For an anime that was made in 2012, it's hard to expect miracles in terms of aesthetics of this anime. And sure enough, while they aren't really groundbreaking, they're looking good enough to compete with those of SAO, which were deemed stellar at the time. There are frame errors here and there, but that's to be expected. None of them are really severe enough to destroy the show, and surprisingly enough, the creators gave it enough polish to include small touches to the bits of background that most viewers won't notice at all. So, does that mean I can't give it any negative points for graphics? Nope. I can and I sure will. You see, while the aesthetics are quite amazing to say the least, there's this small, tiny problem that is our protagonist. And I can say for sure this alone is problematic for some people, enough for them not to touch the anime in the first place. What is the problem, then? Well, our protagonist is presented in a slightly distorted, maybe satiric or exaggerated, form compared to literally everyone else presented in this anime. He's, technically speaking, a chibi. Which means that he's probably more pleasing to the eyes than if he was presented normally, but it also means that he's the only person in the entire anime to be seen through a special-colored lens, the treatment no other character has gotten. Which, again, is a sin enough, considering we can't really judge him on par with other characters.
It should come as no surprise when I say it, but undoubtedly the best part of this anime is its soundtrack. The rhythm we can hear in most tracks is simple and catchy, making repeated listening not too much of a problem. Augmented with a variety of different filters and accompaniaments, we get a full soundtrack that is pleasing to the ears of most viewers. The only real problem is with openings and endings. While endings, "→unfinished→" and "Unite" are quite alright and not too much of a problem (if you ended up hearing them once a week), the openings - "Chase the world" and "Burst the gravity" - fall flat. Not only are they generic openings, similar to any other shounen anime, the vocals make them very hard to appreciate.
If you haven't read my warning before, now is your last chance. I'm getting heavy on spoilers in the following paragraphs.
Accel World takes place in the future, in year 2046. Augmented reality is now available in the form of Neuro Linkers, devices every single kid (and probably most adults) is wearing. That means, they can hop into a virtual world pretty much anytime they want, or install other applications simply on a whim. One such application is Brain Burst, a program that allows its user to "Burst Link", accelerate their thoughts 1000x in regards to virtual world. The price for such a power is rather big: people who use it, receive avatars that 'are born of' their scars and fears, and have to fight with other avatars for the points that allow them to use this power. If your points run out, Brain Burst is forcibly uninstalled from your Neuro Linker, and you can never install it again. As you win more fights, your level increases, unlocking new powers. The highest level so far is 9, which is possessed only by 7 people in the universe, called Seven Kings of True Color, upheld by the status quo they agreed on.
Arita Haruyuki, the victim of bullying, spends his time mostly by beating his score in a game similar to squash in the augmented world, to try and become faster. One day he is approached by Kuroyukihime and offered to install Brain Burst, which he agrees on. Little does he know what he got himself into, though.
That's it in terms of overview of the setting. Now, let's get into the nitty-gritty, shall we... For this, I'll divide the anime into two segments, talk about them separately and judge accordingly, and finish it off by judging the whole.
The first half of the anime is, surprisingly, half-decent. We get a solid introduction into the world, enough details to keep you invested, and, who knows, some people probably could relate to the main character. Some small details can be brushed off as overexaggerated and overdramatized, such as Kuroyukihime getting hit with a car very early on, which is used as a turning point just to move hers and Arita's relationship a step further. Since then we get a segment (also a bit overdramatized), that, by having him fight his own best friend because reasons, gives Arita's avatar a new ability which is deemed "incredibly rare" (shounen cliche, anyone?), Kuroyukihime wakes up from a coma and tells Arita what her real name is (which, obviously, we never get to know).
From then on, the anime follows with another arc, that introduces the Red King and Calamity Armor, that possesses the thoughts of anyone who wears it - read: a curse. Everything so far is, at least, pleasing to the eye and the mind of the viewer, the anime is unfolding at a steady rate, one could say it's actually a pleasure to watch it. Around halfway through the anime, the Calamity Armor arc finishes, leaving you interested enough to get to watching the second part.
