By Reki Kawahara and Hima. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jocelyne Allen.
Well, technically Kawahara was correct, and the arc that lasted nine books ends here. That said,k I can’t see anyone really being satisfied with the way this arc ended. Last time I said that I didn’t really think Kawahara would do a “the bad guys win” arc, but he comes pretty damn close here, and while I get why Haruyuki did what he did, I expect that literally everyone is going to be angry with him when the next book comes out. As for the rest of the book, aside from one major problem, which I’ll get to later, this is pretty good. The beginning has things resolved by Haruyuki essentially pulling shonen bullshit out of his ass, which, well, given this is a shonen manga in light novel form, works fine for me. There’s also a lot of exposition about what to do next, who is the best person to do it, and, possibly most importantly, who will be feeding the owl when they all go on holiday.
Honestly, that’s one of the more tasteful Accel World covers. As for what happens, well, Haruyuki helps to free everyone from the latest certain death that White Cosmos has set up, but unfortunately, they’re going to have to try to free the massive monster, Tezcatlicopa, from White Cosmos’ control, which means hitting all six crowns at once with six swords. This is going to be even more difficult because White Cosmos manages to kidnap Haruyuki, meaning *he* is now the one essentially trapped and unable to do anything, the same as his comrades used to be. This means that everyone is going to have to achieve a lot of stuff without him. Worst of all, once Tezcatlicopa is freed, everyone realizes what a bad idea that really was.
My main issue with this volume, and it’s one I’ve had with Sword Art Online before (which has finally managed to move past it), is that the whole book is from Haruyuki’s POV. This means that the entire 2nd half of the volume is made up of cool fights that the reader only gets to hear about second hand, as he can’t be in them. This is frustrating for him, but it’s murder for a reader, especially after sitting through endless exposition preparing for said fights. It made this volume feel a lot less exciting than it actually is. As for the cliffhanger, well, Harukuyi’s group of players all know each other in the real world and have forged eternal bonds of fellowship, so naturally the “thanks for playing you will forget everything now” ending is going to rankle. It’s also still very unclear what exactly White Cosmos is really up to, especially in regards to her relationship with her sister. Basically, this arc may have been 9 volumes long but I’m not sure we’re that much further along.
Still, the next book promises to be a corker… oh, we’re caught up? It’s not even out in Japan yet? Ergh. Yeah, wonderful, that makes this EVEN MORE FRUSTRATING. In any case, enjoy Haruyuki watching cool things happen far away from him.