Ovan and Sakaki

The .hack//G.U. trilogy has a lot of characters. Some would say too many, but surprisingly, almost all of them are shockingly well established, and this includes the many villains presented throughout the three games. But of all of them, two in particular stand out as especially memorable: Sakaki and Ovan.

Sakaki, for the most part, is a pretty typical anime villain, the sort of person you immediately despise. He makes his introduction as a charismatic but as the game progresses, however, his overly idealist the game progresses, his overly idealist and completely unpragmatic ideologies get more and more intense. It makes the player wonder just how a person this naive and childish could possibly exist.

The answer to that question is actually revealed outside of the "game" world. .hack//G.U., for those who don't know, is a game that takes place entirely within the confines of an MMO. However, players can log out of that MMO at any time and check their e-mail or read news reports and message boards on their simulated desktop. It's in this structure that the stranger side of Sakaki's character is revealed, via a series of anime news shorts called "Online Jack." The reason Sakaki seems so childish is because he is a child, a mere elementary school student with a warped sense of justice and a child's sense of entitlement. Most troublingly, he's also easily trusting, and falls in with the dangerous artificial intelligence AIDA. This leads to all kinds of trouble, as one might expect.

Ovan, on the other hand, is an enigma, a character who is painted, from the very beginning, as an unknown. He has history with the main character, Haseo, that goes back much farther than the game's timeline, but from the start it's never clear if he's an ally or a villain. In the early parts of the story, he helps Haseo from a distance, offering advice, encouragement, and the occasional cryptic warning, always appended with an odd insistence that he "must grow stronger." And when his more malicious agenda is finally revealed, it's still not clear if he's really an enemy or not. In fact, it seems as though Ovan wants to be defeated, which simply makes matters more confusing for the already troubled protagonist.

Sakaki and Ovan are only two of many villains that appear throughout the trilogy's lengthy story, but they are by far two of the most memorable. Both are impressively complex characters, and the relationships they develop with Haseo over the course of three games only makes their defeat that much more satisfying.

Adriaan den Ouden

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