My favorite anime series is Yu Yu Hakusho and my favorite video games are Legend of Zelda. Now wait... I just said we were talking about ORPG anime, so why in Gott's name am I mentioning these two? They sure as hell are not ORPGs. It is because, even though they are my favorite series, my favorite IP of all time is .hack//, so much so that for the longest time, the first anime of the project, .hack//SIGN, actually usurped YYH for the top spot. So here's the Rewind part of the post...
I am going to try and make this as brief as possible. I can make an entire series about .hack// by itself since it spans so many different mediums and individual series, and has been a huge part of my life ever since it started (the music itself has opened me up to a multitude of different genres, including both classical and techno). It starts with a novel, then a manga, then an anime, 4 PS2 games, 4 books that coincide with the games as well as an anime that tells another side of the games, a manga with an anime adaptation (I am referring to .hack//DUSK (a.k.a. Legend of the Twilight stateside. I would also like to note: READ THE MANGA. While the anime is not bad, the manga is immensely better), another anime, 3 more games... and more.... and even more after that. To save you the pain (actually the pleasure) of going through all of it, I will try and keep things as an overview of everything.
We learn that before the story even begins, the previous Christmas Eve marked the crisis known as Pluto's Kiss, the world's largest cyber terrorism attack in history. As the world recovers from the attack, the first game of the time is released. Known as "The World", it is the largest Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) ever made. Using AV goggles, the player is immersed into a game deeper than any before it, allowing a player to choose different classes, equipment, and spells to use to clear dungeons and level up with players from around the world.
It is here we can begin to talk about the first anime of the series, .hack//SIGN. We meet a young, antisocial, Wavemaster (the Mage-class of The World) named Tsukasa who suddenly finds himself unable to log out of the world. He slowly gains a party of friends that are determined to get him out of The World, as well as discover the root of all this turmoil spreading from the game.
|.hack//SIGN cast. Tsukasa is bottom, center, left.|
|.hack//ROOTS cast. Haseo is the sexy, white-haired player with the exposed midriff.|
I am going to leave the .hack// discussion at that. Avid fans might notice I skipped a few things, such as //LIMINALITY, the four part series that is tied in with the first generation video games, as well as //QUANTUM, the three episode series that premiered last year. Also, the (supposed) finale of the .hack// series (//END OF THE WORLD) just premiered a few months ago for those of you that dive in and want to see it through to the end. The thing is I wanted to keep this brief, so I tried sticking to the main story points of the .hack// timeline. Not only that, I still have two more series I want to talk about! Time for the Vanguard part of the post!
|Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime|
|Accel World main cast|
A-World has been, is, and will be a series I pay close attention to. In addition to the incredible art style and animation, the politics of the game they are playing, as well as the the ramifications of using the burst in the real life, drive the story forward from one battle to the next, kind of like a shonen beat 'em up series, while still being centered in an ORPG. Right now we are at (what I suspect is) the halfway point of the series, meaning we should see something along the lines of a mid-season upgrade soon. I cannot wait to see what is next for Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime
Sword Art Online
|Sword Art Online cast. Kirito featured in the black cloak.|
The unique thing about this game is that there is no magic. This is a very novel concept because every MMO, both in the real world and in the anime universe, there is some kind of energy (SP, mana, etc.). This means there. Are. No. Clerics! No revive spells! No Phoenix Down. Once you're HP drops to zero, that's it. This is a very compelling aspect since all the other ORPG series to date have had no terminal effects on the players. When they died they either respawned (.hack//SIGN) or lose their access to the game (Accel World). Here, it's game over. It's a nice touch. However the no magic can become a little bit of a stretch at times. There are still special techniques, and while this can be explained normally (Rurouni Kenshin has no magic), the glowing of their blades is a little random, and seem a little out of place.
|Kirito performing a dash technique. The glowing blade is odd for a game with no magic...|
Phew. Ok. that was a lot longer than I was expecting. I really appreciate you sticking it out to the end and I hope this sparked your interest in ORPG Anime. Definitely give them a try, at the very least.
Fun little note to leave on. I made the mistake of selling of my .hack// PS2 games because I never had a chance to play on a PS2 any more. Now that I have one again, I have been trying to recollect them. I was able to get .hack//INFECTION (game one) for a Yu-Gi-Oh! card (Yes. One card.). So I have been trying to get the other 3 from the first series and the 3 from generation two. However, as I sat down to finish this post up, I popped in .hack//SIGN vol. 1: Log In, and what did I find sitting next to it? .hack//QUARENTINE, the fourth game! Week = Made!
Ok. I'm logging out for the day. Catch you at ΔHidden, Forbidden, Holy Ground!
*All images used are from simple Google searches of the series. Credit goes to original posters of the image.