.hack// Manga Series vols 1-3: If you like video games, I'd give this short series a whirl

.hack// Legend of the Twilight, Vol. 1 - Tatsuya Hamazaki, Rei Izumi, Naomi Kokubo .Hack: //Legend of the Twilight, Vol. 2 - Tatsuya Hamazaki, Rei Izumi .Hack//Legend of the Twilight Volume 3 - Tatsuya Hamazaki

Since this is a short three book manga series, I'm going to try something different and look at these books as a whole, rather then individually. I was first introduced to .hack (said as dot hack) by the 1st game in the PS2 series. The premise of the universe is the existence of an online game known simply as The World. Imagine WoW (World of Warcraft) before it existed. The World is a VR MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) where you level, build a group (you might even call it a...guild! :}), and complete challenges to gain items, experience, and renown. With various types of adventurers - two-swords, heavy arms, wave-masters, and healers - this is a diverse and vibrant world you wish was real. You want The World to exist so you can play in it. The ironic aspect of all this is it is a single-player disc game that pretends to be a MMORPG. I find this ideal as I like the idea of W

oW but I'm a casual gamer and can't dedicate the kind of time an online R

PG would dictate.

 

In the game series (which comes before the manga - they are interconnected. There is a plethera of games, anime, novels, and manga called collectively the .hack Conglomerate project), there is a darkness infecting The World. Gamers are showing up in the real world in comas after playing. A young two-sword named Kite gets caught up in the darkness and it is only with the help of his friends like Black Rose and others that he might make it out with his life.

 

Four years later, twins Shugo and Rena win a once in a lifetime giveaway - avatars of the two legendary .hackers Kite and Black Rose. Though Shugo is not terribly thrilled at first to play a 'game', they begin to grow immersed in The World and make good friends. However, as Kite before him, Shugo has a bizarre encounter that leaves his character nearly dead and in possession of a strange bracelet that causes weird things to happen in the game.

 

Kite & Black Rose/Shugo & Rena

 

Shugo also sees a strange, beautiful girl named Aura (see figure on game case above). He continues to play the game in order to find the mysterious girl once again. Along the way, he and Rena gain new friends, learn much about their 'new' World, and get involved, unknowingly, in the corporate structure within the game. Fans of the games will also greet familiar faces who are brought together once again by Shugo's quest. The story concerns coming of age, friendship, bravery, strength, and heart.

 

If you like video games, particularly MMORPGs like WoW, this might just be up your alley.

 

There are some drawbacks to this series, however. One is that while past events (i.e., in the games) are talked about, they are alluded to or referenced rather then explained. You really need to know at least the basics of the game in order to get the most out of reading these. I know at least one person (who I borrowed these books from) who likes the series without playing the game but many would, I think, be lost and not enjoy the experience. They would also find it hard to understand the setting of The World, which looks exactly as it is in the games, lending a nostalgia to reading these.

 

Second and the main issue for me, is that the text in the speech bubbles in small and very hard to read at times. As this is an extremely text heavy manga series, that is most unfortunate and should have been addressed.

 

All in all, a decent manga series that is geared mostly towards video game fans. A funny series that can surprise you with its seriousness; .hack might just surprise you with how good a series it can be. It also helps that it's one of the shortest manga series I've seen. Three book series are rare in my experience.

 

Reread: originally read in college.