Tentacle-Free Anime: ".hack//The Movie" (2012) Review
- by Kazekun, 20 July 2015
Building a franchise isn't easy, especially when deciding how to tell your story and in what format. With some franchises, such as this one, it's spanning novels, manga, anime, video games and more. And wow, I love it. I even have my own ideas for a cross-media franchise like this. Of course, I won't talk about it here, but if someday I ever get to realize this idea it's going to be everywhere, and it's all going to be canonical – or something close.
Before we start, yes this movie is canon. And so is the game that goes with it, as well as the special episode. I'm not going to discuss the game, but I'll be talking about this and the special episode. I actually didn't think the movie was canon but yeah, yeah it is. It even references the original .hack//PS2 games which is still the biggest success story to come out of this franchise.
It's not something I enjoy seeing, but it's something I can easily work with regardless. In fact, most of the problem I had with Beyond the World isn't its own fault as a story, but stem from the current lack of originality that's so painfully obvious at the people of CC2. So let's just get them out of the way so we can talk about the good stuff. What I didn't like, in no specific order: The main character's avatar is Kite, because of course it is. It felt novel in .hack//Legend of the Twilight, and it didn't feel out of place in .hack//Quantum but here it feels wholly unnecessary. There are also characters with the same avatars as characters Balmung and Orca, which also just feel unjustly out of place here.
One of the novel things about .hack// is a lot of people will have similar avatars because of the setup of how the world works, but when your characters talk about how the original .hack//PS2 games is so far in the past it's a mere legend then I expect there is now some variety in how the characters can look so we're not stuck with the same base set of people. This was probably the biggest thing I disliked about the movie, I wish they hadn't used the looks of these characters here.
Another thing is the whole idea of people in the real world falling into comas if they die in the game. It's been played out already in sooo many other stories related to this franchise already, time to move on. At least they added an extra element to the story this time around that was a big original, what happens when a full scale, world destroying virus threatens everyone around you? I did like that addition. The other things that were glaring are the awful art, in very awful CGI unless you're a .hack//Fan you're really not going to get into this movie. The first 30 or so minutes are spent in the real world where the look of the movie is just so... bad. The animation is quite a bit better when in The World, but it's still not by far when compared to other shows made entirely in CGI this day and age. The final thing is the ending, it's not... wonderful and little anticlimactic but there is a pretty awesome battle against a computer virus that takes place just before it so there's that.
Those are all the biggest issues I have with the film, the main character Sora is pretty likeable even though she spends most of the film detesting video games. But that kind of has more to do with her upbringing than her personally. When she starts playing The World and really enjoying herself then we get to see her true self and its a wonderful change of pace for the character. I really like that the fate of two worlds had to rest solely on the shoulders of a newbie, that's something I've continued to like about the .hack//Franchise and remains one of its shining beacons. It's not some beta tester, already great at video games samurai (lookin' at you Sword Art Online). I root for those who have no idea what they're doing and have all this heroic responsibility thrown upon them kind of characters more often, because it's a lot more fun to watch them grow through the levels of novice to pro than someone who's not.
The other side characters are not too bad either, one of them named David who works for the U.S. Network Analysis Bureau who ends up starring in the special episode I'll get to in a short bit. A lot of characters get their shining moments here, and don't generally remain simple background decorations. I like that a lot, and while not everyone gets a character arc I still think the amount of characters handled in this movie is done well. We also get to see the return of one of the biggest faces of the franchise, Aura, the wandering AI of The World. And the reason most of the things in The World happen. Except this time, instead of a child or a teen, she's a fully grown adult and her look as an adult is astoundingly beautiful. Unfortunately we don't ever get to hear her talk, which is very unlike the Aura I know, but it's whatever I'll take it.
Her addition in this movie isn't purely for fan service though, as over in the special episode .hack//Versus: The Thanatos Report we get one of the biggest revelations about Aura, and probably one of the biggest revelations of the entire franchise. It's odd to me then that this news, which I won't spoil as to be honest you have to hear it for yourself – though it's not world-shattering in my opinion – was presented in the way it was. The Thanatos Report around 6 months to a year after this movie, it's only 30 minutes and it's fully animated. Oh, and it stars David, the U.S. Agent side character from the movie. It also isn't a bad addition to the franchise's growing story, but like I mentioned it isn't world shattering. Both of these stories on a whole range in the “Pretty Average” department on the “How amazing was this?” scale.
They're fun to see, and they're fun to say you have seen, given that both of these adventures along with the game they're tied to, .hack//Versus, were never released in America. With how far the franchise has come, I'm still not turned off by it. I think it is very stagnant and needs to be given a bit more oomph, along with some new creative forces behind the controls – at least for originality's sake. The .hack//Franchise remains my all time favorite franchise and I am excited to see what comes next. Just please... we need to get away from Kite, and Tsukasa, and Haseo and get some new blood flowing.
Final Score: 3 New Revelations out of 5
Have you seen "Beyond The World"? What did you think of it?