.hack Legend of the Twilight

Review covers the full series

If you follow Video games, Anime or Manga than you may have heard of .hack. It seems to be a series without a fixed platform, more the mixture of a story idea and some marketing than anything solid. However it's hard not to be tempted by the allure of .hack as the premise is original and interesting.

.hack is set in the near future, and involves the players of a fictional online game which is played by wearing Virtual Reality headsets. Actually, now I think about it, that doesn't sound much like the near future and sounds more like some kind of weird alternate dimension where the Nintendo Virtual Boy actually took off. How the game is played doesn't actually effect the plot though, so it seems somewhat silly to nit-pick.

The plot of the original .hack involved the game sending some of its players into commas, plus other mysterious occurrences that seemed out of the owners control. The remaining players searched around trying to find out what was going on, whilst the moderators of the game tried to cover the events up.

However Legend of the Twilight is not actually part of the main arc, and is instead it's own story that happens after the original events. It's also only three volumes long. I can't tell if it was intended to be this short or if it was cut short after a poor reception. It basically winds up as a whistle-stop tour of the .hack universe, with most of the major plot-elements from the main arc mentioned or covered once and only once. Then it ends. It does wrap its plot up before ending, leaving no holes or dangling threads, but the length certainly hurts it a little as the story seems quite rushed.

Interestingly the two main leads appear identical to those of the original arc, but are in fact different people. This is cleverly justified in the plot – they are being played by different people in “real life”. But the fact that all of the cast in Legend of the Twilight are new to us, combined with the short length of the book, means the characters do not have much time to develop out of the genre cliches that they start out in.

I felt that generally this Manga shared the same Catch-22 flaw that the Video Games and the Anime had: it's okay and a nice to read, but it's not good enough to stand alone and is only worth checking out if you're already a fan of .hack. But how do people become fans of .hack if there's no really good title that pulls them in in the first place?

As such, while dot hack is actually half-decent, it has the weird property that I couldn't recommend it to anyone.

Having said that, the original arc is actually being re-written from a video game into a Manga. And it's a lot longer than three volumes. That might be worth keeping an eye out for.