Sunday, November 25, 2012

.hack//Sign: Information and Instinct

[meta bit: more than two months ago, when I wrote the last post, I was thinking two things.  The first is that I would be getting back into writing such posts regularly, the second was that what I was writing was more of a half post than a whole post.  So it's followed up with a sort of half post here]

.hack recap: We left BT and Mimiru sitting on a bench in silence after they seemed to have run out of things to say.  Bear was absent for unexplained reasons.

(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 4: Wanted, 6:52-8:45

The silence is broken by a beeping which Mimiru hears, but BT doesn't seem to hear.

Mimiru: Oh, this again!  This annoys me!

It vexes me.  I am terribly vexed.

BT responds with a "Hmm"  Then gets her own beeping.  She closes her eyes:

So that's what's going on...

Mimiru isn't sure what she's talking about at which point beeping for Mimiru again and we, the audience, find that Sora is messaging both of them.

BT: Shall we meet up with him?
Mimiru: Wha?  Are you serious?

Apparently yes because the scene changes to the land of mushrooms, ranging from normal sized to as tall as multistory buildings.  BT and Mimiru walk through the mushrooms until BT points to Sora, atop one of the taller ones.  She explains:

Idiots love to climb up to high places.

Sora greets them, Mimiru tries to set boundaries explaining that being called over and over is getting really annoying.  Sora is completely dismissive, BT gets to why she came:

BT: Where are the Knights?
Sora: I'm not with them today.  It's a little stifling to be with them all the time.
Mimiru: Then you didn't have to associate with them in the first place!
Sora: This lady over here understands.
Mimiru: What?
BT: It's been said that information gathers where the Knights are.

What's been said and what is true are not always the same, but in this case there is a certain amount of truth to the matter, and not just for the reasons we'll get into in a moment.  The Knights are the closest thing The World has to a police force.  When there's something strange in the neighboorhood, the Knights are who get called.  The Knights have an organization that can run regular patrols meaning that they're more likely to run across anything interesting than an given ordinary player.

The Knights are the ones called in when something goes wrong or someone has a problem they can't handle on their own.

This in itself gives them more information, and a better chance of seeing the bigger picture, than most.

Yet at the same time it would be foolish to forget that at the end of last episode we learned that the idea of what is within the Crimson Knights' power and the actuality do not match.

What Bear thought shouldn't be too difficult turned out to be impossible.  When BT brought up the fact that the Knights gather information, Subaru cautioned, "Not that much, though."

The legend of the Knights doesn't match the reality, and that bears reiterating.  Hell, Subaru has to reiterate it to her second in command, though on a topic other than information.

Anyway, returning to the conversation:

Sora: Yup.  From inside the net as well as outside.
Mimiru: Outside too?
BT: They're assisting the system administration.  Information the sys admin believes is necessary goes out to the Crimson Knights as well.

This is true, insofar as it goes, but there is (see the case of Bear above) an overestimation of how much information that is.

The Crimson Knights are players who formed a group.  Nothing more.  Their goals are, to an extent, aligned with those of the system administration's goals and so they do work together at times.  This has produced a relationship in which they are closer to the system administration than most players, and some of the information that they get from system administration probably isn't available to ordinary players.

We'll see later on that they try to calm the populous when things go wrong and do so by acting like they have privileged information, we'll see before the end of the episode that Subaru was given information that was probably not intended for the general population.  That information came to her after she made a request that, I'm guessing, any player could make but, if it weren't the leader of the Crimson Knights, one wonders if it would have been complied with so readily.

And yet, even given the close relationship they have with system administration, they are still nothing more or less than a player group.

Something that is occasionally forgotten, not just by outsiders but by members of the nights as well, to the detriment of all.

Anyway, BT changes the subject.  Turning to face Sora she says:

BT: Can I ask you something
Sora: You can ask, though I won't necessarily answer you.

For whatever it's worth, probably not much, this closely parallels an exchange between Tsukasa and Mimiru immediately before he asked her if she could log out in the first episode.

BT: Do you think our much-talked about Wavemaster got ahold of the Key of the Twilight?
*Sora goes "Hmm" as he falls from the mushroom to the ground, prompting a sound of shock from Mimiru*
Sora: No, not yet.
BT: What do you base that on?
Sora: Instinct.
BT: I see.  Then I'm signing off.

Everyone is left to find their own way to enjoy The World.  BT found hers at the beginning of the last episode.  There's a rumored hidden item that can overturn the rules from their very foundations.  It took her all of last episode to learn its name.  Her interest in Tsukasa, as well as Sora's, is solely in how useful he is in obtaining the Key of the Twilight.

She previously considered the possibility that Tsukasa had already found it, some of the things he does are quite impossible after all, now she's found Sora's opinion on the matter and what he bases it on.  She's done here.

Mimiru: What was that?
*BT goes bye-bye*
*Sora closes the gap between himself and Mimiru*
Sora: Let's go into a dungeon!
Mimiru: This is the pits.

Sora is just bored.  Mimiru is abandoned, and I don't know the exact rules about warping out, so I'm not sure if she can get away from Sora when he's that close.  If it takes any amount of time (which based on past experience it seems to) then he could kill her before she did.  On the other hand, there do seem to be ample opportunities for losing someone like Sora.



  1. One of the things that strikes me as a tad odd, in retrospect, is how little anyone seems to have to do with the system administrators. I don't recall that we ever meet one.

  2. I don't recall that we ever meet one.

    The impression that I get is that contacting the system administration is done via email, not in game, and if any of them are also players they probably don't wear a big giant, "HEY, SYS ADMIN HERE," sign since that would be just weird.


    One of the things that strikes me as a tad odd, in retrospect, is how little anyone seems to have to do with the system administrators.

    In the next segment Subaru will say something that indicates that she's in contact with system administration regarding the Tsukasa matter, before the end of the episode she'll recommend a course of action to the system administration and they'll implement it (only to find that the implementation had no effect, which is, of course, impossible.)

    After that I'm not sure if we hear much about them until (significantly later) Silver Knight sends them a request, and they send their response to Subaru with a heavy dose of "WTF?"

    1. Yes; part of the difficulty is that because almost all of the story is told in game world it's hard to give any idea of what's going on outside other than by report.