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Monday, September 17, 2012

Consolidation: Accel World 23

Episode 23: Haruyuki and Takumu set out for their final showdown with Nomi. Chiyuri wishes to join them, and they agree to let her come along. (Source: Hulu)
Spoiler warning: Post contains spoilers for episode 23. Read with caution!
Oh wow, it's the second to last episode of Accel World' first season already. And I say 'first season' because I refuse to believe that Accel World - with its anime, OVAs, manga, light novels, and video games - cannot garner enough DVD/Blu-Ray sales to get at least one more season of 24-episodes out before the end of 2014. That is just something I refuse to believe is even remotely a possibility, and I think the series itself is banking on that as well.
You can read the bulk of my episode review after the jump:

With this episode, we officially enter the 'final battle' between our heroes - Haruyuki, Taku, and Chiyu - and our most loathed villain - Nomi, now accompanied by Black Vice, another Brain Burst user. 
Honestly, I don't really care about Black Vice although his avatar is pretty cool and less humanoid than the others, giving it a bit of uniqueness that doesn't really match his blank personality. His only purpose is to halt Haru in his tracks, which he does for most of the battle, leaving the final bout to come between Nomi and Taku - like it should be.
"But wait," you may ask, "why shouldn't Haru be the one whooping Nomi's ass? After all, it was Nomi that used his Demonic Command to steal Haruyuki's wings as well as turned the entire school population against him." Yeah, okay, it's all true - but Taku actually has more to lose if he loses against Nomi, and not just Brain Burst and his acceleration abilities. 
Nomi is what Taku used to be, someone using the Accel World abilities to their advantage in order to cheat at life. In essence, Taku is fighting himself and proving to Chiyu and Haru once and for all that he is a good guy and will never do this kind of dishonest stuff again - and that he understands what Brain Burst should be used for.
So, under threat of losing pretty much everything he's gained so far in this series, Taku squares off against Nomi and is able to utilize the Incarnate System to create himself a shiny new sword. To be fair, a lot of this episode is fighting and if there is one thing I can't stand recapping (even briefly) it is fight scenes. But it was all very exciting stuff, so if you watch Accel World for the battles, it shall not disappoint you.
The one thing that bothered me about this episode (other than the fact that Nomi is still not bleeding to death in a ditch somewhere) is how under-utilized Chiyu was. Considering they made all this bloody hype over her installing Brain Burst and becoming an acceleration user, the writing has pretty much relegated her to 'victim' status without so much as an attempt at fighting back. 
I don't blame Chiyu as a character, I blame the script writers for not knowing what to do with her. If someone competent were writing her involvement in these episodes, stuff would change. Just because she's a healing avatar doesn't mean she can't fight, right? Because if that's the case then being an avatar who can heal isn't that special in the end.
And I like Chiyu. She should be fighting back; that is what her character has done in the past. But during the Nomi arc, her character has been strangled by the story needing a victim and that means making her annoyingly passive and useless in an actual fight. So Chiyu is used yet again to fuel some guy's pain, this time to break Taku's will and destroy his hold on the Incarnate System, leading Nomi to nearly knock Taku out for good. Which would suck, because Taku's characterization has been on one hell of a rise lately, and he's just become more than bearable in recent episodes. Someone save Cyan Pile!
There really isn't much to talk about in terms of Haruyuki's involvement during this episode. He spends much of it mentally rooting on Taku and only during the end of it is in any danger of losing his Brain Burst status. Thankfully, due to the fact that they are on an unlimited field for dueling, this means that anyone of a high enough level - say, a level nine Black King - can break in on the back of a mythical beast and save them all. God bless Kuroyukihime aka Black Lotus and her level nine mad skills for giving Haruyuki the strength to break through Black Vice's devices and take on Dusk Taker once and for all - aaaaand scene. Err, episode.
Also, if that back story was supposed to make me feel sorry for Nomi's sorry ass? Nope. It just confirmed his status as a bully and a psycho. I feel sorry for the people he lives with, god help them all. Not his brother, though, since it was his bullying that made Nomi what he was. So both Nomi and his bro can go jump off a cliff because wow. 
That bit of boo-hoo back story just made me want to see his butt kicked more by Taku and Haruyuki, which is what will hopefully happen next episode. If this season ends with Nomi crushed and defeated, Brain Burst uninstalled and his acceleration ability lost forever, then Accel World will have done its job.
You can watch subbed streaming episodes of Accel World on both Hulu and Viz Anime's website. You can order DVD/Blu-Rays of the series through CDJapan, although they are not North American region coded. Also, they are expensive as balls. So it would probably be better to wait until you can get it through Viz or whoever is releasing it for home theater.