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4.4 out of 5 stars
.hack//SIGN - Vol. 1: Login
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2003
Format: DVD
I have seen the entire series and it is one of my favorites, ranking right up there with EVA and Cowboy Bebop. It's very easy to give too much of the story away, but basically pretend you are playing a MMORPG one day, and you go to logout, but can't. That's the start of the story for Tsukasa. However it develops a great deal from there and is never boring, a downfall of many series. I couldn't wait to see the next episode, and I had to limit myself to watching one a day to keep myself from blowing through it in a weekend.
The storyline overall is serious and dramatic, but not excessively. There is no sappy high school lovestory to suffer through, no horribly shallow characters. If you liked Lain, EVA, and Cowboy Bebop, I think you will like this one to. Subaru is by far my favorite character, while all the others are well done and fit in their roles nicely. The animation is very good.
The music gets it's own paragraph. It's simply outstanding. I often found myself ignoring the dialogue just to listen to amazing songs like "Fake Wings". That soundtrack included with this set will not just be a filler I promise you.
I don't do many reviews but I felt I just had to for this one. Many people probably haven't heard of this one yet and aren't sure if they would like it. This is an outstanding series and this box set looks like a great deal.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I heard of .hack from Cartoon Network, pre-debut and got very excited. An anime that takes place in an MMORPG (mass multiplayer online role playing game)? This sounds like a really great idea! I was further pleased to find it had a real twist to it, and not just staged within the game. Tsukasa, our 'hero', can't log out of the game for some reason, and has lost his body to the game. The World, the game everyone's playing in this anime, is a beautiful world displayed with fantastic artwork. It's however not enough to have the visual effect however. The music, done by someone Yuki Kajiura, someone ive never heard of before but rivals Yoko Kanno herself, is fantastic and makes the soundtrack alone worth holding back on getting that last DVD of Cowboy Bebop. The only reason i can't give it 5 stars is because the character build so far doesn't seem to be going very far. That doesn't mean it's not an amazing series, cause it is! I think it just needs a bit more time. Perhaps by the 3rd dvd things will heat up. The package comes with a box for all your .hack dvds, a soundtrack with 19 tracks, 2 postcards, one sheet of stickers, a Grunty doll (coolest stuffed animal ive ever seen), a .hack t-shirt (XL) and the DVD with the first 5 episodes dubbed OR subbed. Not bad at all if you ask me. The dvd, soundtrack, and t-shirt should be worth over $(...) as it is, so there's no questioning the value, and believe me I've checked: Amazon(.com) has it the cheapest. Places like discountanimedvd have it marked for at least 53. Take away shipping as well cause you can get it free here, and you're saving around $(...) by buying it through amazon.(com) Not bad if you ask me. I cant wait to see more.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
One of my favorite shows of all time; though I do admit, its strange. I love the goodies! I'll never wear the shirt--I'm gonna frame it. ^-^
The music is awesome--in my opinion. I didn't really need the soundtrack but hey I got it anyway.
This is totally worth the money.
The only problem I have with the .hack series is its length:
.hack//Sign Anime (26 episodes; 6 DVD volumes--I believe; 3 soundtracks)
.hack Games (four games; four OVAs; 3(?) soundtracks)
.hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet [.hack//Dusk] (12 episodes; 2(?) cds[op and ending singles])
so basically, for the .hack experience, you have to be willing to be in it for the long run to fully understand everything. I'm still partially confused in the series, but I have seen all of .hack//Sign, and have the avalibility to watch .hack//dusk, which I refuse to watch until I finish the games
So, I you have no knowledge of .hack, and you're willing and able to stay in the series, it IS worth it.
.hack//SIGN does drag at the begining, but does pick up; oh did I mention he music is awesome? (I know I did).
The story is original and doesn't seem like any other series which I have seen. I have yet to decide wheter I would call this series a Sci-fi or a fantasy (or both). Maybe if you wish to know, you can see for yourself.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Very first off, Amazon.com incorrectly state that .hack//SIGN is based on a PlayStation2 game. This is not true. .hack//SIGN is a story about an online PC game called THE WORLD. The direct sequel to .hack//SIGN is a PlayStation2 game called .hack//INFECTION. Someone at Amazon.com, clearly someone who did not see the series before writing the review, got these points confused and they will not accept corrections of their editorial review, just the title and some technical details.
First off let me preface this by saying I don't like Anime. Usually it is too silly, too violent, or too "adult" for me, so I'd never been into an Anime series before...it had kind of a medieval look to it, so that interested me. Plus, this friend of mine had told me basically what it was about; an online RPG where one user can't log out. So when I had the first episode, I watched it, and I liked it. I ended up watching the whole 26 episodes, in Japanese, with English subtitles, translated and captioned by fans.
