Accel World Episodes 1 + 2 [First Impression]: Crushing Reality
Welcome to the Accelerated World.
The year is 2046, a time when technology has evolved to being a necessary part of everyday life. Arita Haruyuki is a bullied boy in middle-school whose only escape from reality is his virtual squash game, where he has managed to gain an extremely high score. One day when venting his anger after running into the school bully, he notices that someone has beaten his score – the prettiest girl in the school, Kuroyukihime. When he accepts a software called Brain Burst from her, Haruyuki is introduced to the Accel World, where the thought processes of the users are multiplied by 1000x, making 1 second in the real world 16mins to the Burst Linkers.
Ignoring her advice to not connect to the Global Network, Haruyuki ends up fighting a user named Ash Roller and loses 10 Burst Points, later finding out that this currency is needed to keep on accelerating. Not wanting to disappoint Kuroyukihime, he learns to fight and outsmarts Ash Roller in their rematch, winning back more Burst Points than he’d originally lost.
This is a pre-air version, so screenshot quality isn’t great.
The bullied schoolboy, the lowest of the low on the social hierarchy, the bottom of the school caste system. It’s always going to exist in society, even a couple decades in the future, where presumably technology has advanced to a state where nearly everything except daily life is done electronically. But wow, what an amazing time to live in. Even before I mention anything else, that world would be one helluva place to be in – where there’s a holographic system in front of you, built-in chips on everyone’s bodies and some kind of online virtual network that you can access. At the rate we’re going at, it’d be ages before we get that kind of technology on a worldwide scale. That’s why its called sci-fi I guess…
Right, anyway. Accel World, Accel World! It may be a bit of a clichéd setup, but it works! Bullied school boy meets seemingly unreachable girl, forms a special connection with her due to a mutual secret (a Katsuragi Keima rule guys) and begins an epic adventure of epic proportions. It’s a shounen with a dash of sci-fi, that makes it all the more unique. And the shounen protagonist in question isn’t a Gary Stu at all, instead having this inferiority complex about (probably) his height/weight/social skills.
This is actually the first anime I’ve watched with an SD protagonist, though I don’t think it’s meant for comic effect at all – more to highlight the reality that poor Haruyuki has to face and shoving it in our faces by making him clearly different from everyone else. I mean, it wouldn’t have the same effect if he was normal-sized and then got bullied, would it? You’ve got to pity him, and I’m glad that Kuroyukihime “saved” him, even if he thinks her actions were out of “mercy”. Ugh, what a harsh word to use…has his bullying really been that bad? I just wish his online avatar wasn’t a pink pig, I didn’t warm up to it even in the manga. It’s a nicely drawn pig though xD
Kuroyukihime! *glomps* Okay, under that “cool senpai” exterior, it’s pretty obvious she has a thing for Haruyuki, amidst all the tracing circles on his leg under the table and announcing that she confessed to him (which may be a confession in itself?). Other than that, I honestly believe she’s helping him completely out of kindness, since there’s no way she could have known that Haruyuki’s duel avatar was Silver Crow (which is important later on). She’s probably a genuinely good person, just with mysterious motives at the moment.
I actually quite like the whole system behind Brain Burst and why the reason everyone fights is just due to their greed and desire to keep accelerating. I wouldn’t be beneath fighting to get more points either – just think about all the things you can do when you nearly literally stop time. Whoever created the “game” is a cruel guy, watching people having to fight it out for their right to gain an edge in society. The fact that your duel avatar is created from your inner desires and fears makes me wonder if all the Burst Linkers are actually insecure people on the inside that end up projecting these fears onto a fighting game.
So our debut match was Silver Crow vs Ash Roller, a guy who I’m sure is scared of bikes in real life xD He didn’t seem to be fighting for Burst Points, rather just for fun, even though it means beating the crap out of noobs like Haruyuki. In the rematch, we saw the difference between their world and normal games – just do something unconventional that’s out of the rulebook, like pick up his bike! It’s pretty typical for a shounen to end with a trademark headbutt, but at least it didn’t work the first time round.
I’m sure that the graphics would have been amazing had it not been a pre-air episode, since I loved the OST and the way it kept swapping between light-hearted during reality and awesome while in Accel World. In terms of the theme songs, the OP Chase the world by May’n was a bit disappointing, but →unfinished→ was to a decent standard, though it didn’t surpass the already-high bar set by KOTOKO with her other songs. Hmm, maybe they’ll grow on me.
Now Haruyuki has to juggle between his life in the Accel World and the reality that he wanted to leave – and his first obstacle is
third wheel childhood friend Chiyuri (VA: Toyosaki Aki, also doing Medaka from Medaka Box). Heh heh, someone’s getting all jelly~ She should be. Here have a Kuroyukihime.
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