In the Case of Yuki Aihara is the second episode of the .hack//Liminality OVA, taking place an undisclosed amount of time after the first episode. The two main characters from the first episode, Mai and Tokuoka, are both still continuing their investigation into the mysterious comas and other events surrounding The World. However, it seems they’re no longer working alone. At the start of the episode, Tokuoka drops Mai off at a library so she can do some research online, while he goes to meet another member of their group, Yuki Aihara. It was at this point I began to think Tokuoka was using The World to build himself a harem of teenaged girls. I don’t think that’s actually where the story is going, but it did come across as a little creepy.
To be honest, I didn’t like this episode as much as the first. It’s still really good, but there are a few problems. The first is Yuki herself. I didn’t really connect with her, didn’t feel like I learned much about her at all. She’ll flash between being cold and caring for the safety of others, with no real explanation for either reaction. Part of that is the fault of the plot. Due to some mysterious events (probably caused by The World), Yuki finds herself in a bit of a disaster movie. She gains a companion and has to escape from the mall, which puts the focus on the action of the escape, instead of who this girl is and why she’s investigating The World. Events serve to deepen the mystery, but the only information provided is old news to anyone who watched .hack//Sign or played .hack//INFECTION. Considering this episode is included with the second game, .hack//MUTATION, it just feels like things are going around in circles.
Most of the good things from the first are still present in this one, thankfully. The artwork is still beautiful and vibrant, always reminding you that this is the real world, and the consequences here are very real. The music is once again provided by See-Saw, which means it’s great, but unless I missed it, “Obsession” is absent this time. In fact, The World itself is largely absent from this episode. No one is playing the game, but the game still manages to affect the real world. That’s one thing about the plot I really did like, a great way to boost the creepiness and intensity of the situation. At this point, it’s not as easy as just not playing. Even people who have never been in The World before can become a target.
Even though I found this episode lacking when compared to the first part of the OVA, it’s still really good. At the end I was ready to move on to the next episode, and felt a bit disappointed I needed to play through another game to get there. It really shows the strengths of the .hack//Liminality OVA that I can go weeks between watching episodes and feel like I’m still completely caught up and engaged in the story. If you’re interested in the .hack universe, make sure you aren’t skipping any of these episodes. As for me, I already can’t wait to see how these real world investigations end.
Score: 3.5 out of 5