.hack//Quantum, Complete OVA Series – Blu-ray/DVD Review

Review by: Sophie Stevens

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $29.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack)
Running Time: 75 minutes
Genre: Action/Adventure
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

The World is about to get very dangerous for its players.

As a gamer and devoted admirer of the role-playing game genre, the .hack// series is a fan favorite, enough so that it even inspired anime and manga series revolving around an amazing online multiplayer universe called The World and its many players. There have been decent and even epic anime releases from the franchise but, make no mistake, fan support is strong enough that we are still interested in The World. Spanning three episodes, this Complete OVA series of .hack//Quantum takes us a new albeit short jaunt back into this gaming universe as another major threat places its player’s lives at risk.

The Unlimited Online Game known as The World R:2 is a big gaming universe in the same vein as World of Warcraft or Everquest as players jump into the fray online with the help of a computer and a visor that allows them to experience this game’s universe firsthand. This is a world filled with monsters, swords and magic as well as a community where a player can tackle quests with just a friend or dozens at a time. It’s no wonder it’s such a popular game.

Among the thousands of players are three classmates and close friends from Aomori Prefectural Izumiyama High that are fans of this online sensation. There’s Asumi, who clumsily plays the game, and her two friends Eri and Iori who are far more experienced. Together they form a trio with their avatars named Sakuya (Asumi’s character), Mary (Eri’s avatar) and Tobias (Iori’s impressive avatar) as they take on quests. It’s more like Mary and Tobias getting Sakuya out of a jam since the girl seems to be a magnet for trouble in the game’s world.

The one day the trio are exploring a massive hall when they encounter a large number of players, all members of the same clan led by a cute little girl avatar, take on high-level boss in the form of a massive dragon called The One Sin. As the clan begins their assault against the dragon, Sakuya accidentally steps into their battle and thus causing a terrible distraction that gets members of the clan killed. Once again, Tobias and Mary get Sakuya out of another problem. Little do they know that a cute cat-like avatar is watching Sakuya from afar with great amusement.

Back in the real world, Asumi’s friends discover that her avatar, Sakuya, has a pricey bounty on her head (300,000 GP of in-game money) for interfering with a clan mission. While Asumi’s classmates are more worried about upcoming exams, Asumi is worried about the contact out on her. She tries to get her friends to log on to help her in the game but Eri and Iori don’t show up.

Who does show up is the cat-like creature who calls himself Hermit. It is they player who discovers that Sakuya is not only amusing to be around with but she is also the friendliest person Hermit has met in a long time in The World. However, members of the Yata-no-Kagami clan have finally caught up with Sakuya and take her and Hermit prisoner. As we quickly find out, however, is that the pint-sized leader of the clan did not put the bounty on her and set off to save the girl before rogue members of her clan do something rash.

Then something unusual happens when Sakuya’s friends arrive to save the day and run off with the girl. When Hermit falls to his demise during the chase, a change comes over The World that frightens all the players. A mysterious figure arrives on the scene as it wipes the game’s characters off the screen. It tries to get Sakuya but Mary gets in the way and is taken out of the world. However, as Mary was holding Sakuya it affects not only her avatar but also Asumi in the real world is knocked out cold.

Asumi does wake up in a hospital and coming to realize that Eri was physically knocked out of the game but, unlike Asumi, Eri finds herself in a comatose state. It is Iori, however, who makes a very interesting discovery and that is that their friend Eri is not the only player who finds themselves in a coma. What caused this any why did the mysterious CC Corporation move these patients to their own private hospital? What is a Pariah Folder? The Iori makes a rather shocking discovery about these players and a mystery player who seems to have the power to change things within The World.

The mysterious is a difficult puzzle to figure out but both Asumi and Iori receive a phone call from a mysterious woman who wants to meet them and discuss a way to save the players who were affected by this mystery player. This plan will take Asumi and Iori back into The World, putting themselves at risk to finally face off against the person responsible in order to save not only their friend by thousands of gamers who find themselves in danger.

There’s a major battle in the final episodes as other players band together to stop the mystery player who throws countless enemies at them and Sakuya is forced to face the person responsible for this problem and his reasons for doing what he did. As I said, the OVA consist of three episodes and the story crams in a lot in the span of these 75 minutes. What it doesn’t do, however, is allow us a chance to really come to know Asumi and her friends, which is too bad since they are likeable characters and the story is intriguing.

Then there’s the more than decent animation that looks even better on Blu-ray since FUNimation released this one in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack edition. There’s also some great voice acting from the likes of Trina Nishimura, Anastasia Munoz, Stephanie Young and Lindsay Seidel who sound just as good as the original Japanese cast.

While not as deep as past entries in the series, the Complete OVA Series of .hack//Quantum makes for a worthwhile return to The World. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that if this series lasted longer than 3 OVA episodes then Quantum could have been something truly special. As a result, however, all we get is a promising short story in a world .hack fans are familiar with but, in the end, still manages to be an OVA collection .hack fans should certainly not skip.

BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B-
Asumi, Eri and Iori are not only classmates and great friends but they are also devoted players of the most popular online game on the web but when Asumi’s avatar, Sakuya, interferes in clan’s massive boss battle, a bounty is placed on her. However, this is just the top of the iceberg as a mysterious player who calls himself Hermit not only sets his sights on Sakuya but also threatens the real lives of other gamers within The World as Asumi and Iori try to unlock a mystery to save their friend Eri.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
You’ll certainly want to watch this one on Blu-ray seeing as the visual effects are handled well in this series and the characters have their own distinct look that works well throughout the three episodes. The DVD looks good too but it’s clearly obvious that the Blu-ray version is the preferred choice.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The English dub voice cast does a great job as does the original Japanese language track but you will find that Trina Nishimura (as Asumi), Anastasia Munoz (as Iori) and Lara Woodhull (as Eri) are absolutely magnificent. The music in the series is good but it’s the opening theme song, “shizuku” by Yuuka Nanri is simply awesome as is the closing theme song.

EXTRAS: A-
There are a few extras here that go beyond just a few FUNimation trailers such as the original commercials and two different promotional videos for the OVA. There’s the short “Go, Our Chim Chims!!” three-part short featurettes of cute versions of the Asumi, Eri and Iori’s avatars as they talk about The World.

Then there’s Yui Ogura’s ‘Yui-Yui’ live-action featurette as Yui Ogura (the Japanese Seiyuu who voices Hermit) cooks up an awesome charben that looks like the Hermit character in one episode of the feature. In the second episode, Ogura and Shinya Hamozoe visit an anime studio to meet a flipbook master and learn from him. Then, in the final installment, Ogura offers up a quiz for viewers who pay close attention to details. Yui Ogura is absolutely adorable to watch so this featurette is worth a view.

OVERALL: B-
The Complete OVA Series of .hack//Quantum is a short yet enjoyable jaunt back into a familiar world that continues to make for a fun adventure. However, thanks to its short length, we don’t get to really know the main characters as well as we would like considering the fact that the story is actually appealing enough that we would certainly like that. Still, if you’re a loyal .hack fan, you cannot go wrong with this one in your collection.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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