.hack//Legend of the Twilight Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, November 06, 2006
Release Date: Monday, September 11, 2006
What They Say
Heroes under fire!!
It's been 4 years since the Twilight incident shook The World, the most successful online role playing game ever created. However dramatically it changed the game, all who witnessed the event have since quit playing and memory of it has gradually faded. The World has moved on, it is a safer place now... or is it?
Party in Danger!
The mysterious group of individuals behind the current incidents in The World has decided Shugo is a threat that must be eliminated! After all, with Kite's legendary bracelet, he possesses the only item capable of defeating them. They send out a cry for help, pretending to be Aura, and sit back, waiting for their trap to close around our heroes. Of course, Shugo and his friends can't ignore a distress message from Aura and take the bait. The trap works perfectly, except for one thing: they have captured the wrong player! Rena is missing!
Overwhelmed by grief and guilt, Shugo swears he will save his sister... but he has no idea where to start his rescue. He can always count on his friends, but time is running out as the situation turns deadly serious...
Meanwhile, the criminal masterminds have not given up on taking out Sugo. Their attacks end up attracting attention from the Cerulean Knights, a group assigned by the CC Corp to maintain order in The World. They suspect Shugo is not the victim, but is actually responsible for the incidents surrounding him! With The World in turmoil, another player from the past reappears, on a mission to restore justice!
5 - Mansion of Terror
6 - Trap of the Steaming Hot Water
7 - Twilight Moon
8 - The Solitary Knight
Legend of the Twilight takes a serious twist as Rena is accidentally caught up in a plan to dispose of Shugo and his bracelet, which is causing a few problems for the villains of the piece...
As usual, Beez provide a wide range of language tracks - Japanese, English, French and German - all in 2.0 stereo. I listened mainly to the Japanese track for this review. Audio is very clear " there's not as much emphasis on background music as there was in .hack//SIGN, so speech is always easy to pick out. There's not much in the way of directionality other than during more action-based scenes, but what's there is effective enough. There were no obvious problems.
Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 format, enhanced for anamorphic playback. Twilight uses a more "cartoony" visual style than the previous .hack series, which means plenty of bright colours and a fair amount of detail in the backgrounds, all of which are captured nicely. There were no obvious encoding problems.
Rena, Balmung and Reki feature on the front cover, with Balmung striking an action pose with Rena looking on impressed. The rear cover features a series of screenshots along with the usual promotional passage and technical information. The cover is fully reversible, with Hotaru & her grunty taking pride of place on the reverse cover, along with smaller pics of Shugo and Rena, while the alternate rear cover has episode summaries, screenshots, and the usual technical info. All very nice.
The menus are available in English, French, German and Dutch, selectable when the disc loads. Being a devout monoglot, I went with English. A series of clips from the show's opening sequence lead into the main menu, which features a further montage of clips and a static image of Balmung, striking an action pose. The opening theme song plays throughout, although it cuts off rather untidily if left for long enough. Submenus are provided for episode selection, language setup, extras and production credits, with static images of the characters used as the background for each sub-menu. There's a rather annoying transition animation between screens, which slows things down and quickly gets annoying.
Just the usual creditless opening and closing sequences this time around.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
While Shugo and the others enjoy themselves at a virtual beach, some of the game's shadier characters decide that Shugo, whose Data Drain ability is causing problems with their illicit activities, would be best removed from the game. Balmung's realised there's a possible danger to Shugo and Rena, and arranges for a few hints to be dropped that maybe they should quit The World - at least for a while. Not that there's much chance of that happening, especially when Shugo receives what appears to be a plea for help from Aura herself - but the message is part of a plan to lead Shugo into a trap. Meanwhile, the CC Company's Cerulean Knights have taken an interest in the chaos that seems to be following Shugo around.
The Cerulean Knights play quite a large part in this disc. They're a more formalised & officially sanctioned version of Subaru's Crimson Knights from .hack//SIGN, only with a particularly ruthless leader, Kamui, and a rather over-the-top way of dealing with any perceived rules violations. One of their first victims will be very familiar to anyone who's seen the earlier series, and without spoiling too much there are some good moments surrounding the character. It points out that, while Twilight's version of The World seems much brighter and friendlier on screen than SIGN's, it isn't really, as the events that Shugo and the others have found themselves caught up in now are at least as deadly as what happened in the earlier series. That does make the series feel a little strange sometimes " with all the fun that Shugo and the others still manage to have, you don't really expect there to be serious undertones.
While Kamui and her knights carry out the official investigation into disappearances like Rena's, the gang look for a way to track where she's gone while Balmung carries out his own, unofficial inquiries that soon draw the wrath of CC Company management. There's quite a bit of personal conflict going on here, with different groups vying to be the ones that are seen to make the most impact and a little bit of betrayal thrown into the mix as well.
It comes down to Twilight really being a show with two faces " one the one hand the fluffy, fun side with Shugo having fun with his online friends, on the other a more serious side that's becoming more and more prominent as the series progresses, with the group that's hacking the game and trying to dispose of Shugo becoming more of a problem as time goes on. I can't quite decide if I like that slightly schizophrenic feel or not. The other problem is that the serious side of the story is in a lot of ways just a rehash of the earlier story, with the same problem of people falling into a real-world coma while being unable to log out of The World beginning to seem just a little overused. Would a more original storyline have been too much to ask?
For all that, I do still like this series, although more for the comic side of it that the serious. The characters make it worthwhile, as they're a varied bunch whose antics are genuinely enjoyable.
Twilight is good as far as it goes, as it's slightly different twist on The World is refreshing after the darker and more mature atmosphere of the earlier .hack shows. If could have been better, though, if more work had gone into giving it a storyline that was more its own and less a rerun of what's gone before.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,French Language 2.0,German Language 2.0,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,German Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Creditless opening and closing sequences
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Beez
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: .hack//Legend of the Twilight