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Accel World: Set 01 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 13, 2013 by  



accelworld

While “Accel World” is entertaining and much different from Reki Kawahara’s other famous work “Sword Art Online”, it’s an interesting concept with cool characters and a series that I found to be action-packed and quite delightful so far!  “Accel World: Set 01” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Reki Kawahara/ASCII MEDIA WORKS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Accel World: Set 01

ANIME SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: November 26, 2013

Originally Created by Reki Kawahara

Directed by Masakazu Obara

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Music by Hiroyuki Oshima

Character Design: HIMA

Art Director: Nobutaka Ike, Takafumi Nishima

Anime Production: Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Haruyuki Arita/Silver Crow

Sachika Misawa/Kira Buckland as Kuroyukihime/Black Lotus

Shintaro Asanuma/Lucien Dodge as Takumu Mayuzumi/Cyan Pile

Aki Toyosaki/Michelle T. Hseih as Chiyuri Kurashima/Lime Bell

The year is 2046. Portable devices known as Neurolinkers have enabled mankind to oversee their daily life within virtual reality networks. But the advancements in technology have yet to provide a solution for the growing number of victims of bullying.

Haruyuki Arita is one such student who finds himself on the lowest social rungs of his school. Ashamed of his miserable life, Haruyuki can only cope by indulging in virtual games. That all changes when Kuroyukihime, the most popular girl in school, approaches Haruyuki with a cryptic proposal: to “accelerate” further, and beyond.

 

Haruyuki is introduced to a mysterious program called Brain Burst and a virtual reality called the Accel World. Learning its secrets, Haruyuki musters the courage to accept Kuroyukihime’s proposal and to fight alongside her as her knight.

From Reki Kawahara, the creator of the hit novel series “Sword Art Online” comes the series “Accel World”, also a hit Japanese light novel series that earned Kawahara a “Grand Prize” as ASCII Media Works’ 15th Dengeki Novel Prize.

The popularity of “Accel World” would lead to several manga adaptations and eventually lead to an anime adaptation which aired in April-September 2012, and also would lead to an anime adaptation for “Sword Art Online”.

And now the first set of “Accel World” featuring the first 12 episodes is now currently available on Blu-ray courtesy of Viz Media.

“Accel World” is set in the year 2046 when Neuro-Synchronization allows humans to virtually manipulate their five senses and people can access the Internet and virtual world with a Neuro-Linker (typically worn around their neck).

The main protagonist of the series is Haruyuki “Haru” Arita, a short, overweight individual who is often bullied in school.  His only true friend is Chiyuri Kurashima, his childhood friend and also Takumu Mayuzumi, Chiyuri’s boyfriend.

No matter how much he is picked on, Chiyuri feels bad about how much Haru endures and she tries to make it up by preparing meals for him which he takes it as Chiyuri feeling pity towards him and ends up knocking the food she prepared for him.

Haru doesn’t know how to deal with the pressure of being bullied and what he did to Chiyuri, so he usually takes his frustration out in the virtual world in which his avatar is a small pink pig, which was forced on him by the school bullies.

But Haru is great at playing games, especially squash in which he has the highest score until he finds out that a person named Kuroyukihime had beaten it.

Kuroyukihime happens to be a powerful person on the online game with the name as Black Lotus.  A beautiful and popular Student Council Vice-President at Umesato Junior High School, Kuroyukihime has been a Burst Linker since she was eight-years old and she knows that Haru often gets bullied.

One day, she invites Haru to lunch and offers to cable with him (think going multi-player with a friend), which shocks many of the other students that someone so popular would hang out with Haru.

But while the two are communicating, she transfers a program called “Brain Burst” to him and after he installs it, his bully Araya shows up and is about to punch Haru for not showing up and buying him lunch like they usually force him to do.  But as Aray is about to punch him, she teaches Haru how to activate Brain Burst, and go into “Accelerated Mode”which accelerates the cognitive process of the brain and forces time around them to literally stop.

As Haru’s pig avatar comes out and Black Lotus comes out and both are looking at their own bodies and Haru about to be hit, she wants to stop Haru’s bullying so she tells him to fake being hit, to bump into her and this should end the bullying.  When they end the Accelerated Mode, Haru is hit and lands on Kuroyukihime who is hurt and bloodied by what happened and this leads to security detaining Araya.

Seeing this new mode has Haru quite interested in learning more from Kuroyukihime and he eventually learns that “Brain Burst” is a VRMMO fighting game and learns that other Burst Linkers must duel each other to obtain Burst Points, which can be spent on better acceleration powers.  Because of his low-self esteem, his avatar for the game is “Silver Crow”.  While Kuroyukihime allows him to go back to his normal life, Haru feels that he owes her for stopping the bullying but if he chooses to continue, they need to be closer together.

So close that Kuroyukihime wnats to further Haru’s popularity by telling her that she confessed his love to him and he rejected her, which of course makes Haru worry even more.  The news that the two are together starts to make Chiyuri worry that Kuroyukihime is using him, but Kuroyukihime tells her that they are dating each other and drags him to a cafe, leaving Chiyuri upset.

As the two are in the cafe, Kuroyukihime explains that “Brain burst” was created anonymously seven years ago and allows acceleration to those who were born with a neuro-linker.  So, all Burst Linkers are people 15 and under and its existence is not public.  Her goal is to meet the creator and understand why he created the game.  But she needs to reach level 10 which requires five wins over level 9 Burst Linkers.  If she loses, it would be a permanent uninstall of the Brain Burst.

