Anime of Tomorrow
Tag Archives: Accel World
Two years ago, I announced that I was starting an anime blog. Based on my previous attempts to share my thoughts with the world up until that point, I wasn’t optimistic that this would be anything more than a temporary diversion that I would abandon after a few weeks. But here I am not only still going strong, but expanding the scope of my projects to greater and greater objectives.
I set out to make my voice heard in order to counter the mainstream opinions and give anime fans a chance to think about not what they like, but why they like it (and often why I don’t). To all my readers, I won’t say that I couldn’t have done it without you—because I most certainly could have. But the journey wouldn’t have been nearly as fun and interesting without you. And for that I say thank you.
I’d like to take some time now and reminisce about some of the high points over the past two years and do a “greatest hits” list of posts I enjoyed writing and/or others enjoyed reading. So I invite you to make yourself comfortable as I take you on a journey that started back in summer 2011…gosh it feels so much longer. Has it really only been two years? Read more of this post
Happy New Year everyone! To kick off 2013 I’m going to start by looking back on the past year and highlighting my favorite titles for 2012. And just to make things clear, series that are currently airing and won’t finish until the end of the winter 2013 season are not candidates for this list. Those anime will have their chance at Anime of the Year come 2014. With that explanation out of the way, here we go!
A very original premise, beautiful art style, insightful plot points and kind, fun-loving characters give this series a serious charm that’s rarely seen in a romantic comedy.
4. Acchi Kocchi
A bucketful of smiles and laughs. Adorable girls, suave guys, awesome punchlines and heartwarming youth solidifies this as the Moe Anime of the Year.
Enrapturing characters, an endless flow of intriguing conundrums and just enough tension to keep everyone on their toes means that we’ve finally been treated to a mystery series done right.
2. Accel World
With its daring character designs combined with fast-paced action that rewards tactical prowess over pure physical might and deep, multifaceted antagonists—I proclaim this to be Action Anime of the Year.
In a word? Concise. Not a shred of excess. It has beautiful music, mold-breaking storytelling methodology, a sharp and original art style and a cast of talented voice actresses. There was never any doubt in my mind that Black Rock Shooter deserves the title Anime of the Year.
|Anime of the Week – Sakurasou|
|The best way to ensure that a performance will be enjoyable for your audience is to first make sure that you as the performer are enjoying the show. Because if you aren’t having fun, what are the chances others will, too?|
|December 23||Zetsuen Ep. 12 From a purely observational standpoint, what is the difference between fate and coincidence? They often look very similar.|
|Panzer Ep. 10 The final battle approaches; which will prevail? The adaptability and flexibility of creativity? Or tried-and-true tradition?|
|SAO Ep. 25 A happy ending for sure, but for a series that had the potential for some cool existentialism themes, it really dropped the ball.|
|Shinsekai Ep. 13 Something doesn’t add up. I’m much more curious and bewildered by the current circumstances than the characters seem to be.|
|Little Busters Ep. 12 With her quiet demeanor, love of books and penchant for solitude, Nishizono may be the character I most identify with.|
|December 24||Total Eclipse Ep. 25 Even after an impressive victory against impossible odds, such are the cold and calculating ways of military politics.|
|Jormungand PO Ep. 11 The way Koko dances the line between hero and villain is beautiful, but she just hasn’t been very fun as of late.|
|December 25||Sakurasou Ep. 12 When you know you’ve got to motivate people and they don’t want to follow along, the only thing to do is lead by example.|
|December 28||Accel World EX Ep. 1 While I love fun little spin-offs like this, I can’t say I care for the drastic decline in Haruyuki’s courage.|
|December 29||Medaka Box 2 Ep. 12 What an insightful, twisted and weirdly Gainax / Nishio Ishin way of ending an otherwise run-of-the-mill series.|
*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.
Final impression – smart action, sharp story (9/10)
Spring 2012 to summer 2012 (24 episodes)
Haruyuki Arita was your atypical rotund kid. The target of bullies and dealing with self-esteem issues, he at least has a few good childhood friends to make his life bearable. But one day, the gorgeous and unapproachable student council president, Snow Black (yes, that’s really the name she uses) offers Haruyuki a chance to break free of the chains the world has placed on him. After installing the program Brain Burst, given to him by Snow Black, he becomes a burst-linker—someone who can accelerate his mind beyond normal perception to react to situations in ways that would normally be impossible. But each use of the program costs a point and recharging will require him to enter the battlefield that is the Accelerated World.
