.hack//SIGN Vol. #1: Login (Mania.com)

By:Tom Chung
Review Date: Sunday, April 13, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The Review!
The technical aspects of the show and the LE box are pretty much as Chris has described it. The music and video are very well done and outstrip what's on Cartoon Network. Even the sound levels have been corrected so the background music doesn't completely overwhelm the conversation. Video quality of the DVD is amazing. It's truly night and day compared to what's on Cartoon Network. The music is very well done and worth getting the OST CDs even if you don't like the show itself.

In all honesty, my first impression of dot Hack//SIGN (H//S) was not all that good. I initially watched two episodes on Cartoon Network and after watching these episodes I wondered what all the hoopla was about this show. It seemed to be a real snoozer. However, I also realized that it's not really fair to judge a show based on only 2 episodes out of a 26 episode show. I'm glad I stuck it out. H//S is one of those few shows that resist the need to define entertainment by how much blood spray there is and not be so serious as to enter the realm of confusion/bewilderment a la Evangelion. For those watchers that prefer a lot of action/humor one would normally expect, then the second anime, hack//DUSK - Legend of Twilight's Bracelet, would be much better to get if and when it comes to the US.


Having watched the entire series, I can tell you that if you need your series to have no big question marks and everything tied up pretty neatly, you'll be gnashing your teeth after watching H//S. The main important question of the series is answered, but we'll most likely have to watch a continuation anime series or play the .hack games to get more details on what happens at the end. Dot Hack is a continuing series through various mediums (anime, manga, and video games).

The following content summaries are pretty detailed. If spoilers truly ruin things for you, you better stop reading here.

Episode 1:

We start off with the main character Tsukasa, a Wavemaster, lying on the floor looking confused and bewildered as if he isn't quite sure where he is or what happened. The scene is reminiscent of being born and about as messy [you'll just have to see it to understand what I mean]. He's in a dungeon and in a room with a treasure chest. A female Heavy Blade character walks in. She is initially surprised that she isn't alone, but she cheerfully introduces herself to Tsukasa and tells him her name is Mimiru.. Tsukasa returns the gesture by.........teleporting out. ^_^; Mimiru is not terrible thrilled by his lack of manners, but remarks that at least he left the treasure for her.

Tsukasa is sitting down and trying to figure out what happened to him. Three Knights dressed in silver and dark red, wearing ominous helms/head pieces approach him with their swords raised. They are part of the Crimson Knights, a group of players who take it upon themselves to insure that players basically follow the rules of "The World". They unofficially work with the game administrators. They approach Tsukasa and tell him they mean no harm and only want to ask him a few questions about a mysterious player with a cat-like face and body. Ginkan, the one with horns on his helmet, is with this squad of Knights and is in second-in-command in the organization. He takes the lead in questioning Tsukasa. Since such an appearance is not an official skin of the game, the cat player has most likely illegally tampered with his character. Someone has seen Tsukasa with this cat character and the Knights want to know more about who the cat player is. Instead of answering them, Tsukasa once again teleports out of
Tsukasa enters a new game area, but Mimiru happens to teleport in right after him. She is not too happy with his previous rudeness. She has a little talk with him about how rude it was for him to just leave like before and how she witnessed what happened between him and the Crimson Knights. She warns him that his disappearing act will get him in trouble with the Crimson Knights, but Tsukasa tell her that it's no big deal. Such things do not matter once he logs out of the game anyway. Mimiru tell him that such behavior will make him unwelcomed by other players. She asks him what he will do if he meets up with the Crimson Knights again. Tsukasa responds that it might be interesting to do so and that he can always not access for a while if anything else. Mimiru objects to this.

Tsukasa decides that it's time to log out and goes to the local Chaos Gate (a spinning circle that allows players to teleport to different areas) to do this. However, Tsukasa finds that he can't log out and that something is blocking him. He finds himself still in the same place as before and can't figure out what's wrong. He turns around and tells Mimiru that he doesn't like her and teleports off to somewhere else. Mimiru it ticked off.

