Accel World: Conqueror of the Sundered Heavens

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

There’s more spoilers than usual for the last third of this book, so if you avoid them FYI.

It’s been a while since we last checked in with Accel World. The previous volume was supposedly the end of the long, long, LONG arc and the start of another one, but that turns out to not quite be true, as most of this is setup for a massive cliffhanger. There was also a bit of frustration, as Haruyuki’s sacrifice felt like it was going to lead to a lot of angst for everyone. Which is kind of does, but that angst is mostly kept off the page. One of the more frustrating aspects to Accel World is that so many of the exciting scenes, or battles, or much needed group meetings happen away from Haruyuki, so we don’t really learn as much as we’d like. And the first two thirds of this book is much the same, really. Get ready, though, as the last third is THE PAYOFF.

Things have been happening since the end of the last book. Tezcatlipoca has been running amuck, and everyone in the Accelerated World is blaming the traitor, Haruyuki. Thus they’re challenging him to duels constantly. Haruyuki being who he is, he’s accepting all of them, but he’s really good by now, so he usually wins. Then, after briefly dropping by to make sure the owl is taken care of during the summer, and possibly recruit fellow owl caretaker Reina to join the student council, he goes off to a meeting of his new allies, White Cosmos. For the most part, they’re exactly what everyone but Haruyuki would expect – a bunch of normal, if somewhat eccentric, people with their own agendas. Admittedly, some of those agendas include forcing Haruyuki to total point less, but hey. After all that, though, he’s forced to do something he’s been avoiding all this time: talk to Kuroyukihime.

Or rather, to Sayuki. Yes, Accel World finally gives in and admits one of its biggest mysteries since the start of the series. Haruyuki has known her name since the start, but he hasn’t actually said it till now, and we also get the name of her sister as well. And there’s a very good reason for all of this: we finally get a mutual confession and a kiss. The idea that Haruyuki is not only in an enemy group now but may be forced to fight against all his friends – and possibly get pushed to lose his points/memories, as well as the same anger for Kuroyukihime, leads them to finally take that big step. Unfortunately, any additional progress (as well as the long postponed trip to see Haruyuki’s family) will have to wait, because the mid-range guilds have been trying to take out Tezcatlipoca and have instead unleashed something much worse… more new characters to have to remember. Oh, and a new game. So long, Brain Burst, it’s been nice.

I admit that this book started a bit slow for me, as it had a lot of scenes I didn’t really care about and was putting off scenes I wanted to see. But when it got to the payoff, it was quite good. Also, hey, a portal! Who doesn’t like portals?

Accel World: Deity of Demise

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

Well, technically Kawahara was correct, and the arc that lasted nine books ends here. That said,k I can’t see anyone really being satisfied with the way this arc ended. Last time I said that I didn’t really think Kawahara would do a “the bad guys win” arc, but he comes pretty damn close here, and while I get why Haruyuki did what he did, I expect that literally everyone is going to be angry with him when the next book comes out. As for the rest of the book, aside from one major problem, which I’ll get to later, this is pretty good. The beginning has things resolved by Haruyuki essentially pulling shonen bullshit out of his ass, which, well, given this is a shonen manga in light novel form, works fine for me. There’s also a lot of exposition about what to do next, who is the best person to do it, and, possibly most importantly, who will be feeding the owl when they all go on holiday.

Honestly, that’s one of the more tasteful Accel World covers. As for what happens, well, Haruyuki helps to free everyone from the latest certain death that White Cosmos has set up, but unfortunately, they’re going to have to try to free the massive monster, Tezcatlicopa, from White Cosmos’ control, which means hitting all six crowns at once with six swords. This is going to be even more difficult because White Cosmos manages to kidnap Haruyuki, meaning *he* is now the one essentially trapped and unable to do anything, the same as his comrades used to be. This means that everyone is going to have to achieve a lot of stuff without him. Worst of all, once Tezcatlicopa is freed, everyone realizes what a bad idea that really was.

My main issue with this volume, and it’s one I’ve had with Sword Art Online before (which has finally managed to move past it), is that the whole book is from Haruyuki’s POV. This means that the entire 2nd half of the volume is made up of cool fights that the reader only gets to hear about second hand, as he can’t be in them. This is frustrating for him, but it’s murder for a reader, especially after sitting through endless exposition preparing for said fights. It made this volume feel a lot less exciting than it actually is. As for the cliffhanger, well, Harukuyi’s group of players all know each other in the real world and have forged eternal bonds of fellowship, so naturally the “thanks for playing you will forget everything now” ending is going to rankle. It’s also still very unclear what exactly White Cosmos is really up to, especially in regards to her relationship with her sister. Basically, this arc may have been 9 volumes long but I’m not sure we’re that much further along.

Still, the next book promises to be a corker… oh, we’re caught up? It’s not even out in Japan yet? Ergh. Yeah, wonderful, that makes this EVEN MORE FRUSTRATING. In any case, enjoy Haruyuki watching cool things happen far away from him.

Accel World: Sword Sage of the Blue Flower

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

Accel World in general is a classic example of a series that is a lot of fun provided you don’t think too hard about much of it. This new volume was filled with scenes and moments I felt were pretty cool, but when I tried to tie them into the ongoing plot I went “hey, um, wait…”. That said, it’s not like Sword Art Online doesn’t also have that problem. If SAO is the light novel equivalent of Shonen Jump, then Accel World is its Shonen Magazine equivalent, with nice pizzazz and lots of fanservice. (Probably for the best that Haruyuki is in pig form on the cover there.) It does not help, admittedly, that we are still in the middle of this very long arc. The author promises, in the afterword, that it will end in the next book, but admits that he’s said that before and no one believes him. Oh yes, and after raising the dead, sort of, in the last book, we follow it up by… doing it again? Wow, raising the dead is EASY.

Everyone is still discussing the big plan to take out the massive sun-like enemy that’s keeping all the kings trapped, and Haruyuki’s new sword, with its heat resistance forced by the Blacksmith of Eternal Peril, seems to be the answer. He can also get training from the mysterious presence that helped him last time… but wait. If he finds out who she is in the real world, can he do for her what was done for Orchid Oracle? We then get a training montage, which is pretty cool but is, nevertheless, a training montage, so I don’t have much to say about it. And then, finally, the big confrontation, in which Haruyuki is very cool and the day is saved… oh dear, here comes the villain for another cliffhanger.

My favorite scene in the book was the party that all the girls (and Takumu, sorry, Takumu) threw him to celebrate his being the point man on this mission… and the fact that he shows up with another new girl, who just happens to be a rival for those who’ve been in Brain Burst the longest, showing up after being gone for years. You’d think there’s be a lot of jealous stares, but the mood seems to be more “Of course he has another girl to add to his pile, it is Haruyuki after all”. Actually, the biggest danger to Kuroyukihime in this book is not Centaurea Sentry, his new mentor, but Rin Kusakabe, who has apparently been reading Devil Is a Part-Timer in her spare time because she wants him to remember she confessed, and not just let it slip his mind just because he happens to still hate himself. If I weren’t reminded occasionally that everyone in the cast is between 9 and 14 years old, this would be a great romantic harem series. Alas.

I am not expecting the bad guys to win or anything, but the main Kings are certainly in a tight spot with the cliffhanger. Indeed, cliffhanger endings has proven to be one of the stronger parts of Accel World. Might have to wait a little longer for the next volume, though, as we’ve caught up with Japan mostly.