.hack//Legend of the Twilight Vol. #3 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • 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

.hack//Legend of the Twilight Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     September 30, 2004
Release Date: September 28, 2004

.hack//Legend of the Twilight Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
Rena is trapped in a strange area and cut off from the rest of the world! Piecing together recent events, she is unable to contact Shugo. Meanwhile, Shugo is now a wanted character and having quite a difficult time moving about in 'The World'. Things look bad until they get a visit from an unexpected character who gives them information. The group realizes that they are dealing with a wandering AI, a non-player character that has gained consciousness. This rogue AI, known as Morti, is determined to bring death to 'The World' so she can understand it. But how do you die in a game? Now Shugo faces an impossible choice - save his sister or save 'The World' and everyone in it!

The Review!
Bringing the plot to a closer quicker than the original series, the Twilight saga wraps up decently with this volume.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Both it and the English track are done in a fairly simple stereo mix though the combat sequences do provide some good bits of directionality across the forward soundstage. The music also makes good use of the stereo channels and feels really full and vibrant here. During regular playback we had no issues with dropouts or distortions with either language track.

Originally airing in 2003, the twelve episode series for this particular incarnation is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is wonderfully enhanced for widescreen playback. Much like the //SIGN series, the show is filled with rich colors and backgrounds but also ups the ante a bit with a lot more characters moving around and a bit more CG used to mix into the animation such as water effects. Colors are gorgeous and wonderfully solid, particularly the orange for Shugo's outfit in that it doesn't show any breakup during his many scenes that I could see. There's some aliasing going on in a few scenes, particularly when it starts on a close-up of someone you can see it in their hair as they pull back until it disappears, but cross coloration itself is very minimal to almost non-existent. This is a very pleasing transfer overall.

Finishing out with the cute aspect, the cover shifts to a yellow and orange background which lets the lead duo plus Hotaru to stand out fairly well with their colors but not too much. How could you not like a cover where a baby Grunty gets to smile? The back cover has a series of small shots from the show running down the right side while the left side features a good summary of the opening premise and lists the discs features and extras. While the spine does have the volume number, the back cover also provides the episode numbers and titles and the usual array of staffing information. The discs format and runtime information is pretty easy to find though I wish Bandai would adopt the more universal grid format for it. The insert provides a slightly cleaner version of the front cover and opens up to a colorful two-panel spread of Sanjuro and Balmung. The back of the insert provides the usual detailed staffing credits as well as bilingual cast credits.

The main menu is an active little piece that has the floating "portals" that the characters use moving round and round while you can see the show playing out through them, all set to a bouncy little instrumental piece that really does set the feel of the series. One of the sections has all the selections in it, allowing for direct episode jumps or playing all of them. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is decent, fitting into the theme of the show nicely but without the quite "awe" that the first series tried to provide with. The menu was also accurate in reading our player preset defaults and starting up with the right language selections without having to change it in the

The only thing included is a very brief (three pages!) art gallery of full color character designs in a navigational based gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While not quite achieving the same kind of tone or atmosphere as the original series, which wasn't the plan from the outset based on the kind of characters that are used here, the final episodes of the show does attempt to reach into the same kind of big epic plot to bring it all to resolution though and manages to finish things with a good bit of style if not in a completely satisfying way.

Many of the events throughout the series have been manipulated by the group of elementary school children who have worked together to achieve their goals. Things are getting better and better for them and they're closer to what they want. With the discovery of the private server and what's going on there, the group heads off to try and stop them while at the same time trying to find out exactly where Rena is so that they can save her. What they find there though is something unexpected; while the three boys are there and claim victory over them, their main tool ends up deciding to take things into its own hands and the white covered girl we've seen in the past starts to bring her own agenda to the fore.

But what does a "Wandering AI" want from a virtual world? Especially a virtual world where death is inconsequential other than the loss of some experience or some items? Some of the darker secrets of the series come out through this change and reveal just how important death is to what's going on. The body count in the series hasn't been terribly high but it's definitely gone up as more and more people enter comas and have other problems from the various creatures that this AI has set out among the realms. But since she's built from discarded and buggy code, her perceptions of things are so skewed that the desire to understand things causes her to create incidents where they happen.

A few threads from past episodes start to come together, such as Reki's own plans as he gains more and more power over The World as well as Kamui's dealing with the devastation created by the AI after their initial battle. Many of the little things tie together to the original story of the Dot Hackers that brings relevance not only to the bracelet that Shugo's been gifted with by Aura but also the importance of the brother/sister dynamic. Aura's gotten the short end of the stick once more in this series but she brings some small but critical bits to the finale to the series and works to tie it well to the past legends and stories while also letting these characters shine as the new generation of heroes.

I liked the way the final battle played out and the way it brought certain things together about how important "The World" is to people across the world and how it can bring people together, especially since the media in general classifies these kinds of games solely as problematic or downright evil depending on their point of view. The downsides to such things are kept in a more technical realm, such as the deaths while the positives are played up in the importance of being able to keep relationships alive that are separated by distance in the real world. What I didn't care for is the way the last episode ended and then did a brief epilogue after the credits. Some things were just left unsaid or unexplained, which isn't a surprise since that's a bit of an anime tradition (that I could do without) but I felt there really needed to be a lengthier epilogue to bring it all together right.

In Summary:
Though there aren't too many surprises in these final episodes, the series plays out with some good action sequences and some good character moments – though a few of the secondary cast members like Ohka really do get left behind. This series has been considerably lighter than the original series but it's been fun to see a more active and lively version of "The World" and to skip some of the melodrama. Some parts of these episodes didn't work as well as they should but overall it was a good way to end the series, especially one that was so relatively free of real filler. This is the way to a do a short-run series.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Character Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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