It’s the year 2024, technology is invading more into our lives and our daily routines; from home, school and work – hell it’s everywhere. The World, the infamous MMO that spawned its existence in 2007 evolved so rapidly in 17 year history that it’s already in its fourth iteration known as “The World FORCE:ERA”. The FMD that was once a large brick attached to your face as well as a PS2 controller to play the game, which was all connected to a grounded computer is no exception; and has been turned into fashionable pair of spectacles and a simple smartphone to control. It is this movie that truly brings the .hack universe into the modern era.
I’ve been a .hack fan ever since I picked up the first manga volume of Legend of the Twilight in my high school library many years ago, and have delved deeper into this already deep and complex franchise with dozens of media formats; including anime, manga, novels and games. This maybe the reason why .hack isn’t getting the amount of attention it deserves, as people would often get confused as to where to start or that they don’t have the time, money or resources to play the original .hack games that started it all (have you seen the prices for these games now!?). To be fair, in my opinion a quick gateway into the .hackiverse would be just to read the summaries on .hack//Wiki on all the original game plots as well as the general timeline of events.
The movie brings along the usual .hack treatment any other media format has been given though out the years. There isn’t really that much of a surprise in the story department if you’re fairly familiar with .hack. Overall it’s just a relatively bog standard .hack plot as seen in the original games and G.U. I’m not going to summarise the entire plot of this film in this last minute review because that would take hours of R&D, and time is money. So here’s the general concensus; Total noob starts out in The World >; caught up in a strange anomaly in the game >; shit happens >; Aura happens >; comas victims errywhere >; every electrical equipment bricks >;world in chaos of a killer virus created by Symantec >; dat ‘noob’ is given a deus ex machina from lolAura and saves the day. Yay. I’ve been a .hack fan for over 5 years now and for some reason I just can’t get enough of this setup.
The thrown in romance element running throughout the film was, uh, well, unnecessary. It didn’t meld into the film’s premise one bit and only had its place for the purpose of lolcharacter development. The whole misunderstand (that was resolved near the end of the film, phew) where Sora mistook Tomohiko’s confession as being Kakeru’s because she didn’t quite get the goddamn player-avatar relationship was, well, nice – but a rather clichéd addition into an element that was already much pointless.
It’s just like any other .hack plot, only difference being that it was all condensed into an epic 2 hour action adventure film.
Wait, did I say action? Well…
The action and fight scenes, in general, failed to impress me. Although it failed to impress for good reason. I have yet to see any and real and intense fight scenes in the franchise because perhaps, it isn’t just about fighting with viruses on a grand scale that losing will bring about the death of the world, but more or less focusing on the psychology and mental state of the main character, entirely new to gaming and MMOs being thrown into a world with a dangerous virus that could be considered the mass weapon of destruction, and they have the only key to fight back. Meanwhile all of this in the real world will be undocumented due its ridiculous backstory, and anything remotely interesting that happened in The World will be deleted forever and remains as a rumour. A tall tale that’s passed around on bulletin boards and veteran players.
Sure the action and suspense wasn’t completely nonexistent as there were quite a few very good action scenes during the condensed part where Sora delves much deeper into The World while party with her friends (lets not forget Aura and that wave of black squid ink- uh I mean bugs!). One of my favourite has gotta be Orca (HIS NAME IS ORCA NOT GONDO) swinging the dragon right into the stone pillar and delivering a fuckton of damage compared to the rest (lol10K lolwtfhaxxx). The other instance was when Sora’s class mates were on board that giant flying ship and fighting against the tentacle data bugs during the climax.
Speaking of which, a few select characters from past .hack series made it in this film. The obvious character being Kite, now being controlled (the second time) by a female player. The others being Orca and Balmung – all three from the original .hack games. I didn’t catch on with any other characters being re-used, but many more like Haseo, Tsukasa and Ovan made it in with the 3D celshaded treatment in the hybrid fighter game that came with BD movie disc for the PS3.
