As of February 14th the, .hack series has returned to American audiences nationwide in the form of a three episode long OVA series called .hack//Quantum. FUNimation Entertainment announced they had grabbed the license for this particular installment in the .hack world during Anime Atlanta last year, and have just released the OVA as a pretty Blu-ray/DVD combo. It has been awhile since I’ve seen anything related to the .hack series since I watched the first episode of .hack//roots when it first aired in Japan. However, I have been a big fan of .hack//sign and was eager to give .hack another try.
Like other .hack universe anime, this particular OVA centers on an online game known as The World. Three girls named Mary, Sakuya and Tobias play The World together by killing monsters, looting treasure, and taking on whatever else happens in an online world. Naturally, something goes horribly wrong and one of the members falls into a coma, prompting the other two members to investigate and find out what exactly happened. If you’ve seen the other .hack anime, I’m sure you were expecting someone to fall into a coma at some point in time and for another, special, someone, Sakuya in this case, to defy the laws of The World. The special someone has a special power or item that manages to hack into the game and make everything turn back to good. This is exactly what happens. While the plot is not groundbreaking, I did find that .hack//Quantum has something very special that sets it apart from its predecessors.
.hack//Quantum takes a look at the people behind the avatars of the world, an occurrence that is quite rare as far as .hack goes. Most of the previous .hack anime take place primarily in the game world, and you would be lucky to catch a glimpse of the faces of the people who play the game. However, in .hack//Quantum, I found the character development outside of the game to be refreshing. It was interesting to see how the game affected real life and how the world outside of The World depended on the technology that they had. Asumi Aida, Iori Ikuta, and Eri Etou portray the different associations that we can have with our online persona.. sumi, the player behind Sakuya, does not hesitate to hide her real personality from the online world. She is just as cheerful and clumsy as her online character. Iori, who plays as Tobias, is actually a student who doesn’t care for her personal appearance as opposed to the way that she portrays the fashionable Tobias. Lastly, Eri Etou’s personality is slightly more serious than that of her character, Mary. It was great to see how these girls represented themselves in an online world.
I liked how the writers wrote the main characters as already being friends and starting the OVA with a battle scene; it gives us a good look at the characters’ relationships without having to waste too much time on developing them. I felt that the overall pacing of the OVA was great, although the ending was a little disappointing as Sakuya seemed very oblivious as to who the real villain was, despite the fact that everyone around her knew what was going on. However, I suppose it fits her air-headed personality quite well. The ending of the OVA hints at a larger force at play, presumably CC Corp. (the company who runs The World), who manipulated the events of the OVA. This leads me to wonder if there will be something in the future which will pertain to the .hack//Quantum OVA. It would be interesting to see as I did come to like the small cast of characters.
For those of you who haven’t seen any of the other .hack anime, don’t hesitate to watch this one. .hack//Quantum can actually be a good introduction for those new to the series, and I would actually have preferred it to be the first .hack anime I’d watched. The three episode OVA gives us a good glimpse at how The World works with the added bonus of character interaction outside the game that the other series don’t show without having to go through twenty-six episodes.
One flaw I did find was the audio quality of the OVA: I couldn’t hear the English voices very well and had to turn up the volume in order to hear them. The Japanese audio track was a bit louder, as I constantly switched between both of them to make sure I wasn’t completely hard of hearing or going crazy. From what I could hear, the voices chosen for each character in the English dub were quite decent.
On the other hand, FUNimation did an excellent job of providing special features. Instead of just providing a few advertisement for other series and a clean opening and ending song video, we get about fifty minutes worth of extras. The extra features include your usual commercial trailers for the series (both in Japanese and English), and a pre-release promotional video. But wait, there’s more! I watched some short skits involving some weirdly deformed purple eggplant things dressed as the characters that taught viewers concepts of physics entitled “Go our Chim Chims!” Lastly, there is a small series of videos featuring Yui Ogura, the Japanese voice of Hermit (the cat), who shows you how to make a Hermit character bento (Japanese lunchbox) , flip-book animations, and gives you the answers to a quiz. Even though the content of the special features is quite weird, I do appreciate their addition to the OVA set.
Overall, .hack//Quantum is a good OVA. There is enough substance to warrant a good look by those who are unfamiliar viewers as well as fans of the series. It’s also easy to watch in a day with only three episodes. Although the plot itself is quite predictable, the character interactions and glimpse of the world outside of the online game make up for its shortcomings.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher
Images copyrighted:FUNimation/Bandai Visual, Kinema Citrus