Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.
Dot Hack: Legend of the Twilight Vol.1-3
I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to Dot Hack. As a series that spans games, anime and manga it's a bit of a handful when it comes to following the narrative, but happily Legend of the Twilight assumes that, like the characters themselves, you have little knowledge of any other storyline within the Dot Hack universe.
Dot Hack itself is a story set in the world of online RPG Gaming, where players from all over the planet interact with each other in a series of adventures. Shugo and Rena are two such players, and the lucky winners of limited edition Dot Hackers avatars. As they start to learn the basics of playing online, Shugo is critically injured, and is whisked away to meet the mysterious Aura. When he is returned to his worried sister, he has a bracelet of awesome power that marks him as a target for the CC Corporation, the owners of the online RPG.
On their adventures, they bump into a host of interesting characters with their own personality quirks and reasons for playing the game. The first of these is Mirielle, a cute collector of rare items. She introduces the pair to Ouka, a career werewolf who plays the game to become as strong as possible. WIth their party well on its way, the characters begin what starts as a harmless bit of fun, which is about to turn sinister. And how is Shugo's mysterious bracelet connected to the Dot Hackers incident from 4 years ago..?
Legend of the Twilight benefits from a light touch - the characters are bright, lively and endearing. Hamazaki's story favours humour over the serious tones of the original anime, and the book is all the better for it. Izumi's fantastic artwork is detailed and perfectly formed, her artwork encapsulating everything I always enjoyed about Japanese artwork - consistant, detailed and cute as hell. (She previously worked on the Slayers manga for you manga-buffs out there!)
Volume 1 remains a light and airy introduction to the online world of Dot Hack, and although the series gets progressively darker, it never loses its sense of warmth and humour. At only 3 volumes its an affordable and enjoyable way to enter the World.
Light, fluffy but always endearing, Dot Hack is wholeheartedly recommended.