Gosick

(Now that the semester is winding down, I’m going to try to get back into regularly writing. I’ve marathoned a few series so that seems like a good place to start.)

27906Nestled in the European Alps, “Gosick” follows the tale of superstitions, folk tales, and legends surrounding the country of Sabure, and it’s foreign exchange student, Kazuya Kujou. Alienated for his strange appearance, dark eyes and hair, he happens across “the golden fairy of the library”, Victorique. Victorique de Blois, the daughter of a powerful Sabure nobleman, and the half-sister of one of Sabure’s most noteworthy (and fake) detectives, spends her days in solitude, reading and handily solving the mysteries her older brother can’t wrap his head around. Little does she know the weight of history that has been placed on her shoulders through the deviousness of her unloving father.

With Kujou in tow, Victorique makes easy work of many of Sabure’s legendary myths, including a fantastic tale of a runaway African turned queen’s alchemist. While also retracing her dark past, she comes to the forefront of a new war that’s set to overshadow the Great War, the ashes of which Europe is just beginning to rise from. With help of friends, faculty, and Victorique’s ever watchful mother, Kujou rescues Victorique from her dismal fate, only to be torn away by new tides of war.

preview03124b38ad1acb9e5e1a73cf9bb90256A continually progressive plot set in a very superstitious country, Gosick manages to blend clean logic with impressive character sets to cut through mystery and lay truth bare. No back-handed scheme is too much for these two who defy prophets’ visions and historical epics in search for one another. I may sound like I’m gushing or being emphatic, but Gosick really does weave an intriguing story that was a joy to experience. No spoilers, but the final episode left me speechless and very satisfied with this series.

Coupled with visual detail I wish was the standard, Gosick is a series I wish I’d watched earlier.
Final rating: 9.3
If anything, and this may sound greedy, Gosick needs more stories, maybe not with Victorique or Kujou, but the rest of the cast surely has more to tell.
(In retrospect, this is just the sin of a greedy fan. Even though the series has a solid ending, I enjoy the ride so much that I dare suggest augmenting it for more content. How selfish…)

Accel World: Final Review

If this were just a episodic post, the title would be “The demise of that insufferable prick, Noumi”. So glad to see he’s finally been dealt with, and even more excited to see it wasn’t solely the work of Black Lotus. Chiyu reveals her ability’s secret and turns the tables on Noumi, returning Silver Crow’s wings and crippling the bullied bully until he’s a helpless mess pleading for his life as a burst linker. And so, peace is restored amongst the members of Nega Nebulous, for now…

With Noumi’s Brain Burst uninstalled, his memories of acceleration were removed as well. Even though this is the first time this was mentioned, it makes sense as to why the program has remained secret all this time. Without the memory wipe, disowned ex-accelerators would be free to wreak vengeance on his victors in the real world. Though Noumi still creeps me out, I guess at least now he’s not a real threat to anyone. But there’s still that research group using illegal brain implants to cheat the normal operations of the Accelerated World. If Accel World were to continue, I don’t imagine Nega Nebulous would be able to rest for very long until these “researcher” rear their ugly heads again.

With Haru’s fiercest opponent finally behind him, he also manages to fluster Kuroyukihime as well. And for the first time in the whole series, he returns affections towards her and asks her to stay with him forever. That’s romantic and what-not, but I find it difficult to get past the fact that he played the ignoramus for the first 20 episodes…whatever, it’s progress, I guess.

Accel World certainly isn’t the best mecha, sci-fi, action, shounen, or romance (certainly not romance) anime out there, but it does have a few pros to be proud of. The premise is very interesting to me, the ability to “accelerate” is a concept that’s just plausible enough to keep the story both appealing and realistic. The power to increase your mental abilities to near light speed using a neural interface and the prevalence of “social cameras” is also subtle enough to keep the idea that the program is secret viable. It doesn’t offer any physical traits that are noticeable by a non-Burst Linker, while still providing an unheard of advantage to users. Throw in duels for Burst Points that fuel acceleration and you have an underground world of legions and lifetimes inside a world that moves as hundreds of times the speed of the real world and you have Haru’s source of personal growth.

