Haru summons Gale Thruster and flies into the sky with Nomi, and is about to finish him when Lime Bell “heals” Nomi” with Citron Call. However, Chiyu reveals her power doesn’t heal, but turns back time. She’d been going along with Nomi waiting for her chance to revert Dusk Taker to a time before he had wings. Vice abandons him, and Haru defeats Nomi. Back in the real world, Haru and Taku’s names are cleared, and Nomi has no memories of Accel World. Haru returns Gale Thruster to Fuko, bringing Hime along so the two girls can reconcile.
Why did Nomi lose? Because he didn’t have any friends. If Haru were the friendless one, he’d have lost Accel World a long time ago. Luckily for him, despite his timid, pathetic personality and ridiculous physique, Haru has lots of friends to support him. He doesn’t coerce them with threats or blackmail; he’s just a nice guy. That’s ultimately his power: the power to get along. Nomi, meanwhile, pissed off Chiyu enough that she devised a devious long-term plan to put him in his place right at the moment he thought he was victorious.
Frankly, Haru & Co. did Nomi a favor; he was a horrible human being when he was a Burst Linker, though perhaps some of that was due to mistreatment by his brother’s hand. Again, we’re not shedding any tears for the guy, but his abrupt fate and change of personality was a mild shock, and he was certainly a symbol of what happened if Haru, Hime, or anyone else lost all their points (this also happened to Hime’s friend Megumi.) After beating Nomi, Haru basically gets lots of hugs and apologies, and life basically goes on. He also delivers also a loftily-worded, somewhat corny final speech. All in all not a bad ending.
Rating: 6 (Good)
The night of the duel, Chiyu accompanies Taku to Haru’s place. She was told to tell them she’d betray Nomi so they’d take her to the no-limits stage, where she’d then heal Nomi. But she begs them to take her anyway; they agree and jump into the Moonlit stage, where Nomi’s waiting. When Haru rushes him, he’s ambushed by Nomi’s ally Black Vice, while Nomi fights Taku. Haru briefly falls into Zero Fill, but thoughts of Hime pull him out and free him from the vice. Just when Nomi is about to kill Taku, his arm is torn off by a long-range attack by none other than Hime, who has arrived to take on Black Vice while letting Haru finish things with Nomi.
In planning for their sudden death duel with Nomi Seiji, Haru should have known that he was planning to tip the scales in his favor with some form of treachery. The words “fair” and “honest” have no meaning for him, but still, ever the hothead, Haru just rushes in alone with no plan except “Take this!” Oh well…maybe now he’s finally learned. This week we find out what makes Nomi tick with some in-fight exposition. You see, Nomi treats people like tools or disposable garbage because that’s how his big brother treated him. Eventually, everything he gained in Brain Burst was stolen from him, and he devoted himself to taking it all back and banishing his bro from the game. He succeeded, but only by becoming the very person he detested most.
Learning this about Nomi is obviously an attempt to humanize him somewhat, but considering everything he’s done since enduring the pain his brother cost him has revolved around purging himself of all capacity for human mercy or thought for others, it’s a tough sell; we still hate the little bastard. He calls the gang’s friendships “illusions”, while ironically depending on an (admittedly cool-looking) ally to help him contain Haru. Things go badly for the good guys, and it takes Hime literally riding in on her black horse to even the odds, while not doing all the work. Now, barring a few more tricks by Nomi – or perhaps he’s fresh out – Haru is free to take him on mano-a-mano. The final episode should be suitibly replete with sparks, explosions, yelling, and tears. But really…do we have any doubt who’s coming out on top?
Rating: 6 (Good)
Haru teams up with Blood Leopard to lure Rust Jigsaw into a duel in Akiba. After they defeat him, Haru spots him in the real world. Taku tells Haru that Chiyu is fighting alongside Nomi in Accel World. Haru visits her, and she tells him she’s pairing with Nomi by conscious choice, not coersion. After poring over information, Haru determines Nomi is staying off the lists by using an obsolete, banned brain implant chip. He confronts Nomi with this info, and Nomi challenges him to an all-or-nothing duel.