FIRST PART: 4/20
Sadly enough, the second half of the anime is following one last arc, the Dust Taker arc. Unsurprisingly, the arc is not only worse than the whole first part of the anime, but also lengthened and overdramatized to the very core. The tempo of the anime at this part is slowed down to a crawl, our characters start developing depressing traits and making questionable decisions. Not to mention that it's all revolving over a poorly written blackmail plot! Most of the decisions the characters take here make absolutely no sense, which I believe serves only to make it longer. And when the creators ran out of ideas on how to make it longer... they introduced TWO FILLER EPISODES. That do not contribute to the main story in the slightest. In a 24-episode-long show! Why am I so negative about this part of the anime, though? Well, let's see.
Arita gets more wimpy than usual, getting so thoroughly depressed over the loss of his "unique power up" that he starts distorting his point of view on the reality and people around him.
Chiyu, the third member of "Arita's childhood gang", decides to pair up with the villain and fuck up everything Arita worked towards, for two reasons: one of them was that so SHE could be the one who saves him, and the other was to make the entire plot even longer. To reiterate: she saved the villain from being defeated by Arita when he had the chance to finish him off. And even more unrealistically, she's being forgiven for it.
Takumu, Arita's best friend and Chiyu's supposed boyfriend, has zero idea on what he's doing.
Dusk Taker, or Noumi Seiji, is so annoying to watch it gets absolutely painful to get through the second part. I get that he's the "ultimate" villain and all, but he doesn't even have ulterior motives other than being able to have an easy life at school until he graduates. How bad is that for a motive?
And I could go on and on, but this would turn into a tirade of salt. So I'll stop for now. I'm just going to say exactly what every other person would - the second half of Accel World is harder to get past than getting through Dark Souls without dying. You thought rage-inducing games like I wanna be the Boshi, Super Meat Boy or Happy Wheels were bad enough? Try watching any episode of Accel World ranging from 13-24.
SECOND PART: 36/20
BOTH PARTS: 40/40
Now, moving onto a bigger picture, let's focus some on the characters. Again. I'll start off by saying that, yes, this anime DOES have some unusually nice characters with at least some depth to them that save this show just a little bit. Ash Roller, the first enemy player Arita has ever fought, is actually a pretty nice guy and that goes to show. Kouzuki Yuniko, or Scarlet Rain (the red king), also has enough depth to the character to make you forgive her wrongdoings as a character and focus more on trying to understand her character, which is not that hard. Kurasaki Fuuko, or Sky Raker, has a heart of gold and is one of the only reasons I was able to get through the second part of the anime at all. That said, some of the other characters, or simply relationships between them, leave me in a state between being irritated and infuriated. For starters - Takumu and Chiyu, who apparently are a pair, have absolutely zero romantic chemistry between them. Zero. None. Moreover, Takumu, who's shown to be Arita's best friend, most of the anime acts not because of empathy or sympathy for Arita, but because of feeling indebted to him, pushing the questions even further. Lest not forget, Chiyu (remember? she's apparently Takumu's girlfriend!) is actually closer with Arita than Takumu. But then again, her actions in the second part of the anime are... quite questionable. Helping out a villain is one thing, but stripping down for Arita planning god knows what is not something a taken girl would do for someone who's not her boyfriend.
BONUS POINTS: 5 for each filler episode = 10 total.
To summarise. The anime starts off incredibly strong, with one of the more pleasing environments and settings, making this show a form of enjoyment... at least for the first part. It's a huge shame the second part is absolutely and undeniably a definite show killer. I will bring up some of the points from this review in the SAO review that will come someday, and if you've watched it and feel the same way I did about the show, you can probably already see some of the similarities. Well, until then, I'll leave you guys here with this rating.
FIRST PART: 13/50 - A MODERATE PLEASURE
SECOND PART: 60/50 - A SIN BEYOND SINS
JUDGMENT: 73/100 - NO MORE PLEASE