There’s just something about mixing video games ad reality that is taking the world by storm. We live in an age where playing video games is something that more and more people are doing each day so, in a way, it makes sense for a great deal of these anime, manga, comics and graphic novel writers to base a story around the phenomenon that is the expanding world of video games.
What worries me is that there happens to be an abundance of these storylines fling around the pop culture world right now and each of them are quite similar in certain ways which makes me think that, eventually, the general populous is going to get tired of seeing it…I know that’s my case right now but I’m hoping a series like “Accel World” – one I was told countless times is a great series – can restore my love for stories of its kind. Thanks to the young, Australian anime publisher “Hanabee” I’ve been given the chance to review the first part of the “Accel World” series. Follow me on this trip to see just how good (or bad) the series is.
Much like a lot of these types of animes out there, the story revolves around a young boy whose life isn’t exactly what you’d call…”ideal”. He’s short, he’s fat, he’s awkward and, for the most part, he’s pretty unappealing. Nobody really “likes” him and he’s constantly bullied but lucky for Harayuki Arita, he lives in the future! One that just so happens to be run by a web of connection extremely similar to the internet. Each and every person has something called a “Neurolinker” which is a sort of virtual reality device that pretty much does everything you can think of.
Our “hero”, Harayuki Arita, spends most of his time in a virtual world where he’s actually comfortable. Playing games and making friends, this is where he is king…unlike real life where he’s nothing but another faceless citizen. One day a beautiful young lady appears, offering him a “brand-new experience” that will change his life forever. As you can guess Harayuki accepts this offer and she introduces him to his new existence…one within a virtual space called “Brain Burst”. Now “Accel World” is a little different to the usual virtual reality applications that people in the series use: It’s a fighting-style game that pits player against player. These fighters battle for points which allow them to do amazing things in reality like stop time so, as you can imagine, the game is pretty brutal.
Harayuki and his new friend Kuroyukihime dive into the world of “Brain Burst” where the story truly begins. Like any story of this type, the stakes continue to grow higher and higher; Harayuki learns of a virtual turf war, the dangers of loosing all your points and that he just so happens to be one of the most unique players of all time. I’m not saying it is generic but we’ve all seen this type of thing a thousand times…unfortunately. My biggest “beef” with the story of “Accel World” is that there’s no real character development; for the most part, characters stay the same the whole way through the series and even after making countless mistakes…they just never learn and it becomes extremely frustrating for other characters to have to constantly repeat themselves.
I found myself actually yelling at the screen during some scenes, voicing my opinion to a fictional character in ways I’ve never done before. In my opinion; the series wrote cheques it just couldn’t cash. It tried its best to build up a heavy-hitting storyline but fell flat when, in the end, it didn’t exactly matter. It doesn’t help when characters act like idiots the whole way through and even up until the final battle. The story could have been executed so much better than it was, “Accel World” had such a good premise which looked great on paper but when seeing it before you…it was just about as flat as a piece of one.
“Accel World” is only about two or so years old but it looked to me like it was much more dated than that. I’ll give credit when credit is due though; the fight scenes were brilliant and actually kept me watching the release until the very last episode but, honestly, I would have liked to have seen more of them. The real show of greatness for the series was within the fight scenes; most of the characters actually looked well-designed with a few of them looking as though they’re what I’d call…”rush jobs”.
Environments were beautiful and varied, each of which making for some great-looking battlefields that you could honestly imagine seeing in actual fighting games or MMORPGS. Possibly the best animation was that of the timer and health bar for each of the battles; it’s almost as if most of the animation budget went into making those things look so much better than everything else. As mentioned; fight scenes were brilliantly animated but I felt they were few and far between. Fight scenes were present in almost every single episode but they were very short and I found that, most times, a lot of them were occupied by unnecessary chatter so there actually wasn’t a great deal of movement. You’ll notice though, when the action kicks in…it really kicks in.
What surprised me about the soundtrack of “Accel World” was that…it’s really good! I honestly assumed it would just be your average anime soundtrack throwing in the same types of tracks when series developers though it should be used but the music within it was actually quite varied to the point where, on some occasions, you’d even here things like slide guitar within songs. The music matched the series and, really, that’s all that’s expected from an anime title so the music did its job, luckily it did it fairly well.
Unfortunately the voice acting was not at the same caliber as the soundtrack. I feel bad talking about voice acting because, usually, these voice actors would be great at their job but when they’re given silly and idiotic lines as well as unnecessary voice direction…well, it could make the best voice actors seem like the worst. Most characters were extremely annoying and, thanks to bad writing, lines were repeated so many times throughout the series showing that not a great deal of effort was really put into writing. Having a main character that makes the same mistakes every handful of episodes then has to be told the same things by the same characters over and over again is NOT a good call for an anime series.
Physically this release is one big extra! While there’s essentially no on-disc extras for fans of the series to sink their teeth into, it does have an interesting case, one that both impresses me but annoys me. It is a case unlike any anime release I’ve seen before; essentially, the front is entirely see through with no words but with a picture of the two main characters. It’s quite interesting that “Hanabee” went in this direction because, even though it actually looks incredibly nice…there are no words on it at all.
I’ll say this and hopefully it’ll be enough for you reading this to understand my frustration; it’s lack of title had me believe this was the series collection, only when I went onto the “Hanabee” website did I realise this is a “Part 1 of 2” release. Now if you’re a fan of the series you’d know it has more than 12 episodes, therefor you’d know this is not the full series but there are people out there who do not know this so having a case where the only words are on a small paper slip that gets almost instantly thrown away, one that simply says “Accel World”, makes it quite confusing for some people. In the end this is just seemingly small but, once thought about more, you can see how much of a problem it may cause.
For me, this series was a heavy average. I’ve heard from a few of my close friends that this series is a great one, that they enjoyed it and it’s one of the best but I just couldn’t see that. In my eyes, this release needed a great deal of work and I’m honestly hoping that part 2 of 2 will make up for what part 1 obviously lacked. I want to stress that this is my opinion and mine alone before I say; I simply did not enjoy the series though I can honestly see why people would absolutely love it. It has a great deal to offer if you’re willing to overlook certain things, unfortunately my job is to review it and those things could not have been overlooked. It’s just another case of “good premise, bad execution”.
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