Thanks to some sleuthing and an assist by “Pard” (whom he gets to ride!), Haru finally has some leverage against Nomi: knowledge of his illegal implant that could get him expelled, and in any case would be removed as soon as it’s detected. Game Over for Nomi, right? Well, apparently Nomi still considers the changing room video he fabricated to be equal in value. We disagree. Nomi is guilty of something that can be proven, and wanting to keep that secret gives him all the motive to frame Haru. Still, the narrative treats their leverage against each other as equal, so we’ll go along with it. Rather than settle things in the real world, they’re going to have a duel in Accel.
Haru’s implant chip epiphany happened when he realized a gesture Nomi was making was of closing a virtual window, despite his not wearing a neuro-linker at that time. This suggests, in this case, Haru has a keen eye for observation and is able to connect the dots and successfully corner Nomi. Unfortunately, Haru isn’t so observant when Haru takes her friggin’ shirt off and tells him she’s in a place where he can touch her if he wants to. Uhh, she wants you, brah. Gotta at least acknowledge it. Also interesting is that in Aceel World Chiyu has chosen not to tag along with either Haru or Taku; and she’s rapidly becoming a force by Nomi’s side. Also something Haru has to watch out for: overuse of the Incarnate system leads to the Armor of Catastrophe.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Haru and Taku meet up with Yuniko in a maid cafe, where she grudingly agrees to give Taku a crash course in the Incarnate System. While she trains him in an arctic wasteland, Haru returns to the real world, and Yuniko’s underling Blood Leopard takes him to a neutral underground duelling hall in Akibahara where they’ll investigate Dusk Taker’s ability to stay off of the lists.
The Red King Scarlet Rain proves a valuable, if reluctant, ally to Haru and Taku in their quest to defeat who’s likely the final boss in this series, the insufferable Nomi Seiji/Dusk Taker. Not only does she welcome them into her Red Legion’s prominence base and give Taku a personal lesson in how to use the Incarnate system, as a bonus she lends Haru the services of one of her subjects to aid in his investigation of Nomi. It’s good to be strong, but they won’t beat Nomi unless they know as much about him as they can; no more surprises.
We liked Yuniko’s sudden shift from her cheerful facade to surly grouch when Haru mentions Incarnate in public; but we’re glad she knows she has a debt to pay and is willing to do so. We also like Blood Leopard’s very matter-of-fact manner with Haru (we too thought at the time she was pretty stiff for a maid waitress!) Plus, her bosozoku motorcycle with voice-activated ignition is freakin’ awesome, and riding it in a maid costume really helps them blend in with the colorful Akiba rabble. The underground duelling bar is another nice touch.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Lime Bell fully heals Dusk Taker. When Cyan Pile tries to attack him, he tears him to pieces. Silver Crow gains a sinister black and red aura, but Chiyu screams for him to stop, time elapses and the duel ends. In the real world Haru and Taku confront Chiyu, who tells them she’s partnered with Nomi by choice, but Haru is convinced she’s being coerced. After a nightmare in which be becomes evil, Haru calls Hime, who comforts him. He then suggests to Taku that they seek out Niko’s help to get Taku trained in the Incarnate System. At school, the two have been implicated in the girl’s locker room camera plot.
When Chiyu healed Nomi two weeks ago, we are really pissed off. But now that we’re back to the main story, our interest in the series has been reinvigorated, like Nomi’s health. We didn’t mind her doing what she did, or even her cryptic, standoffish behavior throughout the episode, because it means more conflict for this triangle of friends who can’t quite catch a break. This punk Nomi has been dropped into their lives, an he’s determined to fuck with them mercilessly. In fact, he gets Haru so angry, there’s a possibility he’s summoned the Armor of Catastrophe. There are great moments of Haru getting pissed off…and his “Evil Pig” nightmare is pretty disturbing, both to him and us.
His brief visit with Hime is pitch perfect. She probably knows something is wrong, and part of him wants to ask her for help, but he doesn’t; they just relax together and enjoy the scenery. It’s a nice time out that helps Haru for the trials he faces the next morning, when Nomi has framed him and turned the whole school against him. What’s great is that Haru is done being intimidated and messed with. It shows growth and maturity. He’s not going to live another day like he used to, looking down and fearing forhis safety. He’s going to fight back, and he’s going to ask Yuniko for help. Combined with the threat of his “Dark Side” emerging, we like where this is all going.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Three days after she left, Kuroyukihime calls Haru from Okinawa. Haru does not tell her about his recent problems with Nomi, only that he’ll get strong enough to protect her. But thanks to her help, Taku is able to determine when Nomi is accelerating to cheat on tests, and initiates a duel with him. While he starts out strong, Nomi uses incarnation to nearly defeat Cyan Pile. Haru begs him to take his points instead, and Nomi lets him enter the battle. He uses Gale Thruster to fly, and with incarnation and Taku’s help, brings Dusk Taker down. Before they can finish him, Lime Bell appears and completely heals Nomi.
