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

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Hyouka: Final Review

Well, here we are. 6 months and 22 episodes later, Hyouka has finished its story. What originally began as a quirky attraction to everyday mysteries with uncommon explanations has turned into a full-fledged dual-personality trait shared between Houtatrou and Eru. It seems a day can’t go by without them delving into the unseen and uncontemplated to over explain the mundane events that lead to the otherwise unnoticed minutia surrounding us all the time. And Satoshi was there too, along with Mayaka.

Together, the four consist of the once-fledgling Classics Club, though they’re soon better known for Houtarou’s uncanny ability to logically work around any conundrum or puzzle. But the solutions become more complicated as it’s not just the clues Houtarou has to deal with. Also taking in the feelings and impressions of his friends, especially Eru, he has to continually break his edict of “energy conservation” to meet the compelling demands of Eru’s curiosity, while preserving her air of innocence and purity in what’s he’s found to be a newly interesting world.

Hyouka’s entire premise seems to throw many off, as a “mystery” series devoid of any actual consequence of action. All the “disappearances” are of easily replaceable items, such as tarot cards, kitchen utensils, or a copy, amongst hundreds, of the yearly anthology. Even the ghastly turn into stories of minor cover-ups under the cloak of night. Though Eru’s own past wove a story of grim victimization tied into the history of the Classics Club itself, the message behind each of Houtarou’s cases proved to be that there’s always more than meets the eye and connections always exist whether or not they’re seen.

You can spin “mystery” around Hyouka until Houtarou is blue in the face, but the real motive behind the story is the character development between Houtarou and Chitanda, and Satoshi and Mayaka. Though the latter seems to at least set itself up in the final episodes (I feel like Mayaka would understand if Satoshi would be honest with her about how scared he feels), Eru and Houtarou’s relationship seems to only begin to blossom in the final moments. My heart skipped a beat when he made the offer to Eru, and then it stopped altogether when it was merely his imagination. As much as I’d love to see the two continue to grow closer, I feel like Hyouka was wrapped up nicely. Enough to give me a taste of the what the characters will become, but not enough to feel like the story is entirely finished.

Final grade: 91
A solid A minus for KyoAni’s latest work. Though I agree sometimes the lack of actual consequence made the mysteries…inconsequential, Hyouka gave me an appreciation for the long, twisting stories surrounding the ordinary things filling our day-to-day lives. Animation was brilliant, as to be expected, but Eru’s eyes took character design to new level, in my opinion. Has good re-watch potential, but I’m definitely going to miss catching it week-to-week. Highly recommended for SoL fans looking to branch out into something a bit deeper, or mystery fans who want to become astounded at the mundane.

Hyouka – 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

Tari Tari 5-10: Red Ranger Wien, Hero of Justice!

Apologies for not covering Tari Tari so well, blogging has to take back burner lately as I’m being forced to actually give 100% at school. But now I’m ready to go, as are the Market Rangers! So far, Wein’s internal conflict is the most interesting. Not to diminish the value of the other character’s arcs, especially Wakana.

With only 3 episodes left and Wein’s arc seemingly closed, I’m guessing it’s time to put Konatsu in the limelight, or perhaps simply wrap up her choir’s story at the festival. I’m personally hoping for a big finale to Wakana’s personal bit when the group sings the song started by her mother before she passed away. I think I’d also like more of the Market Rangers. And Sawa still doesn’t have a solid closure as to what she wants to do in the future, either. Is Taichi’s story finished for that matter?

If Tari Tari is building like I think it is, all the closure will come in the last two episodes. I have high hopes for the ending as the series thus far has been quite the emotional ride and I just hope I’m not setting the bar too high, asking too much from the story.

I still stand by an early statement, Tari Tari is like K-On!…but with music.

Tari Tari – 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

Hyouka 17: Expectations of a Blackmail Victim

Not surprisingly, Oreki had it figured out like 2 episodes ago and blackmailed the criminal to help sell anthologies. Satoshi seemed upset, but went along with the final act to help Tanabe Jirou, AKA “Juumonji”, pull off the “ko” theft even with so many spectators waiting for him show himself. A little chemistry latter and Jirou burns the theft in front of everyone, completing his prank/message and clearing out all but four remaining anthologies.

This mystery makes it obvious that Hyouka isn’t built to allow the viewer to solve mysteries before the characters, it’s meant to be about the characters. That being said, Hyouka didn’t leave out clues, it just didn’t cover trivial information that would’ve either tipped the viewer by making suspects too obvious, or bored them by burying the trivial information beneath more trivial information. Though I do think Jirou’s plan to send a message to an old manga partner was a bit far-fetched and had little to no chance of succeeding. Barring  straight up telling the person about this prank/mystery, I don’t see how a transferred student would pick up on it. Also, the related drama within the manga society really seemed forced toward the end, where the other members just decided that they’re going to eternally disagree and not get along. Makes all the events beforehand seem pointless if they’re just going to end it by acknowledging that they understand their differences, but choose to ignore that they do.

I don’t always solve mysteries, but when I do, I rig the ending by blackmailing the culprit.

So Oreki has to keep a secret from Eru now, since she’d probably get upset that such a mysterious mystery ended in such backhanded tactics. Oreki is going to have to either get Eru to forget about the Kanya Fest mystery (unheard of, thus far) or distract her with a new mystery to legitimately solve.
I’m a little disappointed that it wasn’t actually Oreki’s sister, but instead some irrelevant backstory.

Hyouka – 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