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.hack//Quantum Complete Collection (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000149276
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 27/6/2012 16:17
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    Review for .hack//Quantum Complete Collection

    7 / 10


    Let me declare my bias straight off the bat. I don't like RPGs. Role Playing Games have been a subject of avoidance for me ever since I wandered into the wrong room in secondary school one rainy lunchtime, and was confronted and then drafted by a short, ginger stereotype of a boy armed with a board, several volumes of rules, and a holster loaded with fourteen sided dice. I gave it another try a few years later when computer games took the place of such primitive tools, and purchased a Dragonlance game for my Spectrum. It had a free novel with it. I loaded up the monochrome mess once on my machine, couldn't make heads or tails of it, and never bothered with it again. I read the novel though. But that was it, the end of my dalliance with RPGs, and when the MMO got pasted in front of them, I made sure to continue my avoidance, although I do laugh at the occasional anime episode or series such as Dragon Half, or Slayers that makes use of them for comedy effect. Also when the object isn't to play them, in the right hands they can inspire some entertaining stories such as last year's MVM release of The Tower of Druaga. .hack//Quantum is about the playing of MMORPGs.

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    It takes no little effort to avoid the .hack franchise, and I've managed to steer clear of it with the same aversion that I have to anything labelled Gundam. .hack is a multimedia empire that sprawls across the anime, manga and gaming industry, and .hack//Quantum is just one small part of it. Other than a couple of volumes of manga, this is my first encounter with the .hack universe, a lot of which has been released in the UK. Aside from the six manga title releases, there have been several anime incarnations as well, .hack//Sign, .hack//Roots, .hack//Legend of the Twilight, .hack//G.U, all of which have been released here by Beez Entertainment, and .hack//Liminality was apparently bundled with a game. Yes, there are .hack computer games as well. There are other OVAs which have yet to be released in the UK, and there is a feature film being released in Japan this year named quite simply .hack//The Movie. And I've steered clear of it all, until now.

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    .hack//Quantum is a recent OVA which delivers quite a few firsts in its UK debut. It's the first .hack release following the demise of Bandai Entertainment and its sister company Beez, purveyors of all things .hack anime related in the West. This time it has been Funimation Entertainment who have licensed, dubbed and released the show, which has trickled via Madman Entertainment to MVM in the UK. A few months ago, Madman Entertainment asked their customer base the question if they would be willing to buy NTSC discs instead of PAL conversions, which would save the Australian distributor money. The results of that Q & A session now filter down to the UK, as .hack//Quantum is the first such disc to be released here, a native NTSC port of the original Funimation disc, with the only difference in the region coding. This is the 21st Century, where everyone has flat panel displays. The differences between NTSC and PAL mean a lot less now, and you shouldn't really notice any difference.

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    .hack is all about The World, the MMORPG that so many people use to escape the mundanity of their everyday lives. After a dull day at school, what better than donning the garb of an adventurer and battling some dragons, looking for treasure? In .hack//Quantum, we meet three friends, Eri, Iori and Asumi, who in The World travel together as Mary, Tobias and Sakuya. It's when they get in the middle of a battle between The Guild and The One Sin, and Sakuya blunders into a trap that defeats The Guild, that their troubles begin. Soon there is a bounty on Sakuya, and she's running from the Guild. In her flight, she meets an odd character with exceptional powers named Hermit. The odd thing is that Hermit doesn't appear to be in The World to play; instead he's looking for something else. When Hermit and Sakuya are captured by the Guild, Mary and Tobias come to rescue them, but in the fight against the Guild members, Hermit is attacked, and a black explosion is unleashed, pulling them all into a mysterious space, where a dark figure attacks them. Before they can log out, Sakuya is injured, and Mary falls to the dark figure. In the real world, Asumi is thrown halfway across her room from her computer, and Eri is left in a coma. This game isn't fun anymore. As they investigate further, Asumi and Iori learns that Eri isn't the only one to fall victim, that there are other souls lost in The World, and there is something really strange going on in there. If they want to save Eri, Iori and Asumi will have to log back into The World.

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    All three episodes of the .hack//Quantum OVA series are presented on this dual layer disc from MVM.

    1. Walking Party
    2. Wired Prisoner
    3. The Worldend Pallbearer


    .hack//Quantum gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer on an NTSC disc. This means no speed-up due to a native PAL conversion, and neither is there ghosting or judder from an NTSC-PAL conversion. This NTSC disc is how the Americans, and indeed how the Japanese watch the show. On PAL equipment, especially older TVs, that might present itself as prone to a slight flicker, combing artefacts and lower resolution. There's nothing you can do about the latter, but this NTSC disc has a surprise up its sleeve. This is one of the few anime discs that I have seen from the US that has a proper progressive transfer. If you have the compatible home cinema equipment, it means that you can watch the OVA at a smooth 24 frames per second, as opposed to 60 interlaced fields per second. It looks pretty nifty too.

