Yes, you are reading the title right. By playing the free game .hack//Versus, which is included on the .hack//Sekai no Mukou ni (Tentatively: “Beyond The World”) disc you can unlock an OVA called “The Thanatos Report”. According to a recent trailer (see below) the OVA will connect the events of the game with the events of the movie and “reveal the last truth”. It is not yet clear what are the conditions that must be met in the .hack//Versus game in order to unlock the bonus OVA. The trailer did not reveal which animation studio is behind “The Thanatos Report”. The length of the OVA also remains unknown, but judging from past iterations of .hack media it is expected to be presented in short movie clips, similar to the Online Jack OVA that was included in the .hack//G.U. games.
In addition to promoting the movie and introducing the OVA the trailer also shows how the online system for .hack//Versus will work. The game will advance it’s plot based on online battles. Players will be able to not only watch but also comment on other players’ battles in real time. By playing against other players online and commenting on other battles you will be able to “unlock further secrets”.
The mentioned trailer:
.hack//Sekai no Mukou ni will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 28th. Do note that only the Blu-ray version will have the game and OVA bundled on the disc, and that some retailers (such as Amazon) are currently listing the Blu-ray version in their games category instead of their movies/series category. The movie will not have English subtitles available on the Japanese disc and Bandai has yet to reveal any plans for a U.S. localization of either the movie or the bundled game.
Update: According to a report by the online Famitsu Magazine website players will be able to watch the Thanatos Report by clearing the game’s main scenario. The protagonist of the OVA will be Dave, who also appears in the main movie. The OVA will take place in both 2024 (the year in which the movie takes place) and 2025 (the year in which the game .hack//Versus takes place).
What a bad way to start 2012! As you might have heard by now Bandai Entertainment, the U.S. based subsidiary of Namco Bandai Japan, will stop releasing new titles in February. That includes all of the companies’ manga and anime line. According to the ANN’s article:
“Bandai Entertainment will focus on licensing rights to other companies, particularly in digital distribution, broadcast, and merchandising.”
This in fact translates to “Bandai Entertainment will close its offices, but a representative will be kept in the U.S. in case any of the other U.S. based anime distribution companies wants to license a series directly from our Japanese firm.”
All the series Bandai Entertainment already released will remain in print for now, so there’s no need to panic even if you managed to miss one of Bandai’s releases along the way. But Bandai’s statement that it will stop releasing new titles is a bit enigmatic. Licensed series which have not been published yet are one thing, but what about series Bandai has been churning out in earnest, but haven’t been fully released yet? Will Bandai ever finish releasing Tales of the Abyss? and what about the second season of the very popular K-ON? These are series which were released in tiny little bits instead of a fully fledged complete series box set, and Bandai should be ashamed for not finishing them yet.
Then again, herein lies the problem: Bandai Entertainment’s current “restructuring” misfortune is the end-result the Bandai’s own inability to market its products. Back in the 90s it was common to release series in singles, with each single containing 2-7 episodes, and sell it at a premium price. ADV, Geneon, Media Blasters, Bandai, all the big distribution companies did this. But this marketing style began to lose steam in the new millennium, and eventually brought ADV and Geneo to their knees. In a recent ANNCast interview Bandai Entertainment’s former marketing manager for Jerry Chu told Zac Bertschy and Justin Sevakis that Bandai Entertainment USA succeeded where ADV and Geneon failed because it really did offer a premium package to those who bought those premium priced singles and box sets. However, what might have been true for the beginning of the millennium can become irrelevant in a few years’ time. Bandai continued to release overpriced singles in a new age where no other publisher dared to do so. Aside from the obviously exaggerated price tags (20$ for 4 episodes of K-ON after a discount? really?) the notion of having to wait a year or two for the series you like to be published bit by bit has become archaic. Other companies have often released series in two parts, but slicing a series to more than 2 parts (unless it is a long-running series) is in bad taste.
Bandai has been making bad marketing choices for years. One example would be the companies obsession with Gundam. Bandai released Gundam-related series left and right, never bothering to stop and check which Gundam series had actual potential for success and which is was garbage. But perhaps Bandai’s most recent infamous failure is its inability to market Gurren Lagann. Gurren Lagann had the potential to become a cult hit. It should have been the next Full Metal Alchemist/Naruto/DBZ (you get the point). But Bandai didn’t promote it properly, released it as over-priced singles, and only sold it through its own online store (which is now closed). Frankly, the sleepy Bandai desperately needed a heavy hitter like Gurren Lagann. Instead that great title had undeservingly mediocre sales and didn’t create any sort of hype. Bandai continued to release singles until the bitter end. I feel sorry for all those who bought the three Tales of the Abyss DVD boxes and are now nervously worried if the forth (final) DVD box for the series will ever be released.
But enough about that. Grudges aside, Bandai Entertainment also managed to release mighty good anime while it lasted. I personally want to thank the company for releasing .hack//Sign, Lucky Star and The Girl Who Leapt Throught Time. May Bandai Entertainment rest in peace.