Accel World has everything a shounen action anime needs to be good, plus a whole lot more that makes it great. One of the things I love about this anime is that it gets you thinking in some very creative ways right from its very premise. The thought of slowing down time—or more literally, accelerating your perception of time—is not only exceptionally original, but proves to be a flexible enough concept to allow it to keep expanding its usefulness through granting access to new abilities and rewarding out-of-the-box thinking. This subtlety of the powers granted by the Brain Burst program is where this concept’s true strength lies. To truly master the system requires a burst linker to come to terms with the scars of his or her past, which is manifested in his or her duel avatar.
As much as I talk about how important aesthetics are to me when it comes to anime, Accel World’s choice to cast a short, plump, weak-willed, generally unattractive young man as the protagonist was both daring and genius. His flaws are huge and conspicuous, leaving Haruyuki plenty of room for growth and opportunity to overcome challenges as the story progresses. But this rather simple starting point pales in comparison to the metaphoric dichotomy that is Haruyuki Arita, the slow and tubby junior high school student and his sleek, shiny and fast duel avatar, Silver Crow.
Rarely do we see the manifestation of someone’s desires visualized so clearly, and since all the characters are a part of this system of emotional scars that take on an incarnate form, this entire anime becomes one big canvas for depicting each character’s backstory through it’s visual design—even if it’s only speculative in some cases. In this way, I could appreciate this series far beyond its beautiful art style.
Since Brain Burst is at its heart a fighting game, it would be a shame if Accel World didn’t have some excellent action scenes. And once again, it delivers in this area as well. From more simple, straightforward fights that give the message that in battle using your head is just as important as using your fists, to bigger, grand melees that have a pace to them that tests players’ abilities to read the battlefield and adapt to the pace of the fight, there’s no shortage of excellent skirmishe punctuated at the right times between the daily lives of the characters.
One thing about the fights that disappointed me slightly was that towards the end of the series things start to lose the cleverness that filled the earlier fights in favor of something more akin to a dry battle-of-wills where the winner just wanted it more. But it never gets obnoxious because the focus always remains on the characters and they never feel defined by their powers—rather just the opposite, because the players are the ones who give their powers form.
One of the things about this series that I think shouldn’t be overlooked is how deep its premise really goes. Being able to accelerate your time and interact with people to grow and mature at a rate several orders of magnitude faster than is normally possible makes you wonder about these children’s futures. The obvious advantage of their abilities is to analyze situations in detail and essentially, “cheat time” but they can also develop themselves mentally. Are some burst linkers already many years ahead of their peers with respect to their maturity? Will they accelerate through their childhoods and become adults far sooner than they otherwise could were they not given the Brain Burst program? This even challenges our definitions of what it means to be an adult. Can we really define that developmental stage in a person’s life correctly in a world of young people who experience time at a different rate compared to the rest of us?
The story has a few flat spots that I felt messed with the pace a bit—most egregious being Snow Black’s trip to Okinawa—but if that’s my only complaint, I’m not going to hold it against this otherwise brilliant series. Most pleasing is the ending that leaves things open to the possibility of continuing, but has none of the failings of a cliffhanger. It’s complete and brings everything to fulfillment. Instead of leaving you wanting more, it’s simply the impression of “well that’s the end of that chapter. Life goes on and maybe someday I’ll get to see more.” But more doesn’t feel necessary. This makes Accel World one of my top shounen action anime in recent years.
Today I finally completed my first podcast. I’ve been wanting to talk at length with friends and readers about our passions, agreements and disagreements and I decided the best way to accomplish this in a lively and dynamic format would be to have a podcast. So please listen, enjoy, comment, critique and if you want to be a part of the next episode, let me know and we can start making arrangements because this was a lot of fun and I want to do more.
|September 16||SAO Ep. 11 The heroes’ romance is lovely, but it’s good that in the absence of action, a mystery is introduced to keep things moving.|
|Kokoro Connect Ep. 11 Heartseed’s challenges have followed a pattern of up, down and up again. I can’t wait to see how this one turns out.|
|September 17||Dog Days 2 Ep. 11 Dog Days does its best impression of Kokoro Connect. Why does body switching have such an interestingly silly appeal?|
|Hyouka Ep. 22 Today’s mystery was simple and poetic. You couldn’t call this a romance series, but the buds of love are waiting to bloom.|
|Total Eclipse Ep. 12 Sure enough, Yuuya came to save “Princess” Yui. I called it. But now that they can get out, why are they staying?|
|Hagure Yuusha Ep. 11 Yeah…pretty much any credibility this series was trying to earn goes out the window with this badly-paced boss fight.|
|September 19||Lagrange 2 Ep. 11 Yeah…so the series is wrapping up and the girls are teaming up. It’s all good, positive and spirited, but not very deep.|
|September 21||Tari Tari Ep. 12 There was never a moment that felt real and emotional and as the end nears, the dry and ordinary challenges continue.|
|Koichoco Ep. 11 I’m getting apprehensive because even though the pieces are coming together nicely, the ending is starting to feel rushed.|
|September 22||Accel World Ep. 24 A suitably epic ending to a really cool series. It’s complete, but I know it’s not finished. There must be more to come.|
*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.
