Release Date: Out Now
Price: $29.99 (Buy Here)
.hack// (Stylised title) is one of my favourite franchises ever. The series is a multimedia phenomenon that spans: Anime series, Manga series, Light Novels, Video Games and etc. The main setting of the .hack// stories are always in a virtual MMORPG called [The World] or one of it’s sequels. This particular movie takes place in the second iteration of the MMORPG, [The World R:2].
What’s interesting about .hack//G.U. Trilogy is that it is a retelling of the storyline from the three sequel video games: .hack//G.U. Rebirth, .hack//G.U. Reminisce and .hack//Redemption. Is it an accurate retelling? Should someone following the franchise opt for this version of events rather than those of the games? Make up your own mind after reading our review below.
.hack//G.U. Trilogy follows the story of Haseo right after the events told in the third Anime series, .hack//ROOTS. In ROOTS, we find that Haseo joins a guild called The Twilight Brigade where he meets a nice female player named Shino. This is relevant to //Trilogy because it sets up the entire movie. So if you’re familiar with the Haseo character, you may find him to be a little more edgier than you’re used to, and you’ll likely know why. For those that don’t, this is covered within the first 5 minutes of the film. This Shino character that he has fallen for gets Player Killed (murdered in game by another player) by a character known as Tri-Edge. This is what sets the film into motion.
I mentioned in the above section that this film is a retelling of the three .hack//G.U. games that take place after the events of .hack//ROOTS. I felt that while the story was somewhat accurate to the events of the games, a lot of the story was cut or altered to fit the hour and a half or so running time that the film ran for. This makes the film seem very disjointed in some places, and even places some assumed knowledge on the viewer in the others.
I really disliked how some of the more important scenes were simply montaged over to make room for some Haseo and Atoli melodrama. Actually, talking about that, in this version of the story, Haseo seems like a much larger jerk than he did in the games. I mean, you can kind of sympathise with him to a degree. His girlfriend got owned in a game and is now in a coma and he is forced to play through this game to seek revenge on the player that did this to her. So he’s going to have this mean streak. However, in the games, he wasn’t so brutally closed off from other players. You saw him grow and bond with others.
In .hack//G.U Trilogy, Haseo is practically this brutal douchebag right up until he reaches this one point where he and his (new) love interest share a dark moment together. It is at this moment where his character literally does a 180 degree turn in personality and he becomes this compassionate do-gooder type that isn’t edgy. This is exemplified later on when his dark and edgy costume is changed up for a white and angel-esque costume. I would have loved to have seen Haseo grow during the movie, rather than have two scenes forcing the viewer to accept that he’s actually a good guy at heart. The games did it, why couldn’t the film version?
Of course, if you’ve played the games then a lot of the film will have already been spoiled for you, even if the events occur sort of differently. However, if you’re still fresh from .hack//ROOTS then you wont see a lot of what’s coming in the form of twists unless you’ve been sitting on top of the franchises Wiki. I have to say that when I first saw this film back in 2008 or 9 (I hadn;t yet played through //G.U. yet), these twists left me going “What?!” so they are pretty legit twists.
The story is definitely something I can recommend this film (even if they have changed Haseo’s personality in the most crucial way) for fans of the Anime series that have yet to pick up the games, or are unable to. The film does its job of ending the //G.U. storyline satisfactorily and is a great substitute for the games. It’s just not the perfect one.
The visuals of .hack//G.U. Trilogy are its strongest point. I like how they’ve taken the look of the //G.U. video games and realised them in a much higher resolution. This creates a familiar feeling with the viewers whilst also building a much more visually impressive rendition of the events that are covered within the story.
[The World: R2] is a big game and it has some pretty amazing visuals. The film captures the colours and aesthetic of the game world brilliantly. I quite liked how it turned out. If there was a .hack// V.R. MMORPG ever made, I’d like it to have the same visual flavour as presented in this film.
What is really cool in this film are all the fight scenes. Haseo has a variety of weapon types at his disposal which makes each battle an amazing feast to behold. The only thing I would have loved to have seen fully animated is the PvP arena battles that take place in the games. These would have been the perfect fit for the style of this film. It’s just too bad they were skimmed over in a montage. A wasted opportunity. The only fight scene that I thought was a bit iffy was how Haseo somehow summons all of the weapons in the game in his last battle with Tri-Edge. This was clearly the director fellating his own directorial skills, rather than sticking to the lore of the game.
I would have loved to have seen an English dub for this game, especially if it had the voice cast from the Anime or the games. However, this isn’t to say that Japanese dub is bad, far from it. I quite enjoyed it, it was well done and if there was anything iffy about the dubbing, my untrained ears couldn’t find it.
However, the .hack// franchise has always been renown for its music. The .hack// Anime series always had a great background score that was always playing an appropriate sounding piece. The games had some amazing background tracks that fit the feel of scenes and levels. But in this film. I felt that the music was under utilised.
What I mean here is that for the majority of the movie, there is actually little to no background audio playing at all. There isn’t even ambient tracking. This was quite an odd directorial choice as this is a franchise that has always had an above par soundtrack. I still listen to the //SIGN and //ROOTS soundtracks. Is there a G.U. one? I wouldn’t know, but if there was, it’d probably only have three songs on it.
Opening the Extras section of the .hack//G.U. Trilogy DvD is like opening a treasure chest filled with goodies. There are some pretty good things hidden in there. My favourite of the extras though would surely have to be all of the spoof scenes in the Parody Reel. However there are also some other things to be found like: Promotional Videos (3), Special Program for Theatrical Release, Theatrical Trailer and Hanabee Trailers. What was also cool is if you open the DvD case, you’ll find some pretty awesome //G.U. artwork on the underside. Definitely a good release in terms of extras.
.hack//G.U. Trilogy is a pretty good adaptation of the //G.U. source material. Fans of the series will definitely want to pick this up, as would anyone wanting to know what happens after the events of //ROOTS but can’t pick up the Playstation 2 games. However, if you already have the Playstation 2 games, aren’t a massive fan and are content with how the story played out in the games; you’ll want to give this a miss.
For anyone else, definitely pick this movie up.
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