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REVIEW: .hack//SIGN DVD


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Themaster20000



Joined: 05 Aug 2014
Posts: 759
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 10:38 am Reply with quote
I remember this show just being sleep-inducing for me,whenever it was on Cartoonnetwork. I don't mind slow shows,but this was slower than molasses. The characters never grabbed me,and the mystery wasn't as interesting as it could've been.
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Key
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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 11:42 am Reply with quote
This is a quite fair and accurate examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the series, one which exactly mirrors my own thoughts about it. I also entirely agree that this is not a series for everyone into MMOs; if you're not into the social aspect of MMOs (which this series emphasizes more than any other) then it will bore you silly. Even then, it still drags.

And I cannot reinforce enough how wonderful the soundtrack is. Of the dozen or so anime OSTs that I have owned, I have probably listened to this one's as much as all of the others combined.

One additional side note: Back when the series first aired on Toonami, I knew a few people who watched the series who were also heavily into Everquest (the big MMO of the day, for you young 'uns) and they felt that the series absolutely nailed the nature of MMO socialization at the time.
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omiya



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 1622
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 12:06 pm Reply with quote
Key wrote:

And I cannot reinforce enough how wonderful the soundtrack is. Of the dozen or so anime OSTs that I have owned, I have probably listened to this one's as much as all of the others combined.


Imagine what it is like to hear the following live in the one show:

Yasashii Yoake
the world
key of the twilight
fake wings
open your heart
source: https://canta-per-me.net/live-events/2013-yk10-kaji-fest/

Some of those live performances will be released as part of a live 3CD set on 3rd June 2015:
http://www.jvcmusic.co.jp/flyingdog/-/Discography/A024335/VTCL-60397.html
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Bluenoser



Joined: 17 Jul 2012
Posts: 39
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 12:41 pm Reply with quote
When this series first aired I came at it from the perspective of someone who is not a gamer, never was a gamer, and likely never will be a gamer (just not my thing, not that I look down on it, I have tried various forms from early D&D to the more recent online multiplayer types, just not my thing, cool if it is for others though, we all need our enjoyments IMHO), but I was someone who from an early age was a big literature SF reader. From that perspective and already being in my late 20s/early 30s when I saw this I found myself unable to stop watching it, despite all of the narrative issues and dragging mentioned. Now, I'll admit the music certainly didn't hurt, some of the best anime soundtrack material I've encountered was in this series, but usually for me I need more narrative structure of some sort.

Yet I couldn't stop watching, and by the end of the series I was very glad I hadn't. The closing comment to the review I think sums it up very well, it has trouble communicating, but it does have something valuable to say. I also agree with Key, at the time it aired I also had many online gamer friends and those that also watched anime and watched this series noted that social similarity/accuracy to their own experiences.

I agree this is not the most accessible series and really drags for the first half, but the characters really are truly individual, as time passes, if more than it should have been, we do get to understand them better, and by the end we have a well fleshed out assortment of personalities both online and off. If you can handle putting in the time, I'd say it is worth the effort, but if not, well that is understandable too in this case.

My wife is noting over my shoulder that this reminds her of how she couldn't get into Eureka 7 after the first 8 episodes, while I kept at it, because she found it just didn't give her enough to hold onto. I agreed with her at the time but also said I kept getting the feeling there was going to be a lot more coming and would be worth the effort, which in the end was true for me, and eventually us as well. I'll admit I was getting near the point of agreeing with her before that tipping point came, but it was still in the end well worth it. I can't say the same is entirely fair to say of .Hack//Sign, but is more so than not in my view.
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rizuchan
Collector Extraordinaire



Joined: 11 Mar 2007
Posts: 872
Location: Kansas
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 1:01 pm Reply with quote
.hack//SIGN isn't terrible, but it's just... strange.

I remember staying up late Saturday nights to watch it as a kid. The premise was really cool at the time - a kid is stuck inside of a video game! I love games and anime so this is cool! But then I stopped watching it for some reason. I remember I had a friend that really loved it though.

So a couple years ago I picked up the series on clearance. The soundtrack is probably my favorite of any anime (Madoka might have it beat now), the animation (well, artwork) was great for it's time. And that's the thing. It has a unique (FOR THE TIME!) premise, amazing score, beautiful artwork... and all anyone ever does is stand and talk. The vast majority of it is characters in ridiculous MMORPG-style outfits standing around talking. All while an epic soundtrack plays.

And then I remembered why I dropped it as a kid. The initial premise of Tsukasa being trapped in the game was an interesting mystery, but I went in thinking that plot point was just there to lead into something greater. But it really didn't. Tsukasa's mystery grew, but the vast majority of the show is just characters talking about Tsukasa. Over and over again. To the show's credit, it manages to be reasonably entertaining. It's just not what you would want or expect from a show about a video game.

Maybe it's a show that would have actually benefited from only being 13 episodes.

From the encyclopedia:
Quote:
The TV series was created with the specific goal of explaining the back story to the game and OAV series.

This explains a lot.
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Vanadise



Joined: 06 Apr 2015
Posts: 228
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 1:21 pm Reply with quote
I really enjoyed .hack//SIGN, but it's definitely a product of its time and targets a very specific audience.

As Key noted, it really nails the social environment and ambiance of early MMORPGs like EverQuest or Ultima Online. I spent many hours just sitting around in the environments and chatting with friends, and watching the characters in .hack//SIGN do that evokes a comforting sense of nostalgia.

