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.hack (pronounced "dot-hack") is a Japanese multimedia franchise that encompasses two projects; Project .hack and .hack Conglomerate. Both projects were primarily created/developed by CyberConnect2, and published by Bandai. The series is mainly followed through the anime and video game installations, and has been adapted through manga, novels and other related media.
The series takes place mainly within The World, a fictional MMORPG published and maintained by the also fictional CyberConnect Corporation, known as the CC Corporation. Players interact with The World using virtual reality headsets called HMDs (Head-mounted display) and a gamepad. It is the creation of German programmer Harald Hoerwick, who created the first version, "Fragment", to help create his virtual daughter, Aura.
The World consists of a cluster of servers distributed around the world. When players log in, they materialize in the Root Town of the server they last used. Each server in The World has its own unique Root Town. They are the starting and ending point of any gaming session. In order to properly log out of the game, the player must be in a Root Town. Each Root Town has a Chaos Gate, a large revolving ring used to transport players to areas or other servers. To transport to an Area, a series of three keywords must be entered. These keywords determine such parameters as difficulty, terrain, and weather, amongst other habitat. Most keyword combinations result in a field and/or a dungeon.
Before the series began, Pluto's Kiss, a virus, caused a simultaneous crash of all computers and network control systems on the Internet that did not run on the ALTIMIT OS, which subsequently became the dominant operating system worldwide. The Twilight Incident, also known as Pluto Again, and the Second Network Crisis is the series of disasters depicted in the .hack//Games. It involves the massive blackout and system shutdown at Yokohama, which results in multiple car accidents, fires throughout the city, various other system malfunctions in other parts of Japan, and various players of The World ending up comatose. It is caused by the glitching Morganna System, though it is eventually resolved with the full awakening of Aura. Kazushi Watarai is held responsible, despite being hospitalized for the majority of the incident.
Due to a fire in CC Corporation headquarters a year following .hack//Legend of the Twilight, CC Corporation had made a new version of the game called The World Revision:2 or simply as "The World R:2". The World R:2 offers new locations and old ones that are hidden within the game, these locations are commonly known as the lost grounds. There are many character classes, new and old. PKing (player killing) has become very popular in The World R:2 and due to this uprising, a guild called "Moon Tree" has been created against PKing. The leader of Moon Tree, Zelkova, is an expert hacker and created a place for hackers called "Net Slums".
The World Revision:X (or simply as "The World R:X") is a new portable version of The World created three years after the world R:2 was made. The World's fictional in-game setting is set a thousand years after the original version.
Project .hack was the first project of the .hack series. It launched in 2002 with the PlayStation 2 game .hack//Infection and the anime series .hack//Sign. Project developers included Koichi Mashimo (Bee Train), Kazunori Ito (Catfish), and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, (Gainax). Since then, Project .hack has spanned television, video games, manga, and novels. There are 4 original .hack games .hack//infection - .hack//mutation - .hack//outbreak - .hack//quarantine
.hack Conglomerate is the second and the current project of .hack by CyberConnect2 and various other companies. The companies include Victor Entertainment, Nippon Cultural Broadcasting, Bandai, TV Tokyo, Bee Train, and Kadokawa Shoten. It encompasses a series of three PlayStation 2 games called .hack//G.U., an anime series called .hack//Roots, prose, and manga.
.hack//Sign is an anime television series directed by Kōichi Mashimo and produced by studio Bee Train and Bandai Visual. .hack//Sign consists of twenty six original episodes and three additional bonus episodes released as on DVD as original video animations (OVAs). The series focuses on a Wavemaster (magic user) named Tsukasa, a player character of a virtual-reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) called The World. Tsukasa wakes up to find himself in a dungeon in The World, but he suffers from short-term memory loss as he wonders where he is and how he got there. The situation gets worse when he discovers he is unable to log out and is trapped in the game. From then on, along with other players Tsukasa embarks on a quest to figure out the truth behind his abnormal situation. The series is influenced by psychological and sociological subjects such as anxiety, escapism, and interpersonal relationships. The series premiered in Japan on TV Tokyo between April 4, 2002 and September 25, 2002. It was later broadcast across East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Latin America by the anime television network, Animax; and across the United States, Nigeria, Canada, and United Kingdom by Cartoon Network, YTV, and AnimeCentral (English and Japanese) respectively. It is distributed across North America by Bandai Entertainment.
.hack//Liminality is a set of four DVD OVAs included with the .hack video game series for the PlayStation 2. Liminality is focused on the real world as opposed to the games' MMORPG The World. Separated into four volumes; each volume was released with its corresponding game. The initial episode is 45 minutes long and each subsequent episode is 30 minutes long. The video series was directed by Koichi Mashimo, written by Kazunori Itō with music by Yuki Kajiura. Primary Animation production was handled by Mashimo's studio Bee Train which collaborated for the four games as well as handled major production on .hack//Sign. Liminality follows the story of Mai Minase, Yuki Aihara, Kyoko Tohno, and ex-CyberConnect employee Junichiro Tokuoka as they attempt to find out why players are falling into comas when playing in The World.
.hack//Legend of the Twilight is a twelve episode anime adaption of the manga series written by Tatsuya Hamazaki and drawn by Rei Izumi. The series was directed by Koichi Mashimo and Koji Sawai, and produced by Bee Train. Set in a fictional MMORPG, The World, the series focuses on twins Rena and Shugo, who receive chibi avatars in the design of the legendary .hackers known as Kite and BlackRose. After Shugo is given the Twilight Bracelet by a mysterious girl, the two embark on a quest to find Aura and unravel the mystery of the Twilight Bracelet. The anime series features many of the same characters as the manga version, but with an alternative storyline. It was incorrectly called .hack//Dusk, among other names, in early fan-translated versions.
.hack//Roots, an anime series released under the .hack Conglomerate project. It follows Haseo and his joining (and subsequent exploits with) the Twilight Brigade guild. It also shows his rise to power and how he becomes known as "The Terror of Death". Towards the end of the series we see the start of .hack.//G.U. This series is the last in the .hack anime series to be licensed by Bandai Entertainment.