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Light Novel / .hack//AI Buster

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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:

  • A short retelling of the events from Hokuto's perspective that provides more insight to her character.
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  • A true sequel to AI Buster that takes place during .hack//SIGN, once again revolving around Albireo as he investigates Tsukasa.
  • The third story that takes place after the second, focusing on Kamui, the one character that serves as the link between AI Buster and Legend of the Twilight.
  • Hotaru's first experience playing the World.
  • Rena's interactions, as her previous PC Bridget, with a mysterious character, Rumor.


.hack//AI Buster contains examples of:

  • Blade on a Stick: As befitting his Pole Arm class, Albireo wields a halberd.
  • Couple Theme Naming: Both Albireo and Hokuto have Stellar Names and by the end of the novels, are implied to be in a relationship.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: AI Buster ends with Lycoris being driven to suicide from being a failed, unwanted prototype of Aura. Likewise, the Wotan's Spear short story in AI Buster 2 ends with Albireo's titular spear being shattered by Macha, and him being Data Drained. The latter turns into a Bittersweet Ending, though, when he and Hokuto meet in real life, and start a relationship.
  • 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: Lampshaded by Albireo when the party were at the snowy blizzards of Imprisoned Fallen Angel, and they were all minimally dressed (Hokuto was wearing her usual stripperiffic garb, Lycoris was only dressed in her filmsy red robe, while Albireo himself had a sleveless shirt). Justified, since they were in a game, and were not really situated in sub-zero temperatures in real life.
  • Flawed Prototype: Lycoris was designed by Harald Hoewick to be the "ultimate AI", Aura, but was deemed imperfect and therefore must be deleted.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Junichiro Tokuoka isn't a tourist, but constantly wore a Hawaiian shirt. It's demonstrative of his idiosyncrasies. It's consistent with his later appearance in the Liminality OVA
  • 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.
  • Info Dump:
    • Albiero would frequently spend several paragraphs explaining about the history and mechanics of The World.
    • 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.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Hokuto is a naive but very enthusiastic young girl who practically forced the lone wolf Albireo to team up with her. Despite his frequent exasperation towards her, he acknowledged that she's the only person who knows about his Lycoris event and is therefore "special". Subverted in the P.O.V. Sequel, where we see that Hokuto is actually a backup character for her "real", veteral character, W.B. Yeats, and 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.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • 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. This is likely meant to foreshadow her fate to be permanently deleted. Lycoris is also Greek for "twilight", which is one of the franchise's Arc Words.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Hokuto's avatar is a Cute Witch who wears practically nothing but a hat and a bikini.
  • Naïve Newcomer: At least one of the Cobalt Knights during the first chapter. He seems to have virtually no knowledge about the history of the game and is quickly scolded for it.
  • Named Weapons: The main weapon of the Cobalt Knights is the Spear of Wotan, which is a reference to Odin's Gungnir.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: Ever wondered what happened to the Vagrant AI girls who can't become Aura? Well now you know.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: "2nd Character/Haruka Muzuhara's Situation", in AI Buster 2, retells the story from Hokuto's perspective.
  • Puzzle Boss: The One Sin is rumoured to be undefeatable, as it has defeated countless of very strong players. But as Balmung and Orca later discover, and Albireo explains, it's not that the monster can't be defeated, but it requires two players exploiting the Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors to be able to defeat it at all.
  • 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.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: This is how Orca and Balmung are able to triumph over The One Sin: it would only attack if they attacked it first, but if they stop attacking, it would also stop. This gives the two time to come up with a strategy.
  • She's a Man in Japan: Inverted. 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.
  • Stripperiffic: Hokuto sports Vapor Wear, Bare Your Midriff, and others all bundled up in one outfit.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: Haruka Mizuhara has two characters: 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.
  • Virtual Ghost: The ghost of the church. Also known as Morgana Mode Gone. Also known as God.