January 21, 2012 marks the airing of the 3D animated movie, .hack//Beyond the World (Dot Hack//Sekai no Mukou ni) in Japan.
The movie was designed to appeal to the general masses, but also contains important developments in the .hack mythos. Additionally, there’s also a game being developed that is a direct sequel to the movie, written and developed simultaneously alongside Beyond the World.
According to the timeline released on the Famitsu.com site, Beyond the World is the latest instalment in the .hack world. It takes place in the year 2024, a few years after .hack//Link, and the new game takes place one year later, with Haseo (it is unclear whether this is the same Haseo from .hack//G.U. or just someone with the same avatar) as its protagonist.
The screenshots (above) show a completely different art direction for the new game, and CyberConnect 2 CEO, Hiroshi Matsuyama, in his interview with Famitsu, confirms this, saying that they wanted to give the game a slightly photorealistic feel.
Matsuyama states that: “The history of The World is the history of Aura,” and specifically emphasizes that something big will happen to Aura in the movie. In Link (for those of us who haven’t played the game), Aura was infected with a virus and went on a rampage. Thanks to the efforts of the protagonist, she was defeated and lost the majority of her powers.
Matsuyama promises a big twist regarding Aura in Beyond the World, such that if you play the game without watching the movie, you’ll be asking yourself, “Why is Aura acting this way?” Because of this, Matsuyama urges .hack fans not to be put off by the fact that the movie was created for a wider audience.