We next see Tsukasa riding on a puchiguso, a creature that players can raise as pets and use as transportation. Tsukasa's puchiguso apparently isn't too bright since it keeps knocking its head into walls and can't seem to find the entrance into one of root towns. Next, Tsukasa is at an oasis and meets up with a character named Bear, a swordsman. Bear introduces himself and asks if he can lend a hand. Bear is always helping out newbies, but Tsukasa just teleports out of the area once again. Bear remarks that Tsukasa must be a really shy guy. A blonde, female magic-user named B.T. comes over and asks him why he abandoned her during a fight. He answers that since she won, it's no big deal and offers to heal her. B.T. replies that she has already done that, and Bear states that if that's the case then there is no real problem to worry about since this is how players get stronger.

At the water capital (a Venice-looking city with a system of canals), a female heavy Axmen named Subaru talks with Ginkan (the Crimson Knight that originally approached Tsukasa) and remarks that she talked with a character named Orca about the current situation in the game. Subaru is the head of the Crimson Knights. Ginkan responds that the growing numbers of players is having a negative effect on morality within the game. Subaru tell him that both Orca and Balmung are aware of the situation and are looking into it [at this stage, it's not certain who these characters are or what their position is]. Ginkan feels that since those two are involved there will be little to worry about, but Subaru feels that because those two found the situation important enough to get involved with that the situation must be really serious. They happen to spot Tsukasa in the crowd, but he runs off before they can react.

Tsukasa it once again at one of the Chaos Gates and appears to try to log out again without any success. Mimiru suddenly teleports in and meets up with Tsukasa. Tsukasa turn away and starts to walk away while Mimiru stick out her tongue at him. This amuses Tsukasa, but it doesn't amuse Mimiru. He then asks her if she can logout. She responds affirmatively. Mimiru can't understand why he would ask her that question. She asks him if he can't logout, and he responds yes. Mimiru wonders if Tsukasa has done anything like cheat or anger the Crimson Knights. Tsukasa can't remember. Mimiru suggests that he just reset his computer terminal. Tsukasa comes to some sort of a realization that frightens him. He starts to run off, but Mimiru stops him. He tells her to leave him alone. Mimiru starts to lecture him on the need for proper manners and behavior towards others whether in the real world or on the net. Tsukasa tells her to just leave him alone. Mimiru tells him that she doesn't like Tsukasa, just as
Subaru and Ginkan meet up with another player to discuss another incident concerning a player breaking the game rules. The offending player had a cat-like face.

Tsukasa is walking in a dungeon and recalls Mimiru's words about resetting his terminal if he can't logout. The problem is that Tsukasa isn't in front a computer terminal. He arrives before a treasure chest that he's opened once before, but received a nasty shock in doing so. Just then, the cat-like character materialized before him, above the treasure box. Tsukasa knows the character's name, Maha, and asks it what he should do, but Maha just disappears. Tsukasa opens the treasure chest since it seemed that Maha wanted him to open it. When he does so, a glowing tablet with weird writing appears. Tsukasa touches it and the tablet glows. A mysterious female voice from nowhere tells him that she has been waiting for him for a long time and they both need one another. She promises that as long as they are together she will protect him. The tablet then disappears. Tsukasa is walking towards the exit of the dungeon when he bumps into Ginkan, the second-in-command of the Crimson Knights. Tsukasa tries to rs.

Back at the water capital, Tsukasa thinks about his situation and feels that it might not be bad that he can't logout. If anything, it means he doesn't have to return to that "ludicrous" real world. We then see a scene from the real world (all the scenes of the real world are in grey in this series) in which the police arrive at an apartment where a young girl is unconscious on the floor. Next to her is a virtual reality headset that is a piece of equipment needed to play "The World".

Episode 2: Guardian

Tsukasa is feeding a puchiguso that hungrily feeds on some weird looking onion-like food. The puchiguso suddenly grows large and turns to Tsukasa and tells him that he didn't want to become an adult. Since the town doesn't need another adult, the puchiguso states it's time for him to go and it starts to fly away. Tsukasa walks away, but meets up with Bear. Tsukasa continues to walk as if ignoring Bear when Bear asks him if he's looked at the BBS recently. Apparently, the real person who plays Ginkan had been physically injured in his fight with Tsukasa's new guardian and temporarily lost his memory. Tsukasa claims that it's not his problem and continues his walk. He then happens to run into Mimiru who looks like she wants to talk to him. However, Tsukasa continues to walk past her without so much as an acknowledgment. Mimiru and Bear end up meeting on the same path and begin a conversation.

