The unevenness of this latest incarnation of .hack continues in the second set of episodes. At first the action bubbles along as fast-paced as before, with a few new ( and one old ) characters added to the mix. The story encounters a major roadblock, however, when Rena falls victim to a mysterious group of child hackers and disappears from The World. The remainder of the entire series deals with Shugo's attempt to locate her missing avatar, BlackRose, and thus revive his twin sister who has fallen into a coma - the Nightmare of the title - in the "real" world.
If the "children in a coma" sounds familliar, it's because the .hack writers who created this could come up with nothing original to advance the story, resorting to Tsukasa's dillemma from SIGN. Only this time to make it even more "dramatic", the comas have reached epidemic proportions, claiming dozens of victims! ( One can only imagine the glee of injury trial lawyers going after the fictitous C.C. Corp. - owners of The World franchise - in a class-action lawsuit if this was an actual event! ) It is this mostly turgid development which causes the entire series to grind to a screeching halt.
The rest plays out in a predictable style, as the heroes go to ground trying to figure out how to rescue Rena, while avoiding the Cerulian Knights who seek to delete them from the game as bad influences. Their leader Kamui and her delusions of grandeur form the only interesting sub-plot in this set of episodes. In a rather wasted "guest appearance", Ginkan/Silver Knight from SIGN attempts to thwart this even-more-repressive version of his old Crimson Knights, failing miserably. His fate is also deletion for interfering with their "witch hunt" for unauthorized player modification. Again, this is all "borrowed" from SIGN with no improvement over the original.
In one of the more painful examples of how a once-popular actor can fall, the Japanese seyuu Masami Kikuchi ( Tenchi Muyo! himself ) takes the small role of Komian the Third, a really annoying classmate of Shugo and Rena, whose main function is to act the fool and be the butt of all misfortune. Some of his antics are mildly amusing, though the character is basically ripped off from that of Hanagata in the Saber Marionette series. That's just another example of the lack of any originality in this so-far disappointing series.