By Reki Kawahara and Hima. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jocelyne Allen.
The author jokes in the afterword about how once again he said that an arc would wrap up in the next volume… and once again it did not, with this volume ending on yet another cliffhanger. It could be a sign that the author has difficulty bringing things together, but honestly with Accel World you don’t really mind. The main plot is interwoven into the individual arcs, so we know that solving the ISS Kits and rescuing Ash Roller is not going to stop the Acceleration Research Society anytime soon, just as we know that eventually Haruyuki is going to have to meet Kuroyukihime’s sister, even though we still haven’t seen her either. For now we have this volume, which is mostly in two chunks. The first involves rescuing Aqua Current by taking on another of the Four Gods guarding the Accel World equivalent of the Imperial Palace. The other involves taking on Metatron, who has the laser that Haruyuki thinks he can now repel. Sadly, before that they have to take on Magenta Scissor – again.
The cover features Blood Leopard and Aqua Current, who turn out to have a closer relationship than previously expected. The role of ‘parent’ and ‘child’ is an interesting one in the AW universe, as all it involves is getting another person into the same game you’re playing. That said, in the AW universe there’s good parents and bad parents, and we get an example here with Avocado Avoider. He was invited into the game, then the other players saw his power wasn’t really “useful” and proceeded to essentially kill him right there. You’re never allowed to forget that Accel World is actually a game, and that means that it invites the worst of gamer mentalities. Haruyuki’s playing for the fun of it, the curiosity of winning and the bonds he forms is contrasted with the agenda of Magenta Scissor, who wants everyone to be equal in abilities, point, and everything else – it’s fair, but is it really any fun? That said, her behavior at the end of the volume here suggests she may not be as hardcore about it as she sounds.
The other big revelation here involves the “villain” of the piece, Metatron. We see our heroes going after her laser and coming up with a very clever plan… which then goes to hell when Metatron decides to come down to the ground to attack them right there. It’s always wise to not assume what your enemy plans to do. That said, Metatron appears to be fighting a battle herself, and with Haruyuki’s help is able to get past it… only to reveal that she seems to be EVEN MORE POWERFUL now. I’m interested in seeing where she goes from here, especially as she’s now apparently providing Haruyuki with power in order to rescue Niko (oh dear, please tell me she’s not going to be part of the harem). The cliffhanger was rather abrupt, but plausible – you knew these goons were not just going to let Nega Nebulus waltz in and destroy them. And the harem antics were there but minimal.
Kawahara, with this series, has succeeded in making it one where you want to get the next book immediately after reading the last one. Sadly, we have to wait for September now. Will he finish the arc this time? Mmmmmmmaybe?