|September 9||Koichoco Ep. 9 Yep. I knew this series would have some excellent moments of backstabbing politics, sad memories and heartbreaking love.|
|SAO Ep. 10 Where did all this edge-of-your-seat tension come from suddenly? The action and plot development has finally picked up the pace.|
|September 10||Kokoro Connect Ep. 10 Between conceited assumptions and a heartfelt confession, Inaba is an absolute mess. Why does love mess people up?|
|Hagure Yuusha Ep. 10 Scattered and overly ecchi—I say it every time—this series also mixes in a good amount of serious action and drama.|
|Hyouka Ep. 21 Maybe it’s because I’ve never been loved or in love, but I think Satoshi doesn’t know what an enviable position he’s in.|
|Lagrange 2 Ep. 10 The calm before the storm has passed and all bets are off. I’m expecting the ending to be spirited, but fairly generic.|
|Total Eclipse Ep. 11 Things are getting predictable. If Yuuya rushes to save “Princess” Yui from the BETA, I want you to know I called it.|
|Eureka AO Ep. 19 Wow. What started as simple business politics turned into one of the biggest shocks and twists I’ve seen in this series.|
|September 11||Dog Days 2 Ep. 10 Yeah…pretty ordinary. The spark of creativity has left and this battle is really just about going through the motions.|
|September 12||Tari Tari Ep. 11 This anime doesn’t handle its time skips gracefully. Everything is too cliché and the characters are always victims.|
|H ga Dekinai Ep. 9 I like that this series is not following a rigid, standard formula and actually has an expanding and evolving conflict.|
|September 13||Arcana Famiglia Ep. 10 I like that this series isn’t a drawn out contest, but will the arcana duel ever happen? There’s not much time left.|
|September 14||Natsuyuki Rendezvous Ep. 11 I really hate romance anime that cut off the story right at the moment the hero and heroine fall in love.|
|Koichoco Ep. 10 The dark secrets are finally coming to light and a lot of the characters’ unique quirks are starting to make sense.|
|September 15||H ga Dekinai Ep. 10 As simple and empty as some of the scenes are in this series, it still keeps twisting and turning with my expectations.|
|Accel World Ep. 23 Although some realism has left the battles in favor of contests of willpower, it’s still epic, dynamic and emotional.|
|Eureka AO Ep. 20 Sadly, things have started to get needlessly complicated and I’m losing perspective on what exactly is happening and why.|
*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.
|Anime of the Week – Hyouka|
|I really liked the escalating flow of clues Oreki sends to Satoshi and Ibara. It’s an excellent progression of seemingly inconsequential hints adding up to what is definitely one of the smartest moments in this series.|
|September 2||Kokoro Connect Ep. 9 My prediction that this “unleashed desires” arc would be less interesting than the “mind swapping” arc proves true.|
|SAO Ep. 9 This series has great feelings in it, but in the end it’s just an average collection of shounen clichés done in serious tones.|
|Dog Days 2 Ep. 9 This friendly battle just doesn’t feel right. There’s not enough tension and the stakes are too low to give it suspense.|
|September 3||Total Eclipse Ep. 10 Yui’s character is changing too quickly. Her hard, cold, military demeanor has melted into something too protective.|
|Hyouka Ep. 20 This was a really ingenious twist. Instead of being the one solving the mystery, Oreki was the one who had to create it.|
|Lagrange 2 Ep. 9 What are Moid and Dizelmine doing? And what is Madoka’s plan for the future? Is she just going to continue piloting Aura?|
|September 6||Tari Tari Ep. 10 I don’t know what to think of this series. It’s getting hokey with its themes of growing up and overcoming naysayers.|
|September 8||Natsuyuki Rendezvous Ep. 10 At first I was genuinely worried for Hazuki, but Rokka seems to be steering the series to the correct ending.|
|Accel World Ep. 22 Haru’s sleuthing was a good application of world building and allowed him to confront Noumi with a satisfying “gotcha.”|
|August 26||SAO Ep. 8 Even in an MMO, food is a good way to bond with others. At Kirito’s level, does he have anything to fear from other players?|
|Kokoro Connect Ep. 8 It’s hard to say anything profound about plot pieces that are a setup for the next step but don’t really go anywhere.|
|August 27||Dog Days 2 Ep. 8 I wish they could have put more effort into the composition of Yui Horie’s song. She has such a gentle and pleasant voice.|
