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Anime Review - Accel World

Season One Cover (Part I)
Season One Cover (Part I)Viz Media

Accel World is an anime which sprang from the light novel series by Reki Kawahara, and is in the same world as his other series, Sword Art Online, albeit decades later. It is the story of Hariyuki Arita, a fat, unpopular student who is bullied in school, for whom the only escape is online games. In a (not so) chance encounter with one of his school's most popular girls, he is introduced to 'Brain Burst,' a virtual program that accelerates the user's thoughts to roughly 1000x real time.

It's really a lot of setup for a fighting type game.

PROS:

  • Between the lines. It's in the same world as SAO, and there are a lot of shared themes and inside jokes hidden withing the story. Sussing out these 'Easter Eggs' is a lot of the appeal of the series.
  • Kuroyukihime. The 'Black Snow Princess' is a great character, even if her English voice portrayal is a bit...mellow. She's well written, to the point that her romance with the tubby and backwards Haru even seems natural. From a certain perspective.
  • Robots. Yes, inside the fighting game, all the players appear as robots. Some, like Lime Bell, are fairly comical, while others, like Black Lotus, ooze menace and dystopian coolness.

CONS:

  • Road Trip! For roughly the last third of the series, the main characters are split up, and entirely too much time is spent with the less interesting ones. Without getting too far into it, the more interesting arc is only one episode long, while the other side of the story is longer, and seems much, much longer.
  • Side B. Like the second half of Sword Art Online (season 1), what starts off as a really strong, ominous concept becomes diluted as more characters, story elements, and exceptions to the rules that were laid down at the beginning are introduced. Maybe familiarity breeds contempt, but I think that the story is much more powerful in the beginning when everything is new, mysterious, and dangerous.

Final verdict? It's a fine anime on its own merits, but I feel confident in saying that Accel World is likely to be seen as Reki Kawahara's 'other series.' For anime viewers anyway.