Haruyuki Arita is an overweight, bullied middle schooler who finds solace in playing online games. But his life takes a drastic turn one day, when he finds that all his high scores have been topped by Kuroyukihime, the popular vice president of the student council. She then invites him to the student lounge and introduces him to "Brain Burst," a program which allows the users to accelerate their brain waves to the point where time seems to stop. Brain Burst also functions as an augmented reality fighting game, and in order to get more points to accelerate, users must win duels against other players. However, if a user loses all their points, they will also lose access to Brain Burst forever.
Kuroyukihime explains that she chose to show Haruyuki the program because she needs his help. She wants to meet the creator of Brain Burst and uncover the reason of why it was created, but that's easier said than done; to do so, she must defeat the "Six Kings of Pure Color," powerful faction leaders within the game, and reach level 10, the highest level attainable. After the girl helps Haruyuki overcome the bullies that torment him, he vows to help her realize her goal, and so begins the duo's fight to reach the top.
Accel World certainly has good quality visuals, dynamic battles and an interesting setting, however past that I cannot think of anything that the show does well. You may disagree with this and my scoring, but please, allow me to justify myself because I intend to do so in full.
Let's cover a good point first though, the art and animation. The art is very consistent, and it does a great job of displaying the interactive world in its diverse and grand state. The animation for the battles is well done, I certainly didn't have any complaints, there is plenty of movement and excitement, and the
battles enough time to satisfy fans of action. The character designs are on the whole attractive albeit generic, but here we come to our first problem, the protagonist Haruyuki.
I get it, Haru is supposed to be a character with low self esteem, otherwise they wouldn't have brought in Yuki Kaiji to voice him, but the character design they chose to demonstrate this was insulting to the viewers. Looking at him, it shows the designers attempt to force down our throats the fact that this guy is vulnerable and a "loser", but at the same time still not be ugly enough to put us off, which is why he is chibi, rendering him completely different from every other character in the show. Why did they feel the need to do this? I get the feeling they think the audience is stupid, and need constant reminders of why this guys has no confidence, they even made his avatar a small pig, just to reiterate this further, because you are that stupid.
This leads me onto Haru himself and the rest of the characters. His best friend Taku is generic, seems to have no romantic chemistry with his girlfriend Chiyu (indeed Haru has more), doesn't add much to the series, but is at least likable. Although her relationship with Haru was odd (i.e. romantic), Chiyu was alright initially, but later in the series she becomes incredibly obnoxious. Kuroyukihime is the most likable character, partly because of her pleasant disposition and good design, but mostly because she got a pass on the second half of the series on account of being on holiday. The side characters lack depth and are completely non descript, the enemies are infuriating (and not for the reasons they should be), and then there is Haru. I'd be amazed if anyone could manage to actually like this guy, unless he is so similar to them disliking him is an act of self loathing. The amount of hatred I built up watching him was one thing, but then the second half of the series happened.
Now obviously I won't spoil anything, but let me just say, the second half of Accel World has some of the most rage inducing episodes you'll come across. Why? The characters start acting in completely illogical and infuriating ways, I had just forgiven Haru for the first half of the series when he just goes downhill in a spectacular fashion, the show starts introducing plot devices that either make little sense or break the setting Accel World itself, and the plot degrades terribly. Indeed, this half was so poor they had to introduce a few episodes of filler in the middle to give you time to calm down. The antagonist has at his disposal seemingly every plot contrivance possibly, and an ability that would never be allowed in any game of that sort.
In fact, a major factor in why I ended up being so angry is due to the blatantly poor plot devices and elements that were poorly thought out and look like ass pulls. It shows laziness in the writing, or a simple lack of ability. I was shocked often throughout the second half at how stupid these things were, and this did not help the infuriating exchanges at all.
So, in all, the second half was terrible, indeed I'd give it a 1 overall. It did have some nice battles, some fan service and some really spectacular background settings, but when you have to watch this in tandem with the genuinely upsetting nature of the show (where whenever the antagonist is on screen your head will find itself drawn to the oven) the experience is irredeemable. The first half was better, and many will have or will enjoy the first half, but I didn't really like it either. For someone who is the protagonist because they are good at games, Haru really sucks at games, he makes rookie errors and shows a lack of judgement that makes you wonder about his ability. To be fair to him this is simply more usage of plot devices, and I would forgive him for that, but he's an irritating waste of space who only serves to pander to the viewers inadequacies and insecurities. He is not a decent character, he is only there to make people who identify with him feel better for themselves. That is the only reason I can imagine someone liking this show at all to be honest.
