Ok, now we come to a very big fusion of MMOs and Anime. .hack is a multimedia series developed by Bandai with the intent to simulate an offline MMORPG. There’s a lot of parts to it:
-.hack: These are the 4 first games for the Playstation 2 which started the series. Kite enters the World, a new MMO, hoping to play with his friend Orca. However as the pair see a girl in white fleeing a monster, Orca tries to intervene, only to be “data drained” and put into a coma in real life. Kite tries to solve the mystery of the World and get his friend back.
-.hack://liminality: A 4-part video series packed in one per episode of the original ps2 games. Focuses on what happens in the real world as the game goes on.
–.hack//sign: This is a companion video series to the games. Tsukasa is trapped inside the World, just before the events of the first game series. A group of players try to solve that mystery, and also the secret behind designer Harald’s vision for the World.
-.hack//twilight: Happens after the first “series.” Shugo and Rena are brother and sister who win Kite and Black Rose’s avatars in a contest. They go on adventures together with some of the original cast. Started as a manga, but was later adapted into an anime. Both are a little more light-hearted than the originals.
-.hack://gu: Sequel to the hack series. 3 games on the PS2. A second version of the world exists, and Haseo, a notorious player killer killer, watches his best friend Shino fall into a coma from the attack of a demonic looking Kite. He is soon enmeshed in a race to solve the mystery, and a lot of twists and turns happen.
-:hack://roots: Same as //sign, this video series is a prequel to //gu, focusing on how haseo entered the world, and leading up to the attack on Shino.
There are also a ton of graphic novels and regular novels based on the .hack universe, like .hack//A.I. Buster and .hack//XXX. They even released a collectible card game which quickly tanked in the market.
The series itself is very mixed. Their intent was admirable, but the games tended to be grindy and repetitive, relying too much on randomly generated dungeons. Each game is about 20 hours in length, and each ps2 series really could have been compressed into one game. The graphics vary, from workman-like, to very impressive in the GU series.
The anime…well lets just say they fail. Both //sign and //roots tend to spend too much time having players talk to each other and very little time acting. What’s worse, you don’t get much of a sense that they are in an MMO. No use of dialogue, no reality of being PKed, just sort of a weird half-fantasy series. //twilight fares better because its comic, although a lot of people dislike the main characters.
I feel it’s a good series, but opinions may vary. The PS2 games are getting to be hard to find, especially vol 4 of the first series, and the GU trilogy. Some links for more info: