Tuesday, March 27, 2012

.hack//Sign Index

.hack//Sign, pronounced, "Dot hack sign," is an anime that I very much like and have started a series of posts slowly watching it and commenting on more or less whatever comes to mind.  The process is, and hopefully the results are, somewhat less boring than it sounds.

It is the story of Tsukasa, a depressed teenager who finds himself unable to log out of an online game.  It is much, much less boring than it sounds.

I have the series in six volumes which I bought as limited* editions when they first came to DVD.  It looks like the complete series, less a bonus episode that comes only with the limited edition version of volume six, is now available in a single set.  I highly recommend getting it, either in that set or in separate volumes like I did (links to those below).

And now I get to the index part of this index:


Before we get started - Just some general information on the series and the setting.

Volume 1: Login
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)
Episode 1: Roleplay
Before the first words are spoken - I talk about the way non verbal vocalizations are used in the series, and why it should be impossible for Tsukasa to be feeling what he is feeling.  Also the possibility of happy endings.
Welcome to the world - Tsukasa meets Mimiru and the Crimson Knights.  I discuss Tsukasa's fear of people, the role of destiny in meetings, translation problems, and the way Tsukasa and Mimiru's different perspectives leave them thinking and talking past each other.
Meeting More people - Tsukasa meets Bear, the viewer meets BT, and Subaru.  I discuss breaking games for fun and stress relief.
Something is wrong here - Tsukasa, after his second attempt, realizes that he can't log out.  He and Mimiru talk and it goes very wrong.  I discuss hurting people without knowing it, and compare what happens to Gibbs-smacking someone because you thought you were in NCIS (where that's reasonable) when you're really in real life (where it's abuse.)
In which I argue with a disembodied voice - We meet the main antagonist, whom I call Disembodied Voice Lady (DVL), and she acts like she isn't the antagonist.  I argue with her.  Also a hint of metaphysics, Tsukasa accepting his situation, the introduction of the Guardian, and what Tsukasa looks like in the real world.  And why I call Tsukasa "he".

Why Me - I tackle the question of why Tsukasa was chosen.  It involves discussion of depression and abuse and a brief comparison to Bella Swan and Harry Potter.  (Note that this isn't actually tied to a specific episode.)

Episode 2: Guardian
Responsibility - Mimiru and Bear talk about Tsukasa, I talk about Mimiru and Bear.  Specifically I talk about how they approach the question of responsibility.  I bring up the ethics 101 question about a drowning man.
Why you play - Subaru and the Crimson Knights attempt to deal with the situation even though they don't know what the situation is, I discuss the line between not dwelling on the past and not learning from the past.  We meet Sora, I discuss open betrayal vs. unacknowledged betrayal.  I also bring up why people play, and how the Crimson Knights are doing with their goals.  Tuskasa meets Macha, and I talk about the desire for isolation to the exclusion of happiness, why .hack//Sign is better than Twilight, and stuff.
Metaphysics - Bear, BT, and Mimiru get together.  Mimiru asks a question which BT addresses with simple physics and practical concerns.  Bear addresses it with metaphysics and comes to the opposite conclusion.  I discuss metaphysics.  Also, we meet Aura.  She's asleep.
Just to see me fall - DVL gives Tsukasa some good advice, which is odd because she wants him hurt.  I discuss this in terms of being unable to fall when already down: DVL has no choice but to build Tsukasa up if she wants him to come crashing back down.
Six impossible things - I comment on the fact that people actually notice that Tsukasa is depressed, Bear, Mimiru and Tsukasa meet and it goes very badly.

