Accel World is a sci-fi / action / superpower / comedy / drama / SOMETHING that hardly tries to offer something new. All its elements have be done in the past by much more entertaining and well directed anime and thus you are offered this dull mediocrity that hardly takes itself seriously, contradicts its own themes in about 5 minutes after it begins, and wastes all its good elements for superficial entertainment.
… Yes, with that sort of description we have a blockbuster. Welcome to modern anime.
The thing that I dislike most about it is its attempt to appeal too much on videogame nerds. If you are not one, you will most likely dislike how it presents itself.
- Animation is done by Sunrise, which means it will have good production values and cool robots. Overall it looks nice but hardly tries to offer something we haven’t seen before. The artwork in terms of background details and character drawings is one of the same old tired stuff we get for over a decade, while the soundtrack is completely forgettable J-pop pieces.
- Directing is done by Ohara Masakazu who also directed nothing but fan catering mediocrities, such as the Mai Hime trilogy and The Girl Who Leapt Through Space. And it also has some of the writing staff from Code Geass and Guilty Crown aiding here too, which means further bad news for the script.
- Based on the light novels of the guy who also wrote Sword Art Online, which was also adapted to anime a few months after Accel World began. It is basically the same thing, with a setting that could expand to include all sorts of metaphysical and psychological concepts regarding the meaning of life, happiness, and the like. In the hands of this ass though it still turned out to be another ecchi comedy with crappy plot and characters who don’t deserve your respect. Shows how you can’t expect anything good out of a light novel idiot who can only think of harems in videogames.
The story is set some decades in the future, where people are given neurolinks soon after they are born. With them they have wireless access to the internet everywhere and every time. The applications of which they use in their daily life, such as sending and receiving messages, keeping notes or looking for information without actually reading or writing anything on paper. Practically they all have a virtual world in their heads, which appears as pop-up windows in front of them and only to them. You thought seeing a guy talking to thin air because he has hands-free cell phone is weird? Wait to see a guy who seems to read and write in air too; for he sees things that aren’t really there for anyone else.
The protagonist is a dork whose life is miserable and he is ridiculed and bullied by the other students for being short and fat. For that reason he finds some comfort in an online game, where he constantly escapes from reality. All that changes when (drum roll for contrived twist) the hottest chick in school gives him entry to a fighting game, where you can accelerate a thousand times faster than normal. At that game he is to prove what he’s worth or he will be thrown out if he loses many times. The reward for the top players is to be in command of the online world, and possibly to find some sort of existentialist meaning behind its creation if you manage to reach the level cap.
All the above may sound very cool on paper but unfortunately they are presented in a most lukewarm way and thus you lose your excitement over the show very fast.
1. The setting of a wireless world, as elaborate as it seems at first, ends up being used only superficially.
- It’s there only for dressing up videogames. You hardly see them doing anything more than sending a few messages ethereally before they switch to options for playing videogames every time and every place we feel like it.
- It’s there for cheap erotic humour. For example there is the option to share private information and applications with others through short wired connections. In the hands of the makers though it became nothing more than a sleazy way for people to assume you have a girlfriend, or an excuse to drop on a girl like you are about to have sex with her.
- No elaboration is given to how they control what they say without talking. How do their inner thoughts don't mix in with what they superficially want to say? If someone has impure thought for a girl (something the hero does) how does he filter it all out when it’s close to telepathy?
- It ends up being an excuse to save money in lip sync. They just stand still without moving their mouths when they talk via linking instead of being in a cool virtual environment.
- There is absolutely no security against hacking in an otherwise hi-tech world where everybody has wireless access to it all the time. Many use the videogame to freeze normal time and cheat in school exams and sports by “checking out” the answers or the moves of the opponent. And nobody ever questions, doubts, or looks into that.
- Basic uses of technology are never used despite the hi-tech setting. Recording discussions for example. It is so easy to do it today so it will be child’s play to do it in a few decades in the future. If you can record a guy that is threatening you and you don’t do it, you are just not living in your era.
2. Information regarding exposition of setting and characters is offered through the most boring way imaginable, which is hardly acceptable with the technology they have in their hands.