She explains to Haru that two years ago, she was one of the Kings of Pure color and the level 9 Burst Linkers made a treaty not to fight each other but she did not agree to the treaty and beheaded the Red King in the game and now she is considered a traitor.  She has sealed away Black Lotus and has stayed offline and been using the schools local net with a dummy avatar.  But lately, a Burst Linker named Cyan Pile has challenged her to a duel and she does not want Black Lotus’ name to be exposed.  She wants to find out his identity and she feels that it may be Haru’s friend, Chiyuri.

As Haru goes to investigate, he goes to her home and links up with Chiyuri and he apologizes to her for what has happened and also wonders if her boyfriend Takumu knew about the bullying and she said she never told him.  He finds out that Haru is not Cyan Pule but he does find a back door connection on her computer that someone has been using and he is intent in finding out who.

Meanwhile, as Kuroyukihime finds out from Haru that he went to her bedroom, Kuroyukihime acts as if she’s jealous and Haru who is not so good at reading girls emotions dismisses it.  Students start to gossip at school about Haru and Kuroyukihime and the gossip club wants a scoop.  He explains that nothing is going on and why Kuroyukihime seems upset when Chiyuri is around and they tell him that she is probably jealous.  This shocks Haru because he doesn’t see why someone like Kuroyukihime would be with a person like him and once again, his low self-esteem starts to get the best of him and he tells Kuroyukihime that he accepts her being around him and although a person like her would never be around a guy like him, he would still be her pawn that she can use because he wants to help her out.

Shocked that Haru would say such a thing, she slaps him.  While the two are walking, a car driven by one of Haru’s bullies aims the car at them.  Before the car is about to hit them, Kuroyukihime initiates Accelerated World and she confesses to Haru that she is in love with him, but because of the current state of what will happen if a car hits them, both will be dead.  So, she will use a powerful move known as Physical Full Burst which will allow her to manipulate her real body while in Accelerated Mode and push him out of the way.  Unfortunately, the car will hit her.

Haru begs for Kuroyukihime not to do it but because she cares deeply for Haru, she does it and protects him by pushing his body out of the way.  When they come out of Accelerated World, Haru was saved but Kuroyukihime is hit by the car.

She is rushed to the hospital and Haru realizes that Kuroyukihime really did care for him.  As she is in critical condition, because her neural linker is still on her neck, anyone can use Burst Linker while she is vulnerable.  He vows to protect her from harm, especially if that person Cyan Pile ever shows up.

And as Haru stays at the hospital all night, to his surprise, Cyan Pile does show up to the hospital and unfortunately for Haru, it’s someone he knows quite well.

With Kuroyukihime in intensive care, Haru must do all he can to protect her in the Accelerated World from harm.  But without major experience and his very low self-esteem tends to get the best of him, can he protect Kuroyukihime and those who attempt to Burst Link and fight against him?

VIDEO:

“Accel World” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Picture quality is vibrant, the series is colorful and the character designs for the outfits in the Accelerated World is creative and cool.  I’m very impressed by the character design, animation during the action scenes but also the background art which is nicely detailed.

As the series looks amazing on Blu-ray, I didn’t notice any banding or artifact issues during my viewing of the series. Sunrise did a fantastic job with this anime series!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Accel World” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD MA 2.0.  While I would have loved a 5.1 lossless track, most anime series are typically released in stereo.  But dialogue and music is crystal clear and both soundtracks are identical in sound.  As for the voice acting, both are very well done.  The casting for this series for the English dub track for Haru, Kuroyukihime, Chiyuri, Takumu and Yuniko Kozuki is right on the money.  If there is one primary difference is that Yuniko, for the English dub track, tends to release the F bomb quite a bit versus the character’s Japanese counterpart who is not that vulgar.

But overall, soundtrack is good for both vocal tracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Accel World” comes with a character art gallery and the clean opening and ending animation.

Having watched Reki Kawahara’s “Sword Art Online”, I was very excited to see how “Accel World” would be, especially as both tackle online gaming and the dangers that can come with the actual game.

While “Sword Art Online” is a bit darker due to the fact that the gamers are held hostage in the game and they can die, with “Accel World”, the gamers can feel pain and because the game is not quite public and a select few know about the Accelerated World, it’s quite fascinating to watch because of the characters.

The main protagonist, Haru is nothing like Reki Kawahara’s “Sword Art Online” protagonist, Keito.  In reality, Haru is short, stodgy guy with major low self-esteem issues but he does have a good heart and is great at games.  He doesn’t make too many friends in the game and if anything, he is a character that is most often whining.  But overtime, he starts to feel more confidence in himself because of the game and most importantly, the good-nature side of himself wants to protect everyone he cares about.

Kuroyukihime is also a fascinating character because she is popular and here she is going for the least popular person in school.  What is it about her that she felt captivated to be around Haru?  Suffice to say, when she makes a decision to save Haru’s life in episode 4 was very sad but after episode 4, that is when the real story comes out as Haru is thrust into the Accel World, having to fight on his own without Kuroyukihime around him.  He needs to make the right decisions especially when he takes on several Brain Bursters.

The first volume of “Accel World” features the first 12 episodes but these episodes are more character development driven episodes as it introduces us to the concept of the game, introduces us to the characters and their mentality but exploring Haru, Kuroyukihime, Chiyuri, Takumu and Fuuko.  So, with 12 more episodes left, I would imagine that things are going to get chaotic within the game but at the same time, Haru will realize that he’s not alone and that there are people out there who care about him, not just in the game but also outside of it.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality is vibrant while the lossless soundtrack is good at 2.0 and both voice acting on the Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done.  The series does not have that many special features but at least , Viz Media has added 12-episodes, as opposed to less episodes as some other anime companies tend to do.

While “Accel World” is entertaining and much different from Reki Kawahara’s other famous work “Sword Art Online”, it’s an interesting concept with cool characters and a series that I found to be action-packed and quite delightful so far!

“Accel World: Set 01” is recommended!






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