So, while I enjoyed it a lot, it's hard for me to imagine how somebody who didn't have similar experiences would get much pleasure out of it.
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1876
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 1:45 pm Reply with quote
Sounds about right; I got into this show when it aired on Cartoon Network, but I knew enough about Everquest (although back then, I was only allowed to play on Runescape) to kind of get the gist of what the show was going for. Still, having (finally) gotten around to seeing a Let's Play of the original games, I think this show, that game, and that OAV are best viewed as a cohesive unit. It's not that you really "lose" anything by not seeing them all (and to be fair, it's a long slog to get through it all), but it sure does fill in a lot of gaps that the game and/or OAV and/or TV series aren't interested in filling in, depending on what you're actually watching, like Crim, Aura's actual purpose, the point of the Twilight Bracelet, and things like that.

EDIT: For anyone actually interested in the games (I think they're hard to get a hold of nowadays, this guy has done all four games, plus the G.U. games: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL62779269BC26F3E7; fair warning though: the pace pretty much matches the show, so if the show turned you off, the games won't do much else except fill in some much need blanks.)


Last edited by whiskeyii on Thu May 21, 2015 1:53 pm; edited 2 times in total
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 1:46 pm Reply with quote
This is probably one of the most boring things I have ever watched, it's sort of good to begin with, but it quickly gets worse. Most of the time it is just heads talking, which I wouldn't mind too much if the dialouge was interesting, but its not. the ending wasn't to be bad though, and I liked the stuff it showed you happening in the real world.
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penguintruth



Joined: 08 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 1:52 pm Reply with quote
Nothing happens and then they don't show how they beat the final bad guy. Then the boy is really a girl. The end.

The worst part of the show isn't that it's boring (though that's very true, it's put people in comas), but that it inspired other terrible "trapped in a MMORPG" anime like Log Horizon and Sword Art Online. This might be the worst subgenre of anime ever conceived.

Kajiura's soundtrack was excellent, though, even if a lot of it is same-y sounding. That same sound is the sound of awesome.
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NormanS



Joined: 15 Aug 2014
Posts: 153
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 1:54 pm Reply with quote
I personally enjoy this series, the dialogue from the characters being confusing and not entirely concrete by throwing theories is interesting because for me its like a mystery where the characters themselves are trying to piece together the facts and bumping into any false leads along the way and not having any progression in solving Tsukasa's situation or The key of the twilight.

I also appreciated the portrayal Tsukasa's depression. And the insight of every character's reason why they play The World. [/spoiler]
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se37



Joined: 08 Dec 2007
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Location: Annapolis, Maryland
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 2:11 pm Reply with quote
I'm starting to wonder if I should pick this up or keep my original DVDs (with that weird box) since the two OVAs are included this time as Unison never got another re-release. That is the main reason I haven't gotten rid of them yet. Hmm.... depends, depends....
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Key
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Joined: 03 Nov 2003
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Location: Indianapolis, IN (formerly Mimiho Valley)
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 2:38 pm Reply with quote
whiskeyii wrote:
Still, having (finally) gotten around to seeing a Let's Play of the original games, I think this show, that game, and that OAV are best viewed as a cohesive unit. It's not that you really "lose" anything by not seeing them all (and to be fair, it's a long slog to get through it all), but it sure does fill in a lot of gaps that the game and/or OAV and/or TV series aren't interested in filling in, depending on what you're actually watching, like Crim, Aura's actual purpose, the point of the Twilight Bracelet, and things like that.

And that was exactly the original design intent. The .hack// franchise was the very first media endeavor to fully integrate video, computer/console games, novels, and even card games into one cohesive storytelling package. You're not getting the full picture if you're not involved with all of those things.
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zawa113



Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 7296
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 2:59 pm Reply with quote
I personally enjoy this show, as someone who doesn't mind a lot of talking and not a lot of action. A lot of talking also describes quite a bit of Legend of the Galactic Heroes as well (though they're usually drinking wine at the same time). Though it's not entirely fair to compare them as LoGH is clearly superior (to this and many things)

Still, I do remember seeing .hack//SIGN on Toonami as well, where I remember that I just could not wait for the next episode! Now I own the Bandai release and I found I still enjoyed it many years later. Certainly not a series for people who expect the characters to agree to go punch and slash something and go on quests and stuff, but given how amazing the soundtrack is, I think everyone should at least give it a shot for that alone (and if you still don't get into it, just do yourself a favor and listen to the OST anyway)
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thecritter



Joined: 09 Nov 2003
Posts: 49
Location: Northwest GA
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 3:19 pm Reply with quote
Thanks for mentioning the background music. It was so utterly different from anything I'd ever heard that the introduction of each new theme or cue was a revelation. Themes eventually began to feel overused, but they were always appropriate to the moment. Always.

The inclusion of the sweet-voiced, versatile Emily Bindiger as primary singer was unusual, but a most welcome change from typical anime vocals. Kudos to the composer; he set a bar so high that very, very few soundtracks have reached it since.

Years later, I still listen to "Key of the Twilight" and "Fake Wings".
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omiya



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 1622
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 3:34 pm Reply with quote
thecritter wrote:
Kudos to the composer; he set a bar so high that very, very few soundtracks have reached it since.

Years later, I still listen to "Key of the Twilight" and "Fake Wings".


That's Yuki Kajiura the composer on the keyboards for this live performance of Fake Wings (with Kaori Oda and Yuriko Kaida on vocals in place of Emily Bindiger): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drTlOoOIeoc.

I bought .hack//EXTRA album just for the track "Warp" which appears briefly in .hack//SIGN:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfcobY8b-aQ
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