Accel World is certainly not all bad, it has some decent episodes which always include exciting fighting, some of the side characters are likable, and the world setting was fantastic in terms of aesthetics, however these happy instances were always in between long durations of anger, misery and frustration. Many may enjoy it, I certainly don't speak for all opinions, but for me watching Accel World was an experience devoid of enjoyment or fun, the way this anime is set up makes it inherently dubious, but it is the execution that really cause such grief that I wanted to cause harm to myself. I hope this never gets a sequel.
From the uncreative mind that dumped Sword Art Online into your face comes his other famous light novel series, Accel World. I really don't see how people actually think Reki Kawahara's works are good. They're not. They're merely otaku-pandering wish fulfillment that's all style and no real effort put into them. Although Accel World is better than Sword Art Online, only by a little.
This 24-episode adaptation by Sunrise is set in the year 2046, where people have wireless access to the internet using NeuroLink, which is basically a computer built into your body. The story follows a junior high school student named Haruyuki Arita, who
has very low self-esteem due to being bullied for his short, chubby, unnatural appearance. He spends his time in playing online games, but one day, he finds that someone beat his high score in a game that only he plays because no one else does.
That someone is the student council vice-president named Kuroyuki-hime, and she offers Haruyuki an opportunity to "break his own reality" and enter a fighting video game where the winner rules the online world and losers get kicked out. It also give him the power to move at a thousand times normal speed.
Interesting premise, I'd say, but there's a problem here: If you've read my Sword Art Online review, then most of the problems there apply here: Good ideas, bad execution. Every single episode left me utterly bored because the characters would rather explain how stuff in the show works rather than actually show it. The only time where I'm paying attention is during the fighting scenes.
Speaking of which, the presentation is good. If the art and sound is passable, then there's nothing much I can say. The fighting scenes are pretty cool, despite them feeling a bit too similar to Pokemon battles. The avatar design accompanying the fighting are also well-designed, too. Aside from Haruyuki's, the character designs are fine, nothing special about them.
The characters themselves are just as flat and boring as the execution itself. I'm beginning to think Kawahara has a knack for writing awful characters...
And holy crap, these are bad characters. Haruyuki is damn annoying. First of all, he's a big, fat crybaby who whines about everything and stuffs his face with food. It doesn't help that he's voiced by Yuuki Kaji. If you've entered this after watching Guilty Crown like I have, Haruyuki comes off as a whinier, chubby, buttugly Shu Ouma, right down to sharing the same seiyuu. Nothing againt him; I like him but there are very few roles I can think of where he doesn't voice a character that whines alot. At least Shu gets it together even though it took him longer than it should. At the end of Accel World, I don't think he ever got it together. None of his character improved, if there was any to begin with.
Now Kuroyuki-hime I have more to type about because I hate her the most. She's supposedly one of the strongest players, but she makes Haruyuki do her dirty work because she's too lazy to do it herself, which she can. In one scenario, a player whose levels are less than half of her's attempts to blackmail her and even try to kill her in the real world. She does nothing but make Haruyuki deal with him instead of crusing the guy herself. What's really odd is that none of her motivations are really explained. She chose Haruyuki of all peoplem, falls in love with him. Why? ...He's good at video games, I guess. That's pretty much it. She started out interesting but later just became a boring character whose main purpose is to be the series' sex object. Honestly, try to find one piece of Accel World merchandise where she isn't at least half-naked. Speaking of which, in the second half, she's away on a class vacation. We get two episodes of what she's up to, which consists of mostly her in a skimpy black bikini, probably to cater to the horny fanboys.
We also have Haruyuki's childhood friend Chiyuri. She's the nice, sweet, innocent girl who is in love with Haru that she's dating his best friend. Likely out of jealousy, but never really elaborated, like most things in this series. She was okay at first, but then her feelings tend to contradict each other alot. She's furious at Haru because Kuroyuki-hime's interested in him. If she's so upset about it, then why did she choose to date his friend instead of him. And for some reason, whenever she and Haruyuki have an argument, it usually ends with her getting undressed. Whatever drama that was building up is killed due to unneccesary fanservice and the chick's inability to keep her clothes on.
