The story takes place in the year 2020, just three years after the events of .hack//G.U.. (The story will take place not only in the new version of "The World" known as "The World R:X", it is a popular game ) but in the real world as well. The lead character is a middle school student named Tokio Kuryuu. He lives a normal life as a gamer until a mysterious girl named Ayaka Amagi transfers to his school and takes him in the game world.
.hack//link, this will be a quick poke at .hack fans, why do all of the titles come off like half assed web addresses, at least it's not as bad as the title .hack//xxxx, or for that matter, not quite as rushed as it, though it doesn't look quite as good, which can also be said for those who played the games.
STORY: .hack//link is the manga adaptation of the supposedly final .hack game with the same name for the Playstation Portable, .hack//link, which is set a few years after the events of .hack//G.U, focusing on a new version of the series main setting, a popular massive
multiplayer online computer game known as "The World" with the subtitle of R:X.
*Now before I get into the review, I need to clear up that I do not know that much of the .hack series as a whole, I've read the manga .hack//legend of the twilight, .hack//XXXX (Which is not a hentai for those who don't know), and briefly played some of the first game of the series, so if you're iffy about my lack of .hack knowledge... This has got to clear it up, unless you're too illiterate to read this part*
This new .hack features plenty of old fan favorite characters from pass series such as Kite, Tsukasa, Haseo, and whoever else would be considered as main characters or important characters from those series. But all of those characters have to take a huge backseat for this adventure, as the main character of this online quest is fourteen year old Tokio Kuryu, who is your typical video game fanatic represented as a shonen manga hero instead what your typical video game nerd (You know, crazy ass hair, goggles, a plucky and borderline annoying personality), who is dying to get his hands the latest version of "the World" kinda like how .hack fans used to be excited about the latest entry in the niche series.
However, as fate would have it, he missed his chance to get it (Any gamer should know his pain) and his gamer life is put on a brief halt until a mysterious transfer student and main female character (Who is basically the ecchi bait of the series to the point of being sexually assaulted) of the series (Yeah, I also spoiled the third cliche of the manga) offers him a copy of the game, but he might need to check in his video game experience at the door because this specific copy of the game literally sucks him into "The World" and right into a fierce battle between a new enemy, and the hero of the first .hack games, Kite.
So basically, .hack//link is another basic shonen story of rescue (Plot), level grinding (Endless training), and defeating an evil organization, (Defeating an evil organization) bent on collecting items called Chrono Cores that are important to the main cast, who attack the cast one by one (In your standard shonen fashion) with Tokio rescuing the assaulted characters by tapping into a secret power he has (Think of him as a broken glitch in the game so to speak). As stories go, it's pretty safe when it comes to risks, and it is only as entertaining as your fondness for the original games (And anime) is. By the way, this manga is done by Megane Kikuya who did the constantly referenced manga in this review, .hack//xxxx, which, from what I can tell, Megane is doing a different story from the game this manga is based on, but Megane is also the character designer of the game .hack//link as well.
Now let's talk characters, Tokio, as I said earlier, he's your generic shonen hero, not much else can be said after that except for his idea of training which involves nonsensical reasoning of muscle memory involving his mad video skills... Which makes little sense, while the main female lead, Saika Amagi, is Tokio's bossy benefactor and one of the most sexually exploited characters I've ever seen outside of an ecchi title, whenever you see her, there WILL be a panty shot, you can bet your life on it. Returning characters will mostly be reverted back to pre-character development versions of themselves from their respective .hack entry (In other words; Tsukasa will return to being a cold outcast and Haseo will be a revenge crazy maniac that would even give Sasuke Uchiha a run for his money again until Tokio saves them).
While the new villians, Schicksal, an organization consisting of eight members Fluegel the mysterious white haired leader of Schicksal, Cello a young winged little girl, Metronome a bespectacled girl with an uptight and strict character, Orgel a guy with a tough appearance, Geist a man wearing a half mask, he holds a mysterious card, Trommel a muscular man with the appearance of a typical American comic hero, Klarinette a silent woman with an eye patch covering her left eye, and Posaune a man with the appearance of a jester with a wide grin is very diverse with their own interesting quirks and actions as effective and interesting villains, yet only a few of them have anything to do in the series because of this manga's major flaw.
If you can wait, maybe .hack//link will be a treat for the fanbase but as it stands, the manga has yet to go past chapter 20 (Which it has been over a year since that chapter as of this review) leaving it with a typical "The journey continues" ending with the story and development of characters just barely being grazed on the surface. Which is truly disappointing as the series slowly shows that it is fairly competent and enjoyable entry to the franchise for the fanbase of .hack.
ART: Personally, I like Megane Kikuya's style, and the color art looks fantastic, however, the actual artwork is average at best, as it is scattered with sloppy drawings and uninspired character designs (Though the Schicksal characters look a little more interesting than the main cast at least). Tokio's design doesn't come close to as good as the other main characters from previous .hacks designs, he gradually starts gaining his own notable appearance, but Saika on the other hand is too busy flashing panties to stand out properly.
+ Decent story based off a dying franchise.
+ Good artwork, and somewhat decent character designs,
+ Interesting group of villains.
- Mostly standard shonen battle story development.
- No ending, just stops during the middle of the story.
- Too much fanservice from a single character that probably has yet to have fans.
Just to clarify, there is fanservice of other characters in this manga, but holy shit, Saika flashes her panties to the point of putting Kaere Kimura from Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei to shame, and she's just the panty flash character, so here's a quick lesson: don't do cheap tricks to make fans, you lose more than you gain, lose more self respecting ones I mean, more power to the guys easily pulled in by cheap stunts.