A two-volume light novel series of the .hack franchise.The first volume is one of the first entries chronologically, taking place before .hack//SIGN and after .hack//Epitaph of Twilight. It follows a solo player, Albireo, as he encounters a strange female NPC in an otherwise average dungeon in The World. The NPC seems quite abnormal - it's voiced, and acts as if it can respond to his speech. Compounding this oddity is his being forced into a party by a manic girl named Hokuto during an invasion event in a root town. With that, he has to find a way to finish the NPC's quest.AI Buster 2 is a collection of short stories which pertaining to both the original AI Buster and Legend of the Twilight:
Cuddle Bug: Lycoris is depicted as constantly holding Albireo's hand once they meet, except when he's in battle in which case she hides behind him.
Justified: She's blind at first and needs Albireo to guide her. After she gets her sight back she's running ahead of the others.
Cute Mute: Lycoris, prior to receiving the eciov.cyl item.
Does Not Like Shoes: Lycoris, whose tendencies to walk around barefoot would be troublesome if The World was real.
Dub Text: Amongst other issues, Tokyopop's English edition of AI Buster has entire pages of dialogue that were made up wholecloth by the translators. They are, oddly, about translation, as one of the characters is a professional translator.
One very, very crucial mistake stands out here - In this version of the book, Watarai's assistant is male. Since the character isn't even named, you wouldn't think this was a big deal; the problem is, this isn't a random extra, this person is supposed to be the (female) Kamui. If you don't find that out online, it takes a lot of connections back to this book out of some of the later installments.
Escort Mission: Lycoris' quest requires Albireo to travel throughout The World gathering the .cyl items with her following alongside him. The tasks within the larger mission run the gamut from killing massive, powerful monsters to watching her jump in a Demon Spring. Varies from the traditional escort mission in that he doesn't have to worry about her being killed by monsters or wandering off. Lucky bastard.
Exposed to the Elements: Hokuto running through a giant blizzard in her usual garb most certainly counts. It is an avatar, however, so it's easy to shrug off.
Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Junichiro Tokuoka isn't a tourist, but constantly wore a Hawaiian shirt. It's demonstrative of his idiosyncrasies.
Hilarious In Hind Sight: In "Firefly," (published in 2006) Hotaru complains that the Boston Celtics have never come close to winning a national championship in almost 30 years. This runs under the assumption that the Celtics would not win between the time the story was written and 2014 when it occurs; however, the Celtics won the NBA Finals in 2008. It can be argued, however, that in the .hack universe, the Celtics never won the 2008 finals.
Infodump: The explanations of how The World works are not subtle.
The English version of the novel, as stated above, adds a multiple-page explanation as to how translation works.
Ironic Echo: The fundamental differences between Albireo and Kamui are highlighted by .hack//Kamui. In the end she says that she is, basically, a god, in direct contrast to Albireo, who reflected at the end of Wotan's Spear that even he had to bow to God's will.
Subversion: in the P.O.V. Sequel, we see that Hokuto's player is a poor and struggling writer/translator. She's not as clueless about what's going on as it appeared from Albireo's point of view, but she's playing up the appearance anyway.
Albireo's character is named after the twin star system Albireo. One star in the system is blue, and one is yellow, and his character's eyes reflect that.
Hokuto is a Japanese name for The Big Dipper or more generally, the North Star.
Hokuto's Alt character is named W.B. Yeats, named for a famous poet. She's a struggling Net Poet herself.
Lycoris: Lycoris flowers (higanbana, red spider lilies) are said to grow in the afterlife and lead people to their next reincarnation. Another legend says that when a person meets someone they may never meet again, the path will be lined with Lycoris flowers. Her hairstyle is also reminiscent of the way the petals bloom. Lycoris is also Greek for "twilight".
Scenery Porn: Navel of Lake. While the description of the area is actually fairly short, Albireo subsequently notes about how exceptional the level of detail is for an area players aren't supposed to visit.
Sdrawkcab Name: The file names for Lycoris' fragmented data. Albireo only realizes this and their functions when he later receives "eye.cyl," as eye is a palindrome.
She's a Woman in Japan: Waterai's assistant, Kamui's player, was mistranslated as being a male in the English release of AI Buster; the lack of Japanese gender-specific pronouns and communication between the author and publisher likely attributed to this. This mistake was corrected in AI Buster 2.
Spell My Name with an "S": The artist's name. "Rei Izumi" is how one would normally spell it under romanization conventions used by English-speakers. "Rei Idumi" (or Idzumi for some) is how one would spell it under romanization conventions used by the Japanese themselves. She specifically requested Tokyopop to use the latter.
The novel version of the G.U. series, on the other hand, is a subversion. Pi's player, Reiko Saeki, personally visits Haruka for some information, and it reveals that after seven years, she is still living alone. Haruka alludes that Watarai was unable to get over the Lycoris incident and it prevented their relationship from progressing, culminating in a separation.
Haruka is both Hokuto and the web poet, W.B. Yates.
Two Lines, No Waiting: A subplot deals with how Balmung and Orca defeated the One Sin event and earned their legendary status in the game.
Viewers Have Never Played An RPG Before: A common criticism regarding how every little basic detail of The World is broken down, from the concept of the NPC to the separate character classes. On the other hand, this could have been done to enhance the gaming illusion, highlight how unusual Lycoris is, and foreshadow that Alberio is an administrator.
Virtual Ghost: The ghost of the church. Also known as Morgana Mode Gone. Also known as God.
Wham Line: But that's no different from human beings.