Accel World – 03

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All aboard the exposition train…

OP: “Chase the world” by May’n

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I’m certainly glad that Sunrise didn’t start off the series with this episode, because it’s very likely I would have dropped it.  But they were smart – they opened Accel World with a two-parter that cut right to the chase, giving us a healthy dose of world-building and action without worrying too much about explanations.  That hooked me in enough that this week’s follow-up was very nearly interesting, but at least tolerable.  I’m certainly all in favor of not keeping the audience in the dark, but this was a very, very talky episode.  I guess that’s the price to be paid for flying blind before now.

I confess that online VR worlds are a subject of almost endless fascination for me.  Tad Williams’ “Otherland” series and Hosoda Mamoru’s Summer Wars are two of the finest examples, but there are many others both within anime and without.  I think the challenge for a writer is two-fold – the first is to create a world that’s interesting and internally consistent (and in anime, visually compelling) and the second is to find some new ground to tread on this well-worn ground.  On the first part I think Obara-sensei has done quite well in his work with Kawahara Reki’s LN series, as the Accelerated World was engaging right from the beginning and the show looks great.  As to whether there’s anything new here of substance, I’ll withhold judgment – as of now it appears more of a pastiche of other works than anything really original.

The third and more general challenge is the one any writer faces, and that’s to create interesting characters.  I still struggle with Haru’s super-deformed character design – maybe that’s shallow of me, but I can’t help my reaction.  Setting aside how distracting that is, there does seem to be some genuine potential here if the writing casts some genuine light on bullying and social ostracizing in schools.  Setting aside the question of whether Chiyuri has ulterior motives as relates to the Accel World (I’ll get there in a minute) there’s an interesting dynamic between she, Haru and Taku.  When you’re in Haru’s shoes you can’t be choosy and welcome kindness wherever you find it (beggars can’t be choosers), but there’s a very paternalistic tone to their relations with Haru.  The sense I get is that they’re nice to him because that makes them feel good about themselves.  Mind you, that’s certainly better than being cruel to a bullied boy, and he brings a great deal of it on himself by his relentless self-loathing.  He may tell Chiyuri he wants the beautiful couple to see him as an equal, but he doesn’t give them the chance.  That, and the fact that he’s now old enough to be frustrated at seeing the two of them together, is probably enough to lead to the eventual dissolution of their friendship.

Of course, all that assumes that Chiyuri isn’t secretly one of the Brain Burst users secretly targeting Kuroyukihime, seeking revenge for her betrayal of the other “Kings”, the 9th-Level Bursters who rule the game in a stare of mutually-assured mediocrity.  The context of Chiyuri’s anger at her for “using” Haru is impossible to interpret until we know whether she the “Cyan Pyle” targeting Kuro.  If not, it’s awfully conceited of her to have a boyfriend of her own yet rail at Haru for hanging out with another girl – or perhaps she has feelings for Haru after all.  Or she might legitimately worry for Haru, thinking that no one like Kuroyukihime could possibly want to be with Haru without an ulterior motive.  That in itself is a pretty condescending attitude, but who’s to say experience hasn’t told her to think that way?  Her reactions during their linking scene were hard to read, but it was quite telling that she felt so comfortable in choosing not just her bedroom but her bed to “do the deed” – proving just how thoroughly she dismisses Haru as a male, and thus a threat.

It’s a pretty complicated square developing between these four, and the huge variable of whether Chiyuri (or Taku – I get skeevy vibes from him) are Bursters makes it impossible to figure out where it stands.  In a sense Kuroyukihime is using Haru, but at least she’s open about it – I would hate to think that all of her kindness towards him is a complete act (and I don’t think it is).  I fully endorse her view that the other Kings are wrong to intentionally circumvent the whole point of the game by staying at Level 9 forever, and her reasons for recruiting Haru to help her do make perfect sense.  But I can’t help but think that there’s more to her interest in him than what we’ve seen so far, whether that be personal or connected to her goals in the game.  If she’s going to end up falling for him, I hope Haru makes himself someone worthy of being fallen for – starting with dropping the self-loathing and standing up for himself without Kuro or Chiyuri there to have his back.

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ED: “→unfinished→” by KOTOKO

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  1. b

    She seem like she has other motives for recruiting Haru but I dont think she has. She seems to regret fully her betrayal(this subject will still be relevant later) and would like to see a change in the stagnant Accelerated World brought by the Kings. For that I guess she sees something in Haru to change that.
    Nothing original but still good for me. The dynamics of the characters are what I like in Kawahara's works.

