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.hack//Quantum UK Anime DVD Review

5 min read

With all that goes wrong in The World, you’d think that the (real) world would have given up on it and collectively found something safer to play. But noooo, we’re back for another round – which this time gives us a little of the why behind the goings-on there…

What They Say:
Tobias, Mary, and Sakuya are way into the The World. Together, they form an inseparable group, grinding toward the break of day and running dungeons in search of the artifacts of adventure. But when the trio becomes lost in this virtual labyrinth, a chance encounter with the mysterious entity known only as Hermit will change their lives forever. There’s an eerie darkness spreading across The World, and once you stumble in, you may never make it out.

The Review:
Audio:
Audio is provided in Japanese and English 5.1 surround. I listened to the Japanese track for this review. The various .hack shows have always been quite aurally rich, and this installment is no exception, with good use of background effects and music to add to the atmosphere. Dialogue doesn’t make quite as much use, but it’s clean and clear, with no obvious problems.

Video:
Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect, enhanced for anamorphic playback, and it looks, frankly, bloody good, with a generous budget appearing to have been lavished on the three OVA episodes. The World has always benefitted from lush backgrounds, with the gameworld being nothing short of beautiful, and Quantum continues to impress on that front. Even away from the background, animation quality is high, and there were no apparent issues.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
The main menu has Sakuya centre-screen, smiling happily, with options for Play All, Episode Select, Setup and Extras lined up along the bottom of the screen. With no transition animations on the submenus, the screens are quick and easy to use.

Extras:
Decent selection of extras on this disc, starting with “Go, Our Chim Chims!!” parts 1-3 – a ser of CG-animated comedy shorts. There are also 3 Yui Ogura live-action featurettes – “Yui-Yui Cooking”, “Yui-Yui Club”, “Yui-Yui Cult Quiz”, and a selection of English and Japanese promo clips.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The World continues to develop… Now in its “R:X” version, it’s still home to a huge base of players looking to get their swords and sorcery fix – including Iori, Eri and Asumi, three real-world friends who also spend time playing their alter-egos Tobias, Mary and Sakuya in The World. While in the vicinity of one of the game’s high-level dragons, they get the chance to watch a large Guild take it on from what they thought was a safe distance. But in this game, as ever, nowhere is safe, and the trio finds themselves being targetted by the beast. While they’re able to escape, Sakuya finds herself a wanted character in the aftermath…

“Wanted” because she inadvertently set off an instakill trap that wiped out most of the raiding guild, and their members aren’t happy about that. The guild leader is an interesting type, though – in The World investigating a string of people in inexplicable comas, all being cared for in a hospital largely funded by The World’s developers, CC Corp. Sound familiar? It should – and Mary soon becomes the latest victim for the unexplained affliction. The trap incident also brings Sakuya to the attention of Hermit, an unusual cat player-character who’s searching for something very specific.

As I said, I wonder why people keep playing The World, as the coma business has survived through several erwrites and upgrades of the core game – and the fact that there are people looking into the incidents is a fair sign that they’re not doing a very good job of covering them up. That’s a question you’ll have to put to one side, though – and to be fair, while at first glance Quantum seems to be rehashing most of what the various .hack installments have already covered, there are differences here.

First, the series (a 3-episode OVA, so no time for interminable .hack//SIGN-style talkie sessions here) is taking more of a lead from the original .hack//Liminality OVA, which was released alongside the original games and followed the real-world events that were happening while the games covered the in-game stuff. We’re not fully immersed in The World, which is a welcome development. Second, it’s also the first installment of the franchise that makes an effort to explain why the coma incidents are happening – no mystical Key of the Twilight here (well, it’s not referred to by name, at least), but instead real-world, plausible explanations of what key people have done – and why – that have been causing The World’s issues. When that part of the story started to unfold, I could almost hear the Hallelujah Chorus bursting into life. This was what I’ve been waiting to hear for so many years…

Shame, then, that it’s not entirely consistent with previous installments, in that if you take the explanations in Quantum at face value, then things that happened in, say, SIGN start making less sense than they already did. I sense another installment down the line to try and reconcile everything.

In Summary:
It’s short, sharp, has a cast who are without exception enjoyable to watch and tries to keep a sense of humour while dealing with potentially life-or-death situations. That makes Quantum probably the best .hack installment I’ve seen (and I can’t help but wonder how much that has to do with this one not being a Bee Train production). Even if you’ve never delved into the .hack universe before, this is presented in a way that doesn’t lean too heavily on prior events – hell, it would probably make more sense without the baggage – and so is as good a place to jump in as any. An unexpectedly good outing, that almost left me wanting more. Colour me pleasantly surprised.

Features:
Japanese Audio 5.1, English Audio 5.1, English Subtitles, “Go, Our Chim Chims!!” parts 1-3, “Yui-Yui Cooking”, “Yui-Yui Club”, “Yui-Yui Cult Quiz”, Promotional Videos, Original Commercial, Pre-Release Promotional Video, US Trailer.

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: A-

Released By: MVM Entertainment
Release Date: July 9th, 2012
Running Time: 75 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen

Review Equipment:
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37” widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-22 5.1 speaker system.

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