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.