This week I started re-watching the anime series, “.hack//sign.” I like it. I’m hoping students will like it, too. In addition to being an adventurous narrative, the plot raises many important questions about Internet use, specifically virtual reality role-playing worlds.

The series depicts a dimension where the boundaries between reality and fantasy are blurred. It has a Through the Looking Glass feel to it- reality is mirrored in non-reality. The main character, Tsukasa, can’t log-out of “The World.” He’s lost, feels strange and disoriented, agitated and cranky, and says at one point that he’s okay living in the virtual world, away from the “ludicrous” real world where his computer terminal is.

Other players try to help him, and although he exhibits a constant struggle with his perplexing situation, he abrasively criticizes and runs away from them. Mimiru, an empathetic and sassy girl, says to him, “The net is the same as the real world…there are certain rules you have to observe when dealing with people.”

I highly recommend this series. The animation artwork is excellent, it’s well-paced, and it invites serious thought. It deals with themes such as depression, anxiety, relationships, and coping mechanisms, e.g., escapism, avoidance, lashing-out.

Note: The rating says 13 and up. So far the controversial issues I’ve come across are bare midriffs, a painted chest, a smack in the face, fighting scenes (not gruesome), and the word “jerk”- once.

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