Movie: With the growth of the internet and it's complexity, an increasingly larger number of people are playing online role playing games. In such games, people log on and assume the role of a character with special abilities. As they accomplish various tasks, they gain points that enhance the strength and powers of the character. The last few years have seen the expansion of such virtual reality worlds and the big draw is that you can interact with a lot of like-minded people. In days of old, people interacted in real life but such worlds open up a whole new set of possibilities. This brings us to my review on hack//sign 6:Terminus, an anime series that looks at one such virtual reality world.
In this highly evolved virtual universe, people log in and play various characters. Some use swords, others use magic, and if you die, you can log back in with some restrictions. All this sounds fairly simple except for one character that is a mystery, Tsukasa. He has abilities that others don't and no one is quite sure what to make of him. Is he a real person, trapped inside the machine or is he just a computer generated character like some of the more mundane shop keepers or is he really a system administrator who's lost his memory? No one can answer the questions, which adds to the appeal of finding the answers behind the guy.
As the series comes to a close, the threads tie together and all is revealed. The final confrontation between all the players to this point takes place in a series of skirmishes, with Bear and all the gang starting out by rallying at a secret location full of old data known as the Net Slum. Morganna is a powerful foe and it will take the combined resources of everyone to give them a chance of winning the battle. Between the infighting and defections to Morganna's side, what chance do they have if they can't overcome their petty differences long enough to fend off her attacks? All bets are off in regards to who wins and what the outcome is (don't be too sure about what constitutes winning either) but I'm not going to spoil it for you by providing a detailed scene summary. If you've watched the previous volumes in the series, you'll definitely want to see this one too.
23) Net Slum:
Bonus Episode One: Intermezzo:
Two years have passed and some of the main characters (Bear and Mimiru to start) are back in the game, looking to explore a new, nearly impregnable dungeon. The monsters are random and the dungeon is unbalanced (meaning it generally hammers players that aren't exactly strong). The other leads got in on the act to and it was a fun reunion to watch.
Bonus Episode Two: Evidence:
This was a compilation episode that gave an overview of the series by virtue of a great many clips from the later half of the series. While it provides a good overview, it was still more confusing than anything else, something I've heard has been a common complaint.
So, with three feature episodes and a couple of decent extra episodes (well, one was decent and the other a series of clips), I'm going to rate this one as Recommended. I strongly recommend you watch the series in order, from volume one on through to this one, but it turned itself around quite nicely. I'll admit to having my doubts going into this one and I still think the execution of the concepts a bit mixed, but in the end, it all came together nicely.
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio Anamorphic Widescreen and looked great. The colors were vibrant and as clear as I think I've seen on my television. While the anime style itself wasn't the most detailed, it had a lot going for it in terms of a "look" that fans seem to like. I didn't see any artifacts or other dvd transfer problems when I watched it.
Sound: The sound was presented with a choice of 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo English or Japanese with optional English subtitles. The vocals on each track were well done and the music was also exceptionally clear and appropriate. The usual isolated score was very pleasant to listen to as well. The separation and dynamic range of the audio channels was very well developed and this added to the pleasure of the show.
Extras: There was another isolated music score, the usual trailers, a character photogallery, and a paper insert that detailed a few of the areas of the "world" that weren't generally accessible. These extras paled in comparison to the two bonus episodes, as detailed above. Intermezzo was created solely for the DVD release and the other was a compilation episode that was fun to watch.
Final Thoughts: If you liked Volume 5, you'll really like this one. The series had some rough spots and it didn't help that I never saw volume one, but fans of computer reality based anime will probably enjoy this one a whole bunch. The technical aspects were good and the music really well done so check it out.
Check out DVDTalk's Top Anime of 2003 for more hints on good anime to watch.