Haru and Nomi remain at an impasse of understanding. Nomi treats Accel World like his personal buffet, “taking whatever he can get.” It’s how he’s always played the game, it’s how he’s become strong, and it’s how he’s succeeded at school. In both worlds, he breaks the rules to maintain an advantage over his enemies. And his enemies are everyone, because he only cares about himself. He doesn’t have what Haru has: bonds with friends he trust and can count on. While Haru and Nomi are both trying to become stronger, the way they go about it couldn’t be more different. Nomi’s like the old Taku, only much worse.
With the end credits looming, it seemed like friendship and teamwork would win the day, as Nomi recieves his first drubbing. But we couldn’t really enjoy it knowing how many times in the episode Nomi gets one over on them. Haru hesitates to finish him, and that’s a costly mistake. While Nomi has no friends, he does have ‘dogs’ who serve him due to the leverage he has over them, and Chiyu is currently one of them. That’s the only explanation we have for why she jumps in an heals Nomi at the last second – she has no choice. Score another one for Team Evil!
Rating: 6 (Good)
Haru begins his training with Sky Raker, who tells him the secret to his powers of flight weren’t his wings (they were just for show), it was his willpower, overwriting the reality of the virtual world. Raker nudges him off the pillar of stone, making him climb up, but after a transition it becomes solid metal, so he must use the “incarnate system” to slice handholds and footholds into the metal. On the seventh day, he reaches the top. Sky Raker tells him how she became wheelchair-bound, and lends him her “gale thruster” to help him get back into the habit of flying, in hopes he won’t follow her path.
Obsession is a dangerous thing. Sky Raker (not Laker) developed one when she could never jump high enough; she wanted to fly. So she took the drastic step of having her legs cut off – and she made her only friend – Black Lotus – do it for her (perhaps to make her avatar more like the real-life Raker, who has artificial legs). Even two legs lighter, she could still only jump, and not fly. Haru’s different. Hime knew it when she recruited him, and Raker seems to sense it too. He can fly, wings or no. And so she gives him a crash course in Neo-like “hacking” of the virtual reality of Accel World. It’s a program with rules that can be bent..and broken.
In training to restore some semblance of his flight ability, Haru has the advantage of Accel World’s extreme time differential – since one real world day equals three Accel World years. We wish there’d been a more clear indication of how brief a time his seven Accel days actually were when he logs out and meets the real Raker, because Nomi wasn’t around to bother him. In any case, it’ll be his willpower – and Chiyu’s – against Nomi’s sly trickery. We’re looking forward to Nomi getting his comeuppance!
Rating: 6 (Good)
While dueling, Nomi uses his avatar Dusk Taker’s special move, Demonic Command, to steal Haru’s wings, then his points, leaving Haru and Chiyu devastated in the real world. With Hime gone and Haru unable to tell Taku anything, he considers erasing the game from his brain. Entering the “Bitter/Rough Valley” to duel someone, who ends up being Ash. When he can’t defeat him, he asks Ash to finish him, but instead Ash takes him to see his guardian Sky Laker, the closest avatar to flying prior to Haru.
Nomi Seiji’s reign of terror commences this week, and his words and actions leave Haru and Chiyu sobbing into each others’ shoulders in the dirt. He’s a trickster who steals other avatars’ abilities, and when he so quickly and easily takes Silver Crow’s wings away, it’s a pretty big shock. Just when you thought Haru was starting to get over his confidence issues, Nomi destroys all the progress he made and got him into a hopeless state of mind, to the point he considers simply ending it all by erasing brain burst from his nuero link.
