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)
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.