Mimiru tells Bear that the Crimson Knights are looking for information on the mysterious cat character. Bear believes that is not the real target for the Crimson Knights' curiosity. Mimiru remarks that she is not a great fan of the Crimson Knights and wonders if Tsukasa is in some kind of trouble. Bear is worried about Tsukasa's claim that he can't logout even though that is technically impossible. He declares that he, the "old man", will continue to give it some thought. Mimiru asks him if he is really an older man in real life to which Bear responds by saying that he doesn't think he looks like a young boy after all.

B.T. is running away from some character that is stalking her, but she is much too slow to get away. The other character, a Twin Blade, gets behind her and grabs her from behind. He tells her to give him her member information and that she should be his friend. He does warn her that he will eventually betray her though. B.T. asks is he is some sort of idiot. He asks her what she prefers: a boring and smart person or an interesting and foolish person. B.T. slams him by saying that he is neither since he is both boring and stupid. This doesn't bother the Twin Blade though. It amuses him. He then asks for her member information again, but B.T. refuses. The Twin Blade then PKs (player kills) B.T. and she slumps to the floor, grey and lifeless. He tells her lifeless body that she is much too weak.

At the water capital, Subaru receives a report from some Crimson Knights on her gondola while traveling through the capital's many canals. The Knights report that they continue to search for the Wavemaster, Tsukasa around the clock. Subaru wonders if their efforts will be enough, but the Knights are confident since they feel Tsukasa will have to use the Chaos Gates to travel and that eventually they will capture him if they keep the Chaos Gates guarded. She asks him if they have heard anything more on Ginkan since his incident with Tsukasa, but they report there haven't been any new developments. Subaru wonders why this happened and expresses her desire to find out the truth. She warns the Knights not to off by themselves since grandstanding is not appreciated. One of the Knights remarks that Ginkan may have gone by himself because of his affection for Subaru and his rivalry towards another character, Crim. He asks that she not hold this against Ginkan. Subaru turns and tells the Knight that he is di
At the Chaos Gate, two Crimson Knights stand guard while another two Knights approach them to relieve them. All of sudden Tsukasa teleports in, but before any of the Knights can do anything Tsukasa teleports out.

In field with a desert-like environment and a huge human skeleton, Tsukasa sits and wonders where he should go now. Maha, the cat character, appears in front him

At another Chaos Gate, Bear and B.T. are conversing. B.T. has been telling him of her run-in with the Twin Blade player killer. She complains that because of him, all her experience from before is lost and she had to restart from her last save point. The guy left his member address for her. Bear thinks that keeping the address will be a good reminder for B.T. to not go wondering around by herself. The name of the offending Twin Blade is Sora. Bear remarks that since "The World" is open ended, players choose for themselves what goals to pursue. He theorizes that Sora is just going around collecting the member addresses of all the pretty characters.

Maha is talking with Tsukasa. We never actually here its voice since only the mouth moves, but Tsukasa can clearly hear what Maha is saying. He tells Maha that this place used to be his hideout. He just wants to be left alone, but now that he is wanted by the Crimson Knights this is becoming impossible. Maha tells him that there is a place where he can go where this is possible.

Tsukasa is now walking through a dungeon, but unknown to him Sora is stalking him from behind. Tsukasa enters the treasure room, but he doesn't bother with the treasure chest. He goes behind it and passed trough a wall into another area. Sora follows only to find that Tsukasa has disappeared. In this new field, Tsukasa sees a young girl sleeping, hovering in mid-air over a bed. He wonders who she is.

Mimiru, Bear, and B.T have met up and are discussing Tsukasa's escape from the Crimson Knights. They discuss Tsukasa's inability to logout. B.T. doubts this is true since the problem would be how a person could remain logged on rather than not being able to log out due to demands of the real world. Also, resetting the terminal would fix any such errors anyway. Bear wonders if it's really a matter of resetting the terminal.

