trivial as editing the color of their clothes. Now if you worked for an MMORPG company, like I do in real life, you would know that being overly strict with your paying customers is suicide. You'd wonder how The World had gotten so popular if they didn't have punishment levels depending on the severity of EULA* violations. But let's just suspend our disbelief for the moment.

Besides dealing with some mentally stressed hackers and a company that seems to exhibit no concern over their concurrent users, Shugo and Rena have to deal with a third entity. Who it is, I'd best leave the viewers to discover for themselves.

I can't imagine this being an anime that could be easily understood by non-gamers, although it can pretty much stand on its own. The characters, though not blessed with unique personalities, are fun to watch. I find myself particularly amused by the protagonist, Shugo, who starts off as a good-for-nothing leecher†. I'm also glad to see Balmung—a bishie I've had a crush on since .hack//INFECTION and .hack//SIGN—finally show that vulnerable part of him that he has always kept hidden underneath that cool, calm exterior. Let's just say that in Legend of the Twilight, unlike the past .hack installations, you'd actually get to see some possible love angles. Unfortunately, Shugo and Rena's rather frequent incestuous exchanges don't sit quite well with me. I find myself cringing and shouting invectives everytime their sexual tension comes to the fore. I know they probably longed for each other's presence, considering their parents have split and they live separately, but really. Their feelings seem to be bordering on the ecchi. That's definitely one love angle I could live without.

What's good about Twilight of the Spirits is that, despite the obvious plot holes, it's still the most entertaining anime series that dotHack Project released. Perhaps this is because everyone here is just out to have fun, with or without the presence of antagonists. The events are no longer hack-and-slash anymore! Of course there are the usual stuff that happen in MMORPGs—i.e. people falling in love with sprites, and kids skipping class because of their addiction—that give Legend of the Twilight a realistic appeal. Rena and Shugo's real-life situation, case in point, reminded me of the time I lived away from home and I communicated with my sister via the MMORPG Ragnarok Online.

Many of the characters are repeat visitors from either .hack the game or .hack//SIGN. With them partying up with the newer, wackier people, you're bound to find them more adorable this time around. I nearly forgot to mention Ouka, one of the "legendary martial artists", who is actually a very sexy, bloodthirsty werewolf; and that lovable little Puchiguso/Grunty that the party takes under their wing. Sum this up with the fact that The World has added a lot of nifty patches, wherein you can actually wear bathing suits and play on a beach setting, you just know you have it! F.U.N.!

The sounds are great. Not as exceptional as the ones in SIGN and .hack//LIMINALITY, but they're still worth listening to. Yuki Kajiura is still part of the music team after all. Artwork and animation are superb, though not nearly as exquisite as what we've seen in SIGN. Legend of the Twilight has an entirely different appeal, art-wise. The creators obviously wanted to go for the cheerful approach, which is why you will notice that the visuals are cutesy. What I appreciated most was the fact that even though Balmung of Legend of the Twilight isn't as hot as Balmung of SIGN, they didn't deform his character design. He is still hot.

If you're a fan of .hack, this is a must-see. I'm sure you'd find yourself curious as to what has happened to The World after Kite and Black Rose made legends of themselves. But if you're just a fan of anime in general, you will probably find this an average title. I just doubt you'd give this a high rating if you hadn't experienced the game or at least played an MMORPG.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 7; Characters 9; Sounds 9

* EULA - End User License Agreement
† Leecher - someone who just sits back to gain experience points from party members who actually work for their experience points.

Why did it just turn weird at the end?! >>> by Shunici Sakurai (02.25.2005)
Shugo and Rena are siblings separated by circumstance. They are given the chance to reunite as they are selected the winners of the legendary characters Kite and Black Rose in the MMORPG "The World." An unexpected fringe benefit comes in the form of a hexagonal-nut-shaped bracelet with mysterious, unpredictable powers. What perils await the siblings in their new virtual adventure?

"This should have been great...but why did it just turn weird at the end?!"

I had seen bits and pieces of .hack//SIGN, the original series in this MMORPG-inspired anime universe, and it set me up in watching this particular title, even up to a small extent. While I found .hack//SIGN just too self-absorbed in its own World (pun intended) for me to enjoy it properly, .hack//Legend of the Twilight is a far friendlier series.

The plot revolves around Shugo, Rena, their ragtag party and the mysterious bracelet given to Shugo as an unexpected bonus. Being a newbie to The World, Shugo has to learn his way around the unfamiliar atmosphere of the game and is trained accordingly. At first he relies on the powers of his bracelet all too often, sometimes with disastrous consequences, but he later learns how to fend off enemies on his own skills. The bond between Shugo and Rena is also established over the course of the series, although frankly I find Shugo's affections sappy at best, borderline incestuous at worst.

What interested me in .hack//LotT is the middle of the story arc. Other anomalies pop up in The World, and a sinister plot is hatched by a party of other gamers to trap Shugo and Rena. Unrest has also set in within the ranks of the administration of the company running The World. Administrator Balmung finds himself in a power struggle despite his efforts to investigate the anomalies of The World on his own. All these elements contributed to a meaty story worth finishing...yet somehow the conclusion seemed so ill-resolved it was disappointing. I felt this was a waste after the heady plot developments and that just killed my enjoyment.

Like many sequels, .hack//LotT looks better visually than its predecessor, with more vivid colors and livelier environs with more social activity. I don't play them, but I really felt like I was in an MMORPG here---the original literally pales (and dies) in comparison. This series opted for a more youthful, pre-teen look to its protagonists, which will be a matter of personal taste for those who watched the original. The sounds are cute, adding to the youthful vibe, although the music continues the tradition of .hack having strange songs in my opinion.

I really want to enjoy this and give it a higher rating, but the ill-resolved ending just killed it for me. It squandered a very good plot and it's a crying shame it did. Sorry .hack fans.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 7; Characters 7; Sounds 7

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright 1997 - 2010. The Kraiders Otaku Fridge. All content, except screenshots, belong to the webmaster.