- The basic methods all writers use in order to flesh out story and characters is to show them on screen if possible, or if they are being really lazy, just having a few characters sitting on a table and talking about stuff without ever showing us anything. And indeed, in this anime they are mostly talking instead of showing very fundamental and important things. It’s like they are skipping scenes and then just describing what happened in an attempt to save money.
- Not only they mostly talk but they also don’t even move their mouths! They literally sit on a table and stare at each other mute, while words are heard through telepathy or something. It may sound cool but trust me, all you see them do is stare at each other without doing anything. A frozen image with a dialogue in the background, as if this is a picture drama. Can you imagine how dull it feels to have access to technology that can easily show to someone flashbacks in the form of replaying recorded events and all you get is a picture drama? Are we really in the future or in the dark ages?
- Even in the game, they all wear helmets so you have no idea how they feel or speak. That makes them look like lifeless puppets instead of people.
3. Shitty plot twists and asspulls.
Yup; it’s Guilty Crown all over again.
- Imagine being able to reach to an epiphany without any sort of foreshadowing or deduction procedure. The fat guy magically knows the real reason the girl chose him for the game or finds out who the other stalking player is with absolutely no excuse. And that black king chick just has a hunch that by destroying the virtual world she will find the meaning of life.
- Things suddenly happen for the sake of happening like a guy you barely saw the whole show trying to kill you out of nowhere with a car but after the accident nobody cares about him. Or being thrown 6 floors down by an attack and all by accident in a room where an important person is in.
- Sudden power ups exactly when you need them, and miraculously being saved at the last second by someone else? Bring it on. Screw tactics.
Because that is what you resort to when you don’t have enough material to fill a full season. And make sure to add as much fan service as possible in those before you throw in a convenient solution on top of amnesia to make it seem like it never happened.
5. The protagonist takes the dorkness of his stereotype to a whole new level.
Instead of having a Keitaro (from Love Hina) clone for the Nth time, this one is very short and very fat. A typical show would use this body form on comic relief characters but in this case the comic relief “is” the main hero. As original as that feels, he is still a big failure of a protagonist and barely more interesting than all the rest of his brood, which has taken over most modern anime.
- He looks like a ball with eyes and a mouth, and is the only one that looks so cartoony compared to all the other characters. Even his virtual avatar is a goofy little pig. Not that he would be any better if he looked like a fashion model but he sure looks annoying right away. Furthermore he has the same voice actor as the protagonist from the most shitty Guilty Crown thus anyone who recognises his voice will hate him even more.
- He always acts scared, crying, yelling, and running away like a total pussy. He also hates reality and escapes it by playing videogames. He is always passive to everything that happens. He never takes initiative and only runs after people who force upon him their issues. That makes him even lamer. Even the videogame was forced upon him by a hot chick. Thanks for not trying to do something yourself dork. Just wait for an unrealistic harem girl to jump in your life to give you a shot at it. The only people who may like such lame attitude are those who are fat, gamers, and cry-babies. The rest will hate him right away.
- And despite all this dorkness, he has a dozen hot chicks being madly interested with him. And typically, he is crying and yelling and running around panicked. Instead of appreciating their kindness he is acting like a complete jerk or is completely oblivious to the feelings of a girl. What is so attractive in all that to make his so hot to all the girls? The answer is nothing; he is wishful thinking for all the losers out there who want a lame guy who gets all the girls without doing anything to deserve it. This also trashes the whole theme of the show, since it makes reality to feel like a stupid harem videogame when it is otherwise about a guy hating reality for being too harsh. It would be fine if he would get all the girls in a virtual game where he is doing everything right. Instead of that you get a worthless fat jerk who has his own harem for no given reason.
6. The far-fetched presentation goes on by having the person who gave him access to the game being the most beautiful girl in the school. Her motivations make absolutely no sense.
This is expected from the people who offered us porn dolls such as Inori and C.C., whose character was rewritten anyway they felt like it every 2 episodes. So once again they give us this bimbo whore, with an equally slutty uniform and a brain that is virtual. Meaning, it doesn’t really exist. I mean, damn, she can’t do the slightest thing without being an insult to common sense.
… Yes, with that sort of description we have a blockbuster. Welcome to modern anime.
- She has the hots for him because he is very good in videogames. Ok, don’t mind at all how he is crying all the time like a girl and looks like a ball with eyes.
- She wastes who knows how many months trying to be one of the top players of the game and when the rest ask for a truce she just backstabs them all and runs away because she felt like it.
- She has this hunch that if she gets to meet the secret developer of the game, the meaning of life will be revealed to her. Just because of a hunch! It’s just a videogame you dumb broad; there is nothing more to it!
- She has another hunch that another player is going to blackmail her in the game. For that reason she is running away from a guy with half her levels when she can otherwise smash him to bits. She instead uses the protagonist to go spy on who he may be instead of simply confronting the player.
- She constantly risks her well-being to protect the protagonist. Although it can be excused as being in love with him, she never seems to have enough speed or power to save both of them and just deliberately lets herself get the hit intended for the other guy.
- Later in the story she just turns to a walking wet dream by being just a bimbo in a swimsuit who doesn’t even fight anymore.
7. And then we have the other hot chick in the show, who is the typical childhood friend who has the hots for you but you don’t get it. She makes no sense either.
- She must have been born with a cat-looking tumour on her head. She never seems to take out that damn head accessory no matter where she is, what she wears, or how old she becomes.
- She is so in love with the dork hero that she ran to make his best friend her boyfriend.
- She then goes berserk after she sees him with another girl. Nice way to show how much you love someone only when he is taken away from you.
- She then acts like a complete slut to him, as if she wants to make him horny and jealous. But at the same time, she only wants him as a friend. Make up your mind bitch!
- She gets completely insane after she finds out how her love interests exploited her, and trashed her trust and feelings for them. But she forgives them immediately after they buy her some ice cream. Cheap slut!
- Later on she betrays them all for getting too high on being important to the game. She even teams up with their worst enemy for not much of a reason. Cow!
- And then double crosses even him without telling the others beforehand to better prepare them. And they just forgive her. Right…
8. And then we have the token loli of the show; an elementary kid which also makes no sense.
She organizes this really complicating, time-consuming, high-failure-probability, effort-costly plan, where she pretends to be the protagonist’s cousin, fakes his mother’s messages, and is even willing to seduce him, bathe with him, and even take his virginity. Why? Just so she can ask him to help her beat a cosmic threat in the game. DUH! What would have happened if she told all the other players that a cosmic threat is loose on the virtual world? He would agree to help her without all this retarded plan, just for the sake of protecting the virtual world.
- Later on she is revealed to have a superpower she keeps secret from everyone. Technically an asspull, since she never used it while her life was threatened but otherwise had no trouble to teach it to others when the show was in need of a power up.
9. Not even the videogame, the very main attraction of the whole show, is impressive.
Despite trying to look all cool and dangerous, in practice it is quite silly and hardly exciting.
- First all, you do not choose your looks or abilities. I am not kidding, you enter the game and it chooses for you, supposed based on your own subconscious preferences. Although in theory this way you get what suits you best, you still feel like you don’t have free will. So what if you subconsciously like horns and giant swords? What if you like to look and fight entirely different for a change? You can’t! The game doesn’t even allow you to customize your avatar; you are forever stuck with the exact same shape and abilities. For how long can you keep playing a game where you have no freedom in customization and every battle is always the exact same procedure? There is absolutely no appeal to that, no person in real life would play it for more than a few days before getting bored and giving up.
- Then they say the game is supposed to be doing all that so you will deliberately focus on what you are better inclined at; meaning it helps you improve at what you excel. So what if I don’t want to excel in what I am good at? What if I want to improve in something I really suck at, just so I can be versatile instead of a narrowed specialist? The game doesn’t let you do that. Furthermore, regardless of what your abilities are you should still be able to realize what your potential is. You just need to experiment on your own and find what you like by yourself instead of having your role imposed on you. Or at least to try something new just for the sake of doing something different. The game doesn’t let you do that.
- But let’s take an ideal situation where you get what you deserve and have no complaints about. It still sucks. Seriously, is the hero’s avatar supposed to look awesome? He looks like a stupid faceless robot to me. In a similar fashion, almost every single avatar in this show looks lame. I would never agree to play a game that forces me to look like a clown or a little girl, even if deep inside that is how I like to look. And what if I like to look like a huge penis? Would you dare play a game looking like that even if that is what your subconscious is telling you? Furthermore, the animators hardly care to give interesting robotic shapes to minor characters. So imagine how terrible it looks to have the main characters looking bad and everybody else looking horribly simplistic.
