.hack//QUANTUM – Episode 1

Wow, I can’t believe how good it feels to get back into this franchise series.  .hack//SIGN was among the first series that really got me into anime, way back when it first aired on Toonami.  For those of you who are a semi-old fan like me, I was a moderator on The World BBS for a couple of years.  (Not going to say who~~)  Anyhow some of the recent adaptations of .hack had me questioning the franchise and whether they were going to run it into the ground.  But like Gainax and Evangelion, sometimes milking that cash cow ends up producing a gem and .hack//QUANTUM may be the same.

So far the plot is loose enough that new viewers can jump in and experience it in the same way people did with SIGN.  For old fans, there are redesigns of old concepts, but new characters and settings freshen things up and question your expectations.  QUANTUM focuses on three girls who play the online game, The World.  Asumi, Iori and Eri play online as Sakuya, Tobias and Mary respectively.  Their online personas are modified versions of previous characters: Sakuya is a female Kite, Mary is Black Rose with longer hair, and Tobias is Balmung with modified wings and hair.  You’d think the game creators would stop using these designs by now, but then again I’m not sure how many years past the first .hack games and SIGN this series is.  Seems pretty modern or even futuristic since the girls were being taught something about microchips that are implanted in their bodies.  Reminds me of Real Drive.

It was interesting to see a lot of this episode taking place in the real world.  I’m guessing the girls live in northern Honshu or Hokkaido for the amount of snow and mountains around them.  My first thought when seeing their real life appearances was “K-On girls”.  It made me think that maybe this version of .hack would be more slice-of-lifeish and leave behind the tense drama of past series.  I’ll get back to that in a minute…

Wow, I was not expecting that deep voice to come out of a loli.  She’s a true HBIC though.  Sakuya ends up screwing up the loli’s guild while they’re fighting a level 1 billion boss and a bounty is issued for Sakuya’s capture.  However the loli had no ill intentions for Sakuya and her friends and tries to help her out later on.

Hermit is a male chibi version of Mia, but I can’t tell if he’s a program or a game player as of yet.  He’s got mad hacking skills and seems to be enamored by the concept of friendship so I have a feeling it’s the former.

So about that slice of life feeling the show gave off early on.  Well during Sakuya’s group’s escape from people trying to collect the bounty, Hermit gets PKed (player kill).  But his death set off a warp that sent all the characters to a pretty disturbing looking area.  Again, I can’t tell if the woman attacking Sakuya is a real person or program at this point.  Fucking terrifying either way.  And then..

SHIT GOT REAL.  Welp, I guess it wouldn’t be .hack if someone wasn’t in a coma.  Now I love this show, but I can’t understand why this fucking game still exists if people are still being turned into vegetables.  Is CC Corporation that good at covering up these major flaws or are people just that hard up for video games after the Pluto’s Kiss virus demolished the internet?

OMG TSUKASA’S BACK NEXT EPISODE.  Probably just a cameo, but I’m glad to see her.  I kind of wish this was a regular 13 or 26 episode series rather than 3 OVAs.  Kinema Citrus is the production studio, and after looking up their works, I’m laughing at my earlier comparison of QUANTUM and Real Drive because they apparently worked on both of them.  They did a good job with the first episode so I’m not sad about the franchise parting with Bee Train.

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