.Hack//Beyond the World

After .hack//Quantum, the franchise released another anime, this time a full length CG animation. Frankly, I wasn’t too thrilled hearing that, since CG anime is quite hit-or-miss. Sometime there are good ones, sometime you’ll get blocky,robotic-like movements. Fortunately .Hack//Beyond the World is the former.

Summary: Japan, 2024. Sora Yuki is your typical 8th grader. With a conventional grandfather at home, she has little contact with technology and therefore, can’t understand the hype her classmates have over a net game called (you guess) THE WORLD. After an incident in which she discovers that even her grandfather has begun to play it, she becomes curious enough with the game and has the trial version downloaded. One classmate lends her his FMD* and so her adventure begins.

Beware: There will be some spoilers. Not much, but if you’re a purist better scroll down straight to the last paragraph for the verdict.

My thoughts:
The animation is smooth and beautiful, and it works extremely well for THE WORLD. It feels like you’re watching FMV from high end RPGs. THE WORLD, now in its fourth iteration, ‘The Force’, seems grander than ever, although I wanted to scream ‘FINAL FANTASY!” from the first time we’re treated with bird-eye view of the game. I mean, the one with airships *yes, now there are airships in THE WORLD) over the castle is reminiscent to the opening cinematic of FFIX. It’s like Lindblum all over again. Look at these screenshots and convince me it’s not FF.

Characters’ expressions are dynamic and real enough, although somehow the animator made Yuki looks dumb in the beginning. She gets better.
By the way, there’s a lot of expies. For starter, Yuki’s trial version character is modeled after a certain Twin Blade in red, with screenname Kite. It doesn’t get more obvious. Plus, her classmates Tomohiko and Tanaka’s characters Balder and Gondo are respecitively modeled after Balmung and Orca (guess who fell into coma?). Problem is, Tomohiko is fun and carefree. On the other hand, Tanaka is uptight. The role reversal leads to some gems such as ‘Balmung’ fidgeting and blushing… Then meet Yuki’s grandpa’s avatar. Doesn’t it remind you of…something else?

Clooooseeeer.

Music is amazing. The one playing when she first login and start adventuring is so catchy. There are three vocal songs in this anime, and all pretty nice. Kokia’s Hikari wo Atsumete (Collecting the Light), With Friends!, and Tsunagaru Sekai (Connected World). If you decide to get the OST, however, remember that Hikari wo Atsumete is not included. If you want that one, it’s in KOKIA’s single.

Core characters include Yuki (of course), and her classmates Tomohiko and Tanaka. Due to some misunderstanding when she first logged into the game, she thinks Tomohiko plays Gondo (actually Tanaka’s character). This led to some hilarious events after. Poor guy. Tanaka should get a mention for being able to induce extra misunderstanding in every sentence. He’s clearly a friend of Hayate.

Story is OK, though it’s pretty much the same save THE WORLD (pun unintended). But for once, THE WORLD is not one to blame for all the trouble. Refreshing, I guess.

Now we’re over the good parts, I have a little bit of rants.

Why’s anyone so surprised when The World causes yet another case of unconsciousness? I mean, sure it’s 7 years after G.U, but it’s not even the second case! Counting from the four-part game (Tsukasa is an isolated incident) it’s been happening at least three times in different timespan before. Hell, if anything, CC Corp should be banned from further operation! They seem to forgot this so easily, and the newscasters don’t even reference the last time similar case occurred.

The American David appears at first with broken Japanese accent, but suddenly having inner conversation and thoughts in Japanese a day after.

Maybe it’s just the fansub, but a doctor tries to get a victim’s mother to calm down with this sentence:
“His body is well. Only his mind is not.”
Gee, thanks. Very reassuring, I guess.

LOLs:Apparently Twitter is still around in 2024.

Verdict:
Dothack always present us what will happen in an advanced civilization very reliant to technology. It’s all cool, until network starts suffering problems and every single structure begun to collapse. Everything is connected.
Then there’s that philosophy of life. Everything in THE WORLD is just block of codes. The realm is virtual, but the people playing are real. We might attempt to disconnect our virtual self and our real self, but at the end, they’re all part of us. How real is the relationship we share there?
.Hack// fans will enjoy this. If not for the story, at least for the superb animation quality.

*Face Mounted Display- a monitor shaped as a pair of glasses to allow you see THE WORLD as if you’re inside the game.