This reiterates that being a burst linker isn’t something that is forced on anyone; it’s a choice. Linkers like Hime, Niko, and perhaps Nomi, the Accel World has become more important to them than the real world, but that’s not yet the case for Haru. He can walk away and still have a good life. He has friends who care about him. Of course, we wouldn’t have much of a show if he erased it, so instead he bumps into the ever-optimistic, chipper Ash, who helpfully gets Haru access to his guardian, who may be able to get Haru out of his funk and teach him some new tricks. We hope. We also hope Hime gets back soon, before everything is destroyed!
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Taku relays to Haru and Chiyu that Nomi is using the “physical burst” command to excel at kendo, like he used to do. Haru follows him and determines he truly is a burst linker somehow masking his signature. However, Nomi knows he’s being followed and uses electron visual masking to trick Haru into entering the girl’s shower room. Chiyu covers for him, but when Nomi later corners Haru, Nomi reports that he planted a hidden camera in the showers. With this leverage over them, he declares them his slaves. He then challenges Silver Link to a duel.
You have to hand it to Accel World, they’ve really outdone themselves creating a character we take an instant hating to. Seriously, this guy’s a Grade A PRICK. For a moment we feel sorry for him when his Kendo partners pick on him, but it’s only a brief moment, as he uses his burst skill to catch a thrown sword and merely gloats. But while he’s a piece of work who is not above cheating, blackmail, and all manner of deceptions and feints, he’s also a pretty sharp adversary; something we can’t quite say about Haru or any of his foes up to this point.
Also hand it to Accel World to make Haru ending up in the girl’s shower (and in the arms of a naked Chiyu) not descend into farce: rather than screaming and kicking Haru, Chiyu hides him: being found in the girls shower means expulsion, and she’s not about to let her modesty and indignation get her dear friend expelled. Her observations about the game being too intense are quite astute; especially in the case of people like Nomi and hell, Kuroyukihime; the game just means way too much for them.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
P.S. We take exception to Chiyu’s judging of Haru’s pizza as “not real food”. That looked like good pizza…with prawns and broccoli and everything! Not everyone has a pro chef for a mom, kiddo.
Haru and Taku help Chiyu install Brain Burst. Her avatar, Lime Bell, turns out to be a healer, to the surprise of all, as only one other healer exists in the entire game, and they’re a king. Meanwhile, the new first-year class arrives, and with it comes a mysterious boy named Nomi, who beats Taku at Kendo by accelerating his moves, yet doesn’t appear on the Brain Burst roster.
With the big Chrome Disaster arc behind them, Haru and Taku take it easy this week, obliging their friend Chiyu’s desire to join them in their online game, hopeful she can help make it more fun for them. The thing is, she knows nothing about the game, so any plans she has are kind of premature. Still, it is interesting to see the birth of a new burst linker, and she certainly seems to have potential, considering her ridiculously-rare healing powers.
This episode also sets up a possible new dilemma, with Kuroyukihime going on a third-year school trip and leaving Haru and Taku in charge of the defense of Suginami in her absence. This is a tall order, especially with the newcomer Nomi on the prowl. This kid may not show up on the Brain Burst GUI, but considering how he dominates Taku in the real world, he seems to have some knowlege of the Accelerated World, and is likely an imminent threat at a bad time.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Yellow Radio and his legion scurry away, leaving Hime, Niko and Haru to deal with Cherry Rook/Chrome Disaster. Haru is too scared to move at first, but Hime encourages him. Hime is struck down by the armor, then shot in the back by a frustrated Niko, who loses an arm. The Armor then bounds away, but Haru goes after it, using its own tethers against it and driving it into the ground in pieces. Niko delivers the judgment blow. Everyone checks their equipment for remnants of the armor, and find none, though Haru still hears its voice, as a part of the armor has infected his avatar.
And so the Cherry Rook/Disaster story is more complex than a simple matter of a subordinate going off the reservation. Turns out, Cherry and Niko were good friends at a facility for abandoned children, and he introduced her to Brain Burst, not the other way round. He was her guardian, and she was his protege – but she caught up to and surpassed him. In the real world, he was about to move away, and wanted desperately to keep in touch with her through the VR game, so he sought out the Armor of Catastrophe to become stronger. Turns out that was a bad move; since the armor doesn’t just make your stronger, but turns you into a mindless, avatar-devouring animal.