Tsukasa hears the same, mysterious female voice as before coming from some unknown place. He asks who she is, but she just says that she is on his side and she will protect him as long as they are together. The voice tells him to contact Mimiru, but Tsukasa says the Crimson Knights are guarding the Chaos Gates. The voice tells him not to worry and to trust her. The voice reminds him that he also has his guardian, and that she will bestow on Tsukasa a new power

Mimiru and Bear meet up in the water capital. Bear remarks that the Crimson Knights are acting rather unusually and he can't help but notice. Mimiru tells him that she got an email from Tsukasa, asking her to meet him in a location that is outside the current server. She asks Bear to come with her. At the meeting place, Tsukasa asks Mimiru why Bear is with her. She replies that his message did not say she had to come alone. She asks him if he has seen the BBS lately. He says he hasn't. Since the real player playing Tsukasa is not physically in front of a terminal, there is no way from him to check out the BBS since that would require logging out. For all intents and purposes, "The World" is Tsukasa's real world. Bear wonders how Tsukasa could be on the current server since the Crimson Knights have covered all the Chaos Gates. Tsukasa should have been detected if he even tried to use them.

Episode 3: Folklore

At the water capital, Subaru and Ginkan are riding in a gondola along one of the city's many canals. She asks Ginkan if he is all right now. Ginkan apologizes for making her worry and expresses embarrassment for his predicament since he should have avoided it as a person supporting system administration. Subaru remarks that system support is not the true purpose of the Crimson Knights. Ginkan respectfully disagrees and states that many of the Knights feel the same way as he does. Subaru reminds him that she and all the other Crimson Knights are, in reality, just players like everyone else. They are only playing these roles. Ginkan asks what the true purpose of the Crimson Knights is and if Crim's view on this topic is the correct one. Subaru quickly counters that she disapproves of Crim's opinion on this matter as well. Ginkan asks if this was the reason why Crim left the Crimson Knights. Subaru answers no. She tells him that she has another appointment and that they can talk about this later.

Elsewhere, B.T. and Bear have met up and are discussing some the strange circumstances surrounding Tsukasa. B.T. brings up the rumor of the Key of the Twilight. Bear feels that it's just a rumor, but B.T. wonders if perhaps Tsukasa has found this legendary, hidden item which is supposed to have the power to override the very foundation of "The World". It would explain Tsukasa's rather abnormal abilities and the fact that the normal rules of the game don't apply to him. B.T. wants to meet Tsukasa while Bear considers that it might be better to meet him off-line, in real life.

In a snow/tree-covered field, Subaru meets up with Sora. She asks him what he wants. He wants to ask her about the Key of the Twilight, but Subaru tells him that such a thing does not exist. She begins to walk away, but Sora stops her by ejecting one of his arm blades right in front of her face. He asks her to talk to him about the Key of the Twilight.

Bear later meets up with Mimiru at a dungeon and asks her if she has been in contact with Tsukasa. She tells him that she has tried to reach him with no success. He asks her if she knows where Tsukasa is accessing from, but later says that Tsukasa isn't the type to divulge such details about himself. Mimiru appears frustrated with the whole Tsukasa situation and his seeming unwillingness to answer her calls. She expresses her desire to just give up on the whole situation. Bear seems slight amused as if he knows Mimiru isn't the type to give up easily on something once she starts.

Meanwhile, Tsukasa is in the hidden area with the sleeping girl, hovering over a bed. Tsukasa has a real world flashback of when he took care of a poor kitten by feeding it some milk, only to have his father snatch the cat away to some unknown fate. Then the mysterious, female voice tells him to go ahead and color the sleeping girl with whatever color he wishes. Tsukasa is confused, but the voice reassures him that she will protect him and that he can do as he pleases. Tsukasa's guardian then appears to reinforce her point.

Subaru returns to the water capital where Ginkan has been waiting by the Chaos Gate. Sora then materializes alongside her. Ginkan acts upset. Subaru tells him that Sora will be a guest of the Knights for a while and wants Ginkan to inform the other Knights of this fact. She then sends Sora on ahead and talks with Ginkan alone. She asks him if he can remember their conversation about Orca. She tells him that something important is about to happen to "The World" and that Sora believes that the Key of the Twilight may be related to it. Ginkan asks her if she really believes him, but Subaru remains doubtful. However, she believes that they shouldn't just summarily dismiss the possibility merely because of their current doubts. Therefore, she has decided to tolerate Sora for the time being. Ginkan still remains unconvinced. Subaru then adds that Sora suggested that Tsukasa, the renegade Wavemaster, is probably at the center of the coming storm.

Tsukasa is out playing with his guardian in the same manner that a young boy would play with his dog. He seems pleased by the fact that now he can go anywhere he wants to go.

