Accel World: Pull of the Dark Nebula

By Reki Kawahara and Hima. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jocelyne Allen.

It goes without saying that Sword Art Online is just SLIGHTLY more popular than Accel World, by a factor of about 100. This despite the fact that I think that in general Accel World is the better written title, mostly as Kawahara learned form the mistakes he made in SAO. It serves him well in this 19th volume, which is, once again, almost entirely setup for the next big series of battles. The subtitle sounds ominous, but is actually suggestive of the larger plot: Kuroyukihime’s group is going to storm the White Legion territory, but there just aren’t that many of them. What’s more, Kuroyukihime herself needs to stay behind. What’s the answer? More allies. We already have the new snack-based trio that joined last time. And we have Niko and Pard. Perhaps Ash Roller. But is that enough? Can we get some former enemies on our side? What’s more, perhaps we can even… merge two legions? The author makes this sound pretty dramatic and exciting, which is good, because more than any other AW book to date, this is all conversations.

The former enemy is Magenta Scissor, which is not too much of a surprise. The surprise is who comes to fight/debate her into switching sides. It’s not Haruyuki, and I like that the cast has grown large enough that we can have scenes like this not need to feature him. Instead it’s Chocolat Puppeter, who engages in a water-based battle with her partner Avoacdo Avoider before getting to the core of Magenta’s cynical philosophy, much of which stems from her real life watching Avocado (who, it is hinted, has a learning disability in real life) get bullied by the other kids in the hospital they were both in. She also has a condition I’d never heard of, but (like everyone in Accel World) helps to explain her avatar in general. Again, a reminder that a good core of Brain Burst is based on childhood traumas.

The start of the book finishes up the conversation in the Castle, with Graphite Edge (who is feeling less like a Kirito gag and more like a takeoff on the typical blockhead shonen hero, though he’s smarter than that) divvying out information as slowly and obliquely as he can, but we do get an awful lot of plot and background details here that feel important. Accel World is, as far as I know, not ending anytime soon, but the pieces of what needs to be done before the ending are still in place. And, much like its parent series, we are also dealing with “NPC” characters who nevertheless pass every test of sentience out there. I’m not sure if Metatron’s fate will mirror Alice’s, but it’s plain to see what sort of things Kawahara was interested in and researching as he wrote this.

So this is a solid volume in the series. The 20th book sounds like it will begin the next “books of mostly fighting” arc, but I’ve been fooled by that before. Till hen, enjoy this book of mostly talking.

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