- Let’s take again an ideal situation where you look as you like and have the abilities you love. There is still no justification to why the game is kept secret from the rest of the world. I love how such shows have these excuses for why superpowers are restricted only to teenagers. In this case, it is because only someone who had neurolinks all his life can enter it, and that means up to 15 years ago. And it managed to be kept a secret all this time because the losing players get amnesia and forget the whole thing. Yeah, ok, how about the fact that in order to get in the game a player needs to yell “Burst Link”? Are they really trying to tell us that for 15 years nobody suspected anything while every day thousands of kids yell those words a dozen times per day for no apparent reason? They also expect us to believe none of the hundreds of players who were kicked out of the game had any problems with entire years suddenly being erased from their memories? Their personalities change entirely and don’t even remember what they were doing! How is that not suspicious?
- There is no strategy in battles. It all comes down to the usual stuff we see in shounen; the protagonist getting his ass served on a plate, yet magically finds a new super move in the last second just for the sake of winning. He finds enough willpower to magically heal his wounds, throws out a friendship monologue, and his enemies all of a sudden realize their mistakes and become his allies. In the meantime, game mechanics mean absolutely nothing.
- They also do a shitty job at trying to offer field tactics. Supposed each character has elements that make him stronger or weaker to some attacks. It makes no sense how you can find means to nullify them. Imagine for example an electric attack that keeps you pinned to the ground. You can cancel it by simply stuffing your hand in the ground and “grounding” the electricity. That is pure bullshit if you are already lying on the floor.
- There is no power balance either as all duels are unfair from the start. You see, the players have life bars that show how much damage they receive from an attack and if you pay attention, it is completely croc. The enemies do extremely small amounts of damage to the hero, even when they have far more levels and attack points than him. But as soon as he gets to the offence? He hits them a couple of times and they are defeated in one second, even when they have been hitting him for around a hundred times. Many times a normal attack will even do far more damage than a super attack.
- Heck, why are we even talking about fairness when the hero is the only one who can fly, a power nobody else in the game is allowed to use? He is the only one who can travel so fast and avoid all land obstacles, thus having an unfair advantage over anyone else who needs to walk towards somewhere.
- There is an extremely easy way to cheat in levelling up. You can just have a few of you friends to freely give you their points by allowing you to defeat them without fighting back. I bet a pop idol can get to level 10 in a few minutes this way. Yet they try to convince us it is very hard and nobody wants to risk going to the level cap.
- There is another hole in the rules. A player must fight whoever challenges him without being able to refuse. What the hell does that mean; you are forced to fight whoever feels like it? What if you are not in a mood to fight? What if they gang up on you? What if you are asleep? How is this even called a game if you are forced to play it even if you don’t want to?
- There is even more injustice if you think how there isn’t any restriction to the level of the players that fight. A level 1 can freely fight a level 9. What if you are constantly challenged by high levelled players? What if you are high level and feel like becoming a player killer? Who is going to stop you? There are no moderators in this game!
- And for crying out loud, they have guild wars every week where all players must compete at arranged hours. After the Black King returns to the game, there should be thousands of players going after her territory, since she is the most hated person in the game. And yet she casually expands her territory even when her guild is made up of only three low level people! Where are the other kings to attack her if they know where she is and when she fights?
- Speaking of territories, the game world is separated into sections, each one ruled by a top rank player. The totally fake thing here is how each one of these leaders is called a king, named after the prime colour of his avatar. So you have the red kind, the blue king, and so on. Are we really supposed to believe they all just happened to have a different prime colour? There is only one top player for each one! And even if it was a coincidence, at one point one of the kings gets defeated and replaced by another top player who just so happens to have the EXACT same colour. This is no longer luck; it is damn fake. And no, as I said they can’t customize their avatars so they can’t recolor their avatars to match their king status. Oh, and another thing; every leader is called a king, even if “he” is a “she”. The lead girl for example is called Black King. Chauvinistic bullshit or what?
- Not even the whole acceleration thing makes any sense. If time moves a thousand times faster in the gaming world, it means that you can miss a lot of events just by going for lunch. Yet nothing seems to ever change in there, even if a cosmic horror is on the loose and kills players for 3000 gaming days.
