Title: .hack//G.U. Trilogy
Published by: Hanabee (Australia)
Based on: The .hack//G.U. Video Game Series
Audio: Japanese Dub
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Cost: $29.99 on DVD
Special Thanks: Hanabee Entertainment for kindly providing me with a sample of this release
In a quest for revenge against Tri-Edge, Haseo has become a killer of Player Killers. Callous and dismissive as a consequence, he has become a shadow of his former self. Atoli wishes to alleviate some of this and makes it her mission to help him but it may be a difficult task when her face reminds him of a fallen friend.
But Atoli may be the least of Haseo’s problems. Tri-Edge’s influence appears to go above and beyond his attach of his friend Shino, with deadly consequences. When a death in the game causes the player to fall in a coma in the real world, it’s a race against time to stop the attacks before its too later.
No matter how this review turns out, I would like to give my thanks to Hanabee Entertainment, who after all these years has brought .hack//G.U. to Australian audiences. The .hack// series is a media franchise created and developed by CyberConnect2 and is still being worked on to this day. It has spread over many franchises – anime, manga, card games, novelizations but perhaps the most notable – at least to me – are the video game franchises. The first game in the series “.hack//Infection” was released on the Playstation 2 during 2002 and consisted of four installments ‘Infection’, ‘Mutation’, ‘Outbreak’ and ‘Quarantine’ – and were also released to the English market including Australia.
These titles amongst several others were part of ‘Project .hack, and was superseded by the .hack Conglomerate line of titles. The first chronological installment in the Conglomerate project – the anime series .hack//Roots was released by Madman Entertainment in Australia but then that was it…. the three games in the .hack//G.U. series (Rebirth, Reminisce and Redemption) were released in North America but never over here – leaving fans of the series with essentially a prequel anime. This was in 2006-2007…. and now in 2013 Australian fans can get their first non-imported look at what the G.U. storyline entails. BUT, with three full games crammed into 93 minutes is it really worth it? Read on to find out!
After realizing that the game series was not heading Down Under, I took the only option available to me and imported all three games so I have some knowledge of the storyline going into the series. Making some sense of the storyline will require you to have watched .hack//Roots at the very least, but even then it is little improvement unless you have already played the games. Given the amount of content that was required to be put into the film to have it cover the trilogy, many plot points and even plot important characters were removed – leaving it as essentially a story revolving around Haseo, Atoli and Ovan. Plot points are also shuffled to cater to events being removed and overall travels at a very quick pace. It felt very much like they were delivering the core of a storyline then asking you to fill in the gaps with your own knowledge.
Fortunately while the writing may be a bit on the iffy side, it provides many of the elements you would expect from the series so it isn’t a complete waste of a watch – lots of fast-paced action, romantic undertones between Haseo and Atoli and some of the battle styles more unique to .hack//G.U. Aided with wiki descriptions of the storyline you may be able to derive both content and entertainment from the series, but the .hack//G.U. OVA film unfortunately does not serve as an accurate replacement for the game series – and would have potentially been better if it were split over three films even at 45-60 minutes in length each.
While the writing may not have been as good as it could have been, it doesn’t mean that the visuals are lacking…. infact it is evident quite a lot of effort went into them and were very well implemented when all is said and done. Rather than use what every other .hack anime series has done, .hack//G.U. Trilogy makes use of a 3D visual style similar to what is used in the games albeit of a much better quality. Notable locations from the game were replicated well (Eg. Hulle Granz Cathedral – Aka. Δ Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground) while the more standard locations were also well designed and animated. Character designs were also accurate and well-animated in the more active battle sequences, alongside aspects such as Avatar Battles (Which became rather bland after doing them a few times in the game) packing a visual punch.
If I were to critique one visual problem with this release, it would be the video quality. While I am uncertain if this is just for Hanabee’s release or not, I found some scenes in the film to be noticeably blurry – and despite being a minor concern in my opinion kept it from being a perfect release visually.
The film’s soundtrack provides a nice assortment of tracks which go well with the intended theme of both film and game. While it has been a while since I last played the game, several of the tracks seemed to have been sourced from it. In addition, the series featured two lyrical themes including what seemed to be a remixed track of the .hack//G.U Rebirth’s theme Yasashii Ryoute under the title Deepest Memories and an incidental song “Liar’s Smile” during the film by LieN.
In terms of voice acting, original North American publishers Bandai Entertainment chose rather than involve the English dub cast to only include the original Japanese dub. Having played the games with the English dub I have nothing to compare to, however the Japanese dub is of solid quality featuring Takahiro Sakurai (Fakir – Princess Tutu), Ayako Kawasumi (Harumi - Ghastly Prince Enma Burning Up) and Hiroki Touchi (Bard – Black Butler) as Haseo, Atoli and Ovan respectively.
Unfortunately…. several main characters from the game such as Endrance were left with seconds-long cameo appearances in the “Parody Mode”.
Hanabee Entertainment were able to obtain a small set of extra content to include in their release of this title, including:
- Parody Reel – A ten minute long set of small clips which provide different parodical versions of scenes from the main film – which includes (very) short cameo appearances of characters such as Endrance, Sakubo and Tabby, two of whom had important roles to the main storyline of .hack//G.U.
- Three promotional videos – translated
- “Special Program for Theatrical Release” – A 21 minute video looking at the development of and scenes from the film. Pretty interesting.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Trailers for four Hanabee releases – Arakawa Under the Bridge, Bodacious Space Pirates, ef ~ a tale of memories and Alien Nine
Overall, .hack//G.U. Trilogy despite having nice visuals, music and extra content is not a great replacement for actually playing the games. Their attempts at cramming all three volumes into the game didn’t prove as successful as I would have hoped and left much of the content out. That being said, while not great it is better than nothing for those who have been able to play the game and may not be so bad if coupled with a story guide taken off a wiki or something along those lines.
Now if only we were to see Namco Bandai announce a HD Collection for the series on the Playstation 3…. that is what I would like to see – especially considering releases in the series are still being made in Japan to this day (See: .hack//Versus).
Storyline / Character Development: D
Music/Voice Acting: B+
Personal Preference: C-
Extra Content: B
Overall Score: C-
Take a point or two off the overall score if you have not at the very least watched .hack//Roots
.hack//G.U. was my “Games From Consoles Past of the Year 2012″ recipient for a Playstation 2 Series