Bear meets up with Mimiru and she tells him that she finally got a response from Tsukasa. He wants to meet with her, but Mimiru is afraid that they will only argue if they see one another. She asks Bear to go for her as her proxy. Bear agrees, but wonders if he is the best person for this.

Bear teleports to the meeting place, a rather deserted-looking Church standing all alone in the game field. Bear walks in and Tsukasa appears to be all excited until he realizes that it's Bear that showed up and not Mimiru. Bear tells him that he is Mimiru's proxy and that she sent him because she didn't want to get into an argument with Tsukasa. Tsukasa wonders if Mimiru hates him, but Bear tells him that Mimiru is concerned that it's actually the other way around. Tsukasa tell him that the problem of before is no longer problem any longer. Bear asks if he means that he can now logout. Tsukasa answers negatively. He puts out his staff and summons his guardian. Bear tells him that he doesn't get it. Tsukasa implies that he now has better control over his guardian so unintended attacks won't occur like last time. Bear tells him if that is really enough and if Tsukasa thinks that will make him great in some way. Tsukasa doesn't respond and just teleports away. Bear walks out of the building when he
Bear and Mimiru call on and gather Subaru, Ginkan, B.T., and Sora to discuss Tsukasa. Bear asks Subaru if she can look at a player's personal information. She responds that this is impossible as system administration would never grant such a request. A player's personal information is held with the strictest of confidence. Bear at least wants to track where Tsukasa has been accessing from, but Ginkan interjects that if that were possible he would have done it already. B.T. asks Ginkan if he was the knight that Tsukasa beat up. He replies that it wasn't Tsukasa per se, but Tsukasa's guardian that did it. Mimiru and Bear hypothesis that Tsukasa himself maybe a victim of what's going on rather than the real cause of the situation. Subaru asks for Bear to explain this further. Bear recounts the incident of him, Mimiru, Tsukasa, and his guardian from the last episode. Bear had jumped to attack the Tsukasa's guardian, but Maha (the cat character) stepped in at the last moment and stopped the fight that w
Elsewhere in a desert landscape, both Tsukasa and his guardian look at the setting sun.

Episode 4: Wanted

Mimiru teleports into "The World" and overhears two other characters talk about a small Wavemaster with a weird looking monster and using his monster to gain experience and level up his character. They wonder if that is the guy the Crimson Knights are looking for.

Subaru, Ginkan, and Bear have met together inside the water capital to discuss what Subaru has found from studying the server logs. According to the server logs, Tsukasa has been in "The World" for ten consecutive days without logging out. Bear asks her if it were possible for someone to have tampered with the log files. Subaru responds by saying there is no reason to believe so especially since Tsukasa's abnormality of not logging out would be something that would most likely be tampered with if the log files had been compromised. Bear thinks that Tsukasa is not fully aware of what's going on.

In the secret area, Tsukasa wonders what would happen if he dyed the color of the floating, sleeping girl. The mysterious female voice calls to him and tells him that something wonderful await him. She says that Tsukasa, the child, and her will never be harmed by anyone and they will live in peace and without worry. Tsukasa doesn't buy it though as no such world exists. The voice wonders why Tsukasa could say such a sad thing and why he doesn't believe her. He asks her who she is. He can't believe anyone he hasn't really seen or met. The voice tells him that he should already know who she is and why she does not appear before Tsukasa. Tsukasa has a flashback to an event in the real world where he is morning over the death of his mother. Tsukasa asks the voice if she is his dead mother. The voice doesn't respond though. He starts to cry.

Mimiru is waiting on a bench for Bear when B.T. shows up. B.T. tells her that Bear emailed her and wants her to inform Mimiru that he can't meet with her today. B.T. figures that Mimiru wants to talk about Tsukasa. B.T. mentions that there is a lot of talk about Tsukasa going around these days. B.T. asks if she has gotten any word from Tsukasa, but Mimiru tells her no. They both get an email from Sora which doesn't please Mimiru all that much. B.T. asks her if they should meet with him. Mimiru clearly doesn't want to.

Mimiru and B.T. head off to a field filled with giant mushrooms. B.T. spots Sora on top of one of them. She remarks that idiots love to climb to high places. They start talking about the Crimson Knights and why Sora has decided to associate with them. He says it's basically to get information. The Crimson Knights are assisting system administration. B.T. asks Sora if he thinks Tsukasa has gotten the Key of the Twilight. Sora doesn't think he has. B.T. teleports out since she has no further need for Sora, leaving Mimiru alone with Sora. Sora asks Mimiru to go dungeon crawling with him. She is less enthusiastic about the prospect.

