Having a virtual reality video game that allows for so many different playing fields and possibilities presents the opportunity to tell a lot of different stories. Anyone could be a hero, and a villain can arrive at any time. However, that does not mean that every story that takes place in its world is going to be worth telling, or even good.
Let’s take a look at .hack//Legend of the Twilight.
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment
This is a much more light-hearted affair that .hack//Sign because, apparently, they were aiming for a younger audience or they were just tired of trying. Twins Shugo and Rena join The World after getting the character skins for two legendary characters — Kite and BlackRose. However, Shugo is given the Twilight Bracelet by aura so he can save The World from strange anomalies in the code and from a group of hackers up to no good. If the show had a longer run than just 12 episodes, the plot could have been better drawn out in all its intricacies, but unfortunately it just falls flat.
Another issue is that the ultimate big-bad, a rogue AI, comes literally out of nowhere. There are no hint, there are no whispers, no unexplained visuals. And what does the AI want to know about? Death. Why? We don’t know, it just got a sudden and curious fascination surrounding death. Because that’s a totally normal thing for an essentially immortal program to start thinking about. It barely ties into the bigger universe and Aura, essentially the God of The World, can do next to nothing about it except get the twins involved.
I will never understand why the being sexually attracted to a sibling is such a popular trope in anime but it’s even creepier here somehow. Maybe because the attraction seems to work both ways and they are both 14 years old and lived together before the show begins. I don’t care how sexy an avatar your sister has or how much you much you miss your brother, it’s still really creepy. I might be missing something cultural but it just seems a little off that this is a major facet of the narrative. Additionally, the humor doesn’t work through translation, making the translated jokes truly worthy of extensive eye-rolls.
The animation in .hack//Sign was not exactly stellar but this animation was down right terrible. Eyes will drift down faces or will look totally dead, faces become easily frozen, running is just copy-pasting animation stills over a background. And the backgrounds are actually quite beautifully done, but the cheap animation really overshadows everything else. I know it was 2003, when budgets were tight and computer animation was still being experimented with, but this was also the year Full Metal Alchemist came out, so it’s not that much of an excuse.
The ending song, Emerald Green by See-Saw, is probably the best music of the show, with the in-show background music being very repetitious and the opening theme, New World, strikes me as a bit simplistic and lacking any genuine energy of excitement. Compared to most other shows, it is pretty standard but it just seems so out of place to have such cheap synth pop in a show like this.
The character design also took a downgrade since .hack//Sign. The outfits are simpler and don’t move as well during the action scenes. It might be that since this was based on a manga, and thus the costumes needed to be easier to draw over and over, they couldn’t make any radical changes. Also a lot of the characters have similar eyes and facial structures, especially the giant fish eyes that take up the majority of the face. Honestly, the best designed characters are the ones you can’t see their faces.
All in all, .hack//Legend of the Twilight is a disappointment. This was my first ever run through the show and it is definitely going to be my last. This is only worth watching if you are a die-hard .hack fan, and even then it’s just to say that you saw it. Otherwise, feel free to skip this one for a better series in the franchise.
– Good ending theme.
– Good backgrounds.
– Terrible voice acting work and music.
– Poor animation.
– Poor plot and dialogue.