Anime Review - .Hack//Quantum (OVA) Collection

.hack//Quantum is the latest in the .hack (Dot Hack) series which is officially in its 10th year of release. While Quantum is closely aligned with the .hack series of games, anyone who knows anything about MMORPGs (or savvy geeks in general) will be across its virtual reality online world in no time. 

"Tobias, Mary, and Sakuya are way into the The World. Together, they form an inseparable group, grinding toward the break of day and running dungeons in search of the artifacts of adventure. But when the trio becomes lost in this virtual labyrinth, a chance encounter with the mysterious entity known only as Hermit will change their lives forever. Welcome back to the world players!"

Unfortunately, I am completely new to the world of .hack but I know how much of a fanbase it has. I remember back in 2004 when Madman released the first in the franchise, .hack//Sign, and the fanfare that followed. At the time, and in years to follow, it seemed as though the franchise was everywhere and then, it disappeared. That is, until now. The .hack franchise was a product of the times when, in the early 2000's, MMORPGs such as Phantasy Star Online had achieved critical and commercial success in Japan. This latest instalment doesn't appear to stray far from the trend of previous series which included themes of social isolation, online personality disorders and the usual trapped consciousness but from what I've read of the other story lines, Quantum is a much more light hearted affair. Time spent with the protagonists in the real world added a "slice of life" touch to the series although not quite enough to allow for strong bonds of friendship to be established. What I'm trying to say is, it ain't no K-On!

Maybe it's because I am currently playing my way through Diablo 3, but I found myself hooked on this series from the very first act. I also found myself instantly drawn to Sakuya, perhaps because both she and I are the resident "looters" in our respective guilds. It makes perfect sense that Masaki Tachibana would direct this OVA, especially with his varied experience on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It is obvious that he has a firm grasp of the online realm and the feeling of alternate personalities that permeate MMORPGs. Those first scenes also blew me away in terms of visual appeal, the animation by the somewhat unknown studio Kinema Citrus was spectacular and perfectly balanced, the use of traditional animation and CGI was handled perfectly. It is only natural to watch such a good looking series in the best of possible quality format and Madman's Blu Ray release certainly doesn't disappoint. The picture is incredibly clear and sharp as a tack. Further to this we get a swathe of special features including 3 animated shorts (Go, Our Chim Chims!), 3 featurettes with Japanese idol Yui Ogura, promo videos and the obligatory Funimation trailers. 

My biggest complaint about this OVA is that it is way too short, three half hour episodes just wasn't enough to really get to know the characters or the background information on "The World". This in itself is a real pity because not everyone will be up to date with what's going on in the .hack universe. That said, the lack of depth to our main 3 characters is upsetting. I really loved the OVA and it sucked me in only to leave me thinking "wha... that can't be it!?!". The lack of progression leads me to believe that this would have fared better if it were extended to a 6 episode release, allowing for more character progression. But, of course, this is a complaint that is unavoidable as it is what it is, and what it is... is still thoroughly enjoyable!

Ryan wants moooore!
It can only be a good sign that .hack//Quantum left me wanting more. I want to know more about the .hack universe and as much as possible about "The World". This OVA, while all too short, was immensely satisfying in every single aspect, if only there was more! Perhaps I'll have to revisit the series that have come before.

.hack//Quantum is available on DVD and Blu Ray from Madman now!

If you want to explore the world of .Hack further, Madman also have the following series available now:


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