Accel World is an anime that is based on a series of light novels of the same name by Reki Kawahara. He is the famous writer of another very famous series, Sword Art Online. With SAO being such a huge hit in Japan and worldwide, will Accel World be able to meet the audience’s expectation or even surpass it? Read on to find out!
The basic premise is set in a future Japan where everyone is connected to a device known as Neuro Linker. Our main character is Haruyuki Arita, a fat boy who is constantly bullied. Though he is weak in real life, in a virtual reality game, he is very strong and it is this strength that has gained the admiration of Kuroyukihime, the school’s most beautiful and popular female council Vice- President. One day, she installs Brain Burst application in his neuro linker, bringing Arita into a world of MMORPG that involves fighting for points. The Brain Burst allows one to maximise his brain power in the real world. However, if they lose all of their points, they will lose the Brain Burst and any memories regarding it forever. Arita has to help Kuroyukihime to defeat the other 9 Kings in order to meet the creator of Brain Burst and understand the reason for its existence. However, things will not be as easy and our heroes have to face massive adversity.
Accel World has a fairly bright artstyle that is very similar to Sword Art Online series. Many of its characters have bright clothing or hair colour, and each of them stands out in its own way. The character design is quite simplistic, which yet again draws a similarity to Sword Art Online series. However, while in the Brain Burst Program, the duel avatars that they use in fighting is several times more bad-ass and cool-looking in terms of its artstyle. It becomes a sort of a mix of bright colours and Evangelion-style robotic avatars that is really different from the characters in real life. There are some CGI here and there but most of the time the scenes look surprisingly hand-drawn.
The animation is really top-notch. It is especially so during the fighting scenes, where battles are smooth and movement is naturally exaggerated. There is some obvious CGI animation for some of the characters, which you can really tell apart as the anime does not care to blend them into the 2D environment. Thankfully, the rest of the animation still looks like the traditional animation. With bright-coloured skills being abundant in this series, the battles can look flashy and very cool.
The characters are actually pretty typical anime-ish type. With the exception of Arita, the fat boy, the other characters seem to be able to fit into any other type of animes with cute girl or guy characters. Arita himself is pretty unique in this case due to his look and size. It’s pretty seldom to have such a character, whose normal avatar is a pig, in such an anime genre, especially so when compared to Sword Art Online series, where the main character is cool-looking and pretty badass. This is what I like about Accel World, as the main character is not the typical type, and that it also provides the story backdrop for his source of power in the game.
The villains etc are not numerous, except for one big antagonist that only appears in the last few episodes. As the normal enemies are just another players, the anime makes the encounters a bit more fun than dread, except when the Kings are concerned. For the one big antagonist, he is really a despicable character that is in contrast to Arita in so many ways. I love how they make him so bad-ass but also hatable, but with a backstory that makes his actions understandable.
Unfortunately, the other characters can be too plain at times for appearing in only some episodes.
The story is pretty standard anime-ish, yet it contains some unique features of its own. It is a tale of a bullied boy becoming a hero, but the Brain Burst adds its own tto into the story to make the story more philosophical in nature. Our characters’ main quest is actually not to defeat the 9 Kings and become the best player in Brain Burst. Rather, it is to learn about the reason for Brain Burst’s existence from its creators. In this way, Accel World diverges from the stereotype anime story in a pretty huge way, of which I love and applause it for willing to add a deeper layer of depth to the story goal. Otherwise, the story flows in a way that other animes do, like our character slowly growing in power while meeting new friends, screaming friendship and love when down, and then become strong again to fight the main antagonist.
Music wise, there’s a few techno tracks and some Japanese pop tunes that are surprisingly enjoyable and they even creates the perfect battling atmosphere and tension. When the battles are fast and flashy, the soundtrack further adds the impact which makes the whole fight really enjoyable to watch. During the quieter moments, it helps to create some awkward, relaxing or loving mood for our characters to interact among themselves.