Episode 3: Folklore
What Just happened? - Subaru and the Silver Knight disagree on the true purpose of the Crimson Knights, BT and Bear discuss the impossibility of what happened without saying what it was, and then turn their attention to folklore.
Kinds of Power - I talk about the effects being the leader of the Crimson Knights has had on Subaru, Subaru and Sora meet for the first time, and we finally learn the name of the object BT and Bear were discussing.
Can't Give Up - Mimiru decides to give up and forget about everything that's happened so far, the decision won't stick.
Color My World - We get our first glimpse into Tsukasa's past, get hints of what DVL wants from Tsukasa and how that relates to Aura, and the beginning of Tsukasa's short lived carefree period.  Also a glimpse of what Mimiru does when not preoccupied by people whose consciousnesses are trapped in videogames.
These points of data make a beautiful line - Sora comes back to Mac Anu with Subaru prompting the Silver Knight to ask for an explanation, there's some discussion of the larger flow of events, I talk about how Subaru is low on data and casting out for more, and some discussion of how the series fits in with the videogames and such.
How not to respond to a depressed kid's first success - Tsukasa appears to have the Guardian under control and is downright happy about it, Mimiru gets a meeting request from Tsukasa but passes it off to Bear, the meeting goes badly, and Tsukasa leaves before Mimiru can change her mind about not showing up.
Let's all get together - Bear calls together himself, Mimiru, BT, Sora, Subaru, and the Silver Knight.  It gives us some insight into the Silver Knight's personality, the CC Corp's respect for player confidentiality  and the different goals of Bear and the Silver Knight.
What Happened - During the meeting Bear explains what went down at the end of Episode 2, and BT finally learns the name of the item she's taken an interest in.

Episode 4: Wanted
Rumors, truth, and digital ducks - Tuskasa's new found freedom has caused rumors to spring up about him, which noticeably troubles Mimiru.  Bear and Subaru meet after Subaru learns that Tsukasa has been logged in continuously for ten days.  Subaru's interest in Tsukasa begins to shift.
It's all ice cream and lollipops... and dead people - Tsukasa seems to have some doubts about the whole "Imbue the girl with your own color" thing (see "Color my world" above) DVL makes an impossible promise, Tsukasa calls her on the impossibility, DVL takes umbrage and then claims an identity that's just ... wrong.
Bad Therapy - Mimiru is feeling down about the situation surrounding Tsukasa, in Bear's place BT shows up to be talked to.
Information and Instinct - BT and Mimiru talk to Sora.
Boggled Minds - Subaru and the Silver Knight discuss what should be done and what can be done and we get mention of how the system administration is taking things.

There was a giant gap here because... just because.
I wrote a sort of theme post called Why .hack//Sign Matters which was originally supposed to be why it matters in general but turned out to be much more of why it matters to me.
To help people get back into things I made a post called: "The Story So Far," which came in a text only version and one with images:

Sora's Plan - The long awaited return to regularly scheduled programming.  Sora presents Subaru and the Silver Knight with a plan on what to do regarding Tsukasa.

Volume 2: Outcast
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)

Volume 3: Gestalt
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)

Volume 4: Omnipotence
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)

Volume 5: Uncovered
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)

Volume 6: Terminus
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)


*You're probably wondering what makes the limited editions different.  Or maybe you're wondering how limited they can be if they're still on Amazon.  I can't answer that, but I can address the first thing.

The limited editions come with stuff.  Volumes 1 through 4 come with sound track CDs** one through four.  Volume 5 comes with a box to put those CDs in (which seems like the least valuble extra, though I have been using mine for years) and Volume 6 comes with an extra episode.  (Beyond the two bonus episodes that come with the ordinary Volume 6.)

In addition to the soundtrack CD, the limited edition of the first volume comes with a stuffed animal, a t-shirt, a box to put these things in, postcards, stickers, and a demo CD for the first PlayStation 2 game.

** These are, in order:
.hack//Sign Original Soundtrack 1 - Exactly what it sounds like.
.hack//Sign Original Soundtrack 2 - Again, what it sounds like.
.hack//Liminality Original Soundtrack - I suddenly feel a lot less insightful for figuring out that something was a liminal space.  Anyway, .hack//Liminality was an OVA relased alongside the PS2 games and I would love to provide a link to it, but it looks like the only way to get it is to buy the four games. (One, Two, Three, Four.)  I've never seen it.  I do know that at least one of the songs on this disc is used in .hack//Sign.
4 .hack//Extra Soundtrack - Some songs from .hack//Sign that didn't make it onto the first two discs, as well as some alternate versions of songs that did.  Also several bridges.

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