I can understand many viewers’ apathy towards Haru. He’s doesn’t inspire much confidence from the outset, but isn’t that the point of character development? To go from a lackluster character to a matured, more appealing character? Aside from looks, Haru does become more proactive and stops letting what others think about him influence how he thinks about himself. Sure, Kuroyukihime’s affections are irrational and sometimes unjustified, but it’s not like she has very many other people who can relate to her in her quest to reach Level 10.  Haru is relatable to many low-esteem individuals who go to high school, get picked on, see their friends succeed, and find comfort in video games where it’s their minds, not their bodies, being pushed towards success. His character is also very realistic, no one changes from a 3 foot tall, 2 foot wide gamer into a superhero in a single year of high school. If you want to go the extra mile with it, Haru also represents being content with who you are, but I should digress.

For a series centered around an action game, Accel World’s animation leaves some to be desired, but overall gets the job done. I personally don’t like it when the lighting is non-existent, but it does add the darker, more consequential scene effects the series needed at certain points. The real visual talent was in the background design, but that doesn’t really sell a fight when the motions are jumpy or blurred, does it.

I’m looking forward to more Accel World, despite the faults it had. I want to see where Nega Nebulous goes from here and the “researchers” were only somewhat touched on before the final episode. We also didn’t get to see very much in the way of Legion fights other than the short fight with the Yellow King and the few times Yuniko teamed up with Haru and Kuroyukihime. And there’s also the myriad of side characters with more in store (or so I suspect). But I’m also willing to wait for it, Accel World is the sort of series I enjoy, but not raving to see the next episode.

Final rating: 86

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Accel World 21-22: Burst Linkers v. Users of Acceleration

Got quite a bit done in this two episodes. The Incarnation System gets a basic rundown, the mysterious Users are uncovered somewhat, and Noumi is slowly getting backed into a corner. With the help of Niko’s maid-servant, Blood Leopard, Silver Crow takes down another visible burst linker, Rust Jigsaw, who’s been intruding Accel World battlefields in Akihabara. Though he managed to slip away, now the whole BG is on the lookout. The whole underground group of illicit linkers is starting to seem pretty small and unorganized, just like they’re a bunch of kids who shared a few tricks for trolling proper Burst Linkers.

While Haru makes strides elsewhere, Taku works on reaching his own incarnate powers. The incarnate powers, as Yukino explains, are derived from the fears and shortcomings of the user. There are four types, and a user can only access two as they relate the user, and the mark of a true incarnate user is a glowing upon activation. But these powers aren’t meant to defeat others, they’re designed to help defeat your own self, primarily, parts of you that are inhibiting you from reaching your full potential. Yukino warns that these powers are only to be used against opponents who also use the Incarnate System. The system also seems to be a precursor to the Calamity Armor seeded inside Haru, and Blood Leopard hinted that they were already aware he had it.

Now to the biggest question: can anyone explain the scene with Chiyu and Haru? Was she coming onto him? Or were the subtleties just lost on me? I really don’t understand the purpose of the stripping. I’m trying to figure out if she was just trying to code something for Haru to figure out so he could get a message Noumi wasn’t letting Chiyu deliver, but I got nothing. Perhaps the simplest answer is best: Just fanservice, nothing more. Either way, now Haru knows about Noumi’s bio-chip, which he caved in on rather quickly. But I don’t see how that leaves an even playing field; worst case scenario, Haru is pinned for peeping, but Noumi is convicted of using illegal tools and most likely cheating his way into school. One of these is much more severe than the other, considering there’s no solid evidence that Haru planted the camera, but was only caught peeping by said camera. I feel like I’m over-analyzing it, so I’ll digress.