But honestly I was expecting an awesome and choreographed fight scene at the end where Kite and crew fight them data bugs or shit (Sora’s granddad and his avatar kicks ASS). Nevertheless the climax still attained what was really a tense atmosphere as Kite tries to reach that bottom pit – leading into Aura’s happy place when she got caught with the data bugs tentacles (whyjapanwhy) and suddenly Aura’s seed kicks in and rightfully becomes THE KATAWA KITE.
Kaito = Kite
OH HAI JACK SPARROW
The animation is, oh… mother of Aura… BEAUTIFUL! I was rather skeptical at first when the trailer got released to find out this was to be a computer animated film rather than traditional, but was hopeful since it appeared to be in the celshaded style as seen in most modern anime styled videogames.
CyberConnect2 next-gen .hack game pls.
The art and computer animation graphics just look excitingly vivid when viewed on a bigger screen, I know because I watched this on my living room 37″ HDTV. It was almost as if I was watching the cinematics in recent Final Fantasy games. Rather than near-realistic, it retains the anime style look and in some instances throughout the film includes the subtle nodes of 2D animation. I see the background designers had a fun time when it came to designing the highly detailed architecture and buildings in the MMO world. The environment and setting in the real world pales to the gigantic panoramic view you’ll see every so often in the The World. Even if it’s just a bunch of 1s and 0s the art and design truly personifies the real-like graphics the .hack cast have always been mentioning all these years. The lack of action and fight scenes MMOs and especially The World is known for is truly made up with this.
Also, computer animation = great reaction faces!
Uh, David-kun is one hella creep.
If you’re gonna watch this film then I suggest that it’s better to hook your computer or laptop up to a large tv screen and watch it in 720p, or 1080p for that matter. I didn’t watch it in 1080p because my laptop 2slow4me.
They did a pretty great job redesigning Aura into the 3D realm. Not so sure on the older Aura as time passed in the .hackiverse but her younger
loli form made it all up. But that pink tint on Aura’s original white as Kubo’s heart hair was a nice touch. You can really see the diverse character contrast between the characters that appear in real life; compared to their avatar counterparts they designed (or randomly given by their helpful AI helpers) in The World.
I don’t know why but Aura looks like a man in this shot.
Aura’s moe and she knows it.
.hack//The Movie unfortunately isn’t going to appeal that well to a wide audience, as prior knowledge to the .hack franchise is recommended when watching. The film however does explain a bit about the premise of The World MMO during the boat scene between David-kun, Sora and Tomohiko. David had explained briefly about Aura, the data bugs that have advanced so much that they can enter the human brain and make its victim to fall into a coma, just a few tidbits that anyone new to .hack will be shown a bit of a background. So no, SAO (coughdothackripoffcough) fanbase please leave.
But for current fans of the deep and dark and edgy .hack franchise a great big yes as this movie provides another brilliant installment in the .hack franchise, and peer into the world (and The World) that has grown so much ever since the original .hack games.
The future of .hack seems a bit bleak, as the franchise seems to be nearing its expiration date with this feature film. I heard rumours on forums that this film was to end off the .hack franchise entirely, since this was teased near the end of .hack//Link PSP game and the staff implying that this would round off .hack. Never to fear, I think there are a few .hack manga that are currently in serialisation and fans are still fawning over the hybrid .hack fighter game that came with the BD of this movie. Perhaps with the popularity of the game CyberConnect2 will stop making shitty Nurutu licensed games and work on a true, vivid and godly .hack next-gen JRPG that is on parwith the CGI graphics used in this film. Also ‘that .hack clone’ Sword Art Online just started airing this season and is rapidly gaining
Narutard tier popularity. The release of this movie could really be the key opportunity and the right time to reboot the franchise and fight off the genre of futuristic MMORPGs.
Hell I want my own Makoto…
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Hayate no Gotoku! Heaven is a Place on Earth review coming up as soon as I accumulate more motivation that was depleted for this review. Anyway, back to my studies.