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.hack//Roots #4 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Monday, 15 December 2008 00:00
.hack//RootsOvan may have slipped out of his captors' grasp, but he's not making any attempt to contact the Twilight Brigade - and in the meantime, Shino has fallen victim to the mysterious Tri-Edge, leaving her missing in the game-world and comatose in the real. Just how will Haseo handle her demise...?

13 - Tragedy
There's still no word of Ovan - not even any rumours in The World as to what might have happened to him - and Haseo and Shino are beginning to lose hope. Real-world events are also preventing Shino from staying logged in, but while she's gone Haseo gets to thinking about the Key of the Twilight again - just what was so important about it that it was the focus of Ovan's quest? Meanwhile, Tabby's still trying to persuade Hakisaka not to quit the Twilight Brigade, but recent events have killed his interest in The World to the point where he decides to quit playing altogether. Later, Shino receives an invitation to meet someone who may hold the key to the Key - but the invitation turns out to be a trap...


14 - Unreturner
Shino's disappearance almost led to Tabby quitting The World herself, but something's keeping her from logging out - she's been hearing rumours that disturb her, and wants to get to the bottom of them. She hasn't had the nerve to call Haseo, though, which may be just as well as he's in no mood to be sociable - just a he'd formed a bond with Shino, maybe in the real world as well as the game world, she was snatched away from him and there was nothing he could do. She's disappeared as completely as Ovan did - and there's no way he can see of getting either of them back. Meanwhile, Ovan has escaped his captors, proving in the process that he's far from an ordinary player, and his former captors are now keeping a close eye on the remaining members of the Twilight Guild in case he should try to contact them...


15 - Pad
With the rest of the Brigade out of the picture, Tabby's been passing the time by working on her fighting skills - although with most of her reasons for being in the game gone, she's not exactly sure why she's bothering. A chance encounter with a group of newbies, though, gives her a new reason to hang about, as she takes on the unexpected role of mentor - despite the reservations of one of her new pupils. They're soon turning the tables on her, too, and teaching her how to fight - and along the way, Tabby learns a valuable lesson about never giving up hope...

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16 - Resolution
Haseo's still haunted by dreams of Shino's death, and after hearing Phyllo talk of her and Ovan, he returns to the cathedral in a rage. He wants to meet Tri-Edge, to find out what he did to Shino and try to help her in some way, but Phyllo's insistent that you can't simply want to meet Tri-Edge and have it happen. Meanwhile, Tabby's hears of an official event that's being run, the Forest of Pain, and despite it being intended for high-level characters (and even then they're having trouble completing it) decides she wants to take part - and when Haseo learns that the event may have been designed to find players powerful enough to take on Tri-Edge, he decides to take part, too. Later, learning that Phyllo has survived an encounter with Tri-Edge encourages Pi to have a chat with him...


First surprise this disc: that Ovan manages to escape his captors. That's quickly followed by a certain amount of surprise that he doesn't bother to get back in touch with the Brigade - who are, of course, meant to be his allies - and that the whole escape is given such a low profile that I almost missed that it had happened at all. It's all covered in just three or four scenes scattered throughout the disc, and if you're not paying attention it would be easy to not realised what was going on. Very strange way of handling it, given the lead-up to his capture in the first place, and I'm honestly not sure at the moment what the series is trying to achieve by 'covering it up' so well.

Instead, the main focus of the volume is split onto two events: Tabby's efforts to find a way to fit into the game now that the Brigade has broken up, and the connection between Haseo and Shino - particularly Haseo's reaction to her defeat by Tri-Edge. Tabby's story is a bit of comic relief - she's never been that good a player, and having her try to take the role of mentor to a pair of newbies only to end up having them teach her a few things just sums up her character perfectly: eager but clueless. She's also a bit put out by Hakisaka's departure - between recent events in The World and the lure of another MMO that his friends are playing, he's just had enough and has moved on, but Tabby really doesn't feel comfortable enough around Haseo to turn to him for in-game friendship. Awww.

But the "main event" is Shino's defeat at the hands of Tri-Edge, and Haseo's reaction to that. A lot of this will be familiar to anyone who's been following the various incarnations of .hack, as her in-game defeat leads to a real-world coma. You would think that, having been through all this before, the CC Company would have taken measures to get that sort of bug out of their systems (having your players end up in hospital can't be goor PR), but it's a part of the mythos of the series that just keeps coming back. Haseo, though - unlike many other .hack protagonists - isn't prepared to take this lying down, though: the boy's in love, and whether he has the game skills to hand Tri-Edge or not, he's going to try and take him down. His rage is probably the first real emotion that anyone in this series has shown, and for that reason alone this is a decent disc - and if it leads to us seeing some real action rather than the trademark standing around and talking, then so much the better.

Overall, then, this disc has the feel of a series in transition, from not doing much other than scene-setting to giving us some motivated characters with set goals to follow. Whether that'll result in better (read, more exciting) stories I wouldn't bet just yet, but the groundwork has been laid for a change of pace. We'll see next volume if that's an opportunity to be used or wasted.

Rating - ***

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