Accel World Vol. 1: Kuroyukihime's Return - Light Novel Review

Haruyuki Arita’s middle-school life is nothing but continual bullying thanks to the unfortunate combination of being overweight and having a meek personality. After being introduced to “Brain Burst” by the beautiful upperclassman Kuroyikihime, Haruyuki finds his life beginning to accelerate in this series by the author of Sword Art Online.

The Lowdown

Haruyuki Arita has never had much confidence - thanks to being overweight his entire life, all he’s known is bullying. Although he has a good companion in his childhood friend Chiyuri, Haruyuki is content to spend his time at school hiding as much as possible. However, everything changes when he receives an unexpected invitation from the beautiful and aloof upperclassman Kuroyukihime. Confused why she would ever want to talk to someone like him, Haruyuki reluctantly goes to see her in a meeting that changes his life forever. She introduces him to “Brain Burst”, a special program which accelerates the brain’s abilities and allows users to engage in duels in the Accel World. Pledging himself to be her knight, Haruyuki has to work his hardest to learn how to use Brain Burst while protecting Kuroyukihime from a sinister plot.

Who Is It For?

Fans of computer-game based action series will find plenty to like here. It’s also safe to say that fans of Kawahara’s other series Sword Art Online and The Isolator will find this a fun read.

How Was It?

Accel World Vol. 1 *ahem* excels thanks to its well-paced story, compelling protagonist and interesting setting. The story has an interesting premise centered upon the program “Brains Burst” which accelerates the functioning of the brain to many times its usual speed. Each instance of using Brains Burst requires one of the user’s limited number of points, forcing them to engage each other in duels to win power points.

This is accompanied by a whole manner of other political drama within the “Accel World” but the volume spends most of its time establishing the mechanics of this word to good effect. It’s not a particularly convoluted set-up thankfully, but there’s no getting around the fact that at its core this is still a story about playing video games. However, the premise was well established and led to some great action sequences that were exciting and illustrated the way the Accel World worked vividly.

While Accel World’s premise is undeniably interesting, it’s difficult to say the story is anything to write home about. Author Reki Kawahara does an excellent job balancing introducing the mechanics of this world with Haruyuki’s development, never lingering for overly long in dialogue. I felt the book was well-paced throughout, with some good action scenes mixed in with the character development effectively. However, the plot is largely predictable and most readers will likely have figured out way in advance who the true villain is.

Additionally, some plot development feel a little too convenient at times (even by light novel standards), and the dynamic between Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime feels like it becomes pure wish-fulfillment at some points. However, this didn’t stop me from enjoying the story presented and if you can overlook some predictability there is quite an enjoyable plot to be found here.

I thought that Haruyuki was a great protagonist, making the series stand out thanks to his abundant personality which really shone through over the course of the story. Characterized right off the bat as lacking confidence and generally insecure to the nth degree, I found his character arc really gratifying especially in the way he grew in confidence over the course of the volume. This confidence feels honestly earned as it always felt like he had to try with all his might to stop himself from running away, showing the results of some great, if rapid, character development. This makes up for the fact that none of the other characters are particularly interesting, but keeping a strong focus on establishing Haruyuki’s character was a good move which helped to strengthen the overall impact of the story.

Final Thoughts

Accel World Vol. 1 is another very solid action series from Reki Kawahara, presenting an interesting setting along with a well-characterized protagonist. While the plot isn’t particularly groundbreaking and comes off as a little too convenient at times, I really enjoyed seeing Haruyuki’s growth throughout the volume. If you’re a fan of the usual action-adventure set-up seen in numerous light novel series, you should check out Accel World as it does just enough differently to keep things fresh while feeling comfortably familiar.


Accel World Vol. 1: Kuroyukihime’s Return was published by Yen Press on July 22nd, 2014. Authored by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by Hima the series is currently ongoing and published by ASCII Mediaworks’ Dengeki Bunko imprint. The series has received a one season anime adaption.

Verdict:

B

Date of Publication: July 22nd, 2014

Translator: Jocelyne Allen

Author: Reki Kawahara

Publisher: Yen Press



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka