.hack//Legend of the Twilight Vol. 1
.hack//Legend of the Twilight was the first manga I ever read, and to this day remains one of my favorites. This manga is part of the huge .hack project which includes the novel .hack//AI BUSTER, the .hack//SIGN television series, a four volume Playstation 2 game, the OVA that follows the story of the game, and finally the manga series .hack//Legend of Twilight. So far, this is the only part of the story I've experienced. This is probably a good thing as I'm writing this review, however, since I will be able to evaluate how this story works on its own, and not as a part of the larger picture.
Something I noticed right away about this manga, which is what made me choose to read it, is how beautiful the art is. The characters are drawn in a flowing, graceful style, and the sequence of events is easy to understand and follow. The panel design is very creative and easy to follow as well. I really like how the author integrates silly little jokes into the background of some scenes, because I had to read the book multiple times to catch them all.
This volume begins with a prologue, followed by an overview of the characters involved in the story. The reader is then introduced to Rena and her twin brother, Shugo. Rena won a contest and received the avatars (characters that exist in the game) of the legendary dot hackers for an online game called The World, and she is excited to go on adventures with her brother. Shugo is skeptical; he thinks it's just silly to spend time in a world that is obviously not real. He quickly decides to give it a chance, however, when he discovers how much attention he gets from girls in the game! Rena and Shugo are quickly immersed in The World, a place where anything is possible. They go on exciting quests and adventures that test their courage, their quick-thinking skills, and their relationship as brother and sister.
After they first enter The World and take a look around, they decide to go to The Field, where characters battle creatures to gain levels. As Shugo struggles to beat a level 1 creature, he and Rena are attacked by a level 40 monster, which they have no hope of defeating. In the midst of battle, Shugo's character is killed, but an ephemeral being named Aura gives him a powerful bracelet and brings him back to life. They end up being rescued by a mysterious man, and Rena is instantly smitten. We women just love the mysterious, heroic type.
Shugo discovers that his bracelet is more than mere jewelry; it finishes off the level 40 monster and turns it into an easier creature. The siblings are still stunned when yet another person, Mirielle, comes to their aid. Mirielle is a wavemaster, obsessed with treasures and rare items. They join up as a team and go on quests for items. They also meet career werewolf Ouka, who can shape shift into a wolf and back. In human form, she is a beautiful, rather scantily clad furry. Finally, they join up with a girl who just wants to save the life of her baby grunty, a strange little pig-like creature. Thus forms this myriad team of adventurers.
The author does a great job developing the characters as they travel around The World. We gradually learn more about each character's history, personality, hidden agendas, and how they fit into the developing adventure of solving the mystery of the Twilight incident. Also, we start to see Shugo's transformation into a hero who is dedicated to protecting his sister, especially from mysterious, handsome men!
This manga is just plain entertaining, and it is one that I believe anyone can enjoy. I recommended it to my 12-year-old sister, and I think she would love it. All around, it's a great manga, and I look forward to reading the rest of the story.