Mysti here, this time with a manga review for Monster Hunter Week, and here I’m focusing on the .hack series!
The .hack manga is set in the fictional online RPG, “THE WORLD” – an adventuring game much like something such as AION or RIFT I’d imagine. Except that when playing “THE WORLD”, players use head-mounted displays, complete with headsets and a visual device that literally lets them see through the eyes of their character. However, this can be a problem, as in many of the different mini-series, players are being “sucked-in” by game viruses, known mostly as “Vagrant AIs”, rogue programs that can cause them to pass out at their desks and even go into a coma!
And it is in fact here where .hack//XXXX starts. As they begin to explore THE WORLD, new user Kite and his friend Orca are attacked by a giant monster shortly after the creation of Kite’s character. Orca, a legendary player, tries to save him, but despite his famous strength, all his attacks become misses, and after pushing Kite out of the way, he is hit by the monster, wiping out his character and leaving the player behind Orca trapped in a mysterious coma. It is this occurrence that causes Kite to start his quest to find out what happened to his friend, and to solve the mystery of the Lost Ones, and defeat the Eight Phases!
Now, the .hack series is actually comprised of a large amount of mini-series, and these are in a variety of media – manga, short novels, anime and games [mainly, if not all for the PS2]. It is because of this that it’s very difficult to put together a timeline, and also very difficult to know where to start. I personally started with .hack//Legend of the Twilight, a 3-volume mini-series starring twins Shugo and Rena, who win a pair of legendary avatars in a competition, then set off on an adventure to make history themselves.
Despite actually being right in the middle of the .hack timeline, I think this was a good place to start, as it gives you a basic idea and understanding of what .hack is about itself, while giving you a little bit of the history. You can then add detail and backstory to your knowledge by reading the AI buster novels [there are two] and such. But I have included a timeline of just the manga and novels, just in case you’d like to be better informed of the order than I was:
- .hack//Epitaph of Twilight
- .hack//AI buster [the whole book, consisting of 8 chapters]
- .hack//AI buster 2 – Story 1 – 2nd Character
- .hack//AI buster 2 – Story 2 – Wotan’s Spear
- .hack//Another Birth
- .hack//AI buster 2 – Story 3 – Kamui
- .hack//AI buster 2 – Story 4 – Rumor
- .hack//AI buster 2 – Story 5 – Firefly
- .hack//Legend of the Twilight
**Find the whole timeline, including the anime and games, here**
So, needless to say, after having gone through the whole timeline for about an hour, the story’s pretty jumbled up, and a little difficult to keep track of, but if you just accept each mini-series for what it is and don’t try too hard to link them all up, it’s a great read. If you DO want to literally go through the whole story of everyone, you WILL need to watch all the anime series [including the OVAs] and buy/play all the games, basically find everything you can that’s .hack, and go through it completely. Not a bad thing if you do love the series, but if you’re only looking for a casual read then I’d just stick to Legend of the Twilight.
I personally really like the art style, though in Legend of the Twilight, where the main characters are younger, it’s a little more ‘cutesy’, but the other characters kind of balance it out. And what a wide range of characters there are in the .hack series! Something for everyone, I’m sure!~ Unless you’re obsessed with vampires or something …[there's a werewolf though! Kind of...] there’s a little fanservice in the form of water/beach-based scenes and some revealing clothing, but I found it perfectly bearable, and well-drawn too. However, it’s much more obvious in .hack//link…but if you don’t really care about it you’ll be fine. I mean, if you read manga or watch anime, I’d be surprised if you weren’t used to fanservice, heh.
So what’s my favourite of the .hack series? It’s difficult, much like asking someone their favourite volume of another manga, but I think I’d have to say .hack//XXXX. The art style seems more developed and crisp, and the storyline clearer compared to others, which seem to focus more on general happenings in THE WORLD. However, I love the characters [mainly the ‘’villains’’] in .hack//link, the designs are so interesting, and they really intrigue me, though that could be because I’ve only read the first volume of that one…
But yes, whether you like shounen, shoujo or something else, I’d really recommend this series.
If you choose to try it out, I hope you like it!~
All images belong to their rightful owner and used under fair use