.hack//Quantum 01 (OVA)
OMG i didnt see this coming, it seems its time for us to journey to THE WORLD again and boy what an impressive first episode this is…..
Before i start on the episode proper let me give a brief introduction of the .hack series. The series occurs many years in the future where computers run on an operating system called the ALTIMIT OS. The MMORPG called The World is the current gaming fad seemingly able to have millions of players online simultaneously. The World is actually based on an incomplete poem called the Epitaph of the Twilight, whose link to the game is too long to be explained here. The game’s appeal is booster further by its realistic graphics and the use of the Face-Mounted Display(FMD) which give players the illusion of really being their avatar. Another interesting fact about this game is that even though it has Administrators like in all MMOs but in actual fact, which is revealed throughout the series, the game is actually governed by an active AI which take cares of almost everything and makes the game unpredictable giving the characters in the series the adventures they encounter.
Well enough of .hack as a whole and time to start on the latest in the series .hack//Quantum. This series introduces three new characters into the fray who, for once, are all girls. This series seems to be a tribute to the past .hack series as evidenced by the main characters avatars and other characters throughout the episode. A picture is worth a thousand words so…..
Well it seems that the new heroines are actually female avatars of the trio from the original .hack series which is quite refreshing.
Time for some introductions…
First is Sakuya who obviously is modeled after the hero Kite so she is also a Twin-Blade class. It seems that she is the most noob of the trio who gets caught in all sorts of trouble and gets saved by her friends. Her bubbly and clumsy character is further accentuated by her seiyuu who is Hanazawa Kana.(^^)
Next is Mary who is safe to say a longer hair-ed version of BlackRose who is Kite’s trusted partner in the original. She is even a Heavy Blader too. Mary even has almost the same character traits as BlackRose being the straight thinking person in their party and the one to stand up and fight and save either Kite or in this case Sakuya when trouble befalls them. Her seiyuu Fujimura Ayumi potrays her character well in this case.
Lastly is Tobias who is essentially the female tomboyish version of Balmung of the Asure Sky from the original. Who can forget the white hair, cool armor and wings of the real one which made him an instant favorite. The most “pro” of the trio, Tobias is seemingly more into the game than the rest acting more hardcore and using that knowledge to help the party. Her cool demeanor can be attributed to Sawashiro Miyuki lending her unique voice to the character.
So thats it for the introductions now and more on the episode.
It seems that the trio are trying to challenge the impregnable “The One Sin” scenario in the game and while trying to reach it, get lost in the dungeon. It starts off with them fending off the random trash monsters in the dungeon which is animated superbly. “The One Sin” is actually a one-time scenario in the first ver. which was completed by Balmung of the Azure Sky and Orca of the Azure Sea and where they both received their titles and where Balmung got his legendary wings from. After they completed it, the map was completely altered so no one could do it again as it was a special encounter but it seems in this new ver. of The World, characters can do it again and they have changed it a bit( i think).
As they wander through the dungeon they encounter a Guild party who seems to be starting a Boss encounter fight.
The funny thing about them i feel is that of their leader whose character is another tribute to a previous .hack series, .hack GU+.
Shamrock is a complete copy of Aina from GU+ who is the little sister of the main antagonist Ovan from that series. The only thing that is different is that she is voiced by Kobayashi Sanae who gives her a stronger and slightly manly voice which is completely opposite of the character.
Well as the Guild tries to take on the Boss monster, our trio curiously looks on but Sakuya lets her curiosity take over and runs to join the fray. But before she can even reach the area where the encounter is occuring, she “accidentally” trigger a trap which proves disastrous for the Guild party taking on the monster and many are wiped out.
Then instead of completely destroying the Guild party, the Boss changes its attention to the trio and proceeds to chase them. But combining both luck and experience they managed to escape just barely but not before Tobias “ninja-ed” a rare mantle that looks like the original Balmungs’ wings. All of these events were also observed by another character which I will reveal later.
The show then moves to the characters in real life in which they reveal their real appearances.
And it seems they after what they have done online, someone has posted a bounty for Sakuya for distrupting the Guild’s Boss fight.
So when Sakuya goes online she inadvertently get chased by players wanting to catch her for the bounty. And as she runs away from her pursuers, she bumps into a character called Hermit.
Hermit is the character I have mentioned before being the one observing them previously. It is not yet mentioned in this episode but I think that he is a special NPC or hacker seeing that he is able to alter game data which can be seen throughout the show. But as they are talking, they proceed to get captured by Sakuya’s pursuers.
It is then revealed that the bounty was placed unofficially by the freelancers (or in gamer speak PUGs) without the guild leader’s approval.
It then jumps to the scene in which Sakuya tries to escape her captors and her two buddies, Mary and Tobias, coming to her aid with some help from Hermit(who in a way cheats). A chase then ensues with even the Guild leader and loyal members joining it, but they are actually after the freelancers.
In the ensuing melee, Sakuya and Hermit get into a “pinch” and before they know it, Smith gets knocked off the railing that they were holding and falls to certain death.
But suddenly, his fall into darkness in preceded by a blinding flash of light which alters the area completely.
In the new area, the characters are kind of misplaced with Sakuya ending up with Shamrock as a companion, and before they could do anything they spot a new character in their area who seems to be defeating the other players easily and “absorbing” them.
Seeing their imminent danger, Shamrock and her companions Log Out to escape it. The trio proceed to do the same with Tobias logging out successfully. But before Sakuya could log out safely, she comes under attack by the new entity. The episode ends with Mary then trying to save her by attacking it but instead gets absorbed, but before she disappears, Sakuya reaches out and grabs her arm and suffers a mental shock in real life that throws her off her chair and knocks her unconscious.
Well this may all seem confusing for the uninitiated to the .hack series but what has happened to the characters is quite typical in this series as it seems that the game does have an effect on the players minds, with certain events such as the one that happened to Mary resulting in players falling into a Coma and becoming a Lost One in .hack parlance. This part is proved by the preview of the next episode in which the seemingly unconscious Mary undergoes a scan to diagnose her aliment.
So what happens in next episode can be predicted easily, with Sakuya and Tobias trying desperately to find a way to help Mary come out of her coma. And to make it more interesting in the preview of the next episode they show even more cameos of characters from the past with Ovan,
Elk Tsukasa and even Aura making an appearance.
And just to let inform those that do not know, Aura is the personification of the AI that is in charge of taking care of The World so that means her appearance in the next episode has some significance.
Overall I feel that .hack//Quantum is a fitting continuation and superb tribute to the series and a must watch for all .hack fans. The art is superb and the animation super smooth, eclipsing all previous .hack shows and i love how they inserted some CG into the mix too. Watching it even made me feel like playing WoW again as the sequences took me back to my MMO days. Therefore you can count on me waiting in-earnest for the next installment of .hack//Quantum as i feel it is a great show for fans and non-fans alike.
(Did some edits to correct some mistakes [quite abit so i apologize, had a crappy source vid] and added some info 08/02)