Basically, most fans who have only watched the anime will be perplexed upon seeing Infinite Burst. Bewildered. Wildly confused. And instead of taking the time to answer them, Infinite Burst rolls on without going any deeper than it wants to, just so that it can deliver something that resembles an ending to its own haphazardly cut-down story. A
Taking up fully half of the film's running time, the recap is badly paced, boring, and fails to do what a recap is supposed to do: 'What are the important things that has happened, and who were involved in it?' You could say that it covered The Return of Black Snow Princess (henceforth Hime in this review for convenience, since we still don't know her real name) as well as the Scarlet Storm Princess, but you know what? It doesn't cover anything else!
If I was an anime-only watcher, I would be thoroughly confused by the following events:
* Fuuko regaining her legs
* The shrine maiden girl
* The unexplained alliance between Nega Nebulas and Prominence, two legions who are officially rivals but unofficial allies last we heard
* The identity of Ash Roller
* The new skills that Silver Crow demonstrates
* The ability for Scarlet Rain to now transform her Invincible Fortress into a freaking bus
* The cooperativeness of the Six Kings despite Black Lotus having murdered Red Rider years before
* The yellow pixie thing that apparently resides in Silver Crow's chest
* Black Lotus' transformation of her sword into a hand at the end
As a recap, it was the laziest of recaps. With cut-and-paste clips from the show being narrated by Sachika Misawa, it takes enormous patience to sit through all of that and not fall asleep. Apparently I don't have it, because I nodded off twice. The pacing was so poor that even if the recap was just to cover the anime, it did a great job covering Episodes 1-12 really well, skips 13-23 entirely and barely manages to sneak in a few shots from Episode 24 because they realised they were running out of time. Time is a commodity and the recap squandered it. In fact, you get the feeling that the show was meant to be Infinite Burst as a standalone feature and not a movie when you see a new title sequence and introduction at around 38 minutes again.
There's very little that's praiseworthy of the story. With zero knowledge of sixteen volumes of light novel content between the anime series and Infinite Burst, you'll feel like you just joined a clique that's far ahead in bonding and camaraderie that you haven't a clue about. The appearance of new characters confuses you, the change in some returning characters is perplexing, and all along you're left to stare and wonder about what you've missed. The new character has all of five minutes to herself in the limelight and then is conveniently locked away for a great deal of the film, only to reappear at the end. While I'm not insinuating that Risa Tsukiori is a flat character (appearance not withstanding), she has had so little time devoted to her that I as a viewer am not able to connect with her or the reasons she offers as to why she made the choices she took. I suppose Infinite Burst is basically a walking advertisment for the light novels and the new promotional story, Leaping To Infinity, at this point, because the only way to understand the movie is to have read most, if not all of the volumes in between. But wait, Accel World's been licensed by Yen Press, and we'll get Volume 7 in September! Hooray! Three down, thirteen more to go! It's not hard to wait for them to release the books, right?
What this film does shine at is Sunrise doing Sunrise things. The battle sequences are certainly thrilling and well-animated, and the huge size of the enemies in comparison to the duel avatars give a larger-than-life field. Whether you're watching Scarlet Rain do her best impression of a Macross Missile Spam, Aqua Current bust out the moves in what looks like a crystalline bikini armour, or Cyan Pile fire his pile bunker again and again into a never-ending stream of adversaries, you kind of get that this is supposed to be an exciting fight, but the arrival of three more Kings, the strongest players in Accel World (Oh? Was I supposed to know that without reading the novel?) leaves a certain kind of aftertaste as we're treated to sequences of them stomping the enemies by the hundreds. If this is what passes for good animation, I guess I'll take it.
Plasmic Fire was cool. But I didn't hear much of it because I was busy turning into bed. The rest of the film mostly reused tracks from the TV series to good effect, but nothing else stood out.
The hype was fat. The goods were skinny.
In the weeks leading up to the movie, some fans expressed their worries that the showing of One Piece on the same date would take away viewers from Infinite Burst. I disagree - Infinite Burst did not deserve any more viewers than what it got. It not only treats you to a shoddy recap, it slaps in your face unexpected event after event that all can be explained with the same, infuriatingly expensive answer: read the light novel. It probably suits one type of audience just fine: the whales who have bought and read every single volume of Accel World, flipped through every page, and then queued up first in line to buy tickets for this badly disguised OVA. For the rest of us, who have likely never seen more than 24 episodes of Accel World, I'm sorry. This does not deliver.