  2. a

    I actually like the complications that were added to the scenario by introducing the possibility that his friends are actually secretly burt linkers. It probably would seem like quite a betrayal.

  3. I like that too – I hope that came across in my post.

  4. S

    That's precisely how I feel about the show. Haru’s super-deformed character design is extremely distracting and I can't seem to empathize with any of the characters :/

  5. N

    The main thing I'm curious about as far as the exposition goes, is what is happening in the Red sector. I mean, she said she defeated him, causing his program to uninstall; so, why is that section still accounted for?

    That aside, the main thing that irked me with this episode was the dialog. It really suffered this episode, especially in light of some great character scenes in the last one. The conversation between Haru and Hime was alright I suppose (if entirely expository), but interaction between Haru and Taku/Chiyuri were incredibly forced. Not a single line felt natural. Perhaps it was the delivery, the stiffness of the lines themselves, or both; but regardless, it was almost painful to listen to at times.

    Speaking of the conversation between Haru and Chiyuri, they need to do something about the awkward lip movements and facial expressions during the technological telepathy. It looked way more stupid than it was supposed to.

    That said, I don't harbor and dislike for the characters themselves or their situations. Haru's design doesn't distract me at all (in fact, I find it strangely fitting), and I enjoy the ideas behind the characters, even if they aren't anything new (well, except for Taku, but that's only because we don't know anything yet). Plus, I really like the setting. The exposition may have been a bit long-winded, but it succeeded in making me interested in the Brain Burst program (and those involved with it).

    So yeah, I still very much like the ideas behind this show, but the execution of this episode was very off. I'm hoping they tighten things up and polish it a bit for the next episode.

  6. b

    The Red King ruling right now is the second generation who replaced the first one. Hime mentioned it in this part of the novels. All the other Kings are still the first gen.

  7. d

    Being a kendo champion is tough. Things are going well so far but he is getting worried. Unless… Kuro did say her enemy is getting desperate. you guys get what i am saying.
    Chiyuri is getting IT from her boyfriend backdoor!! Pun fully intended.

  8. i

    Well thank goodness the territory system is completely separated from how the legion system works (Hope it's going to be exposed in a few episodes – ep. 8-10?)

    @ Nyangoro – the conversation is forced only because Haru is trying (ever so hard too) to distance himself from Chiyuri and Taku.
    …Oh yeah, the wonders of mind talk proficiency…(we would all struggle trying), and I like the extra scene between Haru and Taku (ie. did not see it in the manga)

  9. L

    Maybe its a good thing that his appearance is distracting mostly because I think it allows us to face our internal shallowness on how characters should "normally" look like while we tend to forget their are a variety of different body types that exist in this world whom often do not get the chance to be in the spot light for example the character in the movie Precious was amazing but never became a mainstream face like megan fox (who cant act to save her life but I'm only mentioning her because people know who she is regardless of her terrible acting). Overall dont be too hard on yourself this distraction perhaps could break down our own perceptions on what to expect of a main lead.

  10. D

    Legend of Korra Ep 3 post?

    Also, since you live in Cali, will you be attending Fanimecon or Anime Expo?

  11. I do have a life, you know!

    I'll be in the press contingent for Fanime for sure – we'll see about Anime Expo. I'd love to go.

  12. D


    What's the press contingent?

  13. Just means I'll be covering the panels and such and taking pictures for the site. And I don't have to wait in line! ;P

  14. S

    Gaining level 10 has a completely unknown reward, yet being level 9 (with the attendant amount of points) pretty much gives you a "hack" to life. Snow Black is in the wrong on this topic. It might not serve well the story the author originally wanted to tell, but one of the greatest technological advances ever created is not something you just willingly give up.

    Also, given the stakes likely to display themselves later on being removed from Brain Burst, Snow Black might actually end up being more unintentional Villain than Hero.

  15. I disagree – I think she's exactly right. What the others are doing is a bastardization of the original intent of Brain Burst. It may have practical merit for them, but it's ethically wrong in my view.

  16. A

    Losing all your perks for getting what's inside the mystery box? Personally, I'd settle for the safer option.

  17. A

    From a practical point of view it's just selfish. Why should 5 others have to suffer just to get your mystery box? The risk of losing is of course also relevant, but even winning strikes me as morally ambiguous at best.

    From a philosophical point of view, which is where Snow Black is coming from, she's looking for meaning in life. From a video game. That's just sad. Meeting the programmer of Burst Brain is simply not equivalent to meeting God, no matter how talented he or she presumably is. At about the same time that Haru was thinking "I can sort of understand that" I was thinking "She's completely insane."

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