Genre: Cyberpunk / Drama
Credits: 2002 Koichi Mashimo, Project Hack, Bee Train, Bandai Visual
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While Kite and friends (of the .hack game series) are fighting mutant NPCs in the explosive MMORPG called The World, people are fighting the corporation that runs it in real life. Meet Mai Minase, Yuki Aihara, Kyoko Tohno, Junichiro Tokuoka, and Ichiro Sato as they unravel the mystery of The World.
A good companion to the game. >>> by skysenshi
Before anything else, please take note of the fact that this OAV comes with the .hack game series. Episode 1 is packaged with .hack//INFECTION; episode 2 with .hack//MUTATION; episode 3 with .hack//OUTBREAK; and episodde 4 with .hack//QUARRANTINE. Basically, if you find yourself getting saturated with the PS2 video game—in my case, because I got absolutely bored by the time QUARRANTINE got out—you can always rely on the OAV to provide you with back-up information. Because of this little fact, there is no way you could understand what goes on in this anime if you have not played a single installment of .hack. Fair warning, this review will assume that you have played the game or at least understand how it works.
Liminality is not about Kite and BlackRose or anyone else in-game that you might have met or partied with. Liminality is about the people outside of the game. If you were one of those who actually check their e-mails and surf the net through The World's interface, you would have read about news of gamers falling into coma. In this title, you get to meet who they are IRL.
The first chapter starts with Mai Minase, the only one out of six victims that got out of her comatosed state. Perhaps this is also the most interesting, and longest, episode. It centers around Mai's struggles after her revival, how she is treated like a freak, and how she manages to join a group that investigates The World's backdoor entries. Chapters three and four focus on bespectacled Yuki Aihara and pretty Kyoko Tohno, both running around Japan in search for clues. Yuki's story is almost like a filler ep, which only tells of how she squirms her way out of a chaotic trap somehow triggered by The World. Kyoko, on the other hand, is in sleuthing mode, hopping from one place to another as she solves riddles pertaining to the creation of the game.
If, while playing the game, you find yourself thinking that all of this is one big conspiracy generated by the CC Corp's (The World's developers) greed, you might be surprised by this anime's turn of events. There's a twisted, though hopelessly tragic, love story that lurks behind all that technical jazz.
Plot-wise, Liminality is a bit more riveting than the animated prequel .hack//SIGN. Though the pacing can be slow at times, Liminality's situations are more solid and emotionally captivating. I find myself especially touched by Mai's story. The love triangle, in particular, that unfolded at the middle of the feature was a play on the viewer's sympathy for friends torn up over loyalties.
Artwork and animation aren't as pretty as the ones you've seen in .hack//SIGN. In fact, it totally gives off a distinctive feel that is so much unlike SIGN. In SIGN, everyone looks equisite. In Liminality, the drawings are more realistic. It doesn't mean that Liminality's art is inferior to SIGN. In fact, I think it makes sense. Game sprites are always beautiful, whereas gamers aren't always great-looking. In addition, the colors in Liminality aren't as bright as what you'd see in SIGN.
The opening sequences are amazing! You'll be shown excerpts from the game's FMV's, accompanied by intro songs that differ with each ep. And the music! Yuki Kajiura has proven yet again what a genius she is when it comes to soundtracks. You've heard her works in .hack//SIGN and Noir. With Liminality, you'll be hearing more exotic blends of pop, rock, New Age, classical, and even melodies that sound suspiciously like they've been inspired by the Arabians. There's even one opening song that was reminiscent of Initial D's BGMs. When it comes to the soundtrack—among other things—Liminality is a definite winner.
Do I like this anime? The answer is a resounding yes. It also helps that there are only four episodes and none of them put me to sleep the way .hack//SIGN did.
Individual Rating: Art/Animation 9; Story 8; Characters 10; Sounds 10