In .hack//Legend of the Twilight, Shugo and Rena were given the avatars of the famous dot hackers, Kite and BlackRose... Now learn how their legend was born! While playing in The World,the most successful online game in history, a young boy suddenly loses consciousness and falls into a coma after taking a blow to protect his friend Kite from the deadly beams of a strange monster. To save his fallen friend, Kite must log back into this most dangerous game and begin to unravel the mysteries behind his friend's affliction. But understanding the true power of The World may prove as dangerous as it is crucial!
First thing I need to say; I have not played all of the original games, in fact I only played the first one, but I do understand the gist of the full story from the games. With that out of the way, here's my review.
STORY: .Hack//XXXX, I'll start with the title. Honnestly I thought this was a hentai when I read the title. But each X represents one of the games, with four in total and I heard its pronounced .Hack//4X. But whatever.
.Hack//XXXX condenses the story of the 4 games of the PS2 series into... 10 chapters? Whoa, the result ending up skipping and speeding
through the story with keeping only imporant events highlighted, or alot of it redone. But this story is trying to create it's place with the inclusion of manga only character (Not really), Cubia.
While Cubia is an important character in the manga, many who had played the games first will feel that his presense is unnecessary (As a NC character). And really this manga is truthfully for people who have played the games, and is basicly another way to revisit the story and the characters.
But it is still somewhat enjoyable for those who have not played the games. And the characters feel a bit more livelier than what they were in the game and the relationship between Kite (The main protagionst) and Cubia is very interesting.
ARTWORK: Actually the artwork is pretty good and has alot of style. The battles are draw well, some characters (Like Black Rose) looks better than what they looked like in the game, and the color art looks very good. However, there is alot of simple drawings and sometimes they look like doodles.
OVERALL: It's a quick read, and alot of fans will be disappointed, but the art looks nice and the story isn't just a straight up copy from the games, but fans of the games are the ones will enjoy it the most.
It's a very lighthearted version of the dot hack games. Cute, and comical, not to mention Cubia being a human character makes this a good read. Even though it's based off of the games, there are alot of differences that amused me. And of course, Kite looks simply adorable in the manga. (I wish his personality was more like his game personality and not like Shugos though :/)
You actually get to see Helba with her mask/helmet/hat thingie off and at the end of volume two, you get to see the characters of Kite, Orca, and Balmung in real life (doesn't show their eyes, but
Even though it's a lighthearted take on the game, there have been parts in it that made me cry (the whole Cubia thing made me cry like a dog) So its not just fun and games... well... it IS a game, but you know what I mean.
Check it out if you are a dot hack junkie (if it's your first .hack media, I'd suggest watching .hack//sign and reading the novel .hack//A.I. buster to get a feel of The Worlds autonomy.
Alright, I'd LOVE to say this was a good series, but personally I'm glad it's only two volumes, because I got sick of some of the alterations. I know it's "based" off the games, but I see very little similarities left after one character was altered. I've been apart of the .hack fandom since it began in the States with //SIGN and the first four games.
Moving along, there will be some spoilers, but it's a two-book series and probably anyone who is reading this has already played the games anyways. The manga began with one major changed that sort of ticked me off,
Cubia's not a monster you fight, he's your party member! LOLWUT? So he can Data drain too, and Kite and him go off to destroy the phases to save the Lost Ones. Because of this change, portions of the plot where screwed with royally, including the Mia/Macha fight, Corbenik, amongst various other moments. Not only was the four-game and insanely-long series squished into two books, but it was altered to fit into said two books.
I honestly don't get why they even made Cubia a PC in X-Fourth. It didn't even make sense. His character was a pain and to any .hack fan it's obvious that Cubia working with Kite is just going to end badly for the party. Cubia ends up kidnapping Kite and wants to suck him up and use is power to make sure he never dies. Hey, at least BlackRose still destroyed the bracelet. Roll in the final battle, which isn't against Corbenik, it's again Morganna! Excuse me? She's never made an appearance save for voice, why would she suddenly appear to fight them, skipping Phase 8? Oh and Azure Flame God? Trying to turn it GU on us? But then again, at that point that was probably the only way to end it properly.
With this series, it's obvious that CC2 and Square-Ennix are having some competition to see who can milk their golden series for more money. They know the old .hack fans will still buy it because it is what it is, and because it's .hack they'll say they like it no matter how screwy they make the plot. Though I have to hand it to CC2, they've made the most alternative realities for their cash cow.
It disturbs and saddens me that there are not many .hack manga that are actually good. That’s not to say that they suck donkey balls, but they’re not something I’d typically want to pick up. And this is coming from a fan of the series here.
That being said, let’s take a look at one of these beloved manga, .hack//XXXX.