Being my first Anime experience, I realized one major difference between "cartoons" and this Anime is that while cartoons are self containing - that is, you don't have to see them in order, and the plot starts at the beginning and ends at the end of each episode. Kind of like Star Trek was, only no multi-part episodes. ;) Rather, Hack Sign was like an 8 hour 40 minute animated superfeature, with ending and opening themes inserted every 20 minutes.
Before I point out some of the flaws in the series, let me point out that the objectives in making a successful film script are radically different between an 8 hour 40 minute script and a 2-3 hour script. That said, character development is unusually slow. The characters very slowly reveal themselves, but then again, it is an online video game, and people on the Net like to be anonymous except with businesses and close friends. Also, while it was happening, the plot was somewhat hard to follow. A lot of scenes were unnecessary and redundant. One episode was a "recap" episode which was highlights from the ones previous. Correction. 8 hour 20 minute animated superfeature. It's still longer than the original Star Wars Trilogy. ;) And more fun to watch, I must say.
Most of what Hack Sign is about, I've already covered. I can't reveal too much about the story without spoiling it, and that is even more so true with this DVD that contains only the first 5 episodes. By themselves, the first 5 episodes will leave a new Hack Sign fan more disappointed than the end of Fellowship of the Ring did. They should have put the whole series on one or two DVDs. If you want to see the whole story, you'll have to collect all the DVDs. With 26 episodes, there should be 5 DVDs. I doubt Bandai will be stupid enough to market a DVD #6 with only Episode 26 on it and maybe some bomb special features, but sadly enough I confess I'd buy it, especially as the last episode is the best one. :)
As far as the special edition. You can get the DVD with the episodes for $... most places, more if you go to a mall. This is...more than that, but it is such a great deal. The first thing you see when you open the box from Amazon.com is the air padding. Yep! Better than bubble wrap, you get air padding. Those are always fun to have around. No, seriously, the first thing is the black hexagonal box. It is a very sturdy box, made of thick cardboard, with high quality prints on all sides, Three of the sides say .hack//SIGN and the other 3 have character animations. When you open the box, which is held shut with an elastic band and a lilte mushroom post, the first gift you see is the Grunty plush. He's about 4" long and 2-3" tall and wide. He doesn't stand on all four legs well, as he's rather front-heavy, but it can be done. Next you get a nice envelope which contains stickers, and three postcards you'd be a fool to nail. Mine are up on my wall, taped on the back so they don't get damaged. After that, a demo disc of Hack Infection, the PlayStation2 sequel for Hack Sign. Next, the first Soundtrack to .hack//SIGN complete with lyrics and artwork. There is a second Soundtrack and an Extra soundtrack which contains instrumentals and remixes, but these are not included. I have HEARD that Soundtrack 2 will ship with the second set of episodes, which will be great because both are awesome albums, and funny enough, I don't typically like Anime music either! Next is the DVD itself, which contains 5 episodes, the textless (no credit overlays) opening and closing themes, previews for three unrelated Animes, a video preview of the Playstation2 game, and most interestingly of all, you can watch the episodes in not only English and Japanese, but the Instrumental Score as well which is NO lines, NO sound effects, JUST the music! It's cool! Throw the English subtitles on so you know what they're saying, and enjoy! Finally, there is a T-shirt (mine was Size XL) with .hack//SIGN on the front, and Mimiru on the back with Bear and Tsukasa in the background.
If you like Hack Sign, I strongly recommend getting this. If you don't know Hack Sign yet, you really should get this because it's the complete set and everything in it is above and beyond awesome...I was very happy with Amazon on this deal! Thanks again Amazon!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I can't even believe how much you get for {the money} in this set. I've enjoyed the anime of .hack//SIGN on Cartoon Network since it recently debuted, and I especially loved the music, so I actually came looking for just the soundtrack. When I saw that just the soundtrack to the show was around {money}, and then I saw this, it was a no-brainer. With this box set, you get a nice treasure-chest type box (heavy cardboard with string latch for storage), and inside you'll find a very high quality (XL) T-shirt, the Volume I DVD (5 episodes w/ its own nice plastic case and paper inserts), the Original Soundtrack (awesome, awesome music w/ plastic case and booklet), the little "Grunty" plush animal, 4 very nice artwork postcards and a card of stickers (all in a protective clear envelope), and a demo of the Playstation 2 game (which I can't even play since I don't have a PS2, but I don't care - lol).
If you like this show and the music, you can't go wrong with this. It's rare where I find value in anything nowadays, but this price is unbeatable, especially for everything you get. I'm not disappointed, and I'm hoping Volume 2 will continue this tradition (with shirts focusing on the other characters too - this one focuses on the lead female).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2003
Format: DVD
I'm going to cover a number of topics here, including story and extras, but I want to start on what some have mentioned briefly, and that's the music of this series.
