.hack//CELL is a novel originally featured in .hack//G.U. The World. It was later released by itself in both Japan and America. Tokyopop acquired the rights to publish .hack//CELL in English, and the first volume was released on March 2, 2010, with the second being released on November 30, 2010.
- Volume 1:
"Average high-school student Midori Shinomura falls mysteriously ill. While she wastes away in a hospital, she learns of another Midori---a fighter of terrible skill in the online game known as The World."
"There is a strange and close connection between both Midori Shinomura and game-Midori. With the sanity of both girls on the line, game-Midori will try to solve the mysteries of her past, and perhaps save the real-world Midori in the process."
- Volume 2:
"Female Edge Punisher Midori discovers that she was created from the strong will of a girl in the real world, Midori Shinomura, who is fighting a losing battle against a mysterious sickness."
"When the death of one means the death of the other, it' a race against time as in-game Midori and her allies try to unravel the secret behind the mysterious sickness. With danger lurking at every turn and non-stop action, The World R:2 is more than a game for Midori. It's life and death!"
CELL is about an Edge Punisher named Midori, who roleplays as a "professional victim", charging players GP in exchange for the opportunity to attempt to PK her without resistance. She encounters Haseo, on his search for Tri-Edge prior to the events of .hack//GU: Rebirth.
The first novel explores the lives of both Midori as they go about their days. In-game Midori finds that she has trouble remembering her past and her life outside of The World, while real-world Midori explores the possibility of her never leaving the hospital. She only carries the one thought as her body becomes progressively weaker: "I don't want to die."
Volume 2 delves deeper into why Game-Midori exists, her purpose, and why she is so drawn to the likes of Haseo and Tri-Edge and what it meas for her to experience "true death".
- Midori Shimomura
- CELL occurs at the same time as .hack//Roots and many events from the novel also occur in the anime.