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Anime review: ‘Accel World’ part one

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Accel World

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Last week, on November 26, 2013, anime and manga publisher Viz Media released “Accel World” part one on DVD and Blu-ray and we took the opportunity to check out the comedy/action series from Sunrise.

“Accel World” follows the adventures of Haru, a short and chunky guy who finds himself constantly being picked on and escaping his real world problems by playing video games. One day he finds that his record in his favorite game, a virtual version of squash, has been beaten by another player, named Kuroyukihime, who turns out to be one of the most popular girls in school, and she just so happens to want to meet him.

Upon their meeting, which sends the entire school into shock, Kuroyukihime reveals to Haru a secret about the world, there is a game, called “Brain Burst”, that a lucky few are given access to that gives them a special ability, access to a virtual version of reality called accelerated world. In exchange for the ability to among other things, slow time, “Burst Linkers” must battle with one another and earn points, which are then used as the cost to use the ability. If a Burst Linker’s points reach zero, they lose the ability to use “Brain Burst” forever.

Haru begins to embrace the new game and its world, although he has serious doubts as to why Kuroyukihime would choose to recruit him, or even why she herself is involved with such a game. And as Haru learns more, he begins to spend more and more time with Kuroyukihime, which doesn’t sit well at all with Haru’s childhood friend Chiyuri, who doesn’t trust Kuroyukihime or her intentions towards Haru, especially after she claims to have fallen for him.

It seems the feeling is mutual though, when Kuroyukihime asks Haru to spy on Chiyuri, believing that she may actually be Cyan Pile, a Burst Linker who knows Kuroyukihime’s identity and has been trying to hunt her down. Haru investigates and eventually finds the identity of Cyan Pile, though he is shocked when he realizes who it is, and the showdown between the two unlocks Haru’s true ability, becoming the first Burst Linker with an avatar that can fly.

As the story progresses Haru learns more about Kuroyukihime’s past and declares that he will stand by her and help her realize her dream of defeating the six kings and reaching level 10, the highest rank in the game. In part one of the series, which contains the first twelve episodes, they will find themselves meeting both the red and yellow kings and battling a powerful foe whose power rivals even the kings.

The “Accel World” story was actually pretty interesting, it reminded me a little of “C - Control” because of the game world and points system concept. That is about where it ends though, as “Accel World” had a lot more comedy. Haru usually finds some way to make a fool of himself but he ends up redeeming himself in the end and proving that he really is the hero of the story. The battle sequences definitely help to make the series worth watching, the fights don’t last too long but there is always something to see.

The supporting cast is also a nice balance. Kuroyukihime is cold early on but she gradually opens up, allowing viewers to see a different side of her, like when she gets jealous if Haru isn’t focused on her. Takumu also seems to evolve, eventually moving on from his self hating attitude. Chiyuri is also an interesting addition to the group, though she is dating Takumu she also shows a jealous side when it comes to Haru, and it is hard to tell just how things will go in future episodes.

Visually “Accel World” looks great, the animation looks smooth and the picture quality of the DVD version (which this review is based on) is clear, something that you would expect from a studio like Sunrise. The mech-suit style avatars are especially well-designed, they reminded me a bit of “Bubblegum Crisis”.

As far as the voice cast goes, I was a fan of the Japanese voice cast more than I was the English cast. The English cast wasn’t bad and the anime is certainly watchable with the English dub, but I just felt that the Japanese cast did a slightly better job. Should you watch the Japanese dub and use the subtitles, they are clear and easy to read, but they can move a little fast at times.

The DVD version of “Accel World” comes in a standard-sized DVD case, featuring Kuroyukihime in both her avatar forms holding Haru’s pig avatar, with slots for both discs to fit securely, without worry of scratches. Included as on-disc features are a character art gallery, a trailer for the anime, the clean opening and closing as well as trailers for other Viz Media releases. My copy of “Accel World” also included a 48-page art booklet, a bonus available at some retailers while supplies last. The booklet contains character art as well as a variety of different art featuring the cast in everything from their avatar forms to bikinis.

“Accel World” was a pleasant surprise for me, early on I wasn’t expecting too much and Haru starts off on the whiny side, but he has a good heart and gradually becomes much more than just a pushover, turning into a real leading man. The story picks up fairly quick and the overall pacing of the series is a bit fast but it suits the series well, especially with the intense and fast-paced battles.

If you enjoyed anime like “C - Control”, “.hack” and possibly “High School DxD” (a lot less cleavage though) then you may find “Accel World” worth watching. And I have to admit, as a short, chunky guy myself, any anime where that guy gets the girl is alright in my book.

Accel World

Publisher: Viz Media

Runtime: 288 minutes

Number of Episodes: 12

Number of Discs: 2 DVDs

Languages: English, Japanese with English subtitles

Age Rating: TV14

Release Date: November 26, 2013

(A review copy of “Accel World” on DVD was provided by Viz Media.)

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