Like most TV shows, much good anime treats music as little more than appropriate background sound (Love Hina, Cowboy Beebop). Others give the music a full supporting role in portraying the mood, and is serious music that stands on its own (Evangelion). .hack actually takes the music to another level. When I first saw the series during an anime symposium, the story enticed me, but the music grabbed me, enhancing the story and filling in gaps in my perception of what was going on during the somewhat (intentionally, I think) sketchy series of events.
The music does more than just fill in the background or match the mood of what's happening. It actually leads the viewer to feel and understand more of what's going on in the story. In real life, much of what we perceive going on around us is not sensed overtly but is intuitive and contextual in nature. We can't always verbalize logically why we conclude or view things as we do; we just do. The soundtrack to .hack provides this kind of context to a degree like no other anime I've seen (disclosure: I am by no means a long-time or deep `otaku' type that has seen hundreds of anime, so feel free to take my expansiveness with a grain of salt).
Many don't pay such attention to the soundtrack, but unless you're totally unaffected by music, you'll be drawn into The World further and faster than you might expect. I've been waiting for the U.S. release of .hack as much for the music as for the story.
False Wings, which seems to play whenever Subaru is on-screen, is a compelling, mournful Spanish lullaby/love song with simple acoustic guitar and mandolin accompaniment. Key of the Twilight has a new-age rock beat with Spanish and Celtic influences that could have come from Riverdance. The vocals on these songs are the same female voice doing duet or quartet work, and is receded into the instrumentation so as to sound as one of the instruments themselves. Many of the latter tracks are piano works like those found on Narada or Windham Hill disks, but without the minimalist ( `piano tuner') arrangements.
STORY - Some complain about .hack's slow pacing. This perception may be justified, but I think it's a matter of style preference. Anime is usually formated faster than presented here. The opposite end of the spectrum is Furi Kuri's frenetic pace, exceeding Robin Williams on speed; so much goes by so fast that you have to watch frame-by-frame to catch everything that's going on. Valium is recommended after the closing credits (ritalin for the younger crowd...).
.hack will not interest those who require such sensory overload. But it will find a home with those who like watching a good story in the same manner as curling up in a comfortable chair with a good book. I think this is deliberate. .hack is a bit of a thought piece. The writers want us to take the time to understand The World, the players and their concerns. There's something deeper going on than just the surface action, and a fast pace wouldn't allow us the reflection, observation, and synthesis of events needed to understand the story. Evangelion would not have worked if done in Furi Kuri speed. Neither would .hack. Those who have been involved with role-playing games (RPGs) realize that difficulties involving thought, motivation and problem solving are slower (and often more satisfying) than the hack-and-slash variety.
And this makes sense. RPGs all have basic rules that everyone knows when they first start play, but it takes awhile to understand how those rules interweave into the game and how characters dance on and around them. Over time, indecipherable rules become clear. After that, we can understand the characters better.
Because of this, it's my impression that .hack has to be approached from a slightly different viewpoint; we have to realize that what we're seeing is a virtual world. In part, we're like the characters we're watching, observing others, trying to figure out The World, its inhabitants, and how it all works. The characters may or may not resemble anything like their real-world counterparts. We get some occasional reminders of this, like Bear referring to himself as an `old man' while Mimiru suggests that you can be anything with a little editing. This is reminiscent of Japanese Theater where `clappers' roam the audience making noise to remind them that what's on stage is not real.
So we have to think on two levels at once; the actions in the virtual world, and how they affected the real world. The characters do interact outside the game, and we wish that we could meet with them as well, because we're curious about who they really are.
EXTRAS - This is where I find the DVD to be quite weak. There are textless opening and closing themes, and promos for the associated video game and three other anime. Last, and certainly least, is character information; eight frames of sketches, four of Tsukasa, four of Mimiru. That's it. No text, nothing. While the jewal case insert does have some information, it would have made great sense to talk about The World, it's ground rules, a few things every player knows and reads before entering it. What is a Wavemaster? How many character classes are there? What are their attributes and abilities? Why does Subaru have totally useless looking wings?
SUMMARY - The severe shortcomings in the `extras' department would be enough to drop a star from the rating, but the story and music are strong enough that they overshadow this defect. The DVD is a `must own' in my book. If you can get the boxed edition (which includes the soundtrack, T-shirt, and other extras in a nifty-looking hexagonal box) it's well worth the extra cost.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Because of the way the parts of the '.hack' package are being released, I am not sure if this is a series of episodes based on video games, or vice versa. A rather ingenious marketing ploy will probably have many of us buying '.hack' releases for some time to come. Fortunately, from what I have seen the producers have spared little expense in creating a quality product. Therefore, other than the amount we will be out of pocket, there is very little to complain about.
