.hack//CELL Volume 1

1.0 out of 5 stars The cover is the best thing about this book

.hack//CELL Volume 1

“.hack//CELL Volume 1” has been sitting on my “to be read” pile for quite a long time, more than a year. Now that I have finally gotten around to reading it, I realize I should have let it sit awhile longer. Or just never read it at all.

“.hack//CELL” takes place at the same time as “.hack//Roots,” in The World R:2. The connection to the other .hack series is tenuous, however. Haseo makes a brief appearance in his hunt for Tri-Edge, and Silabus and Gaspard show up as well, almost as if to say “See! This really is .hack!” But other than that, “.hack//CELL” is really the story of two Midoris.

One Midori is a PC in The World, a Professional Victim who wanders around with her companion Adamas. Midori carries some sort of secret, which Adamas knows but Midori seems to have forgotten. The other Midori is an average school girl who doesn’t even play the game. Her friend, Kaho, tries to lure her into The World, but it isn’t until Midori becomes hospitalized with some unknown illness that she sees the appeal of escaping into a fantasy world. The reader is left to guess how much—if at all—the two Minoris are linked, and what is the secret behind them both.

To start off with, this novel had an amateurish translation. The sentence structure and storytelling was clunky, and the translator had difficulty with the Japanese word for blue/green. Midori would talk about her green eyes in one paragraph, and then her blue eyes in the next. There were several other errors, and the text just didn’t flow.

But even with a good translation, I don’t think “.hack//CELL” would have been a good read. The author, Suzukaze Ryo, says in his afterword that he didn’t know much about the .hack universe, and wasn’t given much guidance on what kind of story to tell. He emphasized the real-world Midori, which could have been interesting as most .hack series emphasize the game, but Midori was a lifeless and ultimately boring character whose internal dilemmas and fuzzy philosophizing on the nature of reality didn’t make for a compelling read.

I wasn’t expecting anything amazing when I picked this up, just some light entertainment. Unfortunately, it was one of those books I had to grind through till the end. Even then, you don’t get a complete story. This is followed up by  .hack//CELL Volume 2, but I won’t be along for that ride.

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