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Posts Tagged ‘Accel World’

yayoi

Yayoi: When I am a good child, mother smiles at me. I’m very happy when I see mother smiling.

So apparently, the Accel World –Kasoku no Chouten"- game features Kuroyukihime and Haruyuki’s child named Yayoi, which I find hilarious. Now I wonder whether this is an actual in-game development or just one of Haruyuki’s delusions xD.

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People say many things about Kawahara Reki, but almost never that he is a good writer. This is quite puzzling, as we are talking about the probably most important light novel writer of 2012 – the author of two long-running light novel series (one of which took first place in this year’s "Kono Raito Noberu ga Sugoi!" ranking) that got turned into two equally successful anime series. It stands to reason that Kawahara is doing something right, even as he gets continuously bashed for his clichéd plots or simplistic villains. What is it that gets him his faithful readers?

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First of all, Kawahara Reki keeps to a highly specialized topic matter – multiplayer game worlds and the people playing them. By this, he establishes a unique identity among light novel authors that allows his works to stand out in this highly homogenous field. His two series are different from most others but at the same time similar to each other. This makes it highly likely that supporters of one of his series will reach for, and find themselves satisfied with, the other one. Both of Kawahara’s series add to the other’s strength. The author keeps a delicate balance of familiarity and novelty between the two series – the topic matter is highly similar in both, but there are also at least two important differences. One of them is the main character. In Accel World, Haruyuki is the eternal underdog, easy to sympathize and identify with because of all his failings. In Sword Art Online, Kirito is the unmatched champion, vehicle of chuunibyou fantasies. Kawahara takes full advantage of those opposing character archetypes and thus caters to a wide range of needs of his audience.

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Another difference is how while the characters of SAO slip into the world of online games, in AW it is the Brain Burst program itself that invades the everyday lives of its players. This slight difference is actually key to keeping the settings in Kawahara’s novels from overlapping. This in turn lets him give the stories longevity through constant exploration of the settings. The ability to churn out more volumes without losing steam is what makes or breaks a light novel series, but it is easy to see that Kawahara’s overarching plots alone would probably not be enough to glue his series together. In SAO, the characters’ only initial goal, getting out of the game alive, is accomplished within the first novel. In AW, Kuroyukihime’s crusade against the other kings seems at first to be the main plotline, but it soon enough takes a backseat to other developments. The novels maintain their continuity not through their conflicts, but the characters and the worlds they live in.

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Another case where Kawahara shows his understanding of the workings of a contemporary light novel is his treatment of female characters. One of the main reasons why recent light novel series are so alike is that most of them follow a tried-and-true formula of introducing a new potential love interest in every volume. This lets authors keep things fresh even without breaking new ground, takes advantage of the illustrations that go along with a light novel, fits right in with the semi-episodic nature of the genre and is an easy way to just go through most of the common character archetypes while maintaining a decent level of popularity. While this might be the perfect recipe to write a mediocre light novel, there is no denying how potent the pattern is. Here, Kawahara’s novels set themselves apart form the main trend by featuring clear-cut main couples that progress swiftly to the “official status”, with confessions in the initial volumes of both series. But even with an established main couple and a faithful protagonist, Kawahara does not turn a blind eye to the potential of the golden pattern, finding ways to create tender (if not necessarily romantic) moments between the hero and an ever-expanding cast of female characters. Which is not to say that Kawahara mistreats his female fans. Without spoiling too much, there’s even a scene in one of the later AW novels with Takumu straddling Haruyuki on a bed and demanding for Haru to “mess him up”. While the actual significance of the scene might not be exactly what it seems, it is not entirely impossible that this is Kawahara’s way of nodding towards the yaoi enthusiasts among his readers, showing the great width of his target audience.

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If nothing else, Kawahara Reki knows exactly what his readers want, and he delivers. Critics might not see his works as worthwhile, but would the tens of thousands of his fans agree? 

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Episode 14 of Accel World brought us a new ending theme for show, full of naughty butterflies and jealous girlfriends. Most people describe the ending with one word: cute. My gut reaction was to agree, of course, but is that all there is to the ED? Is the fight presented in the ending a comical fantasy, or is it actually taking place in the show itself?

 

Kuroyukihime and Haruyuki are one odd couple, to say the least. She is in love with him and quite open about it – enough to confess her love before risking her life to save Haruyuki from harm. Haruyuki himself would not mind getting closer to his sempai, as his occasional fantasies seem to imply. And yet the relationship will not budge, held back by the personal issues of the two. Under normal circumstances, they would have to grasp the nettle and sort those issues out or suffer endless awkward moments. (Un)fortunately, the two have the ideal excuse to postpone resolving the matters at hand – the Accel World.

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“I have to reach level 10 and learn the truth behind this world.”

“I have to become strong enough to protect her.”

Their alternate selves not only provide them with an excuse to forget about the real world, but even affect their relationship outside the game. Legion master and her subordinate. Parent and child. Those tags help them dance around the issue of their true relationship.

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As her avatar latches onto Haruyuki, the flesh-and-bone Kuroyukihime can only watch the two drifting away. The image of Kuroyukihime bound by chains, which we know from the first opening, returns here, reinforced. “Right now, you can still turn back.” The words of warning she once spoke to Haruyuki also show that she believes it is too late for her – she is prisoner of the Accel World until the realization of her ambition or utter ruin.

 

Which does Kuroyukihime desire more: the boy by her side, or the truth beyond the darkness? And could she force herself to choose between the two? Could she find the strength to smack her virtual self over the head, grab Haruyuki and walk away without once looking back? The answer remains unknown.   

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Reki Kawahara, author of the Accel World light novels, provided the anime viewers with some additional commentary for episode three of the series. Translation of the highlights follows. The explanation provided under the very last screenshot could be considered a spoiler, as it clears up an ambiguity not explained in the episode itself, so proceed with caution.

Chiyuri carries around that large bag as she is a member of the track and field team. No matter how convenient the times, it seems they have yet to invent a way to digitize their luggage.

There are blank spaces on the map presented in the episode. This is because only 60% of the Burst Linkers are affiliated with any Legion. The territory division reflects this fact.There is one more reason why the Brain Burst program has been kept secret, but not even Kuroyukihime can confirm those rumors at this point.

***

Haruyuki called it pointless, but I quite like wandering around the world map for some time before challenging the last boss. Though you might end up forgetting yourself and never seeing the ending that way…

To avoid connecting her neuro-linker to the global network, Kuroyukihime uses an old-fashioned PC and a smartphone for the purposes of connecting to the Internet.

***

The avatar Kuroyukihime used to observe the Silver Crow x Ash Roller fight was a special one made to help her avoid repeating the mistake that got her identified the first time. Though it might not exactly be great camouflage…

Haruyuki is momentarily disappointed during his talk with Kuroyukihime because he realizes his mission is not to fight and protect her, but merely to help identify her attacker.

The cable Chiyuri owns is so short because it’s a cheap pack-in that comes with the neuro-linker for setup purposes. It’s not the result of the author’s evil machinations. Probably. Maybe.

In this case, a back-door program is something that allows a third party illegal access to a terminal. The final shot of this episode is from the viewpoint of the ‘someone’ stealing Chiyuri’s optical data.

Please look forward to episode four!

 

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