Subaru is talking with some merchant. While walking back, Ginkan remarks that Tsukasa is just going around doing as he likes and that the number of characters who have spotted him grows daily. He wonders whether it's really ok to just leave him alone. Subaru agrees that something must be done, but that the problem has grown beyond their ability to handle by themselves. She tells Ginkan that she has never doubted his loyalty as a Knight, but loyalty isn't going to be enough to solve this problem. Even system administration is at a loss on what to do. Since the Crimson Knights are ultimately only regular player characters she asks if there is really something they can do that would be effective. Ginkan believes that there must be something they can do. Subaru wonders what Crim would do if he were there. This seems to upset Ginkan. They continue their walk as Sora jumps to meet them. Sora wants to talk about Tsukasa.

Deep in a forest, Bear is sitting down and leaning against a big tree. Mimiru comes out of the bushes to meet him. Bear has asked Mimiru to come to this forest instead of meeting in their usual place because there are too many people there. Bear suggests that they go dungeon crawling. At a dungeon, both Mimiru and Bear are about to activate a monster encounter. Bear comments that the name "Tsukasa" is rather an ambiguous one. One can't tell if the name is real, a nickname, male's name, or female's name. He mentions that he might have found the real Tsukasa (while searching in the real world). Bear steps forward and activates a monster encounter. A large snail like creature materializes and Bear begins the fight. Mimiru joins in and asks him what he found out. He answers that he found a girl, lying in a bed in a coma barely living off fluids and machines. Mimiru is paying so much attention to Bear, that she doesn't see the claw that smacks her in the head.

Subaru is in town, talking with another character when Ginkan approaches her. He asks her if she is ok. She answers that she thinks so. Ginkan tells her that she is the center of the Crimson Knights and that she shouldn't hesitate to ask for help if there is something wrong. Subaru tells him that she has asked system administration to place access restrictions on the player Tsukasa. Ginkan tells her that this was the right decision and not worry over it. Subaru corrects him by stating that this is not what is troubling her. She tells him to keep what she is about to say confidential. Despite the restrictions placed on him, Tsukasa continues to exist in "The World" and is completely unaffected by their actions against him. Ginkan is stunned. She continues by observing that everything that happens around Tsukasa is impossible technically.

Mimiru and Bear teleport to the lone church building that Tsukasa originally wanted to meet Mimiru at and they comment how this area is quite different from all the other areas. Mimiru figures that Tsukasa would come to such a place. They enter and do indeed find Tsukasa there. Upon seeing him, Mimiru apologies for being a no-show the last time around. Tsukasa says it's fine. He asks her if she wants to see it and calls forth his guardian. Mimiru tells him that there is something she wants to ask him.. She asks him if he is really a she. She wants to know if the real player behind the Tsukasa character is a girl. Tsukasa says he is a boy. He asks her why she is asking. She answers she was curious about him in real life. Tsukasa figures out that they've been snooping on him. Bear admits that they did. Tsukasa doesn't seem too happy about that and tells them they wasted their time since whatever they found was wrong. He tells them that he is disappointed and teleports away.
Tsukasa has teleported to some other castle and is sitting against one of the walls, looking rather lonely. Somewhere else in the castle are feet running about the castle that Tsukasa doesn't know about. Above him is his guardian. Tsukasa tells it to remain still. He remarks that the guardian can understand how he feels. Suddenly, a group of four women characters wielding spears leap at him for an attack, but Tsukasa manages to get out of the way. One of them asks him if he is the Wavemaster that people have been talking about. "So what if I am?" he answers back. She answers back that they bear no personal grudge against him, but he will have to fight them. He asks them if they are sure about it and, with a somewhat amused grin, tells them that he is in a bad mood right now. The woman answers that it sounds like Tsukasa is ready to fight. She finds this interesting and basically accepts his challenge. Tsukasa warns that he won't hold back against idiots. He calls forth his guardian which shocks th
Subaru receives a report of the incident from another Crimson Knight. Ginkan tells Subaru that Tsukasa is now starting to use the monster against players, but Subaru cuts him off. She remarks that Sora may have been right. Tsukasa continues to be the only player that is outside the normal rules. She wants to talk to Tsukasa personally. She turns to Ginkan and tells him that Tsukasa is now wanted by the Crimson Knights on all servers and they are to capture him.

