Episode 22: In Akihabara, Haruyuki and Pard hear the name of a Burst Linker called Rust Jigsaw who doesn’t show up on the matching list. Believing he may hold a clue to uncover Dusk Taker’s secret, Haruyuki and Pard challenge Rust Jigsaw to a duel. (Source: Viz Anime)
Spoiler warning: Post contains spoilers for the most recent episodes, from episode 18 and onwards. Read with caution!
So that happened. A really quality batch of Accel World episodes; even the filler-esque arc with Kuroyukihime in Okinawa was very solid and entertaining. But of course, that's how it should be; this series is winding down into its final episodes of its (hopefully not only) first season. With Nomi as the clear 'final boss' of this series, it's a good time to start answering questions and get ready for an epic virtual reality-based smackdown that only a show like Accel World can deliver properly.
Read the rest of my teal deer take on Accel World's most recent episodes after the jump:
Invitation/Revolution contains the Kuro In
Wonderland Okinawa storyline,
in which two very cute girls get her to help them take down a monster
and we see Kuro's friendship with fellow student Megumi. It was nice
to see Kuro do something other that act as Haru's guide and
girlfriend, and it shows her independence as well as her status in
Accel World: someone powerful but also someone who can be relied on
to help in a bad situation. Also, Kuro in a bikini? Running about on
the beach like an idol and getting massaged by cute girls with
bottles of oil? Yes, please.
Plus, I adore Kuroyukihime and Megumi's friendship; it's natural and lovely and should come back soon. Also, it dispels the myth that I think a lot of folks hold about Kuro: that she doesn't have any friends outside of Haru and the Nega Nebulous group. I think meeting Haruyuki and becoming his friend and then his girlfriend did not so much attract more friends to her than make her value her existing friendships more.
I'm kinda sad Megumi won't be joining her again in Brain Burst - but I suppose it's nice for her to have friends who aren't caught up in her other world. In fact, can we have more scenes in which Kuroyukihime is seen with her school friends? That would be great.
And after this, we are brought back into the Nomi/Dusk Taker story arc with Haru and Taku reeling from the arrival of Chiyu's avatar Lime Bell and her healing Dusk Taker to full health - an ability that can only be used on a player's allies. Now, at this moment Chiyu's relationship with Nomi seems pretty confusing, but I honestly believe Chiyu is only close to him so she can destroy him from inside his own group. It might be a stretch, but it makes more sense that her teaming up with Dusk Taker just to get experience points - and she clearly does not enjoy working with Nomi in any capacity.
(Although I have to admit, I don't fully understand Chiyu exposing herself to Haru like she did, considering she loves Taku and that 'love triangle' should have been a done deal already. Yet again, Chiyu is clearly hurting and confused and torn between her new alliance with Nomi and her friendship with both Taku and Haru – and as anyone knows, being that confused and emotionally compromised leads to what are in hindsight idiotic decisions. So yeah, not ready to hate Chiyu because she pretty much invited Haru to cop a feel. If the series would spend more time delving into her character and her motivations, we as an audience could understand her actions better.)
It was nice to see my favorite red-headed tsundere, Niko, yet again as well as her maid assistant and fellow Burst Linker, Blood Leopard aka Pard (and I love that she dictates so calmly what form of nickname is acceptable). They are the perfect foil for each other; Niko is fired up and ready to smash all the things with her weapons while Pard is quick and no nonsense and uses cleverness as her killing move. If there is not any more Niko & Pard scenes in later episodes, I shall weep.
With Niko, Haru and Taku learn more about the double-sided coin that is the Incarnate System, and hopefully it is something Taku has mastered enough to use effectively against Nomi. I also love that the series has not forgotten the Armor of Catastrophe arc; the little remnant of that armor is still inside Haru and using the Incarnate System is bringing it back to the surface with disastrous consequences.
Now Haru has to decide if using the Incarnate System is worth recalling all that inner darkness, especially if it can eventually consume him and turn him into another victim of the Armor's powers. Seriously, his nightmare involving Kuroyukihime and her wings being torn apart by his hands was terrifying for him; I would imagine he will do anything in his powers to keep that from happening.
Also, thanks to Nomi being a jerkass, Haruyuki has been incorrectly fingered as the perp behind the camera in the girls' dressing room, leading to bullying at school – physically and emotionally. The scene in which Haru is in the dining room, sitting with his plate of curry and doing his best not to cry while telling himself that this is nothing new, he's been through worse, is one of the most effective scenes in the whole series.
We see Haruyuki as he sees himself – someone who has been bullied all his life, someone who has born the scars of being both beaten as well as neglected by his supposed peers and has kept on going, someone who knows that the only way to beat the bastards is to claw their way out of the hole and be better than anyone else despite the great pain that comes with it.
If any character is the best avatar for the show's audience, it is Haru; I think a lot of viewers in this series' intended audience connected to Haru in that moment because they have been in his shoes, telling themselves not to show their bullies how they really feel. After several episodes of Haruyuki acting like a fool and becoming unapproachable, an unfortunate situation has stripped away his false hubris and revealed his true self: someone who can bear the pain and still go on, because he has so much and so many beloved people to fight on for.
I'd like to think that when Kuroyukihime returns to Tokyo, she will be very proud of the strong person Haruyuki has become. Y'know, if the darkness of his Incarnate System – or Nomi's avatar – doesn't wreck him first.
Final Note: Apparently, Accel World and Sword Art Online canonically take place in the same universe? Well, now y'all know which series will replace Accel World as one I'll be blogging about once the 24th episode airs. SAO, here I come!
You can watch streaming subbed episodes of Accel World on both Hulu and at Viz Anime's website.