Redux: .hack//The Movie//Review

hack-movie-01

I’ve been a .hack fan ever since I picked up the first volume of The Legend of the Twilight in my high school library many years ago, and have delved ever deeper into this convoluted franchise with dozens of media formats ever since. This maybe the reason .hack isn’t getting the amount of attention it deserves; people are confused 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, a quick gateway into the .hackiverse in my opinion would be to read the summaries on .hack//Wiki on all the original game plots as well as the general timeline of events.

Note: This is an updated review from my previous blog.

The movie brings along the usual .hack treatment any other media format has contributed to the franchise throughout the years. There isn’t much of a surprise or impact in the story department if you’re familiar with .hack. Overall it’s just a relatively bog standard .hack plot already once seen in the original games and G.U.

Here’s the general outline of the film’s entire plot;

  • Total n00b 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
  • n00b player is given a deus ex machina from Aura and manages to save the day

I’ve been a .hack fan for over 7 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, unnecessary. It didn’t meld into the film’s premise and only had its place for the purpose of forced character development. The entire misunderstand where Sora mistook Tomohiko’s confession as being Kakeru’s because she didn’t get the goddamn player-avatar relationship was, nice… but a really cheesy implementation into an element that already was pointless. Luckily, the misunderstanding was resolved in the end.

The story is just like any other .hack plot, what was different was that it was all extended into an epic two hour action adventure film. Wait, did I say action? Well…

“The action and fight scenes failed to impress me.”

The action and fight scenes failed to impress me. However; 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 all 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 characters, 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 unbelievable back story, 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.

OH HAI JACK SPARROW
OH HAI JACK SPARROW

Sure, the action and suspense weren’t completely nonexistent as there were quite a few good action scenes during the condensed part where Sora delves deeper into The World while partying with her friends (lets not forget Aura and that wave of black squid ink- uh, I mean bugs!). One of my favourites has got to 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 (wat10Klolwtfhaxxx). The other instance was when Sora’s classmates were on-board that giant flying ship and fighting against the tentacle data bugs in the climax scene.

Speaking of which, a few select characters from past .hack series made appearances in this film. The obvious character is 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 noticed any other characters being re-used, but many more like Haseo, Tsukasa and Ovan were given the 3D cel-shaded treatment in .hack//Versus, a hybrid fighter game for the PlayStation 3 which came packaged with movie’s Blu-ray disc.

Kaito = Kite
Katawa Kite!

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 situation as Kite tries to reach the bottom pit – leading into Aura’s happy place when she got caught in the data bug tentacles. Why Japan, why.

“The animation is, oh… mother of Aura… BEAUTIFUL!”

The animation is, oh, mother of Aura… BEAUTIFUL! I was skeptical at first when the trailer got released to find out that this was going to be a 3D animated film, rather than traditional 2D art style. I stayed strong and hopeful because it looked to be in the cel-shaded style seen in most modern anime/manga inspired video games.

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DEM. FUCKING. BACKGROUNDS!

CyberConnect2, next-gen .hack game please.

D:
D:
Uh, David-kun is one hella creep.
Uh, David-kun is one hella creep.

The art and computer animated graphics just looks excitingly vivid when seen on a bigger screen, I know because I watched this movie on my living room HDTV. It’s almost as if I was watching the cinematic in the recent Final Fantasy games.

Rather than near-realistic, it remains reliant on the anime styled look and in some instances throughout the film, includes the subtle nodes of hand drawn animation. I see the background designers had a fun time when it came to designing the beautiful architecture and buildings in the MMO world.

The environment and setting of the real world in the film pales to the gigantic panoramic scenery you’ll see every so often in the MMO world; The World. Even if it’s just a bunch of 1s and 0s, the art and design truly personifies the life-like graphics the .hack cast have always been talking about throughout the course of the franchise.

The lack of action and fight scenes MMOs and especially The World truly makes up with this. Even if it’s just a bunch of 1s and 0s, the art and design truly personifies the life-like graphics the .hack cast have always been talking about throughout the course of the franchise.

If you’re going to watch .hack//The Movie I suggest that it’s better to watch it in 1080p on the large screen. You won’t witness the beautiful visuals the way it was meant to be shown on a small 15″ monitor.

“It’s better to watch .hack//The Movie in 1080p on the large screen.”

They did a 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. That pink tint on Aura’s original white (as-Kubo’s-heart hair) was a real nice touch. You can really see the character contrast between the characters in real life – compared to their avatar counterparts in The World.

s
I don’t know why but Aura looks like a man in this shot.
d
Aura’s moe and she knows it.

.hack//The Movie isn’t going to appeal to a wide general audience, and that’s a given – as you’ll need to have a good understanding of the .hack franchise if you want to truly have a grasp of understand the story. The film does explain a bit about the premise of The World MMO during the boat scene with David. 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 at the very least informed.

The future of .hack looks bleak, as the franchise appears to be nearing its expiration date with this feature film. I heard various rumours around the net that this film was meant to end the .hack franchise entirely. The movie was teased near the end of .hack//Link PSP game nicknamed .hack//2024, ‘2024’ as in the year this film is set.

Never to fear, there are a few .hack manga series that are currently in serialisation, and fans are still fawning over the hybrid .hack fighting game .hack//Versus that came with the Blu-ray set of this movie. Perhaps with the popularity of this game CyberConnect2 will finally stop making shitty Naruto games and work on a true, vivid and godly next-gen .hack JRPG which is on par with the CG graphics used in this film.

“a new video game will pull this decaying franchise out of the quicksand grave”

If CyberConnect2 really wants to continue with the .hack franchise, they desperately need to produce a new next gen game, either on the PS3 and X360 or perhaps on the next upcoming consoles. .hack was in its prime when it first came out with its original games way back when and later lost its golden glory.

Hell I want my own Makoto...
Hell I want my own Makoto…

CyberConnect2 has shown its prowess in the .hack//Versus fighter game for the PS3; the only .hack game on current-gen home consoles, so it pains me to wonder why they can’t manage to get a next-gen RPG going. Anime and manga series are fine too, but a new video game will definitely pull this decaying franchise out of the quicksand grave.

Story: 7/10
Animation: 9/10
Art: 8/10
Music: 6/10

– 8/10 –

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