.hack//SIGN Vol. #1: Login Special Edition (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, April 13, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, March 04, 2003
For my primary viewing session, I listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. I did not listen to it in the English dubbed version. The audio for this track is a pretty decent stereo mix that has a few moments of good directionality, but the bulk of this TV series is dialogue or music, so it's not a major problem. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout with no noticeable distortions or dropouts. Another good thing that has worked so far with the series is its BGM through out the DVD.
Out of all the commercial companies here, I have to say that Bandai Entertainment continues to improves it product every time I have bought some DVDs from them. The opening title sequence was very unique where I do not see many anime openings where the song is completely sung primarily in English. Colors are nice and solid. Bandai shows the opening and ending sequences in its original Japanese format and at the end of the last episode replays the ending theme song with all the credits done in English. No real complaints with this first volume so far. Can't wait to see how the other discs will come out.
The special limited edition of .hack//Sign comes in a hexagon shape package. The design of the package is good however keeping the package closes takes some time to stay closed. The DVD package itself is typical and works well enough. Here is the list of items in the special limited edition
XL T-shirt of .hack//Sign
.hack//Sign Original Soundtrack 01
.hack//Sign PS2 Game - .hack//Infection - Demo Disc
3 postcards, and 1 sticker card
Plushed stuffed animal - can't remember the name of the creature (If you know the name of the creature, please insert the name of it here. Thanks.)
The menu system for this release really qualifies as good, with animation and music playing even in the main menu. The design is simplistic enough with a nice image of the access point. Moving between menus is nice and fast and access times are pretty good.
The textless opening and ending are in here though I believe that has become practically normal for all anime DVDs. The disc also includes an isolated score track audio which is nice because some group of friends can pretend to be these characters and act them out. There is also a character gallery and the Playstation 2 Game Trailer.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Episode 01: Role Play
Episode 02: Guardian
Episode 03: Folkore
Episode 04: Wanted
Episode 05: Captured
In the beginning of the first episode, the audience is introduce to the place called "The World". The World is a computer game where all the characters are alive in this role playing game. In a sense, The World is similar to real world to such PC games as Asheron's Call and Everquest. The first character who is the main character is named Tsukasa. He is confused, does not remember his name at first, where he is located, and so forth. Next the audience is introduced to Mimuru, a young female warriror with a huge sword who sees Tsukasa first. She tries to talk to him but he just disappear to another level. The Crimson Guards meet up and talk to Tsukasa next. They ask him who he is and to come with them for questioning. Tsukasa is scared and confused then he escaped to another level. He runs up to Mimiru again. Tsukasa is trying too logout of the game but is unable to get out of the game. Mimuru and Tsukasa have a conversation then they later parted and go their separate ways mainly because Tsukasa is a cold-he
Tsukasa goes back to the cave to possibly open the treasure chest where he had waked up in the beginning of this episode. He sees this humanoid-like cat who does not say a word and slowly goes up and disappears. Tsukasa decides to open this treasure chest and sees a scroll. A strange voice has started to talk to Tsukasa about being a protector to him and the scroll disappears. The Silver Knight locates Tsukasa in the cave. The Silver Knight tells him that he has the cave protected from Tsukasa from leaving the cave, then the Silver Knight fights him in the cave. All of sudden the protector that looks likes a barbell appears before him. This protector comes out to fight the Silver Knight who later kills him. The Silver Knight's character has died but he will later come back in a later episode just to return where he was last saved.
Tsukasa is somewhere else and later decides that since he cannot logout at this time that he will enjoy his stay in the game world. That is the end of episode 01.
For the rest of the episodes, you are slowly introduced more characters such as Bear, BT, Morganna, Sora, Crim, and A-20. Some of these characters that I mentioned have their own personal interests and agenda into meeting with Tsukasa. Most anime series typically start off slowly introducing characters and the story however the story seems to move a good pace which does not drag the audience too much. This series turns out to be really unique and I assume that thie rest of the series will get better.
These characters in this game realize they are not real and are only characters created by the users from the real world. Also when any of the characters die in the game, they simply return to the last spot in the game where the characters were last saved.
There were a few grips I had with the translation when the character had said, "BBS" and being translated as "the board" and others. However, after watching many commercial animes, I have come to accept that now that all translations are not perfect and the subtitling comes out a certain way. I did notice in one the episodes there was a spelling error in the subtitles in one of the conversation. Anyone else notice that flaw?
After watching these first five episodes out of 26 episodes, I was very intrigued and kept my attention throughout the first volume DVD. I recommend this series very much. For those of you who want to spend the extra money on the special edition, go for it. For those others who do not, just buy the DVD only.
Pioneer 16X DVD-ROM, 19" Viewsonic monitor w/ 2 harman/kardon speakers, Creative SB Live sound card, and InterVideo WinDVD software
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: C+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2