What did we have in episode 19? Well, a screw turning into a Go-bot. Cute girls being cute. A villain doing bad things because… He’s an asshole, and in AW villains are all assholes and that’s enough of a reason. And one of the all-time asspull moments, of this season anyway. And Chekov’s gun. All in all, it was pretty much par for the course – entertaining enough, but altogether feeling insubstantial enough that a good gust of wind would carry it off.
I was beginning to think Crikin’s sole purpose in the story was to provide comic relief, but he did have a small amount of value before he sunk to the bottom of the ocean stage, forgotten. And a good thing, too, because Kuroyukihime was having her share of difficulty against Sulfur Pot (Hiyama Nobuyuki, very busy all of a sudden). Turns out Crimson Kingbolt once had the strongest long-range arsenal in the game apart from the Six Kings, though due to inactivity he’s gotten a little rusty (I sincerely apologize). As for Sulfur Pot, he’s tamed a dragon as a familiar, and is part of an organization that’s using Okinawa and it’s weakling players as easy pickings while diving remotely from Tokyo (political metaphor? Nah – not in this series) and using a backdoor program to hide their identities (hmmm). Nick the Dragon proves more than a match for Kingbolt, though, and his special move combo of gunpowder and fire really turns the screws on Crikin.
We manage to get both a deus ex machina and a Chekov’s gun in the same episode, which I suppose is an achievement. The former is Megumi walking into the café where Snow Black and the chibis are plugged in, then having a magic sprite appear before her as she’s about to unplug Snow Black. I get that Megumi has some sort of past connection to Brain Burst, but for her to just appear inside and turn the tables on Sulfer Pot, shift the stage to water and disappear felt very arbitrary and silly. The Chekov’s Gun is Sulfur Pot’s “Mystical Reins” ability that Crikin finds on the sea floor and gifts to Kuroyukihime. Once introduced, it must surely be used – but we get several lines of dialogue to that effect just in case we missed the significance of the moment hitting us in the head like a two-by-four.
That was a pleasant enough diversion – and I suppose a needed break from the heavy-handed moralizing of the Noumi arc – but there was really no back-story supporting the whole Megumi thing, so Haruka-san or no the whole thing had very little impact on me. Accel World isn’t the most subtle or substantial story to begin with, so when it goes with a featherlight side story like this, for me it has almost no presence at all – I’ve forgotten it as soon as it’s over. I’m sure there are elements of this mini-arc that will tie into the main story, but as diversions go it certainly paled in comparison to the Sky Raker chapter. I think AW is better off sticking as close to its core story as possible, because it just doesn’t have enough depth to stretch very much.