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    The animation is quite splendid for the show, apparently the first .hack anime not to be produced by BEETRAIN. Kinema Citrus who did the honours create a colourful and detailed series, with the real world contrasting splendidly with the online world, and both with appealing character and world designs. The action takes place in The World, and it's here that the animators can let their imaginations run riot. The end of the first episode concludes with a battle sequence in a giant, computer generated orrery, and it looks wonderfully cinematic. This is a top notch anime disc when played back conventionally, but if you have a progressive capable home cinema system, I highly recommend it.

    In the US and Australia, .hack//Quantum got a Blu-ray release as well as a DVD, and while a Blu-ray may add some more definition to the animation and richer colours, this DVD is still one of the better presentations of anime that I have seen in SD format.

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    You have the choice between DD 5.1 English and Japanese, with optional translated subtitles and a signs only track. The surround is put to excellent use creating The World's action sequences, and your speakers will get a workout. Quantum also gets a nice theatrical music soundtrack that complements the story well. I prefer the Japanese audio for this title, especially as Kana Hanazawa's distinctive tones voice Sakuya/Asumi (I can't wait for Deadman Wonderland and Steins;Gate). I gave the English dub a try and found it to be fairly run of the mill, nothing spectacular.


    As mentioned, this is the Funimation disc merely recoded for Region 2, and you don't even get any Madman or MVM logos or credits. The disc autoplays with a trailer for Chaos;Head, and leads to a static menu. There are also trailers for other Funimation product here, Bubblegum Crisis 2040, Dragonball Z Blu-rays, Fairy Tail, Chrome Shelled Regios, Sengoku Basara, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, and My Bride is a Mermaid. Note that not all of these titles will be available in the UK, or even Australia, and those that are, will be through other companies.

    .hack//Quantum gets more than the usual selection of extra features for an anime disc.

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    Go, Our Chim Chims!! Parts 1 through 3 are animated shorts running to a total of 7 minutes that sees the main characters of the story re-imagined as some sort of aubergines as they chat about the show.

    Yui Ogura is the voice of Hermit in the show, and she presents three featurettes on the disc.

    Yui Ogura's 'Yui-Yui Cooking' lasts 18 minutes, and in it she learns how to prepare a character bento, a packed lunch whose ingredients are put together to resemble a character from the show.

    Yui Ogura's 'Yui-Yui Club' lasts 11 minutes, and takes us to the offices of Kinema Citrus, where she learns how to make a flick-book animation on the pages of her script.

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    Yui Ogura's 'Yui-Yui Cult Quiz' offers the answers to a trivia quiz that was a physical extra on the Japanese volume 3 release of .hack//Quantum. I obviously didn't get that, and it's doubtful whether the UK release has any physical extras. You can always pause the featurette and write down your answers before continuing. This lasts 8 minutes.

    Finally you get some Promotional Videos for the show, the Original Commercial, the Pre-release Promotional Video, and the US trailer.

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    The good news is that you don't need to have seen any other .hack product to enjoy .hack//Quantum. It stands alone well enough as a piece of fiction to entertain. At the same time, there are obviously enough references and nods to the original franchise that fans of the .hack universe will probably get more from the OVA than first timers like me. The slight disappointment is that .hack//Quantum isn't all that special. It's a nice entertaining way to kill an hour or so, a pleasant enough adventure with likeable characters, great animation, good action and an interesting story. It just doesn't do enough with the story to make it particularly memorable.

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    It's got a nice, cyberpunk premise to it, a familiar examination of the distancing between mind and body through virtual reality. People escape to The World through VR headsets where they can play as any avatar of their choosing, free of the burdens of reality. But the virtual world brings burdens of its own, especially when you start spending too much time in there. It's when the character of Hermit appears, and strange things start to happen in The World, that things become more complex, and the story starts wandering down paths of the complete separation of soul from body. .hack//Quantum spins quite a mystery from these elements, and it does so in an interesting way.

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    The problem is that this really takes a back seat to the fun, games and trivialities of the characters, and while the setup is elaborate enough, the payoff is rushed and inconclusive. Worse, it's delivered as an epilogue of exposition after the eye-candy action sequence that serves as the climax of the adventure. It feels like an afterthought, and an open ended one at that. To be fair, it isn't uncommon for anime to have ambiguous conclusions in the hope that someone will stump up enough money for a sequel. It's just that the ending of .hack//Quantum seems particularly nakedly manipulative in this regard.

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    So a story that isn't half as smart as it ought to be, topped off with a half baked ending makes .hack//Quantum pretty forgettable. But it is definitely one pretty looking anime OVA, and the journey to that lacklustre conclusion is enjoyable enough in its own right. It's another anime show that demands that you leave your brain at the door and marvel at its picturesque scenery. If you can do that, then this is the perfect way to waste eighty minutes or so. The disc also comes with a fair few extras to add to the fun.

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