Like I mentioned, in the second half, Kuroyuki-hime is away, leaving Haruyuki to deal with a schoolmate named Seiji Noumi. Ugh, this little asshole made me drop the series at one point. He is a carbon copy of Sword Art Online's Nobuyuki Sugou in that he has no motivation to his actions and the stuff he does is so stupid, he might as well be wearing a sign saying "I am the villain." He talks big, but doesn't do anything to make him look like a serious threat. He just makes Haruyuki and anyone close to him his own whipping boy.
Those are just the worst characters. I don't mention the rest of the main cast because they're decent for the most part, like Takumu (Haruyuki's friend and Chiyuri's boyfriend). It's just that when you have bad main characters, the rest of the story falls with them.
There really is nothing good, let alone special about Accel World. It's just a big ball of unused ideas, cliches, poor execution, and bad characters, which leads to a bad series with wasted potential. I don't know what message Kawahara is trying to portray here... "You'll succeed at life if you're good at video games?" Uh... no! Video games can be a means to escape reality, but that doesn't eliminate whatever issues in reality that are present. That's not how life works, and anyone who thinks so definitely needs a reality check.
Accel World: The show where the only ridiculously fat-short boy ever(!) finds himself in a harem filled with your typical cliches, fan service and plot. Clearly, this show can't be worth watching... Yet, despite all these and its other horrendous flaws, it is.
Unlike other shows without redeeming qualities, Accel World does do some things right.
For one, it's hard not to get absorbed in its well imagined and detailed world. From the basic yet intriguing neuro linkers to the augmented reality they can bring forth, there is a ton of cool ideas in Accel World. Whether you enjoy the romantic idea of directly linking to your
partner or the concept of speeding up your brains neural activity, the show will leave with lots to think about. It is something Reki Kawahara seems especially good at adding to his stories.
What will absolutely destroy the show for you however, is the second half of the show (which is also a common trend with Reki Kawahara's works). It's not per say that its so brutal, more that it is a huge letdown and mostly irrelevant to the overall plot. It also goes on for way too long and feels very segmented.
Regardless of the poor final half, don't let it turn you off. Accel World is a good show. By no means is it great but it is still imaginatively inspiring. It's also nice to see a digital world portrayed in different way than your typical VR anime and to have real life consequences too. Overall, Accel World is worth watching but be prepared to be disappointed when it fails to maintain the high it does so well to build.
I'm not going to play the game of “is this a good series??” here folks. Accel World is one of those series that will invoke nerdgasm towards those who have a strange taste of the cyber world. This piece of work that Sunrise is presenting here can be described as a wildly entertaining phenomenon that blurs between the lines of fiction and reality.
Accel World (sometimes also known as the Accelerated World) is an anime adapted series written by Reki Kawahara. The author is also involved with the immensely popular ongoing series, Sword Art Online. Both series focuses on futuristic technology beyond our times that involves
players fighting in the other world for survival and bragging rights with that sense of technical nerdgasm.
The story of the series takes place in 2046 where “neuro-synchronization”, a powerful piece of advanced technology that allows manipulation of different senses. Now, imagine that. In about 34 years, God knows what will happen of our world or even the Accelerated World. Nonetheless, the series stars Haruyuki Arita who has a low social esteem of himself as result of his physical appearance and views of the world. The kid spends his time playing virtual games mindlessly to void of the reality that he wants to rid of. That of course, changes one day when he meets the popular girl of the series, Kuroyukihime. With the beauty style of a butterfly, she forms a bond with Haruyuki-kun and together, they become close friends, partners, and even a couple at times.
Now, the theme of the virtual world as well as some of its key elements are not new to the anime industry. Series such as the .hack franchise, the old school Digimon series, and even movies such as Summer Wars also have some of these elements. Sword Art Online also incorporates some of these themes such as the avatar and duel ideas. Given the fact that Reki Kawahara wrote both stories, it is no surprise at all. He presents to the viewers the line that separates fiction and reality by showing rather than telling.
