Wednesday, July 4, 2012

.hack//Sign: These points of data make a beautiful line

.hack recap: We last saw Subaru agreeing to listen to Sora after he threatened her with a wrist blade.

(I recommend actually buying .hack//Sign since my words don't really do it justice.  One can get either the DVD this episode is on, or the full series as a set.)

.hack//Sign, Episode 3: Folklore, 8:55-Midpoint

This is going to be the last of the short on time, short on contet posts, for now at least. An episode like this almost feels like it would be better suitied to ditch the chonological and just have a series of posts following the characters, something like:
Episode 3: Subaru
Episode 3: Bear
Episode 3: Mimiru
Episode 3: Tsukasa.
The trouble with that is that it drops the chronological flavor of the original, and there's a lot of overlap, almost all of Mimiru's scenes are with Bear, but if I'm talking about them from Bear's perspective then that's different from talking about them from Mimiru's perspective, and it's probably easiest to do the whole thing from the viewers perspective.

If I did do the above, then the last meeting in the episode would have to be covered three or four times, depending on whether or not something that is about Tsukasa, which Tsukasa isn't actually in attendance for, belongs in his thing.

Anyway, for now I'm sticking to chronological order and that means we're in Venice.

Subaru warps in and The Sliver Knight bows respectingly. Sora warps in and the Sliver Knight goes for his sword.

Subaru: Don't.
Silver Knight: Lady Subaru...
Subaru: I've decided to treat him as our guest for a while. Please let the others know this as well.

The dub adds, “And learn from him what he knows,” between Subaru's last two sentences. Regardless, Silver Knight makes a sound of shock and despair, possibly a bit of disgust as well. Almost like he touched something and then realized it was his least favorite type of insect but produced a shudder instead of a scream.

It is worth noting that Subaru didn't have to stop Silver Knight.  Silver Knight would lose in a fight with Sora but Subaru probably doesn't know that.  Sora has managed to say something that interests her enough for her to, as she'll put it, tolerate him, but if he hadn't if she'd just been staying with him because of the threat of violence, then now might seem to be a good time to end the charade and order Silver Knight to get rid of Sora.

Likewise, she warps in before Sora giving her enough time to warp back out again with no way for Sora to follow her.  If she considered herself trapped by Sora now would be a good time to escape.  She doesn't do anything like that, and her later interactions with Sora will demonstrate that she's not afraid of him.  Something that the way the last one ended could have left in doubt.

Sora: So, nice to meet you, man.

Silver Knight is still doing his disgust thing, so Subaru turns to face him. It ends up being the beginnings of a staring contest. I don't know a lot about military discipline or police forces or volunteer peacekeeping forces within the bounds of online games that were set eight years in the FUTURE ten years ago, but I'm pretty sure getting into a staring contest with your boss is not standard procedure.

Subaru doesn't go for the whole staring contest thing, addressing Sora over her shoulder she asks him to go on ahead, he asks if he's being left out, she says it's an issue for the knights, and he goes. At this given moment, Sora, who has no reason to be loyal to Subaru, has little difficulty taking her order. Silver Knight not so much.

Once Sora is out of earshot Silver Knight asks for an explanation and Subaru takes him on a walk.

Atop a bridge they talk, subaru looking out over the canal, Silver Knight off to the side looking sort of at Subaru, sort of over her shoulder.

Subaru: Do you remember when we talked about Lord Orca?
Silver Knight: Yes.
Subaru: Something is about to happen in this game.

That conversation was from the first time we ever saw Subaru. Her first words in the series were, “The other day I had a chance to speak with Lord Orca.” That and this were both talking about something happening in The World, unnoticed by the masses. Some greater flow of events that would soon overtake the game. Something is coming Subaru and Orca and others believe. But they don't know what or where. They know not where it's coming from or where it's going to, they don't know what it is or what it will mean. They don't know much of anything.

That's a problem. You can't prepare for what you don't understand.

At the moment, that it Subaru's primary concern.

Subaru: He –Sora– told me that the Key of the Twilight is somehow related to it.
Silver Knight: And you believed him?
Subaru: I am highly suspicious of the existence of the Key of the Twilight. Rather, I believe that there is no such thing.
Sliver Knight: Then why?
Subaru: I do not know.
*Silver Knight makes an unsatisfied “Hmmmm”*
Subaru: I thought we should not ignore the possibility so easily. That is why I've decided to tolerate him for a while.

