Spoiler warning: Spoilers for the eighth episode of Accel World beyond this point. Don't read if you have not watched!
Accel World episode 8: Haruyuki comes home one day to find a cute young girl greeting him with a smile. (Source: Hulu)
Today is apparently a day for baths! Let's all have baths! With our 'cousins', with our friends! Wait - no, that's a terrible idea. Anyway, Accel World has finally gone done the route of an episode that is mostly fan service. Thank God there's more to this bath house panic that meets the eye, or I'd lose it. If I wanted to watch two teenagers in towels flail about in hot water, I'd watch Ranma. And I'd probably see more boobs, too!
Read the rest of the review after the jump!
But first things first, can we talk about how surprisingly bloody Haruyuki's private training with the gun is? And how terribly morbid it is? No wonder it's an illegal hack; what company would openly offer such a program? Damn, Haru, you are getting me worried about your unending devotion to Kuroyukihime and her ideals.
The episode is titled Temptation and that is certainly what Haruyuki is dealing with, in the form of loli temptress turned tsundere. I figured she was some sort of trap, but I would have not guessed the second Red King. Her name is Scarlet Rain, and her Brain Burst avatar is certainly good at raining down some massive artillery on poor Silver Crow's head. Not sure what to think of her yet but initial impressions is that Scarlet might ultimately serve as a wedge between Kuro and Haru, even if right now her presence is serving to bring the two closer together.
Speaking of Kuro, maybe I'm hopelessly cynical, but her 'romantic' dialogue to Haruyuki sounds incredibly calculated in order to keep Haru in her company. This is not to say that she doesn’t love him, but it shows how much of a manipulator Kuro is on her basest levels. Even with her significant other, Kuro has to keep a certain amount of control so that he won't leave her. I can only imagine how she acted with the former Red King; now that is a relationship worth exploring in further episodes.
As for Haruyuki himself, as pointed out above, his devotion to Kuro is starting to take him to new and scarier places. Let's be honest, he's literally been playing a cyber version of Russian Roulette in order to get stronger. This is a shonen training arc seen through the lenses of Hunter S. Thompson, minus the drugs. And it's all to stop relying on his newest avatar trick, his silver wings that have made him infamous across Brain Burst as the only flying avatar.
Naturally, Haruyuki loses the fight against Scarlet Rain - but did anyone expect any different? A Level Four player who is mentally still a rookie against a Level 9 King? There's no way that match-up could end in victory for the underdog, no matter how many anime-style hat tricks Haru pulls out of his back side.
It's a humbling experience for Haru and one he desperately needs. After all, there's no point in cheering for a hero who keeps winning. A hero is supposed to overcome impossible odds and defeat his enemies while going through personal growth; therefore, it's necessary that Haruyuki taste the bitter fruit of his own faults before he can evolve as Accel World's unconventional hero.
So we've gone to a new story arc featuring Scarlet Rain and the history of the seat of the Red King, one that deeply involves Kuroyukihime and her own reign as the Black King. I think that over the next couple of episodes, we as viewers are going to see more of Kuro and her own history as a Brain Burst user. We’re also going to see more of Haru’s “training arc” and some personal growth on his end, as a fighter and as Kuroyukihime’s SO. Whether or not all these thread will eventually tie together into the actual rise of Kuro’s faction remains to be seen.
You can always watch subbed streaming episodes of Accel World at Hulu as well as Viz’s site.