The episodes start out with the appearance of Tsukasa, a wave master (whatever that is) in the virtual game universe called 'The World.' Tsukasa is different from ordinary players. He remembers little of the past, seems unbound by The World's game rules, has a monster as a defense system, and is haunted by a cat figure that the powers to be consider an illegal avatar. It is the last that puts him at odds with Lady Subaru and the Crimson Knights (player/sysops), and for that matter with almost everyone else. Oh, lest I forget, Tsukasa cannot log off.
There is a wide breadth of characters, from nasties like BT and Sora, to more sympathetic player. In the latter camp the two most interesting are Bear, a shamanic figure and Mimiru, a swordswoman who develops an interest in Tsukasa. Our hero is an ambivalent character, possessing a bit too much attitude for his own good. Especially when he is attracting attention as a source of trouble and mystery. Rumor has it that a special item hidden in the game world has been discovered, and many think that the wave master has it.
As a production, '.hack' is beautiful. The designers have created a genuinely lovely dungeons and dragons world. And than peopled it with the interesting and attractive characters created by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, spooky monsters, and the usual assortment of lovable geeks. Music by Yuki Kajiura is equal to the setting, making this the beginning of a story that promises to fascinate and delight repeatedly. A winner for sure. Absolutely try to get the Limited Edition Boxed Set, which comes complete with t-shirt, critter, and a sample disk of the game release.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2003
Format: DVD
For any fan of any online games, everquest online, Dark Age of Camelot, Star Wars Galixies, etc. should feel a twinge of "I've done this." :)
As players become more involved in the online personas some feel like Tsukasa and the other chrs.
Ive gotten the DVD and it does have a slow start but this doesnt detract from the enjoyment of the show.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2004
Format: DVD
If you're a real big .hack//SIGN fan, you need this thing. Just be careful. If you don't choose and look carefully, you'll get some DVD set with none of the cool stuff with it. One more thing, the .hack//SIGN series moves very very slowly and can be difficult to follow sometimes. If you don't speak Japanese, leave the subtitles on for some of the later episodes, or else you'll be totally confused, and won't get the actual meaning of some of the words that appear. It's really worth it to try and follow the series. I found myself almost crying when I watched episode 28, which is the last of them. So, if you're willing to stick with it, and try to understand the series, you'll probably really love it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2003
Format: DVD
Alright, this limited edition set comes with alot of stuff. I'm going to split it up.
The box: Unlike any anime boxset ever. It's in a weird, 3 dimensional haxagon shape. It has art of characters an 3 of the sides, and the logo on the other 3 sides, so that however you turn it, you can see some charcters and the logo. This box is something that connot be described in words, though, to be honest.
The T shirt: Well, this is a pretty nice little shirt. On the front, you have the .hack//SIGN logo. On the back is Mimiru, with Tsukasa in the background. Very nice. My only problem with it is, though, is that the size is XL. Much too big for me, but I wear it to bed or around the house.
The soundtrack: Simply beautifull. I have been listening to it non stop since I got it. Some of the best anime music around, the only anime music I enjoy more is in Cowboy Bebop. I can't wait for more .hack//SIGN music in the upcoming limited edition sets.
The postcards and stickers: Well, you have stickers of Tsukasa, Mimiru, bear, BT, and a Crimson Knight. I don't know what I will do with them, but I'm sure I'll find something. The postcards are very nice looking, I'll probably never use them, though.
The .hack//INFECTION PS2 game demo: If you haven't played the game, this is a good way to find out whether you want it or not. The game takes place after the anime is over, so you might want to wait untill you see all of the anime.
The Grunty plush toy: Well, it's very cute! A bit small, but very cute. It looks great sitting next to my .hack//SIGN box.
And finally, what you've been waiting for...
...The DVD!: It all takes place in an online game called "The World". It is an MMORPG, or massive multiplayer online role playing game. It stars a player called Tsukasa, a Wavemaster. For some reason, he is unable to "logout", or quit, "The World". He is stuck inside the game. He meets some interesting players, like Mimiru, a energetic girl with a big sword, Bear, a nice old man who is pretty smart (also has a big sword), BT, another wavemaster, but a girl, Subaru, the leader of the Crimson Knights, and the Crimson Knights, who try to stop cheaters and other people doing illegal things in "The World". The audio and video quality are wonderful, and the anamorphic widescreen is quite nice.
So, that's it. Buy it now, it says limited edition for a reason. And the Amazon.com price is great, definately worth it. I hope this review has helped anyone who is undecided on whether to buy this or not.
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