Review of Hack Sign (2002)
In about 2007, a girl gets trapped in an online role-playing game with 200 million users. She cannot log out, her real body is stuck in a coma and she has the power to hurt other players physically. She is also convinced that she is her male online persona, and quite antisocial. Nonetheless, the mystery surrounding her predicament and power attract various other players: some friendly, some not.
Fantasy framed as near-future science fiction, almost cyberpunk. Part of a large franchise. A few of the characters are interesting, particularly the immature Sōra who is also annoying. Some neat design work.
Hack Sign’s major problem is dreadful pacing leading through an unrealistic plot regulated by the ridiculously archaic world and rules of the game, ending badly. Like later isekai, it’s deliberately thin. The music and the fact that almost everything we see takes place in the game world are novelties that wear out swiftly.
References here: Gantz (2004).