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Saturday, April 21, 2012

In The Accelerated World: Accel World 2 & 3

Look, see? Told y'all I'd be blogging about this series on a more regular basis than the others!

Spoiler warning: Spoilers for the second and third episodes of Accel World beyond this point. Don't read if you have not watched!

Accel World episode 2: Haruyuki, now a Burst-Linker, suddenly finds himself thrown into a deadly match against a vicious biker named Ash Roller. Haruyuki is unable to grasp the situation and is quickly defeated.

Accel World episode 3: A Duel Avatar called Cyan Pile is seeking to challenge Kuroyukihime in battle within Accel World. (Source: Hulu)

Accel World continues and now we get to see Haruyuki in the Brain Burst world, using his avatar Silver Crow to fight and level up as one does in a fighting game. Naturally, since Accel World is one of those series, it's not that simple. Are things ever that simple in anime? Nope. The more Haruyuki explores the ins and outs of Brain Burst, with the beautiful Kuroyukihime as his guide (in her avatar Snow Black), the more Haruyuki realizes that he has never played a game like this before. And I'd imagine neither has any of us.

Read on after the jump for the rest of my review!

Brain Burst does have a lot of layers to it that Haruyuki is slowly pulling back, but one of his major discoveries from Kuroyukihime is rather disconcerting. Apparently, BB has no problem scanning the user's subconscious while they sleep so they can create an avatar based on their various mental hang-ups and complexes. As Kuroyukihime points out, Haruyuki's own avatar is not meant to be his ideal self-image but a reflection of his inferiority complex. Looking at Silver Crow, a slim shiny metal frame of a fighter, I can see where she's coming from.

Plus, there is a way for people to be permanently banned from ever connecting to Brain Burst ever again, which puts some much-needed conflict into the series. Suddenly, accelerating gains a new importance that wasn't present in the premiere. If Haruyuki wants to keep playing the game - and being around Kuroyukihime – he’ll have to become stronger, even if it hurts him in the process.
Kuroyukihime is rather interesting in this episode. She admits that her original dueling avatar is sealed away for being too ugly. So Kuroyukihime's own complexes center around her appearance? Or is it something deeper? Seeing that the word choice of their dialogue suggests their very relationship is a game, with Haruyuki as her willing pawn, I would imagine that Kuroyukihime is a bigger part of the game than she looks. And as the next episode shows, I was right on the money.

Still, it is her guidance that leads Haruyuki to defeating the arrogant Ash Roller. It was pretty clever of him to rely on real world information to stop Ash Roller's bike from moving, knowing full well the other fighter would be helpless without his ride. I can only hope that Haruyuki grows up to the point where he does not need Kuroyukihime's sea of pointers to get through one match.

As we discover in the next episode, however, there is a major power hierarchy in the world of Brain Burst centered around level nine players called the Six Kings of Pure Color – and Kuroyukihime used to be one of them, as the Black King. However, her violent rebellion and take-down of a fellow King has led to her being unable to connect to the open Internet or play openly in Brain Burst. 

Naturally, this leads to someone by the name of Cyan Pyle, a level four player, coming after her to take all her acceleration points. For the first time, Kuroyukihime is revealed to have a vulnerable spot and must rely on Haruyuki to assist her in keeping her points – and her life in Brain Burst – safe.

Of course, during all of this mess, Chiyu becomes a factor and Haruyuki learns the hard way that you gotta deal with your real life issues first before playing around in the virtual world. Chiyu is Haruyuki's friend from childhood and does not take kindly to how Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime are getting along. As her insecurities and Haruyuki’s clash, Kuro reveals to Haruyuki her week-old suspicions that Chiyu is actually Cyan Pyle. 

Impossible, right? But after an emotional session of linking reveals, there’s a back door in Chiyu’s programming that would not be in a casual user’s history. So, Chiyu might be Cyan Pyle after all. I doubt things can ever be that simple in this series.

Honestly, it’s great that Chiyu and Haruyuki had that intimate conversation via link about their issues, but it is unfortunate it had to happen because of suspicions about Chiyu’s character. Haruyuki has so many issues about his self-image and his relationship with the teens he considers his friends; they really needed to come out. It all hits a little close to home for me but it’s nice to see someone who will say these things aloud. Poor Haruyuki. I really feel for him.

As for Chiyu, I’m not completely sure of what to make of her yet. I can tell she really cares about Haruyuki as well as her boyfriend Taku, but that back door thing is suspicious. Plus, I wish we could have two main female characters that don’t seem to automatically hate each other the moment they meet face-to-face. Is that too much to ask for these days?

So far, Accel World has done an obscenely great job of pulling me in its world building and character development. Haruyuki is shaping up nicely as a main protagonist that is able to grow both as a Brain Burst fighter and a person, and Kuroyukihime continues to reveal more about herself but not so much that she stops being an enigma to the audience. Plus, dat cliffhanger. Friday could not come around soon enough!

You can watch subbed streaming episodes of Accel World on Viz and on Hulu right now.