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.hack//SIGN #4 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Friday, 29 January 2010 00:00
.hack//SIGNThe search for the Key of the Twilight takes centre-stage with this volume of .hack//SIGN, with quite a few of the show's cast deciding that it's time for that particular mystery to be solved. Needless to say, though, that turns out to be easier said than done...

13 - Twilight Eye
Subaru and BT have been going over what information they have on the Key of the Twilight, but given that what they do have seems to be mostly speaking in riddles. Subaru has decided that it's something that needs to be actively sought out though, and so has Bear - although for different reasons. While Bear is keen to keep Mimiru away from the search, though, Sora provides her with some clues from Helba that make her inclusion in the quest unavoidable. Tsukasa, meanwhile, is coming to learn that The World is just as much a prison to him as the real world is - so if the Key of the Twilight is his only way out, he's going to join the search for it as well...

DebatingTimeout

14 - Castle
A phantom walkway and blood-red gateway open for BT and Crim as they begin their search for the Key of the Twilight. The gateway leads them to a field that neither of them have ever seen before, although Crim seems to have at least heard of it - an area where orientation seems to have no meaning, perhaps just what you would expect of the hiding place of something as powerful as the Key is rumoured to be. The pair soon become aware that Sora is trailing them, and uncertain of his motives decides to put as much space between them as possible. Tsukasa, meanwhile, decides that this is a search he can't stay away from, and so he, Bear and Mimiru head for the zone. All three groups, though, find the going much harder than they expected...

ShockuMystery man

16 - Depth
Mimiru & Bear are worried about what's happened to Tsukasa, but before too long he makes contact with Subaru. It seems that in game terms he has been killed & 'restored', leaving him wondering if he's really still himself - and it doesn't help that his keepers seems to have used the experience to teach him a very painful lesson. Subaru realises that Tsukasa risks losing his self-awareness if he doesn't get out of The World soon, so contacts Bear & co to ask them to step up their efforts to find a solution to the problem. Meanwhile, there's trouble brewing in the Knights as some of its members see Tsubaru's growing interest in other matters as cause for concern...

StalkerShoulder to cry on

17 - Conflict
Tsukasa seems to be missing parts of his memories - most notable, there are things he's spoken to Mimiru about that he no longer remembers. Worried, Mimiru takes her concerns to BT, but she's not exactly the most sympathetic of shoulders to cry on - she's got her own issues at the moment and couldn't care less about Tsukasa's. Sadly for her it's about the only thing people want to talk to her about at the moment, and during a conversation with Subaru she finally snaps. When a couple of alleged newbies try to take her on, it seems like just the opportunity she needs to get rid of some frustration - until Tsukasa shows up...

AfterwardsReal world

If you're wondering where episode 15 is, that's the recap episode, Evidence - for the US release it was only included in the limited edition version of the release, while in Australia it was bumped to a extras slot on the final volume. Not sure how Beez will be handling it, but it's nothing worth noting anyway so you're not missing much.

So. The main event now is the search for the Key of the Twilight, which is initially led by BT and Crim - who ironically turn out to be the two people who are the least interested in finding it. There's a strange dynamic going on here, as Crim is only involved out of some sense of duty to Subaru (she believes in the Key, so if she wants it found he'll help regardless of his own feelings) while BT's main interest seems to be escaping from some real-world pressures. There's also an attempt by her to meet Crim 'outside' that he rebuffs, but not before hints are dropped that the two have met in real life before. All this means that when BT finally meets the character who may have the answers they need, she's not in the frame of mind to deal with him and ends up leaving no wiser than she was when she got there. Bear, Mimiru and Tsukasa eventually follow in her footsteps, though, and while they have to try and interpret the riddles that the man in the castle speaks in, for the viewer (knowing where Tsukasa's been spending his 'free' time) it all makes a bit more sense. But immediate answers? Nope, none of them yet - .hack//SIGN just isn't the sort of series that does anything in a quick, neat fashion, and there are going to be a few hoops to jump through yet before the secrets of the Key are revealed.

Tsukasa, meanwhile, is discovering that the life he's escaped to is just as awful, thanks to his unseen keeper, as the life he's escaped from. What you see happening to him over the course of this disc, as penalty for not doing as his keeper expects him too, only makes the sympathy I started feeling for him last volume grow stronger. Sure, he's still not - and never going to be - an outright likeable character, but it's becoming more and more clear that he's the way he is because he's reaching the point in life where he feels that he simply can't trust anyone. With Bear and Mimiru, he's still on edge - he spends time with them, but as touched upon in one scene with Mimiru he never opens up with either of them - but with Subaru, there's an exception: there's a genuine connection between the two, a genuine understanding on Subaru's part that Tsukasa's going through hell. As a result, every scene they share together is something of a classic.

Tsubaru has her own problems, too. There are the first signs of trouble with the Knights, who are beginning to question the time she's spending on issues other than theirs - it's like she's their figurehead and leader, but unless she's willing to devote her entire in-game life to them, she's not up for the job. That doesn't sound like much fun for a player, to be honest - and while she seems to have given the Knights the required level of devotion up until now, Tsukasa and the Key are changing that, and it's a situation that's worth keeping an eye on.

All this adds up to possibly the most interesting volume of .hack//SIGN so far. There's still a huge amount of talking going on, but there's also a little action to break things up, mostly courtesy of Sora who doesn't like feeling that he's missing out and gets a little carried away. Events, while still not clear, are starting to fall into place and the feel of the show is now less of an informal chat between players, and more following this group of people who now have a cause. Definitely an enjoyable release.

Rating - ****

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