- There are also lots of scenes where the characters will be waiting in the real world for an opponent of theirs to make his move. For example, they may intend to ambush him after he gets off the train. Why the devil would they do that when it will cost them years in gaming time? They could just go into videogame mode and wait a few seconds for him to not be careful. For the same reason, they don’t need to say or do anything in the real world; they can just be in the game all the time and talk all they like without wasting much time at all. And you also see at one time the videogame version of the train moving at a normal speed, when it should be running as fast as light if it corresponds to the real thing.
- As if the game balance wasn’t broken enough, later on the trash it even further by introducing a reality alteration technique that allows you to do all sorts of hax things that are otherwise impossible to perform. Effectively, there are no limitations after this and everybody can do anything he likes regardless of his statistics or elements. Thank you for ruining everything mr. author.
10. Fan service. It has it for the sake of shallow attraction and further trashing of the show.
- Plot-wise useless bath scenes? Sure, why not? Girls with short skirts shamelessly flashing you their pantsu? Sure, bring it on. Accidentally tripping and falling on boobs? Sounds reasonable. Your parents leaving you alone for days with a cute kindergarten girl who is willing to fulfil all your wishes? Happens all the time. It’s not like this show is quality material or something.
- Videogame propaganda. The whole show stinks of a ridiculous ideology of the sorts of “You may be fat and worthless, but if you are good in videogames then hot chicks will love you.” It gets quite lame to see him playing it like a god to other players who in the real world are handsome and talented. “You may be better in everything than me but I own your ass in videogames.” And although a normal person would laugh at this statement, those charismatic people he taunts are actually taken back by being bested in an unimportant videogame. GET A LIFE!
11. Completely immoral messages.
The game is not designed to help children reach the heights of their abilities, in the contrary it turns them into merciless criminals and junkies. Really, that is what it does.
- First of all it is a war game, so the goal is to exploit other players’ weaknesses. That takes away the emotional bondage you may have for others and instead of people you see them as statistics. Even when you are forming teams, the leader is always the strongest and the others get roles like a meat tank or a healer. They are not people but machines. Furthermore, the leader of a guild has the ability to delete the account of anyone else in his team, thus he feels like a tyrant instead of a noble leader.
- The game also gives you the privilege to use acceleration even outside the game, where you can cheat in any way you like, like cheating in tests and sports, or brainwashing people to do your biding. Hell, you can freeze time and go peep at the woman’s bathroom for all we know. These are things most of the players will definitely be doing since they are not responsible adults but immature teenagers.
- What is worse is that it is addicting you to it. Since every time you use acceleration you spend one point, the game forces you to keep playing it, so you will keep having more points to cheat and sink deeper to deviance.
- It also turns you to a liar and a manipulator. Since the game is supposed to be kept a secret, you constantly need to be lying or keeping the truth from your family and friends. You are also taught to exploit people’s good intensions for your personal gain. Just think about every player in this show; they are constantly trying to trick you and take advantage of your kindness. So not only you manipulate others but you yourself become too suspicious of everybody else. Since you never know if the guy next to you is a player trying to trick you, you become angry and bitter with everybody. That is just mean and misanthropic.
- Finally, the show never tries to question the game’s motivation and inspiration. It doesn’t try to make you think this is wrong and never makes it look like it’s a bad thing. It almost presents it like it’s a natural thing and even tries to water it further down with fan service and people forgiving each other extremely easy despite being backstabbed so bad. The issue is still there and is hardly meant to make you think.
- It is a complete passable mediocrity for casual viewers with minimum demands and videogame dorks who want a world where the fat idiot gets all the glory for the lulz.
- The virtual world has been presented in a far better way in shows like Ghost in the Shell, Dennou Coil, and .hack//SIGN.
- People trying to escape reality in videogames has been done far better in Welcome to the NHK and SE Lain.
- The comedy and action aspects are quite typical and dull.
Thus it is proven for the third time that the writers are incompetent jerks who never learn and never plan to do a proper show. And why would they if they will sell to thousands of tasteless newblords out there, who will be mesmerized by the completely childishly presented futuristic technology or the totally harem-like premise by sympathizing with a fat ugly useless gay protagonist?
Welcome to modern anime. The era of videogame-type of plots, time resets, amnesias, and obligatory fan service.