While Kuroyukihime is away on a school trip, Haruyuki and Takumu find a mysterious seventh-grader who has mastered using Brain Burst despite being absent from the list of users at their school. During the investigation Haruyuki is completely over matched, forcing him to push his limits once again in this series from the author of Sword Art Online.
Three months after defeating Chrome Disaster, Haruyuki is now in eighth grade and has grown into a more confident knight worthy of his princess Kuroyukihime. On guard against any new burst-linkers who might now attend their school, Harukyuki realizes that new student Seiji Nomi is a burst-linker while watching his kendo match against Takumu. Upon confronting him, Haruyuki is completely humiliated and forced to look deep within himself to recover what he’s lost.
How Was It?
Accel World Vol. 3 is a wonderful continuation of the series, focusing almost completely on Harukyuki’s character development as he investigates Seiji Nomi. One my biggest gripes about the series so far had been the overall silliness of the political intrigue in the Accelerated World, and this was especially apparent in the previous volume. Kawahara repeatedly tried to use it as an anchor for the plot, distracting from Haruyuki’s character development with forgettable results. Thankfully there is almost none of that in this volume, with the story focusing on Haruyuki’s personal battle with Seiji Nomi as well as his inner struggle to continue believing in himself. This is an immense upgrade overall, keeping the plot focused while providing for the type of character-driven struggle that the political elements of the first two volumes frequently distracted from.
The strong focus on Haruyuki’s continued character development is made possible thanks to the introduction of Seiji Nomi, who bursts onto the scene in a terrifying manner. I didn’t realize until reading this volume just how much this series would benefit from having a genuinely detestable villain to root for Haruyuki against, and Nomi works perfectly in this role. I have to give Kawahara credit for establishing him in an unflinchingly brutal manner, and even though his motives are mysterious Nomi is instantly unlikable. Even more than that, I really appreciated how Kawahara was able to use him to provide the catalyst for the rest of Haruyuki’s soul searching throughout the remainder of the story and raising the stakes for this volume’s final battle accordingly.
While the character development was a strong highlight, Kawahara paces this volume perfectly as Haruyuki struggles onward before confronting Nomi in an explosive climax that showcases the best of Accel World’s action. The plodding battle against Chrome Disaster is an excellent comparison, because even though the stakes were higher there with the survival of the Accelerated World at stake, the tension is much higher here thanks to how well the final battle is set up.
The climax of the story is also executed perfectly, managing to subvert my expectations in a great way and leaving me eager to read the next volume. Instead of being just another battle shoehorned to check off a volume’s “action” check box, I loved that this climax felt like a natural culmination of the story. Other series should be taking note, as this volume is a master-class in pacing and delivers action and story that complement each other in an extremely effective manner.
Accel World Vol. 3 is the best volume of the series so far by far, telling a strong story which incorporates all of the series’ best traits. The introduction of Seiji Nomi provides a strong villain to drive the story, providing a welcome catalyst for Haruyuki’s character development. The boring political drama and other pointless silliness which weighed down the previous volume is almost completely gone, allowing for a strong focus on Haruyuki’s inner struggle as he battles against Nomi. This volume feels like a sign of the series finally hitting its stride and definitely isn’t one fans of the series should miss.
Accel World Vol. 3: The Twilight Marauder was published by Yen Press on March 24th, 2015. 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 and volume 5 will be published in English on November 17th, 2015.
Date of Publication: March 24th, 2015
Translator: Jocelyne Allen
Author: Reki Kawahara
Publisher: Yen Press