.hack//Quantum Review

Story:
Sakura loves playing the online game, “The World.” And having her two closest friends, Mary and Tobias, with her makes it all the better! Unfortunately, their carefree days in “The World” take a dark turn after meeting a mysterious cat character named Hermit and one of the girls becomes engulfed within the game world.

Violence: 
This show doesn’t contain high violence because it’s inside a game world. However there are a few scary scenes, such as the setting of the distorted field the characters fall into where dark forms hang from a large tree in cages and players controlled by the game become clothed in dark with glowing eyes as the only facial feature. Also, when the game starts to take over, large beetle-like monsters begin to go on a rampage and the players begin to feel pain in the real world.

Language:
This show contains no bad language, which is a nice trend among many of the .hack animations.

Nudity:
Similar to all the other .hack games, books and animes, there is no outright nudity. However a few of the outfits are on the skimpy side, showing as much skin as a bikini. There is also a bath scene where the three friends are in a hot spring bath together (a common element of Japanese culture), but it’s tastefully done and no nudity beyond bikini levels is shown.

Theology/Mythology:
Quantum carries over many terms and plot elements from previous .hack variations, such as the independent A.I. Systems being human-like and the “god of ‘The Word’” being its original creator, but any mythology is kept in the game world and usually just pertains to legends of the game itself.

Personal Impression:
At only three episodes, Quantum has high quality animation and a far faster pace than most .hack animes. However, the flip side of this is that it’s crammed with a large amount of information. Almost too much information. The intricate plot rushes through in only about an hour total, leaving little breathing room for character contemplation, which is what the .hack series are usually known for. Also, it isn’t advisable to jump into this series without any knowledge of other .hack shows and their plots because Quantum wastes no time in giving detailed explanations of the game world itself and many of the conspiracies surrounding it. Nevertheless, it’s a great taste of the .hack realm and has a bright tone thanks to the main character’s energetic personality. It may be a bit intense for those new to the .hack series, but it’s bite sized and if you enjoy fantasy with heavy tones of science fiction, this might be a great watch.

Personal Rating: 10 and up

Episode: 3
Languages: Subtitled only (subject to change)
Official rating: TV-14
Genre(s): Fantasy, Science Fiction
Website: http://www.funimation.com/hackquantum
Legal streaming: Subtitled only via FUNimation’s website or YouTube channel
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Howl’s Moving Castle Review

Story:
Sophie works in a plain hatters’ shop and sees herself in the same practical and calm light as she views her hat creations. However, a run-in with the famous wizard Howl and his enemy, the Witch of the Wastes, soon changes things. Cursed into an old woman’s body, Sophie runs off to Howl in the hopes of breaking the powerful curse. But Howl has his own problems and soon Sophie finds that he just might need her help more than she needs his.

Violence:
The violence in this movie is light overall. Near the end there are some scenes where cities are bombed from the air, but only things shown are some damaged buildings. There are also some “transformations” that might be a bit too strange for young viewers. In one scene, a witch’s power is taken from her and she reverts to a very old woman. Not long after, a sorceress attacks Sophie, prompting Howl to take on his non-human form, which resembles a bird-like creature. These transformations are clearly unpleasant at best, painful at worst, for the characters and thus might unnerve children.

Language:
Disney doesn’t often pick up anime titles, but Miyazaki’s works (including Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky and others) are the exception. And as expected of a Disney released title, there really isn’t any bad language in this movie.

Nudity:
There is no true nudity in this movie, but there is one scene where a young man panics and runs downstairs with nothing but a towel around his waist.

Theology/Mythology:
The main male lead in this movie is a wizard, so magic is very much a part of this world. Thus spells and curses are frequently mentioned. One character is also reputed to be a “demon.”
However, it is worth noting that although the term is translated into English as “demon,” it is not what people typically think of as a demon. In Japanese, the original term is more likened to monsters or something that is created or heavily affected by mythical forces. English doesn’t really have an equivalent so the word “demon” is usually used in translations.

Personal Impression:
I will openly admit that some of Miyazaki’s other work, namely Spirited Away, gives me the chills because of the bizarre and creepy animation, but Howl’s Moving Castle is not in this category. In fact, it is easily one of my favorite anime films, despite the strange blob-like henchmen under the control of the Witch of the Waste. The characters are all interesting, the story is complex enough for adults to enjoy, the animation is classically hand-drawn (even the moving castle itself), and the soundtrack’s whimsical tune fits its world. It has its light moments of laughter, compelling action and moving tears. Although the original novel by Diana Wynne Jones has better characterization, this interpretation is still an amazing perspective on Howl’s world. So, if you would rather see a well-rounded movie than invest in watching an entire series, this movie is great place to start!

Personal Rating: 10 and up

Episode: Movie
Languages: Dubbed (English or French) and Subbed
Official rating: PG
Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy
Website: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/castle/
Legal streaming: Not available
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.hack//Roots Review

Story:
Seemingly new to the online role-playing game, The World, Haseo is killed by a fellow player on his very first day. Revived by a strange character named Ovan, he then becomes involved with a guild known as the Twilight Brigade, a special group that hunts for a legendary item known as The Key of the Twilight. But they are up to a hard task indeed as this item is connected to the core of The World’s inner works, which is said to have a mind of its own. And that doesn’t even touch on the feared Tri-Edge, who is said to kill not only a person’s game character, but also their connection to their body in the real world.

Violence:
This show takes place inside a game, so there is no blood involved. However, there are some intense scenes where characters are either feeling pain in the real world or losing sanity within the game. Also, Tri-Edge is quite frightening in appearance (almost zombie-like) which may scare younger viewers.

Language:
Bad language is quite low in this show. There may be a few damns, but that’s about it.

Nudity:
The worst the nudity gets is in the clothing of the characters. A few females have skimpy outfits, such as some of the player-killers. However, they only show as much skin as a bikini.

Theology/Mythology:
The setting of this show is within a game world and, like most games, The World has a lot of legends and myths about various powers, including what is referred to as the “god of The World,” symbolizing the power and mind behind the basic elements of the game.

Personal Impression:
This show is one of the newer animated stories within the .hack world, but thankfully one does not need to be too familiar with the original games, books or series to watch this one. However, it is worth noting that like most of the .hack animated series, Roots focuses more on character interaction and thought processes than action. Thus there are quite a few slower episodes. Also, although knowledge of the previous series is not needed, it is recommended. Especially as the anime cuts off at the end and to finish the story one must read the .hack//G.U. Plus manga. However, if you like more casual-paced shows, enjoy role-playing games or just like the idea of a game having “a mind of its own,” this might be right up your alleyway.

Personal Rating: Ages 10 and up

Episode count: 26
Languages: Dubbed and Subbed
Official rating: 13+
Website: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=6248
Official streaming: No streaming is currently available for this show.
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