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Dated 13 December 2008: Watching .hack//SIGN for the first time

Tsukasa
Don't feel bad if you think Tsukasa looks like a girl. He is wearing a skirt.

Against my better judgment, I'm watching .hack//SIGN for the first time. I've never played any of the .hack games, and my only other exposure to the franchise was an abortive attempt to watch .hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet when it first aired. I had to give up on Bracelet because the show seemed really insipid and man were those kids annoying as all Hell.

Subaru
.hack//SIGN Subaru looks a lot more feminine than StrikerS Subaru.

I skipped .hack//SIGN for all these years because everyone always said it was God awful. I've heard nothing except complaints about the pacing, Tsukasa's whiny moping (lots of comparisons to Ikari Shinji), and myriad other problems—never anything positive. To be honest, it's not so bad so far. It's a little silly, but it doesn't seem to take the game aspect of The World too seriously. Serial Experiments Lain, this isn't.

Mimiru
Sadamoto needs to draw more dark-skinned characters. Mimiru is a triumph.

From what I've seen so far, all those complaints I've heard for all those years are greatly exaggerated. Don't take my word for it, though. I have a bizarre affection for Bee Train. And .hack//SIGN does boast a Kajiura Yuki soundtrack, so at the very least the show sounds great. As a final nail, I am weak when it come to Sadamoto Yoshiyuki superlovely character designs. It's possible my extraordinary lenience is not entirely objective.

Dated 21 December 2008: .hack//SIGN honestly wasn't that bad

Mimiru and Bear
Bear pulls Mimiru to safety.

It didn't take me long to finish watching .hack//SIGN. As per its reputation, the pacing is pretty slow and there is a lot of moping. Subaru is entirely too emo for her own good, and Tsukasa does whine quite a bit. But it's all right if you think of the series as being about (a) meeting people on the Internet (best-case scenario) and (b) discovering you have a soul mate instead of (c) being about Tsukasa's inability to log out and wondering if people who die in The World will die in Real Life, too.

Mimiru
Thanks to My-Otome, I don't think Mimiru's sword looks big.

I do think the show focuses too much on Tsukasa, though. Pretty much any moment Tsukasa isn't on screen the other characters are talking about him. Quite frankly, Tsukasa's plight isn't that interesting. However, the other characters are okay. Mimiru is charming, and I liked seeing the different players' various approaches to enjoying The World. As much as a prick Sora was, you kinda have to appreciate where he's coming from when you have other players like Subaru and her Crimson Knights. Most of those guys are ass clowns.

Subaru, Silver Knight, and BT
.hack//GIFT is kinda awesome—mostly for Subaru's cruelty, not the unexpected nudity.

All in all, I liked .hack//SIGN enough to chase down all its OAVs and I kinda wish I had more episodes to watch. The OAVs are more satisfying than the series proper—probably because they focus more on the game itself. To tell you the truth, I would have liked .hack//SIGN best if it didn't have a plot and instead spent all its time as a slice-of-life series about Mimiru and Bear grinding and leveling through The World.

Dated 18 November 2012: Sword Art Online is getting boring

Asuna
Less contemplating, more escaping.

I think the biggest problem with Sword Art Online is that so few of the players seem to treat it like a game. All the players in the new non-lethal virtual world take everything so personally. I remember even .hack//SIGN taking itself less seriously. It also doesn't help that a major character from the first cour has spent all her time since then doing fuck all. I already know what does and does not happen, but that knowledge doesn't make the slog through these episodes any less tedious.