.hack//Roots Vol. #6 (also w/Special Edition/CD) - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 34.98/24.98
  • 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. #6 (also w/Special Edition/CD)

By Chris Beveridge     February 15, 2008
Release Date: February 05, 2008

.hack//Roots Vol. #6 (also w/Special Edition/CD)
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
Haseo, in his monstrous new form christened "The Terror of Death," defends against simultaneous attacks from scores of vengeful Player Killers. Tabby, in her desire to help her resistant friend through these frantic battles, begins to lose members of her newly formed Paw Pad Squadron. Ovan returns to The World, leading Haseo into his long awaited confrontation with the invincible killer dubbed Tri-Edge.

As the two face off in heated combat, Pi, Yata and the freshly enlisted Kuhn attempt to keep an eye on Haseo while exploring a dark new phenomenon: the cancerous bubbling data anomalies known only as AIDA.

The Review!
Haseo struggles with himself and with trying to rescue Shino as the series comes to a conclusion. A conclusion that essentially tells the viewer to go buy the game already!

While filled with great music, the actual mixes for this release are pretty simple and surprisingly flat. Providing for both the Japanese and English language sides, each of them are a done at a rather low 192 kbps for such a recent show. This isn't usually much of an issue for a dialogue show and .hack//Roots is essentially that, but the show has such little sense of space to it that it's almost all full sounding. Hardly anything is noticeable with directionality and the music sounds like it's missing a bit of its impact. Everything on both tracks and is clean and clear and free of problems though so listening to it won't be an issue. It's simply a mix that should have been better done.

Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Not unlike previous incarnations, this series is filled with lots of lush looking backgrounds and vibrant looking character action. Though there isn't a lot of action, it all looks very pretty on the screen. These episodes come across in much the same way as there is a very good sense of color and depth to it and it's generally free of blocking or noise. There's very little to have issue with across these five episodes outside of some minor noise during various panning sequences where the backgrounds shift slightly. Foreground animation looks very smooth and clean and everything avoids cross coloration or aliasing.

The secondary cast of characters dominates the final volume and it's rather bright and colorful, especially with the light green background with the way the lighting works, but the characters are all so unmemorable at this point that there isn't a solid hook for even die-hard fans. The color design is solid and the layout works for what the show is and is easy to identify for those who just play the games. The back cover plays with the hexes some more with various shots from the show provided inside them as well as a larger one for the summary. A couple of smaller ones are done for the episode numbers and titles as well as the discs features. The production information and basic technical information is provided along the bottom. Bandai continues to avoid using the technical grids though which makes finding certain bits of information not terribly conducive for a quick read. No insert is included nor is the cover reversible.

The menu design is simple but effective as it uses the hex imagery with shades of purple to have layers of them either static or moving. The top level has the shows logo and menu navigation as well as some character artwork for the show, all of which is set to a nice mellow piece of music. It's a bit flashy but not glaringly so while still being an effective piece of navigation that uses familiar imagery. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation is simple and effective. The disc did not read our players' language presets and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.

Not unlike releases in previous series, the extras are very minimal here. This installment contains a brief "DVD Release Announcement" for the third DVD release and a brief line artwork gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the end of the series, I really just sit there and wonder what the point of it all was. With the .hack//SIGN series, there was a slow but logical progression to the story and an actual sort of climax to the ending. Even the weak Twilight series had its moments with personable quirky stereotype characters figuring out the game world. But at the end of .hack//ROOTS, all I feel is that it's just missing a sign card to say "Now go buy the game to see what we really want to show you." I've always liked the design of these shows and the mood they create, but .hack//ROOTS is the one that's finally getting me to kick the habit.

Watching through the four episodes, there's a similar feeling to the last couple of volumes in that it really doesn't seem to be progressing anywhere. A background story dealing with the "secret police" of the game world continues along as the watch to see what Haseo and Ovan are really up to and talk of the impending danger from a new AI that they name AIDA, which gives plenty of familiar feelings to the character of Aura in the first series. Yet as potentially interesting as it is, it faces two main problems. One is that the idea is really introduced far too late into the show – the second to last episode! – to be really useful or provide any sort of real sense of buildup for the viewer. The other is that they really don't do anything with it and it's little more than a prop piece for the game itself.

The one story that's ostensibly the main story is that of Haseo but even that's fallen off in the last volume or two as he's been going around killing the player killers. Apparently he's now on a quest to kill a hundred of them and his name is becoming even more (in)famous as time goes on. That provides for some of the better action moments in the show, but the action in the .hack franchise has always been weak so that isn't saying much. Haseo's trajectory since going nuts after watching Shino die has been fairly predictable and seeing him come to the obvious conclusion here certainly isn't a surprise. The problem is that it really isn't all that interesting and it becomes fairly anti-climactic as it once again points towards a real resolution to be found in the game.

The only other area of interest with the show comes with the secondary cast of characters, if only because you find them more interesting than the few lead characters. The resurfaced TaN members have some nice moments as they clear out some mild baggage and set to doing the right thing in their mind. But even that's pretty minimal across these four episodes. The only character that really comes out of this series in a positive manner is Tabby and that's not saying a whole lot. Her path through the game is not unlike a lot of new characters in any game of this manner in starting up guilds, making friends, trying to find out what you really want to do and then finally doing it. She's still the innocent character in the show and provides some decent commentary and emotion, especially in relation to Phyllo, but it's still a very small part of a slow moving sprawling show with little focus.

In Summary:
And therein lies the problem with .hack//ROOTS. At the end of the series, twenty-six episodes worth, I really have no idea what the point of it all was. It had some nice moments, it did some material touching back to previous shows and it nailed the visual design along with the music. What it didn't have was a really strong story to tell. If this was similar to the previous series in that it was done over thirteen episodes, it probably would have flowed a bit better and been a bit tighter which in turn would have disappointed less. There are few shows where at the end of it I feel like it was a complete waste of time but .hack//ROOTS really feels that way. This is really just for the die-hard fans who can't get enough of the world and/or enjoy the games a whole lot. And even then they're bound to be better served by waiting for a collection.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,DVD Release Announcement,Line Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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