On Accel World v2

Just a smile worth protecting.

Hi there. It’s about time I wrote down a post about the novel I finished a month ago – which is Accel World v2. I must admit that even though I’ve seen the anime, I remembered very little from the part of the story covering this volume, so I rewatched the first half of the anime as well…

You might remember from the first volume how Kuroyukihime has killed the Red King, so the red legion is now ruled by someone else. If you do, that little bit of foreshadowing could tell you who the second volume is about. Kouzuki Yuniko, a terrific character and the owner of a giant fortress of a duel avatar, Scarlet Rain, approaches Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime with a certain request. Apparently, there once was a cursed item called the Armor of Catastrophe. Whoever wears it, turns into a crazed beast without any self-control. An item which, after its owner is killed, is always, without exception, inherited by the killer, It Follows-style. The story of the Armor was supposed to be old news, until recently, when someone was stupid enough to find and equip it, starting the disastrous chain letter game anew. Someone close to Yuniko. The Red King and her newly gained allies of Nega Nebulus set out to solve the case. En route to fight the Armor’s owner, they’re attacked by one of the Kings, Yellow Radio, who turns out to be responsible for the mess – he tried to lure in the Red King and slay her to start his plan of becoming the first level 10 player in the game. His plot gets foiled and so begins a long, winding battle with the Armor’s owner gone berserk. Haruyuki and the gang manage to neutralize him and prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.

To make the long story short: this is a typical second volume of a ranobe series. Although the book is longer than the previous volume (240 pages), the story fails to be particularly interesting. It made me question why I like Accel World that much. Maybe I focus on its good sides too much and as a result, ignore the bad ones? It’s a fairly simple story that was extended too much and could be a lot shorter. Also, it’s just a thought that came to me at this point in the series, but… the rules of the video game played by the characters in Accel World aren’t very videogamey, are they? The maximum level you can get to is ten? That’s obviously because an exceedingly complex game would be hell to write about in a novel. Oh and… remember how in the first volume you could only spend 30 game minutes inside Brain Burst or else your mind wouldn’t be able to take it? That rule is unceremoniously thrown in the trashcan here – you’re probably not a giant of storytelling if the point in the series as early as volume two is when you whip out the retcons…

The anime takes 5 episodes, starting from ep 8 to tell this story. In case you wonder about the gap between the first and second volume’s content in the anime, those two episodes are spent on making Takumu’s conversion from an angry enemy to an ally more believable. A valid concern – the switch is pretty much immediate in the novels. In my post about volume one, I answered the usual question of “novel or anime?” in favor of the former. This one, however, made me consider the question for a longer time. It’s true that the anime fails to properly show you how the Armor of Catastrophe works, opting for serving you a boring and easily missable infodump instead. Again. However, if you exclude the occasional infodump explaining the minute details of how Brain Burst works (those are pretty much read out verbatim from the novel), I found it more enjoyable to watch the anime. You know how some sorts of stories work much better in a visual medium? Like ones about mecha. There’s plenty of games and anime about humanoid machines piloted from within, but novels about those are a rarity. Accel World could be one of those – since it’s about a game where you fight with colorful duel avatars. Or rather, it’s a weird hybrid, mixing dynamic, cinematic action with the need to serve the audience a paragraph of explanatory text once in a while. So, maybe ignoring the animated adaptation of AW isn’t such a good idea after all.

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