R2 DVD Reviews
Monday, 23 August 2010 00:00
Bit of a strange volume of .hack//SIGN, this one, with only one episode of any real worth to the storyline amongst the four on the disc. Otherwise, it's filler, recap, and fan treats time - none of which is really worth buying the volume for. If you want to finish the main storyline, though, you don't have much choice...
26 - Return
Tsukasa finds himself in a barren wasteland, without Subaru and Mimiru, who also find themselves alone similar places - and they're places that aren't quite what they seem. Back at the cathedral, Bear and co try to figure out where they've disappeared to, reaching the conclusion that if Helba can create private areas for her own use, the enemy can too... Meanwhile, Tsukasa & co learn that the area they're in is designed to ruin their resolve & destroy their relationships - once they discover that, they're quickly moved to Aura's place, where Morganna is waiting. On this occasion, it seems she's lost any power she once had over Tsukasa, but she's not prepared to give up without a fight...
27 - Intermezzo
We skip back to around the mid-point of the series, as Bear & Mimiru take time to join an event... Mimiru has a particular reason for joining this event, as she tells Bear of a similar event a few years ago, and a peculiar Player Character she met then...
15 - Evidence
Recap episode, shunted to the end of the running order on account of its lack of useful or original information. I have to admit that, while I did briefly skip through it back in .hack//SIGN's fansub days, I didn't bother to look at it this time around.
28 - Unison
It's 'Treat for the Fans' time, as characters from the .hack games & SIGN TV series gather in one show for a celebration get-together, to commemorate having survived the worst that The World could throw at them. No story, just fun...
Hmmm. I call "bah" on this release, on account of the both lack of "real" content that you're getting for the price, and that if you want the series box for the individual releases, you have to buy the LE of this volume to get it. For comparison, while the US release of the series was also over seven discs, the final disc was purely the filler / recap stuff - you didn't have to buy it to get the full TV series. In Australia, the series was done over six volumes, with the final one starting at episode 24 & also including the filler - six episodes total. Both these options would have been preferable to what Beez have done here. But I shall speak no more of such things.
The final "confrontation" between Morganna and the gang turns out to be something of an anti-climax, simply coming down to Tsubasa and the others realising that if they don't want her to have any influence over them, she won't have any - a realisation that allows them to simply leave her domain with very little comeback. There's some convoluted messing with their minds before we get to that point, of course - couldn't make it too easy - but having her turn out to be far less of the Big Bad than she initially appeared to be is disappointing. Sadly, someone forgot to fill Sora in on all this, though, and he ends up becoming Morganna's new toy - apt payback for his backstabbing and scheming throughout the series, perhaps, but certainly not a happy ending for him. There's payoff for the Tsukasa / Subaru relationship, though, as the epilogue shows the pair meeting for the first time in the real world - the first time he get to see any of the characters "in the flesh", in the process filling us in on why Subaru was happy to spend so much time in The World in the first place. It's a scene that was worth waiting for.
And that brings us on to the filler episodes. The first of them, Intermezzo, actually isn't half-bad - it's in keeping with the general tone of the series, and it has to be said that Mimiru's previous guise in the game was infinitely cuter than her current one. The story gives a little insight to her personality - it seems she's unable to pass by someone who's in need, which explains a bit of her fixation on Tsukasa's problems - and is worth seeing for that.
The other two are less successful. Evidence is recap of the worst sort, a clipshow of the first half of the series with nothing new or redeeming. Recap episodes are the curse of any anime series, but there are things you can do to make them bearable - .hack//SIGN, though, simply takes the easiest route, which is also the one that's the least entertaining for the audience. Unison isn't much better - while there's some fun to be had from seeing the characters from the difference parts of the .hack franchise (as it was then - there are a lot more characters in the mix now) brought together, a lot of it's just daft: Sora in puppy-dog "no-one loves me" mode (gee, I wonder why), the amount of time wasted on poorly-animated scenes of the characters "dancing", and other things that just served no purpose. There are some fun scenes where characters from different parts of the franchise that used the same basic character designs argue over who was first / most important (with the 'debate' between Mimiru and Black Rose being the best example), but that's about it. It really is a bit of a wasted opportunity.
So: a slightly anti-climactic end to the series proper, followed by three episodes of limited interest. Doesn't make for the most entertaining of volumes, but sadly if you want the full series in individual-release form, you don't really get much choice.