So there actually is a fair amount here to talk about. First off, Sora noticed this unexplained thingy that's going on. We don't know how, we don't know if Subaru knows how, but somehow he's noticed. That in itself is probably more interesting to Subaru than the fact he thinks that the Key of the Twilight is involved with it. When Subaru tried to talk to Silver Knight about it he had no idea what was going on.

When Orca talked to her about it he wasn't willing to reveal any details yet. Sora is the first person other than Subaru who has noticed that has been willing to share information with Subaru, even if the information feels to her like a dead end.

More than that, Sora must have at least hinted that working with him on this could lead to more information from his end in the future otherwise there would have been no reason for Subaru to guestify him.

Not dismissing possibilities, even ones that she personally believes useless, indicates that Subaru is trying to cast a wide net. She's flying pretty blind and she can't talk to Mr. Universe to get her bearings. She needs information, she needs datapoints, because right now she's got almost nothing.

She knows that something is happening. She knows that the Silver Knight was defeated in a way that knocked his character unconscious which should be impossible, she knows that the only witness fled and hasn't been seen at the Chaos Gate for days even though that ought to be impossible (unless he's manually shut down his computer and then not logged back in.) And that seems to be about it.

Oh, and there's a character that looks like a cat.

She does not yet know that Tsukasa can jump between servers without using the Chaos Gate, she does not know that Tsukasa cannot log out. She does not know that he has all senses functioning. She does not know that there's an AI in the form of a disembodied female voice, or that DVL (Disembodied Voice Lady) is directing Tsukasa. She does not know about Aura.

She does not know how any of this fits together.

So she's trying to gather information, even if that means dealing with people like Sora.

Returning to the conversation, there's a massive disconnnect between the dub and the subtitle. The subtitle has Silver Knight asking, “Just for that reason?” the dub has him saying, “Please just keep him far from me then.”

Either way it was enough to get Subaru to turn to face Silver Knight.

Subaru: He even suggested that the wave master we are currently pursuing, the character called Tsukasa, is at the center of all this.

I'm not even sure how to describe the noise Silver Knight makes in response to this. It's almost a sort of an involuntary intake of breath one might make when they realize that they accidentally unleashed a plague of ten thousand dragon-demon lapdogs upon the earth.

Ok, maybe that's not the sound. But it is a sound of not wanting to hear something, and not having a word to put to that unwillingness to accept the information you didn't want to hear.

There's a more important point here than Sliver Knight's non-verbal vocalizations though.

Right now Subaru is concerned with the unseen happenings in The World, something I'll just call the “larger flow” because that's what it's eventually going to be referred to as anyway. Her interest in Tsukasa, so far as she has any, is because of his involvement in the flow of things. He's at the center of all this stuff, so if you're interested in all of this stuff you've got to take note of Tsukasa.

But you don't have to care about him as a person. The concern for him that is required is that of a puzzle piece, and even if it does happen to be the central puzzle piece it still means that one is interested in Tsukasa only insofar as Tsukasa influences the larger flow.

As the series goes on this will flip. Subaru will become more and more interested in the person of Tsukasa, and less and less interested in the larger flow except insofar as parts of it influence Tsukasa (and parts of it very much do.)

The parts of the larger flow that don't influence Tsukasa will be left to other people to deal with, that's what the games are for. Most of this larger flow stuff is, basically, setting up for the games.

I won't be taking into account the games, I have not played them, but it is worth remembering that this project originally started as three parts, the four games, the OVA that went along side them, and this series that preceeded both. Since then there has been more animation, more games, books, manga, trading cards, and god knows what else. Most of that can, and probably should be ignored when looking at .hack//SIGN, I know that there's a fair amount of retconning that goes on, probably some shark jumping, but more important than that is it simply wasn't there. The plan was for the four games, OVA, and one anime series. Everything beyond that was tacked on after .hack//Sign was made.

I don't think that there's anything wrong with completely disregarding the tacked on later work, but it's worth remembering that this isn't Deus Ex or The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was never intended as a stand alone and as a result not everything outside of .hack//Sign is tacked on later work.

The original four games and OVA that came with them were in the minds of the creators as .hack//Sign was made. Some of what appears in .hack//Sign is directly setting up for that. As, for example, this larger flow that concerns Subaru. We'll see some of it in .hack//Sign, but when the series ends most of it is yet to come. While some things do that with no intention of actually producing the yet to come, this was done with an eye towards the works in which it would come.

Anyway, that's all for this post.


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