By Reki Kawahara and Hima. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jocelyne Allen.
There’s more spoilers than usual for the last third of this book, so if you avoid them FYI.
It’s been a while since we last checked in with Accel World. The previous volume was supposedly the end of the long, long, LONG arc and the start of another one, but that turns out to not quite be true, as most of this is setup for a massive cliffhanger. There was also a bit of frustration, as Haruyuki’s sacrifice felt like it was going to lead to a lot of angst for everyone. Which is kind of does, but that angst is mostly kept off the page. One of the more frustrating aspects to Accel World is that so many of the exciting scenes, or battles, or much needed group meetings happen away from Haruyuki, so we don’t really learn as much as we’d like. And the first two thirds of this book is much the same, really. Get ready, though, as the last third is THE PAYOFF.
Things have been happening since the end of the last book. Tezcatlipoca has been running amuck, and everyone in the Accelerated World is blaming the traitor, Haruyuki. Thus they’re challenging him to duels constantly. Haruyuki being who he is, he’s accepting all of them, but he’s really good by now, so he usually wins. Then, after briefly dropping by to make sure the owl is taken care of during the summer, and possibly recruit fellow owl caretaker Reina to join the student council, he goes off to a meeting of his new allies, White Cosmos. For the most part, they’re exactly what everyone but Haruyuki would expect – a bunch of normal, if somewhat eccentric, people with their own agendas. Admittedly, some of those agendas include forcing Haruyuki to total point less, but hey. After all that, though, he’s forced to do something he’s been avoiding all this time: talk to Kuroyukihime.
Or rather, to Sayuki. Yes, Accel World finally gives in and admits one of its biggest mysteries since the start of the series. Haruyuki has known her name since the start, but he hasn’t actually said it till now, and we also get the name of her sister as well. And there’s a very good reason for all of this: we finally get a mutual confession and a kiss. The idea that Haruyuki is not only in an enemy group now but may be forced to fight against all his friends – and possibly get pushed to lose his points/memories, as well as the same anger for Kuroyukihime, leads them to finally take that big step. Unfortunately, any additional progress (as well as the long postponed trip to see Haruyuki’s family) will have to wait, because the mid-range guilds have been trying to take out Tezcatlipoca and have instead unleashed something much worse… more new characters to have to remember. Oh, and a new game. So long, Brain Burst, it’s been nice.
I admit that this book started a bit slow for me, as it had a lot of scenes I didn’t really care about and was putting off scenes I wanted to see. But when it got to the payoff, it was quite good. Also, hey, a portal! Who doesn’t like portals?