With G.U.+ we had a lovely (note the sarcasm) adaptation of the G.U. games, all packed together within five volumes. And now with XXXX we have an adaptation of the original .hack games, but instead of five volumes we get two mercifully short ones. Why is
it merciful, you ask? Because even though it is horribly fast-paced at least it’s over with quickly.
As was already mentioned, .hack//XXXX is based off the original .hack games for the PS2. The story centers on Kite, a player in the mega-popular MMORPG “The World”. Upon first playing the game, his friend and famous player Orca takes him out to teach him the ropes of the game. However, shortly after meeting a mysterious girl named Aura, Orca is destroyed by a mysterious monster, putting him in a mysterious coma in the real world. (See all the mysteries building up already?) Kite, after narrowly escaping, is then given the mysterious (see?) bracelet that was originally intended for Orca. Kite then vows to save Orca, no matter what. Along the way, he gathers both companions and enemies, as it becomes apparent that the bracelet’s power is far more dangerous than Kite realized.
Sounds pretty epic, right? Well, prepare to be disappointed. The fun of mysteries is that they’re solved slowly but surely. Bits and pieces of information are slowly revealed. It’s about the journey to the conclusion that’s really fun (and guessing the true nature of the mystery correctly). However, what .hack//XXXX is done is pretty much throw that out of the window. There are some genuinely interesting mysteries that they put out there, but do they take any time to explore them that well? No, of course not. Instead, what they do is mention it in such a way that they’re assuming you probably already know about it. As in, “Oh, you’ve probably already played the games, so we don’t really need to explain this.” Or, it could be a ploy to get people to buy and play said games so they can actually get good answers.
The other thing that really bothers me is how Kite and some of the other familiar characters are portrayed. Kite is just… annoying. He’s whiny, indecisive, and… stupid. Bear in mind, he is 14 years old, so he’s allowed to not be perfect. But it never feels like he takes a good initiative at things. It’s bothersome. On top of that, you have all these other characters, like BlackRose and Balmung, who get very poor treatment. Everything is turned into a cliché. The good guy’s personalities are clichéd, the bad guys are clichéd, etc. No one really stands out that well. It’s just not that interesting. It makes me not care about these people’s problems or motivations at all.
I said earlier that this manga does not actually suck, and since I’ve already spent so much precious time detailing why it’s bad, I shall now take the time to explain its good points. First off, the art; to be honest, I’m not in love with the art, but it’s not bad. Orca, for one, looks effin’ badass, I mean seriously. All the other characters are rather nice too; the art isn’t so different that they aren’t recognizable to those familiar with the series, which I’m going to count as a good thing. Of course, they’ve been so kind as to enhance any fanservice they possibly could, most notably in the breasts department, but oh well. I didn’t personally mind it that much.
Since I’ve already mentioned that this manga is, thank the Lord, only two volumes, there’s really only one other good point to explore: Cubia’s character. Early on in the manga, Kite and pals defeat the monster that had killed his friend, Orca. Afterwards, a mysterious (I’m sorry, I just love this word) boy appears before them and essentially tells them, “Hurr, you have to beat seven more of these to save your friend. Too bad, so sad.” As Kite and pals go “lolwut” at this revelation, Cubia notices Kite’s bracelet and goes bonkers on them. The next time they meet up, however, Cubia saves them from another one of those mysterious monsters. So he’s a good guy... right?
See, this is the most interesting aspect to this adaptation. Let me spoil something for you all now (it’s not a big spoiler, I promise): Cubia in the original games was a monster that Kite and pals battled periodically. Its role was backseat to the main plot, really, although it did serve the main plot in a major way towards the end. Anyway, the point here is that the Cubia in the games didn’t get character development. However, what they did in XXXX is to make Cubia into a PC that actually interacts with and even helps Kite. More than that, they even give him a little back story that is – gasp! – slowly revealed as the manga progresses.
Could… could this be? Could this be the essence of .hack?! A mysterious character having their mysterious background slowly revealed like a proper mystery should be?
And that, boys and girls, is why .hack//XXXX does not completely suck. It introduced an interesting new element to the tale. If not for that, this manga would have been little else but an extremely rushed version of the events from the games. However, I will be nitpicky here and say that this new storyline with Cubia can feel like fanfiction at times. Good fanfiction, but fanfiction nonetheless.
There you have it. Yet another mediocre .hack manga that is nothing more than an adaptation of a much better video game. However, as with G.U.+, at least XXXX manages to not suck completely. It has some genuinely interesting elements in it, it’s just too bad they either don’t get explored fully or feel somewhat out of place. Some .hack fans will like this manga, some non-.hack fans might like it as well. As for me, I must lament, yet again, that there isn’t more genuinely good .hack manga. Such is life.