|Total Eclipse Ep. 9 I can only imagine how a 20+ soldier must feel being the rearguard to an army of more experienced, younger pilots.|
|Lagrange 2 Ep. 8 The Jersey Club characters are energetic, proper and air-headed and now with the addition of Reiko they have clumsy.|
|Hyouka Ep. 19 This organic flow of thoughts from a solid start to a wild conclusion has a more intellectual feel than I’m accustomed to.|
|August 28||Hagure Yuusha Ep. 8 It’s time for things to get serious. Akatsuki is overpowered and that’s fine, but I’d like him to have a real match.|
|Arcana Famiglia Ep. 8 This series always has a nice charm to it, but I can’t see its overall objective. What end is it headed towards?|
|August 29||Tari Tari Ep. 9 To highlight each character’s struggles and efforts, this series has a weird flow of mini-arcs that feel too formulaic.|
|H ga Dekinai Ep. 6 Interestingly, this very ecchi series is showing the ability to tell a complex and engaging, if somewhat clichéd story.|
|H ga Dekinai Ep. 7 I’ve watched quite a few bad ecchi anime, but this series makes me glad I can look past its titillating shortcomings.|
|August 30||Arcana Famiglia Ep. 9 I like using tarot as the basis for supernatural abilities, but I don’t think those powers are interpreted very well.|
|H ga Dekinai Ep. 8 I say it often, but writers need to have more confidence and stay away from ecchi that ruins an otherwise good story.|
|August 31||Natsuyuki Rendezvous Ep. 9 Gosh, this series really does like to drag out this climax it’s been building towards for almost three episodes.|
|Koichoco Ep. 8 While it’s great that the side characters are getting some attention, it’s distracting a little too much from the main story.|
|September 1||Accel World Ep. 21 We have hit that time in the season when all anime are entering their climax phases and nothing decisive is happening.|
|Eureka AO Ep. 18 I understand the conflict in Ao’s heart over the power he wields, but from a writing standpoint it’s too wishy-washy.|
|Hagure Yuusha Ep. 9 Izumi’s line at the start of the episode is blunt, but she summarizes this series well. You can’t stay mad at Akatsuki.|
|August 19||SAO Ep. 7 Dealing with the troubles of romance is fine, but I feel like this MMORPG is too much massively multiplayer and not enough RPG.|
|Kokoro Connect Ep. 7 I think the mind swapping arc was funnier than unleashed desires, but acting on your emotions has an honesty I like.|
|August 20||Dog Days 2 Ep. 7 Another old idea, reused and rehashed. This series is still fun, but I hoped there would be more weight to its triumphs.|
|Total Eclipse Ep. 8 I guess it’s a testament to the writers who envisioned a collapsing world where humanity is still divided by politics.|
|Lagrange 2 Ep. 7 There’s something inescapably likeable about a girl like Madoka who has the honesty and guts to call things as they are.|
|Hyouka Ep. 18 It’s interesting how a few random thoughts can create the perfect storm that strikes your memory like a bolt of lightning.|
|August 21||Samurai X Ep. 1 Throughout every second of this anime, I’m bothered by the fact that Kenshin is the only character without black hair.|
|Samurai X Ep. 2 An anime that shows visceral death but not torture has annoying thematic inconsistencies, even if the story is interesting.|
|Samurai X Ep. 3 Someone thought it was stylistic to use live action video in an anime, but it makes mixing drawing and CGI look amazing.|
|Samurai X Ep. 4 With bad animation, barely audible music and fairly decent writing, I don’t see how this is the best anime of all time.|
|Tari Tari Ep. 8 As the heartbreak comes and goes, it’s hard to feel strongly for the characters when everything works out so easily.|
|August 23||Hagure Yuusha Ep. 7 After six and a half episodes back on Earth, I’d thought we were finished with Alazzard. I’m glad to see there’s more.|
|August 24||Natsuyuki Rendezvous Ep. 8 How long can a story drag out the protagonist’s decision to press forward when he’s thinking of giving up?|
|Koichoco Ep. 7 I love how playful this series is with its suggestive tones. It never crosses any lines and always maintains an air of class.|
|August 25||Accel World Ep. 20 I had a feeling something would happen soon that would trigger the Armor of Catastrophe to begin to influence Haru.|
|Eureka AO Ep. 17 As the reality of the world comes into focus, so too do Ao’s motivations. I can’t wait to see what his decision will be.|
|H ga Dekinai Ep. 5 As juvenile as this anime’s themes are, I’m always left with the impression that its heart is in the right place.|