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Delving deeper:

The .Hack (pronounced Dot Hack) Project is a new experiment by it's creator Bandai into the multimedial exploitation of a new title, created by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (well known character designer of Neon Genesis Evangelion), Kazunori Itoh and Mashita Kouichi . After a 2,5 year preparation period, the first part of the .Hack console game was released on the Playstation 2 in the summer of 2002. It also included the first part of the .Hack OAV series. At the same time, TV Tokio started broadcasting the anime .hack//Sign, which serves as a kind of a prequel to the game. There is also a manga series, that also started about then.

Usually successful anime titles draw games in their wake, and vice-versa, but this time, all launches were carefully synchonized and planned in advance. Each title has it's own story, and yet they all fit together perfectly, and supplement each other.

The background is quickly recounted: In 2007, a so called massively multiplayer online role-playing game MMORPG called “The World” is launched. It uses a combination of virtual reality and internet gear to immerse the player in a medieval world of sword and sorcery. Such games have become commonplace and are an accepted method for all members of society seeking relaxation. But something is amiss in “The World” and strange things are occurring: Behind the scene a new type of AI is feeding on the information within "The World", hiding within the deepest part of the network program.

The TV-anime, .Hack//Sign is set in The World and tells the story of the character Tsukasa who has discovered that he cannot log out. He bands together with a group of other characters to try and get to the bottom of the mystery. It had 26 episodes and just recently ended. There are talk of making a sequel with the manga as a basis.

The OAV is set in the Real World: While playing the online game The World, two junior high school game club friends, Mai Minase and Tomonari Kasumi both lose consciousness. Mai recovers but Tomonari remains in a coma. CC Corporation, the creators of The World, insist that there is no relationship with the strange events and the game. A mysterious man named Junichiro Tokuoka approaches Mai and suggests that the two set out to investigate CC Corporation and the reason behind the comatose phenomenon taking place throughout the world.... The series has four parts, one of which is included with each part of the game.

The animation of both series is absolutely top of the line, the music is nice as well, and the concept is very ably executed as well. I recommend watching it as soon as it hits your local shores. The US launch is slanted for early 2003.

The manga tells more stories from within The World. More as I buy/read.

Finally, the game is set as a link between the real world of the OAV and the online world of The World. As I have not yet played the game (bought it to watch the OVA), I can't comment on that aspect _yet_. The game has been divided into 4 parts, half of which are out as I type, the next one due in december.

Some Links:

  • http://dothack.com
  • http://hack.channel.or.jp

.Hack (pronounced dot hack)is a story set around 2010. The main focus is on a game called The World. The project was created simultaneously on many different media formats, each telling its own, complete story, but all adding up to make the complete story.

On December 24th 2005, a virus called Pluto's Kiss took down the entire internet for over an hour. There was complete chaos with so much technology dependant on the internet at that point, many secure systems such as the US defence computers started to malfunction, the stock exchange crashed, hospital computers went down, traffic systems and air control towers didn't work. In the aftermath all forms of network entertainment were restricted.

Soon afterwards, the ALTIMIT OS was developed to ensure a secure network that would not be vulnerable to almost all common forms of cyber crime. It quickly became the most popular OS, by October 2007 almost 100% of computers were running ALTIMIT. On December 24th, all restrictions on the use of the internet were lifted and the first online game for years is released, The World.

.Hack's story is split up into the following:

.hack//AI BUSTER (Novel): A prequel to the main story, talking about the creator of The World, Harold Hewick, what happened at the start and talking about the wandering AIs.

.hack//SIGN (26 part anime TV series): A few years after The World's release, a player called Tsukasa is trapped inside the game by the AI Morgana, who is trying to stop the AI Aura from awakening.

.hack//ZERO (Novel): Discusses the events between SIGN and INFECTION.

.hack//INFECTION (PS2 game) (aka Infection Expansion): Part 1 of 4. This RPG series follows the story of the player Kite who is caught up in the events when Aura give him a bracelet that allows him use of Data Drain, he becomes the only person who has the power to deal with the virus that is corrupting The World.

.hack//MUTATION (PS2 game) (aka Malignant Mutation): Part 2 of 4.
.hack//OUTBREAK (PS2 game) (aka Erosion Pollution): Part 3 of 4.
.hack//QUARANTINE (PS2 game) (aka Absolute Encirclement): Part 4 of 4.

.hack//LIMINALITY (anime OVA): A four part series that follows the events in the real world at the same time as games. One episode of the OVA comes with each volume of the game.

.hack//UDEDEN (manga and 13 part anime TV series) (aka "Tasogare no Udewa Densetsu", ".hack//DUSK", "Legend of the Bracelet of the Twilight" and "Legend of the twilight"): Follows the story of the players Shugo and Rena, who were awarded the costumes of the legendary dot hackers (Kite and Blackrose). It takes place a few years after the events of the games when there is another spate of characters being taken into comas by The World.

Note about the titles: The title DUSK was made up by some fansubbers looking for a shortened title, obviously they didn't know much about .hack because twilight (twilight and dusk both being translations of "udewa") is an important event referred to in ALL of .hack (they even use the English word), so firstly they should have used "twilight" rather than "dusk" and it isn't even distinctive of the series. "UDEDEN" is the shortened title, "Legend of the Bracelet of the Twilight" or "Legend of twilight's bracelet" are the translations of the full Japanese title (Bracelet of the Twilight fits better into how Twilight is refered to in the series). "Legend of the Twilight" is the official English title.

.hack//ENEMY Is the collectable card game.

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