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 3: Gestault, 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.
Bear, Mimiru, and Tsukasa take part in a contest where they can gain some valuable prizes if they answer some questions correctly. Tsukasa learns about teamwork as well as friendship and a few minimal clues as to whom he is pop up.
BT and Bear discuss what might be Tsukasa's real life outside of the game. Basing his conclusion on a hunch, Bear believes the boy to be in a hospital undergoing care and this is the reason he can't logoff. All is not clear though and as the mystery unravels, we also see a female entangled in a briar patch.
13) Twilight Eye:
The Key of the Twilight is the ultimate goal of the game and its Eye is somehow connected to it. The characters discuss whether or not it is a possession or information of some sort but even friends seem to be competing for it. It seems that the Key might be related to the mystery of Tsukasa or his means of escape so Bear and Mimiru agree to search for it.
Crim and BT arrive at the castle in hopes of finding some clues to the Key. Bear, Mimiru, and Tsukasa find their own way to the castle and both groups find lots of troubles guarding the secrets they desire.
As I become more familiar with the characters, not having watched volume one, I am finding the show more interesting. While I still think there's too much padding of insignificant points, I'm finding it more enjoyable to watch as a guilty pleasure. As such, even though there are only 4 episodes this time, I'm upgrading the rating to Recommended. The voice acting on the English track had a few weaker performers but overall it was pretty good.
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 Dolby Digital English or Japanese with optional English subtitles. The vocals on each track were well done and the music was also exceptionally clear and appropriate. There's even an isolated music score for fans to enjoy.
Extras: The extras were pretty much the same as for Volume 2 with an isolated music score, some trailers, the timeline of the events leading up to the creation of the game in the fictional world of the show, a character photogallery, credits and a paper insert with a short discussion of character classes (by their weapon).
Final Thoughts: As the story progresses and the clues start to point to certain things, I'm finding the show worth watching more than once. When I reviewed Volume 2, I focused mostly on the weaker elements of the show since they were so prominent and the show didn't really engage my interest much but I may just end up liking it even more as I see more of it. It was better than I thought, even if not a classic.