Although there are many characters involved in the series in several intertwined arcs, the series has four main characters who all become friends for the bonds they share whether be friendship, trust, or romance. As mentioned before, Haruyuki Arita begins the series as a kid with low esteem. He's one of those guys that have little trust in others or even himself. Yet, as the series progresses, so does his character and development. This is especially shown in later episodes where everything he does seems to be for the sake of others. That of course is thanks to the school idol of the series, Kuroyukihime. She is what represents the series as the goddess of paradise, the supreme beauty, and at times, a jealous butterfly wanting more nectar. But what she most desires is the position of level 10 as the strongest king and finding out the truth of the Accelerated World. That and of course, she also becomes the voice of a haughty girl and reason for Haruyuki-kun at times when he needs it the most. Speaking of what Haruyuki-kun needs the most beyond his virtual games that he plays are his friends. Chiyuri (also known as Chiyu) in the series is the cheerful childhood friend of Haruyuki-kun. She represents the light that Haruyuki-kun often looks forward at school and at home when he feels lonely. She is dating Takumu/Taku and both of them shares a bond with Haruyuki that far outreaches the virtual deception.
Being tagged as a shounen, a viewer can expect a lot of action. In fact, the first episode immediately presents this as Haruyuki-kun is thrown into conflict with adversaries that far outreaches his troubles in the real world. Sunrise mixes in the action well but at times seems to be a bit forced in and predictable. In fact, there are a few times when you watch the series and might think “oh, I've seen this stuff before”. In a nutshell, it's Accel World and the action is accelerated so expect those fast paced combat scenes. Additionally, the author makes usage of many technical terms (Brain Burst, Incarnate System, Direct Link) that all fits within the theme of cybernetic technology.
The story itself however has a relative pace. It follows the light novels in the beginning but with some cut out parts as well as some intertwined pacing. In addition, each title represents a technical term with the letters “tion” added on that turns a verb into a noun. It can be served as a symbolism as the action (what might happen in the episode) into an execution (what actually happens). It is also interesting to see not only Haruyuki-kun's development but some of the other characters as well such as Taku. At first, he holds some antagonism towards him but later on treasures him as a dear friend. To take things into different perspective, Kuroyukihime also becomes one of Haruyuki-kun's most treasured friend, partner, mentor, and lover.
The overall coordination of the story seems to be alright but sometimes seems to be out of pace. For in stance in the latter half of the series, there are some episodes that seems to drag on and on focusing on a single antagonist. That and with an addition of a side story in between seems to throw the viewers off balance a bit and shifting focus. Sunrise and the director of the series (Masakazu Obara) wants to presents this series adapted from the LN but also wants to mix in some additional arcs to spice things up. Although it does work at times, some of the more episodes seems to decelerate with the pacing. In fact, the main story is never technically resolved. Kuroyukihime didn't reach level 10 and her dream still remains in shadow for now. Furthermore, the finale of Accel World is almost like saying “series is now over so log off now. Season 2 in the future? Who knows”.
The visual artwork of the series is decent to say the least. The artwork of the avatars as well as the different settings of the Accelerated World ranging from ocean, city, wasteland, to forest are all presented well to portray the fantasy like themes. On the outside world, the school's background is those of a typical school with far superior technology than our own of course. It's not too special though and for this season, it's just decent and fits within the theme of the overall series well.
Soundtrack on the other hand is coordinated and delivered very well in my estimation. The sound director Yota Tsuruoka (Bakemonogatari, Full Metal Panic, Rozen Maiden, Shigofumi) is known to be a talented individual who has shown many of his skills. His variety of soundtrack whether it's mysterious, comedic, action packed, or eerie, are all incorporated within Accel World. It is no surprise that he was hired for the job with a man of such talent. Accel World has an excellent soundtrack and is like eargasm pleasure to hear the style of its delivery.
The OP songs of course are also pleasant to hear. The first opening song, “Chase the world" by May'n, has a good rhythm and beat to it. It even coordinates the loner Haruyuki-kun in the beginning and his development over time in the series. That and the montage of some of the potential adversaries in the series also shows the upcoming action. The second opening song “Burst The Gravity" by ALTIMA follows a similar style and delivers the music at an accelerated rate, just like it should be.
Ultimately, Accel World is a strange, exciting, accelerated, and engaging experience. The usage and execution of the virtual world theme is nothing new but somehow, it manages to get its point across to the viewers. The characters' development and seeing how they deal with both reality and virtual reception is entertaining to watch. The soundtrack and artwork are something to think about especially the former with the talented Yota Tsuruoka in charge. The series does suffer setbacks such as the resolution of the finale as well as some of the intertwined fillers that seems to throw viewers off focus. Additionally, the series is quite predictable and some of the episodes seems to drag in the later episodes. In the end, Accel World is one of those series that blends fiction and reality. Perhaps in about 30 or so years, we can see what's like when our world is accelerated.