Accel World: The Red Storm Princess

By Reki Kawahara and Hima. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen Press.

Much as I’m enjoying Sword Art Online, it was very much complete in one novel, and the subsequent second volume ended up being a series of world-building short stories that filled time while the author regrouped (or so it seemed to me, I know this series began as an online web fiction). Accel World seems to be more planned in advance, and so its second light novel can delve right into fallout from the first: Haruyuki hitting a wall in his gaming and feeling pathetic and useless about it; Takumu and Chiyuri not quite broken up but no longer really together; and Kuroyukihime trying to be a guide and mentor for Haruyuki while attempting to convey that she has feelings for him (she succeeds in only one of these things, of course).


The main thrust of the arc, though, is a new character, Yuniko. She’s only 11, and reminds us how young everyone in this cast is (our hero and heroine are 13 and 14, respectively). That’s by design – the Accelerated technology is designed so that only people below a certain age have the possibility of using it – but you do occasionally wish for some adult supervision in amongst all this gaming, particularly as the effects of the gaming world can seep out psychologically into the real world. The plot involves Yuniko, the “Red King” and a Level 9, teaming up with Kuroyukihime’s team to try to stop an armor that possesses its wearer and drives them insane.

Haruyuki remains the most fascinating character in these books. The bullies have been removed from his school, and he’s dating (well, sort of not really) the school “Princess”, so you’d think he would feel better about himself. But that’s not how minds work, particularly when one was bullied for years as he was. Haruyuki is now desperately afraid of failing Kuroyukihime, and sets up masochistic VR games in order to grow stronger that mostly just serve to beat him up. It’s depressing, and you are relieved that when Kuroyukihime eventually finds out he’s doing this she screams at him. The disconnect between ‘it’s just a game’ and ‘but it’s MORE than a game’ isn’t as obvious here as it is in Sword Art Online, but it’s still a major theme of the books.

The second half of this novel is almost entirely devoted to one big fight, and it’s very well done, filled with action and betrayals and the like. There’s a minor villain, the Yellow King, who’s designed to be hated by the reader, and succeeds very nicely. (He’s reminiscent of the villain from Fairy Dance, only a bit less obvious.) We get a flashback of the scene where Kuroyukihime put in motion the events that led to her being hunted, and it’s both informative and shows us how much succeeding in this game requires strength of will. Which is why, despite all his whining and terror, Haruyuki gets to save the day. (Well, apart from the cliffhanger that suggests he may become possessed and evil in the future…)

For gamers, fans of light novels, and those who like heroes that are a bit out of the ordinary, Accel World is a great read, and a nice contrast with Kawahara’s other series.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind