|Has some nice elements, but is often cliched and lacks an ending.||1 out of 1 user found this review helpful.|
Accel World is a bit of a mixed bag for me to deliver my thoughts on. Taking place in a future where augmented reality is the norm with the younger generation, a bullied outcast named Haruyuki meets up with popular girl Kuroyukihime who gives him a game called Brain Burst that allows him and others with the game to have the ability to accelerate their capabilities in the real world and face off against other users of the game to compete for Burst Points that allow one use of their abilities.
While the series does have some interesting elements to it via its battle system and the means that characters have to "accelerate" in the real world, the series suffers in the fact that it doesn't really feel like anything too serious outside of the game is at stake for anyone and the motivations that others have for being in the game feel kind of petty, reducing any major tension that could engage me to care for anything besides the show's Brain Burst elements. Sure, there's mention and showing of characters dealing with bullying, neglect or family abuse that the series says is what manifests a user's ability to use Brain Burst. But the motivations for many characters are no different from if you wanted to play an MMORPG with getting stronger, having allies to form alliances, gaining new skills/items or purposely breaking the rules for your personal gain; which I've already experienced from the Dot Hack franchise which at least had some major stakes to it during its first generation run with Sign thanks to the nasty effects any human player getting struck with Data Drain would experience in the real world. Here in Accel World though, the worst thing that would happen is all your Burst Points are lost and you lose accessibility to Brain Burst as no one is at risk of dying in real life (except for one instance at the start of the series unrelated to the game).
The characters are a bit of a mixed bunch. The major ones have character archetypes that they fulfill, yet get enough fleshing out to have you care for them in many instances, though Haruyuki's occasional angst fits would have me tempted to want to whack him. The majority of the secondary ones, on the other hand, don't get so much and are mostly reduced to archetypes. The anime does introduce a faction of villains and a plot element that affects Haruyuki's experience in Brain Burst for the second half of the series. But with this being based on an ongoing light novel series, these plot developments are left unresolved.
Visually, Accel World's regular character designs are on the plain side following the standard anime style and Haruyuki's design is of particular note as he is drawn differently from other characters and seems more like he'd be suited for a slapstick anime comedy with his appearance, with scenery in the real world being detailed and vivid. However, the visual highlight of the series comes from its incorporation of its augmented reality elements as characters are able to visit richly detailed virtual worlds with avatars they personally create (Kuroyukihime's avatar sticking out prominently here in both design and its fan servicy attire). The Brain Burst game renders the characters in armored avatars with differing abilities that are slick-looking and make for the best animated parts of the series when characters battle one another with a great amount of fluid movement involved in battles.
While sporting an interesting premise that I did enjoy some aspects of, Accel World does still stick firmly in conventional territory to a great extent, the stakes for the game felt rather underwhelming compared to other titles I've seen that featured MMORPGs or other technologies employed in any sort of serious plot and it ends inconclusively. You might get more enjoyment out of the series if you are a recent anime fan that hasn't picked up on many of the common cliches employed for anime as I have. But otherwise, I'm mostly indifferent to Accel World.