For all the build-up, he’s done in pretty easily, but we chalk that up to Haru getting better at dismissing his inherent fear of being worthless and losing – potentially self-fulfilling prophecies – and tapping into his ample potential. We also liked how Niko hesitated when she had the chance to take Rook out; she’s still a kid after all, and was hoping he could be redeemed. The transition from the dark city to the Castle in the Sky-style lush green paradise dotted with ancient ruins was a nice touch, as was the post-battle scene between Haru and Niko, who have indeed beccome friends, regardless of Niko’s tsundere insistences to the contrary. Of course, with the armor not-quite-gone and apparently lurking within Silver Crow, the second half won’t be all fun and games.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Haru, Hime, Taku and Niko are ambushed by the Yellow King, Yellow Radio, and a large force of his followers. He neutralizes Black Lotus by playing back video of her beheading Red Rider in a sneak attack. Taku believes retreat the best option, and he all but sacrifices Cyan Pile to cover the others. Silver Crow and Scarlet Rain struggle with Radio’s superior numbers, until Haru snaps Hime out of it and Black Lotus squares off with Radio himself, the first battle between Level 9 Kings. Before they can unleash their special attacks, Radio is stabbed by Chrome Disaster.
The end of last week looked like a tough spot for our heroes, as their foes had the high ground and far more numbers. Thankfully, Yellow Radio is more insterested in talking and letting the small fry fight for him; he only lifts a finger when Black Lotus comes at him directly. There’s also no nice way of saying this: his henchmen can’t aim. They do manage to dismantle much of Niko’s red fort, as Haru is busy squirming on the ground getting shocked. At this time, you can bet Niko is regretting not bringing Red Legion backup.
As for Kuroyukihime, seeing herself betray the old Red King, someone she respected and would probably be friends with in real life, is a sudden shock that drains her will to fight (“Zero Fill” ~ there’s a term for everything!), and without that, her avatar won’t move. Fortunately the shock is only temporary, as sufficient yelling from Haru wakes her up (so she can correct him about her having loved Red Rider; she didn’t). Then the silly-looking Yellow King with his silly illusory powers literally gets stabbed in the back by the very Chrome Disaster he created. But we agree with Kuroyukihime…we never liked him anyway.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Scarlet Rain AKA Kozuki Yuniko AKA Niko meets with Kuroyukihime, Haru and Taku at Haru’s place under a truce. After confirming their real identities, she reveals why she infiltrated Haru and sought him out: she needs Silver Crow’s wings to defeat the Armor of Catastrophe AKA Chrome Disaster. Everyone direct links with Kuroyukihime and watches her memory of the battle in which the fourth Chrome Disaster was destroyed. However, there is now a fifth incarnation of the brutal loose cannon within Niko’s own Red Legion. She must deliver the Judgement Blow to “regulate” him, but due to his leaping ability, she wants to borrow Haru to do so, in exchange for the Reds conceding territory inSuginami. Hime agrees. Jealous of Niko staying with Haru, she sleeps over as well, and Haru contemplates Taku’s warning not to forget that Niko is the enemy.
If the last episode was the powerful introduction of Kozuki Yuniko as someone who is not to be trifled with despite her petite stature and innocent facade, and someone who takes an instant loathing to Haru due to an accidental groping, this week was the inevitable clash of Niko and Hime, who fight throughout the episode for the attention of the lovable squishy Teddy Bear that is Arita Haruyuki. As Chiyu is absent this week, Taku can only sit back and endure the heated tug-of-war over his roly-poly friend and colleague. But if we had to choose between “endure” and “enjoy” when describing th competition, we actually think we’d hew closer to the latter. In short, it wasn’t that bad.
Part of this is that there is a reason Niko’s around: she’s got a problem, and Haru is the best avatar for the job. We’re also treated to a past battle in which Hime and other Kings of Pure Color united to take down an unstable, chaotic element that threatened everything they’d fought for. Haru shudders to think what kind of person lurks beneath the reincarnating hate armor. Combined with Niko telling Haru how real life can “fade away” if one spends too much time in the Accelerated World (which you have to do in order to rise to Level 10), it builds a case that there’s a monster within every linker, even him. The real life interactions between Niko, Haru and Hime were well-played and helped flesh her out as a real person who likes to play video games and cook food for friends, and not just a slogan-spewing, scenery-chewing villainess. If they can spend a civil night together, they can work together to solve Niko’s problem…before it becomes everyone else’s.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)