Accel World

Title:Accel World
アクセル・ワールド (Japanese)
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: ASANUMA Shintaro
Animation - SUNRISE
KAJI Yuuki
Original Concept - KAWAHARA Reki
In 2046, people can access a virtual network known as the Neurolinker via their cellphone terminals. A perpetual victim of bullying, middle school student Haruyuki spends his time absorbed in games in a corner of his local network. One day he is approached by the most famous girl in his school, Kuroyukihime (Black Snow Princess). She gives him a strange program called Brain Burst that has the power to "accelerate the world."
(Synopsis courtesy of ANN)

24 episode series premiered on April 6, 2012.
Animated by Sunrise
1:41min Series PV - YouTube Video
Episode Details 
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Watch 8 8 7 6 6 6 Ggultra2764 [series:2552#1552]
Accel World is a bit of a mixed bag for me to deliver my thoughts on. Taking place in a future where augmented reality is the norm with the younger generation, a bullied outcast named Haruyuki meets up with popular girl Kuroyukihime who gives him a game called Brain Burst that allows him and others with the game to have the ability to accelerate their capabilities in the real world and face off against other users of the game to compete for Burst Points that allow one use of their abilities.

While the series does have some interesting elements to it via its battle system and the means that characters have to "accelerate" in the real world, the series suffers in the fact that it doesn't really feel like anything too serious outside of the game is at stake for anyone and the motivations that others have for being in the game feel kind of petty, reducing any major tension that could engage me to care for anything besides the show's Brain Burst elements. Sure, there's mention and showing of characters dealing with bullying, neglect or family abuse that the series says is what manifests a user's ability to use Brain Burst. But the motivations for many characters are no different from if you wanted to play an MMORPG with getting stronger, having allies to form alliances, gaining new skills/items or purposely breaking the rules for your personal gain; which I've already experienced from the Dot Hack franchise which at least had some major stakes to it during its first generation run with Sign thanks to the nasty effects any human player getting struck with Data Drain would experience in the real world. Here in Accel World though, the worst thing that would happen is all your Burst Points are lost and you lose accessibility to Brain Burst as no one is at risk of dying in real life (except for one instance at the start of the series unrelated to the game).

The characters are a bit of a mixed bunch. The major ones have character archetypes that they fulfill, yet get enough fleshing out to have you care for them in many instances, though Haruyuki's occasional angst fits would have me tempted to want to whack him. The majority of the secondary ones, on the other hand, don't get so much and are mostly reduced to archetypes. The anime does introduce a faction of villains and a plot element that affects Haruyuki's experience in Brain Burst for the second half of the series. But with this being based on an ongoing light novel series, these plot developments are left unresolved.

Visually, Accel World's regular character designs are on the plain side following the standard anime style and Haruyuki's design is of particular note as he is drawn differently from other characters and seems more like he'd be suited for a slapstick anime comedy with his appearance, with scenery in the real world being detailed and vivid. However, the visual highlight of the series comes from its incorporation of its augmented reality elements as characters are able to visit richly detailed virtual worlds with avatars they personally create (Kuroyukihime's avatar sticking out prominently here in both design and its fan servicy attire). The Brain Burst game renders the characters in armored avatars with differing abilities that are slick-looking and make for the best animated parts of the series when characters battle one another with a great amount of fluid movement involved in battles.

While sporting an interesting premise that I did enjoy some aspects of, Accel World does still stick firmly in conventional territory to a great extent, the stakes for the game felt rather underwhelming compared to other titles I've seen that featured MMORPGs or other technologies employed in any sort of serious plot and it ends inconclusively. You might get more enjoyment out of the series if you are a recent anime fan that hasn't picked up on many of the common cliches employed for anime as I have. But otherwise, I'm mostly indifferent to Accel World.

Last updated Wednesday, April 02 2014. Created Wednesday, April 25 2012.
Rent Stretch [series:2552#628]
(Rent- or Watch+)

(All episodes watched):

My first impression of Accel World was that this seemed interesting. In the not-too-distant future you can zone out and amuse yourself in any of countless videogame-like alternate realities using technology that everyone seems to have. A new program speeds up your processing so radically that others seem to be standing still in comparison to you. If I understand it correctly, you can pretty much make time stand still while you make up your mind what to do next. And that might be only the first of numerous gimmicks which this series had to offer. The first thing to strike me about Accel World was the very not-anime style of the main character's design. Yet for all the intrigue I felt, the end of the first episode left me confused. Where was this going?

I felt a bit disappointed when I got the impression from episode two that this is largely about just playing a futuristic video game, and possibly nothing more than that. Countless opportunities for social satire leapt to mind during episode one, like, is it really a good idea to 'accelerate the world'? Will there be unforeseen consequences? But no, this show was taking a simpler route. I feared it might be nothing more than a fight-of-the-week sort of show where various video challenges come up and are defeated one by one. Thankfully, that didn't come about; Accel World was better than that, but didn't live up to its full potential either. In general, the basic premise--that you could think so fast that everybody else is basically at a standstill--was intriguing, and seemed as if it might have been employed in a myriad of ways to create fascinating stories. But I was disappointed with what was ultimately done with it. I guess the basic problem is that needing to win a fancy video game isn't all that exciting.

Around episodes five and six I find my interest in Accel World perking up again. The fights are fairly cool, and you can root for the underdog Haru and hope that the beautiful 'Snow Black' falls in love with him, in a sort of beauty-and-the-beast manner. She needs this otherwise pathetic guy because one thing he can do well is play sophisticated games. But she's not just exploiting him, no, a genuine friendship (and maybe something more) develops. Episode five ended in an almost touching manner, and six added a problem which might need an interesting solution. Exactly what the long-term goals for the protagonists are never really registered in my head, since they seemed unexciting. Why, again, is it important that Snow Black defeat each of the 'Kings'? What will happen if she fails? I forgot, or never knew to begin with. But I can watch this show in an episodic manner and get some enjoyment that way. What there should have been more of was what happened in episode ten, where the characters, especially Haru, display a little passion for the game and as a result we can take it more seriously. Up until now a reason why they were risking so much and trying so hard seemed to be lacking.

What goes on between the fights often seemed more interesting to me than the fights themselves. The bit about Haru trying to find a way to recover his avatar's lost wings had a sort of philosophical spin to it. And Nomi, a guy who is blackmailing him and Taru made my blood boil. The little side story involving Snow while she is on a school trip to Okinawa seemed amusing and interesting. I think Accel World is somewhere between an action series which firmly engages me and has an intriguing yet easy to follow plot, and those which seem to wander aimlessly about and lack continuity to the extent that I watch them on an episode-by-episode way, and abandon the main plot. Accel is not good enough to fit into the first category, but good enough to not fall into the second one. New, interesting things happen here and there and I retain at least a vague grip on the longterm plot. But with the series nearing the 24 episode mark, I had a feeling that Accel World is based on a far from complete manga and the TV series might cut off abruptly without a complete resolution of a lot of issues. I was slow to recognize the primary villain of the series; maybe his story is just an arc in the manga/short novel/whatever.

The final episode was better than I expected, though it got a bit corny at the very end. Basically the first half of the episode covers a climactic battle (which was fairly cool) while the second ties up a number of loose threads. At the climax, something inexplicable which has been going on for some time finally makes sense, which felt good. Still, I never completely understood 'Burst Link'--what's the worst that could have happened to Haru if he had lost at the end? What was at stake? But a final episode that leaves you feeling good goes a long way towards convincing you that the series as a whole was worth watching.

Last updated Monday, October 01 2012. Created Tuesday, April 10 2012.

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