Tsukasa teleports back to the bed where the flouting little girl sleeps. He is shocked by how the little girl looks and asks what all this means.

Episode 5: Captured

In a desert field filled with spiny looking dead trees, a lone character wearing red, loose clothing is running. He carries a heavy spear and yells that he is finally back after a long absence [This is Crim, the person both Ginkan and Subaru have made various references to]. Crim enters an area filled with lava and happens to run into Tsukasa. He introduces himself and asks him if he needs help. If not, he'll leave but if he needs help then he will offer it. Tsukasa doesn't answer. Crim can tell by the look on Tsukasa face that it's really not his business but since they've already met they might as well get acquainted. Tsukasa seems not to like Crim's too informal way of addressing him and simply teleports away. Crim wonders if he has upset him or done something wrong again. He still remains willing to help.....only to realize that he forgot to give Tsukasa his member address and there is no way he can help now.

At Mimiru and Bear's usual meeting place, a player asks Mimiru if she wants to form a party with him. She tells him rather abruptly that she is waiting for someone else. Bear arrives and Mimiru rhetorically asks him if "The World" is a game. Bear says yes. Mimiru says that it's strange that they are playing, but Tsukasa is now "wanted". Bear remarks that even in games there are rules. Tsukasa broke the rules first. Mimiru acknowledges this, but feels Tsukasa had good reasons for doing what he did. She observes that it will soon be the case that Tsukasa won't be allowed to play and that references to him will only be negative. She isn't too happy about that prospect. Bear tells her that things are moving too quickly now.

Subaru and Ginkan are reviewing the information they have on Tsukasa while on board the gondola. Subaru wishes that the situation would end quietly, but Ginkan doubts that will happen. He speculates that Tsukasa might be keeping a low profile now that he is a fugitive and will reappear once things die down. Subaru suddenly gets this look of surprise on her face [she's received an email message], prompting Ginkan to ask what's wrong. She says it's nothing and she will take a look around the other servers. Ginkan offers to get her an escort, but Subaru declines the offer. She wants to remain inconspicuous.

Out on another server, B.T. appears to be stalked by Sora again. She tries to outrun and catch Sora off guard, but Sora is too quick for her. He suddenly appears behind her with his twin blades at her throat. Sora asks her if she feels like dying again. B.T. answers no and admits defeat. She asks him to get his blades away from her and tells him that she is no match for him. Sora retracts his blades and asks him why she called him out if it weren't for a rematch. B.T. wants an exchange of information, but Sora corrects her that an 'exchange' is only between two things of equal value. B.T. renames it to a "supply" of information. She wants to capture Tsukasa and wants Sora to help her.

Subaru is pacing back and forth in a throne room when Crim finally arrives. He apologies for making her wait so long, but he was gone on a business trip to Indonesia, and this is the first time he's had a chance to log on since then. Subaru doesn't respond and just stares at him. He asks, "Was it wrong of me to call for you?" Still Subaru doesn't answer. Crim apologies for calling on her and tells her that he won't do it again. He turns to walk away when Subaru says, "Crim, the Crimson Lightening . . . you haven't changed a bit." He answers, "I'm always myself." This brings a smile to Subaru's face. She tells Crim that she was talking with Ginkan when she received his sudden e-mail. Crim asks her how Ginkan is doing. She answers that Ginkan is much the same. "Then, the Knights will be safe and sound," he responds. Crim asks if something has happened. Subaru remarks that Crim was never one to read the BBS for system administration announcements.
Tsukasa sits staring at the floating, sleeping girl. He suddenly gets up and starts swinging at some nearby bushes with his staff. Maha suddenly jumps out in front of Tsukasa. Maha has a somewhat disapproving look on its face and shakes its head. Tsukasa asks, "Mother, are you mad at me?" Tsukasa defends himself by asserting that the guardian did things on its own and refused to listen to his commands. He begs Maha not to take the guardian away from him and give it to someone else. Maha says something in response. Tsukasa asks, "Oh, me? It's because I'm weak?" Maha places its hand over its heart. "The heart? I see. This level really isn't worth being protected. I see, that's what you're saying, Mother. I understand," Tsukasa replies.

