.hack is a multimedia franchise primarily created by Bandai.
The franchise primarily surrounds a future in which one operating system, ALTIMIT OS, is used by all computers in the world due to various computer viruses (in particular, one named Pluto's Kiss) that crashed the internet in the mid-2000s.
In the .hack universe, The Pluto Kiss is a catastrophic event that took place on December 24th 2004. On that day, all computers connected to the internet crashed simultaneously around the globe. Also, all networked computer and communication network control system were shut down.
In the USA, the automatic retaliatory system malfunctioned, in short time reaching a a point of crisis.
77 minutes later, the network was able to recover itself from the incident.
It was later discovered that the virus creator was a 10 year old elementary school student.
After the Pluto kiss crisis, the 44th president of the USA (Jim Stonecold) resigned in January 2006.
Ever since then, ALTIMIT OS is now the only major operating system in the world due to its stability and the difficulty found in crashing the system.
The primary focus of the franchise however is the popular MMORPG The World, which has over one million users upon its launch. The series focuses, however, on a particular set of incidents termed The Twilight Incident in which multiple users were forced into a coma while playing the game. Most of the stories surround an AI named Aura (アウラ) or various other anomalous AIs.
The four initial storylines of the franchise were:
- .hack//SIGN, an anime series surrounding the character Tsukasa (司) and his inability to log out of The World.
- The .hack video games, a set of four video games for the Playstation 2 that follow the story of the .hackers Kite (カイト) and Black Rose (ブラックローズ) and their attempts to find out what caused the sudden coma of Kite's friend, Orca (オルカ).
- .hack//Liminality, a set of four DVD OVAs included with the games that follow the story of Mai Minase, Yuki Aihara, Kyoko Touno, and ex-Cyber Connect 2-employee Junichiro Tokuoka as they attempt to find out what is causing the comas.
- .hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet (released in Japan as .hack//Tasogare no Udewa Densetsu, translated as .hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet, occasionally mistranslated as .hack//DUSK), a manga series (that later became an anime series) following the player characters Rena (レナ) and Shugo (シューゴ Shūgo), as they win a mysterious contest that earns them the same character models as the legendary .hackers Kite and Black Rose. The third and final volume of the manga is twice as large as the first two, and could have been released as two separate volumes.
Other storylines of the franchise that were created later were:
- .hack//AI buster, a novel telling the story of Albireo and a prototype of the ultimate AI, Lycoris.
- .hack//Another Birth, a novelization of the .hack games, from Black Rose's point of view.
- .hack//GIFT, a self-deprecating, tongue-in-cheek, one-episode OAV that was created as a "gift" for those who had followed the .hack franchise through all its incarnations. It is predominantly a comedy that makes fun of everything that developed throughout the series, even the franchise's own shortcomings.
- .hack//ZERO, another novel that tells the story of Karl (カール), and of what happened to Sora after he was trapped in The World by Morganna.