Do you ever go back and rewatch something you loved as a kid and then it turns out it's complete and total irredeemable garbage?
That's what just happened to me.
Granted, I only ever saw 2 episodes of LotT on TV as it aired- but it was also the second manga I ever read, right after a cheaply printed one shot (Call Me Princess!). My older brother owned all of it, and when I would sneak into his room to steal his books while he was gone, LotW and Rurouni Kenshin were my favorites. Fucking look how that turned out.
That manga was why I even decided to start getting into the .Hack series in the first place. God knows it was cheesecakey as hell, but I loved it. Maybe even for that exact reason? Anyway, when I was that age, I was mostly just enthralled by seeing anime titty women for some very strange reason I just quite couldn't understand (spoiler alert: it was the lesbianism). I didn't catch onto other, nastier elements.
The weird incest undertones.
The very blatant and uncomfortable and weird incest undertones.
Watching this show as a 22 year old lesbian who got into anime at a young age (before I even knew how to read) because of their older brother is literally like one of the most uncomfortable experiences imaginable. I don't think my older brother really caught onto it because he's like, pretty socially oblivious and also he's watched so much fucking isekai/haremshit he's immune to bad vibes at this point, so like, he's blameless in this, but God it was so uncomfortable. It was so uncomfortable.
The art is hideously outdated and moeblob, a far contrast to the smoother art style of the manga and Sadamoto's art in .hack//Sign. It frequently goes off-model and is very evidently low-budget. None of the character designs are especially visually appealing, with their manga designs generally being more detailed and consistent in comparison.
The sound design is horrible and a lot of the OST is unlistenable; when I made my friend watch the last episode with me so I wouldn't have to sit through it alone he distinctly commented on how grating and bad the opening theme is. The ending is a little better, but not by much, and I never sat through the whole thing.
The characters are basically all very flat archetypes composed of two or three tropes tied together haphazardly, in a very uninspired way that only bottom tier 2000s shows really could. Even more offensively, the canon does include a character from pre-existing .hack media, Hotaru, though her personality has been completely eviscerated by the poor writing.
There isn't a plot. There really isn't. I still don't understand how studios can put out 13-ep shows that don't have cohesive plots. This would've benefitted so much from just having a basic story structure but it doesn't. All of the stuff that goes on is very poorly written and unbelievable, and the ending felt rushed, low budget, and disappointing. I can't stress enough how bad this was. Actively, offensively bad. .Hack//Sign had a lot of poor pacing and weird boring shit going on but it wasn't bad, and it was not offensive.
I hated this show and I would never recommend this to anyone.