Subaru returns to the water capital and finds Ginkan waiting for her. Subaru tells him that there was no need for him to wait, but Ginkan informs her that Sora wants to talk with Subaru. They go to meet him. She asks Sora if he has a way to lure Tsukasa out. Sora answers he does and if she would like to hear it. Subaru declines and says it's not necessary. She walks away. "So that's the game," Sora says to himself.

B.T. has met up with Mimiru tells her that she has something to tell to both Mimiru and Bear. Mimiru remarks that it's rare for B.T. to have something to say to them. B.T. tells them that the monster that goes around with Tsukasa is not unique to just Tsukasa. There is apparently another player with the same monster going around "The World". An acquaintance of B.T. saw some Heavy Sword with such a monster in tow. Mimiru cannot believe it and wonders if that character also cannot logout like Tsukasa can't logout. Mimiru asks why B.T. has given her this bit of info. "Wouldn't Tsukasa be curious about it too?", she explains. She tells Mimiru that since she doesn't have Tsukasa member address, but Mimiru does Mimiru can pass the info along to Tsukasa. B.T. adds that the character stays in the same field as if waiting for someone, perhaps even for Tsukasa.

Ginkan and Sora are meeting in an alley. Sora tells him of his and B.T.'s plan. They will lure out Tsukasa with some story of another player with a monster like his. This will make Tsukasa curious and come out to investigate. Since the Crimson Knights will know where Tsukasa will be, they can set up an ambush and finally capture him.

In a snowy field with a lone tower structure, both Bear and Mimiru teleport in to investigate this Heavy Blade with a guardian. Mimiru wonders if she should have waited before telling Tsukasa of the Heavy Blade with a guardian. Bear tells her that it's too late now. On top of the tower, Ginkan and Sora look over the field where Tsukasa will most likely appear. Bear and Mimiru decided to go looking for this mysterious Heavy Blade.

A Knight reports to Ginkan that the other Knights are in place. Ginkan gives him orders to place their reserve squads at certain points on the field. Sora departs since he wants to get a front row seat of the upcoming action.

Subaru receives news from two other Knights that Ginkan wants them to escort Subaru to the winter field where the ambush is set up. It's obvious that Subaru is unaware of Ginkan's plan.

Sora has arrived where B.T. has a good view of the field below. She asks him if Sora can swipe Tsukasa away before the Knights grab hold of him. Sora tells her that he's changed his mind and will just watch. He tells her the Knights have set up some barriers to prevent Tsukasa from escaping and so they can whisk him away to another field after they've restrained him. B.T. remarks that Tsukasa will be helpless without his guardian and that the barrier will prevent Tsukasa from teleporting out or use any summon spells.

Mimiru and Bear cannot find the Heavy Blade with a guardian. Bear speculates that either the Heavy Blade has gone somewhere else or that the story was all made up in the first place. This would mean B.T. lied. Mimiru wonders why B.T. would lie. Bear tells Mimiru to send a message to Tsukasa to not come to the field. However, it's too late. Tsukasa teleports into the field and lets Mimiru know that he's arrived. Bear tells Mimiru to send another message to tell Tsukasa to leave the area immediately. However, Tsukasa misinterprets the message. Mimiru and Bear look over and they can see Tsukasa, but they can also see the Crimson Knights have Tsukasa utterly outnumbered and nearly surrounded. Tsukasa tells himself that he'll be ok and summons his guardian. He then sees Ginkan on top of the tower. Ginkan gives the order to the Knights to draw their swords. Suddenly the other Knights come out of their hiding places with swords at the ready. They've got Tsukasa surrounded.

In another field, a squad of Crimson Knights takes Tsukasa into a holding area located in some sort of cave. As they lead their captive deeper into the cave, Tsukasa desperately yells at them to let him go, all to no avail.

H//S is series that is going to appeal to a specific kind of viewer. The series if very conversation heavy with most action either inferred or not concentrated on for the most part. If you are looking for a more traditonal anime with lots of action and humor, you would do better to look at another series and spend your money there. However, if you appreciate stories that are more character driven and demand you pay attention to what's being said, then pick up H//S. It's a bit slow, but it's a well done series.

Review Equipment
Sony WEGA 27' FS13, Xbox, Monster Component Cables, Klipsch 5.1 Speakers, Klipsch 5.1 DD

Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: A+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: .hack//SIGN