REVIEW: ACCEL WORLD – PART 2 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: ERIK KIMERER, KIRA BUCKLAND, LUCIEN DODGE, MICHELLE T HSEIH, AMANDA C MILLER, SARAH WILLIAMS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
You’d have thought that Part 2 of Accel World would carry on where Part 1 left off, with Kuroyukihime and her allies battling for increasing dominance of the Accelerated World and their progress to supremacy revealing more about the multi-faceted dreamscape along the way. Sadly, we get nothing of the sort, and are instead subjected to a laborious and overextended story, driven by that most rancid of stale plot devices: blackmail.
Noumi is a Burst Linker and pubescent sociopath who frames Haru by hiding a camera in the girls’ changing rooms and then threatens to reveal fabricated evidence of him doing so and thus destroy what little respect he has, unless he regularly gives up his Burst Points. In a country as obsessed with propriety and social standing as Japan is, perhaps the scenario seems a lot more plausible, but to Western sensibilities it appears as just another tedious example of characters acting in certain ways for no other reason that the plot demands it.
A pantomime villain we’re expected to take seriously, Noumi talks in smug condescension and childish spite, making him irritating rather than threatening, and does little more than go on and on and on and on about how superior he is and how pathetic everyone else is and blah, blah, blah, as if it were manipulative genius that allowed him to orchestrate events rather him simply being a prick. He’s the kind of annoying antagonist who benefits from the protagonists’ mistakes, and is thus not required to actually do anything to remain in control.
At the midway point the story is interrupted by a couple of side episodes featuring Kuroyukihime on a school trip, where she encounters a group of local Burst Linkers and reveals a somewhat sapphic friendship with a classmate, which other than mild titillation serve absolutely no purpose. They’re even introduced by an introductory voiceover from Haru saying it’s a story he will never know about, highlighting their utter pointlessness. Aside from this, her only real contribution to proceedings is a Big Damn Heroes appearance near the series’ end, which is one of the only truly satisfying moments in the entirety of the dozen episodes.
At one point, it briefly looks like events are about to develop into the plotline that was promised at the end of Part 1, but despite the fact its introduction would have resolved this story and begun another one umpteen times more interesting, it’s interrupted after only a few moments and then never even mentioned again. When it takes half of an entire series to play out a narrative that could have easily been done with in three episodes, you can’t help but wonder how much effort the makers of the show are actually putting into it.
After such a great start, it’s really disappointing to see the quality of the show drop so sharply one disc to the next. If Accel World is granted another series, it desperately needs to pick up the pace again. Quickly.