Finally, Haru is reaching a climax with his conflict with Noumi. He seems pretty confident and I’m sure he’ll have a few strategies up his sleeve, but you can’t forget that Dusk Taker will be backed up by Lime Bell (unless Chiyu has some betrayal in mind, which I hope she does). Only a few episodes left, and it’s time for all of Haru’s growth to show and for him to man up or shut up. I have hopes for the former.

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Accel World 19-20: Haru vs. The World

Kuroyukihime wraps up her Okinawa adventure and introduction to the secret organization of rogue Burst Linkers who like backdoors and screwing all the rules (they have Burst Points!), showing that veterans could still bring to bear against the cheating scum. Time to return to the Chiyu cliffhanger, and it seems she’s willing decided to join Nomi…well, didn’t see that coming. And certainly didn’t remember to keep track of the duel timer, I’ve gotten too used to the Unlimited Field, I guess. But it was probably to Haru’s advantage, as the Choas armor he’s been stowing is slowly returning to the field as it feeds on Haru’s anger and frustration.

Even the incarnate system seems to pale in comparison to the Chaos Armor, but I think the new manned-up Haru can prove Accel World history wrong and make it work in his favor, somehow. Anyone else get chills when he dropped that line on the roof? So what if he’s weak, he has morals and he’s willing to take a few hits to stand his ground. That’s f***ing awesome. I just hope it isn’t temporary and he takes this gusto to his rematch with Nomi and plows that treacherous prick in the ground. And I’m hopeful that Chiyu has a surprise on her end as well, otherwise I will be very disappoint in her. (But not in Haru, he’s got my respect now.)

Sorry if it spoils, but I think I know where Sulfur Pot’s reins will reappear. If Haru’s descent into the Chaos Armor continues, I’m curious as to whether Black Lotus could use the reins to control Chaos-Haru when he goes full berserk. That may just rely on the parameters of the item, but with some incarnate system rule-bending, it could work. It’s still early in the development of Nomi and the “other” Burst Linkers, but I already want Nega Nebulous to donkey-stomp these assholes. Their attitudes just kill the spirit of Accel World, from personal strength and dreams deferred to some cheap tool for personal gain and general no-good-ery.

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Accel World 18: I really wanted to see the Dusk Taker conclusion

But I guess Kuroyukihime-sempai’s Okinawa exploits are interesting too, as we meet 3 new Burst Linkers fighting outside the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s stages. I think this is slowly rebuilding all the lost connections Kuroyukihime alluded to when she was consoling Megumi, as the red player drinking away his problems seems to be an old acquaintance of the Black King.

Ruka and Mana seem quite capable for middle schoolers who’ve never been to the large scale battles between Legion Kings in Tokyo, maybe sometime soon they’ll join up with Haru and Kuoryukihime. If they’re not immediately thrown into the fights, they might just be a part of a string of allies reappearing for some final battle (maybe against Haru if that armor brings itself to bare before the end of the season).

I think the “monster” roaming around Okinawa’s unlimited field might be some kind of beast tamer, much like Ash Roller’s primary weapon was his motorcycle, this Burst Linker may rely on a captured animal with immense power. If it traces back to what Nomi mentioned about a “new generation of Burst Linkers”, I’ll be very impressed. Slowly unveiling a rising rebellion beyond the Legion wars on the surface would be a great cliffhanger to keep me waiting for the second season. I just hope Kuoryukihime’s Okianawa arc isn’t too long, I really want to get back to Haru’s fight with Dusk Taker to get his wings back.

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Accel World 16-17: More Than a Few Surprises

Haru doesn’t have to wait long for his rematch with Nomi. And for once his new ability directly effects his whole confidence issue (that so annoyingly likes to pop up in the middle of important fights). With the power of will, Haru can quickly override the limits of Accel World to push through faster and stronger. And it’s not some cheap one-trick pony, willpower pretty much won his fight against Nomi. Well, that and some good old-fashioned bro-bro teamwork (Topped off with a bro-fist of the highest caliber). All thanks to Sky Raker, Haru’s newest friend in Accel World, and an old ally of Kuroyukihime as well.

