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)
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)
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.
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)
Now Level 4, Haru undergoes extreme training so he’ll be strong enough to start helping his legion gain territory. While returning home he finds a tiny, cute red-haired girl in his apartment, baking cookies and claiming to be a second cousin. Suspicious of her story, he does some digging and discovers she is the second Red King, Scarlet Rain, whom he pisses off by accidentally groping her when she falls in the bath with him. She challenges him to a duel, and Silver Crow is no match for her stalwart defense and overwhelming firepower. Rather than kill him, she demands he get her an audience with Kuroyukihime, in the real world.
There’s something to be said for uncomplicated, non-mystical, straightforward stories like this one: legions of various colors led by kings vying for dominance in a virtual game. This series continues its imaginitive execution with a very cool climactic battle against his first king, even if that king is a pint-sized firecracker. We appreciated how her introduction was as a not-so-convincing cute little sister act, and for once, Haru isn’t buying it (in expressing his suspicions in his thoughts, he rather hilariously says the long-form title of Oreimo). Hime may scold him for not doing enough research on the legions, but at least he’s growing less gullible. His only mistake is being in a vulnerable position – in the tub – when she shows her true colors.
Frankly, this Scarlet Rain girl should thank her lucky stars Haru did catch her, even if he incidentally copped a feel in the process; she’d have lost her throne and possibly motor skills had she landed headfirst on the edge of the tub. He saved her life, which is why she spares his in the duel. Well, also because he’s the closest link to Kuroyukihime, whom she likely harbors a vendetta. Hime, you see, beheaded Rain’s predcessor. It could be she did Rain a favor by doing this (it allowed her to take the Red throne), but more likely than not she wants revenge. Hime is reluctant to give Haru details about her past with the first Red King one way or another, so we’ll see.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Haru’s duel with Cyan Pile starts badly, as Silver Crow quickly loses an arm and a foot, negating his speed advantage. Taku knows about Haru linking with Chiyu, and is tired of competing with him for her affections, and wants to defeat Haru to prove his usefulness to the Blue Legion. He Spiral Gravity Drives Haru deep underground, where Haru finds Kuroyukihime. Silver Crow is repaired and spreads wings, and flies Taku high into the sky, but doesn’t defeat him, as he wants him as his ally. Kuroyukihime arrives and reveals her true Black Lotus form to everyone. In the real world, Haru visits her in the hospital, where she prepares to tell him her real name.
This episode paints Taku as an underhanded, calculating, coward, who has used his accelerating abilities to get ahead at school and in life. He was glad when Chiyu chose him, the “practical” choice, but he’d admit that he knows Chiyu also likes Haru, and not just as a friend. Haru may have snooped around Chiyu’s files too, but that’s because it was possible she was Cyan Pile. So Haru is always in the right this week, and even though there’s a point when his avatar is literally bowing before Taku, in the end, he’s the one in control. In true Haru fashion, he chooses to forgive his friend, despite the fact he’s been a colossal jerk.
We see Haru and Taku’s relationship as similar to Shuu and Yahiro’s in Guilty Crown; they’d always had their differences, but they’re friends and they always work them out. Only here, there’s a girl between them, even though Haru seems to be in good standing with Kuroyukihime, who is magically unscathed despite getting punted by a car last week. With her identity revealed to the other linkers, and her legion Nego Nebulus (silly name) mobilized, it seems she’ll be commanding both Haru and Taku in future virtual campaigns.
Rating: 6 (Good)
When Haru describes how he direct linked with Chiyu and learned she wasn’t Cyan Pile, but only a conduit, Kuroyukihime gets upset and storms off. Haru refutes claims he’s going out with her, and cannot fathom someone like her actually liking him. After school they walk home, and he confronts her about it, further upsetting her. A car nearly hits them when they burst link, and Kuroyukhime uses her level 9 power to use her real body to push him out of the car’s path, hitting her. In the hospital in critical condition, and with 99% of her points lost, Haru vows to protect her from Pile, who arrives and is revealed as Taku. Haru initiates a duel with him.
This week Haruyuki Arita is a particularly insufferable little pipsqueak, and while we can’t blame him, considering his point-of-view, for questioning the sincerity of Kuroyukihime’s feelings, we can surely blame him for making things worse by insisting she must hate herself for pretending to like him, and that she simply use him like the disposable pawn he is. This is how this kid has always thought about himself; worthless. Which doesn’t make much sense considering he has such a loving, supportive friend in Chiyu up to this point, though perhaps even she has always been unable to convince him he’s worth more than dirt.
In any case, Kuroyukihime lets her guard down, and they end up in a situation where she’s the only one who can save them from a runaway car, so she does, confessing most doubt-allayingly her new-found love for him before sacrificing herself (though she isn’t killed, this is the future, after all.) Is it indeed pretty far-fetched for her to fall so hard in love with him so soon? Perhaps, but love is a many-splendored thing, and logic rarely figures into the equation. It’s also more than a little convenient that she happens to be in love with someone who’s friends with the girlfriend of one of her mortal enemies in Taku. But then again…six degrees of separation.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Car Cameos: There were a couple tight close-ups of cars, but they were of the fictional futuristic variety.
Chubby, uncool, cowardly Arita Haruyuki is constantly bullied, and retreats to the Neuro-link to get away from reality. He meets Kuroyukihime, an upperclassman with a game called “Brain Buster” that lets them enter the “accelerated world,” which slows a second down to nearly 17 minutes. The cost of such power is for him to fight in duels with other Burst Linkers. Winning nets ten points, losing costs ten, and accelerating costs one. Initially unsure of his duel avatar, Silver Crow, he manages to outwit and defeat his first opponent. Hime is impressed, but his other friend Chiyu is suspicious of her.
Accel World begins with a two-parter that throws us right into the somewhat pitiful life of a very pitiful young man who is at least three feet shorter than everyone else and drawn more crudely. We can only infer that he is a dwarf. But he’s not a confident dwarf, oh no. This kid is about as pathetic as you can get. Even in The Future, bullies make him spend all his virtual lunch money on sweets for them, else his face find their fists. In the global network, this Haru kid is has a little cartoon pig avatar, perhaps reflecting his low opinion of himself.
All this changes when a young lady named Hime frees him of his oppressors and gives him a chance to become something more, if only in the virtual world. We won’t lie; there’s a lot of explaining and exposition, but this double episode manages to cover it all relatively deftly. Like Haru, we’re still wrapping our heads around this new game and all its intricacies, and there are plenty of them. Meanwhile, back in the real world, he may be small and plump and totally lacking in spine, but he has at least two girls looking out for him in Hime and Chiyu. Their rivalry, and his progression through Brain Buster, will likely shape the episodes to come. It’s a very zany, imaginative series with some nice fight animations, so we’ll stick with it for now.
Rating: 6 (Good)