.hack//Roots Vol. #3 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Beez
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: .hack//ROOTS

.hack//Roots Vol. #3

By Dani Moure     December 10, 2007
Release Date: October 15, 2007

.hack//Roots Vol. #3
© Beez

What They Say
After the return of B-Set and Gord the Twilight Brigade finally put together all the Virus Cores. After activating the cores, a terrible battle with TaN follows. Ovan is finally captured by Naobi, who lured Ovan into a trap. However the illegal activities of TaN are hard to miss, meaning the Administrators have no choice but to take action against their guild. With Ovan now missing and no news about his whereabouts, tension in the ranks of the Twilight Brigade. What is the Twilight Brigade without their leader...?

The Review!
The plot continues to develop with a lot of twists and turns, but the pace of the show will still put a lot of people off.

I listened to this series in its English stereo track for my main viewing session. It’s your bog-standard stereo track, with little directionality to the dialogue or the music. Given that it is quite music heavy, it’s a shame that the series wasn’t done in a 5.1 mix. Technically, I noticed no problems with dropouts or distortions with either this track, or on spot-checking the Japanese track.

The English dub is well-done at this point, with Ocean having done a good job with their casting. Michael Kopsa does a really good job with Ovan’s mysteriousness, and Andrew Francis and Kelly Sheridan also do well in their roles, given their prominence.

Presented in anamorphic widescreen, with the series having been broadcast in 2006, the video looks very good. It’s crisp and sharp, showing off a really good transfer on the part of Beez. The colours of The World are very bright and vibrant and they come across very well when watching this disc. I didn’t notice any other major problems, and with little troublesome action outside a few scenes, I would expect this to continue.

The English subtitles are white, in a clearly readable font, and I didn’t notice any glaring errors. The opening and ending are presented in their original Kanji version, and unfortunately no translated credits are provided on-disc or in the booklet.

The front cover features an image of Ovan in the foreground, with images of Naobi, Haseo and Shino in hexagons, and a nice blue background image. The show’s logo is at the top, with the volume number and a synopsis of the show also adorning the cover. It manages to be striking and in-theme with the show at the same time. The back cover features the usual array of screenshots, a description of the show, episode list and credits. There’s also a technical grid that contains all the relevant specs.

The main menu is fully in theme with the show, with hexagons all around. It’s animated with a piece of the background music playing over it, and there’s a central hexagon that keeps spinning round, playing clips of the different characters in the show. To the right are images of BSet and Shino, while the show’s logo and sub-menu selection is in the bottom left. There’s a transition to the sub-menus, each of which are static but contain different background music and character art, as well as being in style with the hexagon theme. Overall the menu system works really well and looks very nice, with my only complaint being that the “Play All” option is hidden in the Episodes sub-menu.

The main extras here are four subtitled TV spots for the show from Japan, as well as the textless opening and ending.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The search for the virus cores continues, with Sakisaka telling the other members of the Twilight Brigade that Tawaraya of TaN may well have one in his possession. While he leaves the group to go and hunt it down, Ovan being out in the open for the first time in a while leaves TaN with a unique opportunity, and they make it their point to pounce, with Ender coming along with several other players to take Ovan and the others down. The big fight that ensues brings the welcome return of Gord and BSet to the group. Since he’s so against everything that Ovan does, Gord initially fights with Haseo, but eventually comes round, and both he and BSet help the Brigade in pushing back TaN.

All the while, Ender and Ovan square off, while Tawaraya lays a beating down on Sakisaka as they fight for his virus core. Sakisaka does eventually come away with the core, but on rejoining the Brigade, TaN’s “phase two” begins and more fighting ensues. It’s at this point you’d be forgiven for getting a little bit tired, because though the plot moves forward with TaN making their move and a couple of characters returning, we seem to be edging into repetitive territory. No sooner has one fight with TaN finished than another begins, and you start to wonder why they haven’t fought up until now yet they suddenly fight twice in a row. It’s almost as if the writers decided to have a big fight, but decided to split it into several small fights which were almost the same thing over and over again.

Nevertheless, by the end of the second ruckus, Ovan has been captured by Naobi, who apparently only wants to examine his player character data because it’s so large, and the others are left to go searching for him. The rest of the disc ends up being much of the same, as the characters react to Ovan’s disappearance, search for him and try and decide what will come next. Sakisaka struggles to come to terms with Ovan’s disappearance and what it means to the Brigade’s search for the Key of the Twilight, while Shino struggles to hold the group together without Ovan there. Haseo discovers that he has feelings for Shino, and wants to be the one who stays by her side, and Tabby just wants everyone to stay together.

The fringe characters all have decisions to make as well, with both Gord and BSet rejoining the Brigade and then leaving again, and Gord even thinking about leaving the game completely. Naobi changes his player character to avoid any repercussions from abducting Ovan, and his torture is almost disturbing to watch. Ender continues to play her part in Naobi’s games as she has done throughout the series, but it’s still not quite clear where it’s all going.

What’s strange about this volume is that while it contains quite a few plot developments you might consider exciting, and indeed they’re something I’ve been waiting for over the past couple of volumes, their execution is just bizarre at times and the pacing all over the place, and it takes away from some of the impact. After all, we’ve all come to expect a slow pace from this show, so when we get the battles in the first couple of episodes it seems quite exciting, but then you realise it’s the same thing coming over and over instead of there just being one set of fights leading up to the conclusion. There really isn’t a need for the phase two business at all. And just when you think the search for the Key of the Twilight is ramping up and going somewhere, it hits a dead end, the point of the virus cores seems to fall by the wayside and we’re left in a situation that’s all too familiar for this franchise; the main characters struggling for reasons to stay in their guild. It just starts to all feel a bit too samey, and that’s a bit disappointing.

In Summary:
The third volume of .hack//Roots takes us almost to the halfway point of the show, and it’s very much more of the same. That means an enjoyable show at times but not one without its problems. The pacing in this volume is more erratic than usual, even given that everything still moves at a snail’s pace, and even the plot is all over the shop at times as well. The characters also begin to become grating towards the end, as they act as if they can’t do anything without Ovan. It’s a somewhat disappointing showing, but if you’ve liked it up until now then you’re sure to get some enjoyment from this volume, and here’s hoping for more from the next disc.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),French Language (2.0),English & French Subtitles,TV Spots,Textless Opening and Ending

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP 5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.


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