In traditional plot-twisting fashion, Haru wasn’t the only one fighting with willpower. Though, in the end, it was the drive of his wishes versus Nomi’s petty desires that won the match. Even without his original wings, Haru proves that it’s heart that wins fights, not dirty tricks. But even in victory, there’s a sore spot when Nomi mentioned he wasn’t one of the “first generation” of Burst Linkers, and that he goes by a different name. I can’t really tell what he may mean by that, whether it implies a wave of players fighting by cheating the system and forming a new legion to combat the old legions or something else entirely, but we’ve got bigger issues to deal with.

In yet another plot twist, Chiyu comes to Nomi’s aid, healing him with Lime Bell’s special ability. I personally want to think Nomi is still blackmailing her, and she’s just afraid of inadvertently taking Taku and Haru down with her, but you can’t really tell now that Nomi’s dropped this business about not being a “first-generation” Burst Linker. There’s the possibility she’s in on it too, and is sided against Taku and Haru. I really hope not…but it seems like the next episode won’t give us many answers as it’ll focus on Kuroyukihime-sempai while on vacation (and some Burst Linker stuff probably happens…).

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Accel World 14-15: Flying High on the Wings of Guy Love (Between Two Guys)

New OP and ED are new. I liked the first ones more, but these are catchy and interesting too. I particularly like the 2-sided Kuroyukihime fighting over Haru…like he’s some sort of prize. I guess it means Kuro-sempai winning him over in real life as opposed to him simply following her duel avatar. Also, the Chiyu fanservice was kinda overdue and I’m sure much appreciated…Haru has now peeped on 2/4 main female characters, the remaining being Kuroyukihime and Aqua Current.

Nomi, new kid and nerd/bully (odd combination), has taken Haru by the nads, and the wings. Now Haru no longer rules the skies of Accel World as Nomi’s killer move allows him steal killer moves, abilities, and armors from other players, and to add insult to injury, Haru and Chiyu are being blackmailed at school to be Nomi’s victims. This is very much Haru’s weak spot, bullies. He’s returned to the same place he was before he became a Burst Linker, underfoot a nasty manipulator. Only this time Chiyu has been dragged with him and Kuroyukihime isn’t around to save him.

So it’s up to some…”other” friends to help Haru out. Ash Roller makes a comeback (glad to see friendly(ish) rivalries and that it’s not all about “I’mma fight you ’til you die!” or about becoming the best, some just enjoy the game like Chiyu tries to get Haru and Taku to) to find out Silver Crow’s wings have been clipped. Now he’s taken Crow (after an oddly bromantic motorcycle ride through the desert) to the home of Ash’s own guardian, Sky Raker, who’s supposed to be able to help him. I’m foreseeing a few pushes off the cliff as Sky Raker yells “Fly, you socially awkward warrior!”, only to watch Silver Crow plummet to the ground.

Not even sure if it’s possible for Nomi’s stolen abilities to be returned, it’s hard to say what’ll happen next. Will Haru simply learn to combat his own skill and somehow retake it from Nomi, or will he relearn flight, defeat Nomi, and deal with a bully for the first time in his life? Either way, I want that smug bastard dealt with. Nomi’s character does a good job of bringing up feelings of disgust and loathing towards him. I’d almost say he went over the line threatening Chiyu, but then I’d just start thinking he perhaps has some psychological error that’s causing him to be an evil little twerp.

Haru’s little outburst with Taku worries me a bit concerning that Catastrophe Armor seed that’s lying in wait for him (or what I suspect to be the Catastrophe Armor). Is this just Haruaki breaking down under the stress of the maniacal nerd who beat him down, or is the seed slowly working it’s way to the surface of Haru’s mind? Without his wings, Haru seems at a prime disadvantage that would lead him to give into the armor’s temptations of power. The kind of power that could help him easily put away any one who dared take advantage of Haru or Chiyu…

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket