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Accel World

Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (2012). Original title Akuseru Wārudo. Based on the Light Novels by Reki Kawahara. Sunrise. Written by Hiroyuki Yoshino. Directed by Masakazu Ohara (as Masakazu Obara). Voice cast includes Shintaro Asanuma, Rina Hidaka, Yuuki Kaji, Sanae Kobayashi, Sachika Misawa, Nobuo Tobita and Aki Toyosaki. 24 24-minute episodes, plus eight shorts and two OVAs. Colour.

In the Near Future of 2046, Haruyuki Arita (Kaji) is thirteen, short and fat; bullied at his Tokyo school, he regularly escapes into Cyberspace, his impressive virtual squash scores attracting the attention of fellow student Kuroyukihime (Misawa). She downloads "Brain Burst" via the neuro-link in his neck; this program accelerates the brain's processing speed so time appears to stand still (see Time Distortion) ... but it is also an augmented-reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Brain Burst can only be used by those who have had the neuro-link implanted since birth, and this has only been the case for the last fifteen years. In the game Avatars are created for participants, who fight each other to ascend levels – the highest being ten. However, five of the "Six Kings of Pure Colour" at level nine have tactically agreed not to fight: Kuroyukihime is the sixth, the Black King, and wants Haruyuki to help her reach level ten. They are joined by Haruyuki's schoolfriends, Mayuzumi (Asanuma) and Chiyuri Kurashima (Toyosaki), and occasionally by Yuniko Kozuki (Hidaka), the Red King, an eleven-year-old girl.

When new pupil Seiji Noumi (Kobayashi) arrives at their school he victimizes Haruyuki, Mayuzumi and Chiyuri (Kuroyukihime is plot-conveniently absent): Seiji is a member of the Acceleration Research Group, who use brain implant chips instead of neuro-links to access the Accelerated World, giving them anonymity. In the finale Haruyuki and friends confront Noumi and the group's Vice-President, Black Vise (Tobita): Chiyuri outsmarts and humiliates Noumi; then, when Kuroyukihime returns, Black Vise acknowledges it would be unwise for the Acceleration Research Group to cross with her and her friends again, politely taking his leave.

The animation is hit or miss, as reflected by the avatars: some are impressive, others mediocre. The male characterization is poor, mainly expressed through angst, declamation and exposition; the many strong female characters fare better, though unfortunately there is some Fan Service, veering into creepy territory. This Anime does have many interesting ideas – avatars being shaped by their owner's traumas; adults' ignorance of time acceleration; Brain Burst's impact on mental vs physical age, the psychological effects and its use in the real world – but they are left under-developed. The number of loose ends is frustrating: such as Kuroyukihime's plan to reach Level Ten; the Acceleration Research Group's intentions; and who created Brain Burst? The show was popular, but is a curate's egg of a series: there are certainly good parts, but the whole is disappointing.

Half the length of a subsequent film, Accel World: Infinite Burst (2016), was a recap of the tv series. [SP]


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