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Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Bee Train
Format: 4 OVA
Dates: 6/20/2002 to 4/12/2003

Minase Mai and Tomonari Kasumi were the best of friends. One day, the two of them decided to play The World, an extremely popular online RPG. While playing, however, they heard a mysterious sound and both fell into a coma; only Mai woke up. She later meets Tokuoka Junichiro, the man who created the Japanese version of The World. He reveals that there are six other people in the country who are in comas as a result of this game, and he wants the help of Mai to get to the bottom of this. Tokuoka, Minase and a few others set off to solve this mystery and find out just what exactly this game is.

summary by Keitaro

Reviewed: 08/21/2003 by 
Grade: 69%av-Keitaro

Highs: Amazing music; a treat for .hack fans…

Lows: … yet too slow and confusing for most; bland characters; still too many unanswered questions

This installment in the .hack series was released in four parts, each packaged with one of the .hack video games. It is a very difficult anime to review as it appeals to such a specific audience only. One’s interest in this show is dependent entirely on his or her background with the .hack series. This time around there is a new cast of characters who aim to solve the mysteries of The World, but instead of investigating from inside the game, they do some from the real world. Unfortunately, it is not the sequel I had been hoping for. Not by a long shot.

Something about the art in Liminality irritates me. Sure, the animation is fluid and the colors are vibrant, but the characters seem to lack detail and look quite bland when compared with the characters in .hack//SIGN. This is surprising as character design and art have always been the two things that stood out in Bee Train’s anime. Then again, when it comes to music, this anime does not disappoint. Kajiura Yuki once again works her magic with this masterful soundtrack.

No doubt about it, this OVA is for fans of the series only. Die-hard fans. To casual fans: if you are looking for answers to some of the questions in .hack//SIGN, I am disappointed to say you won’t find many here. The plot of this anime just goes in one big circle. Just when I thought something big was going to happen, it’s back to square one. In the end, I felt frustrated and dissatisfied. Also to be found here are a lot more of the long conversations that made the series a failure in the eyes of many, which may or may not bother you. To die-hard fans: there are a few small clues offered here, and those alone might be reason enough to warrant a watch. This anime is a great addition to a .hack collection as it shows the same concept from a different perspective. To those of you who are new to The World: skip it. You will not understand Liminality, and you will not enjoy it.


Reviewed: 08/26/2003 by   

Grade: 67%av-Madoka

Highs: The score; high-quality animation

Lows: Accomplishes nothing; game players get the full benefit of the story

.hack//Liminality is more of a supplement than its own fleshed-out story. This series is a mediocre attempt at explaining what happens in the real world as the events in the .hack game unfold. Ultimately, this makes this OVA somewhat dependant on playing the game, leaving the meat of the story to that game and accomplishing little to nothing in the series itself.

Experienced fans will jump at the chance to finally see a vision of the real world of .hack that manages to be both plausible and realistic. The excellent animation establishes a reasonable future and takes a chance on a unique character design for the character of Minase Mai. Although none of the characters from .hack//SIGN make a return appearance, one element that series and this OVA do share is the outstanding background music. Kajiura Yuki has composed some of her best vocal songs to date for the varied opening songs, and the background score is a subtle reminder of the link between the series. In particular, the use of the opening theme of .hack//SIGN in an important scene is a nice touch.

This anime also shares the long-winded, complicated speeches that turned many viewers away from .hack//SIGN. In the end, it is difficult to see what if anything has been accomplished in this OVA. Three of the four episodes do little than establish the characters, and only the fourth picks up the pace and provides some suspense and action. But what results from that action is ambiguous and seems to change nothing in the overall story.

Although it is the only chance to see what happens in the saga outside of the game, by itself this series is so uninteresting that it pales in comparison to the depth of the story in both of the television series. Only viewers who have seen those series and played the concurrent volumes of the game will fully appreciate .hack//Liminality for its place on the overall scale of the .hack story.


.hack//Liminality can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.


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