What They Say:
In Accel World: Infinite Burst, a mysterious black cloud kicks Haruyuki and his friends out of the online fighting game Brain Burst. Unable to reenter, they discover that this isn’t just an isolated incident—the cloud is spreading and preventing other Burst Linkers from accelerating. Haruyuki and the others soon learn that, to protect the bond that connects them, they must confront a powerful ancient being that been sealed away since the dawn of the Accelerated World!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the show in some mixed formats with some Japanese 5.1 and 2.0 presentations depending on the material as well as the English side. Regardless of the stereo or 5.1 sides, what we get is a good, clean and rich mix that definitely serves the show well. The nature of the show has it moving back and forth between standard school scenes and virtual world action with ease and that makes for some very good moments in each because of the way the link is used and dialogue happens without lips moving. The tone and nature of it is nicely done and it adds a nice bit of richness to it. The action side of the show works quite well too as it runs the gamut with clanging metal, swooshing sounds and other various sounds that run across the forward soundstage well. The dynamic here is solid as everything is placed well and has a good richness and depth to it where needed. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2016, the transfer for this film and set of OVAs are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Everything is kept to a single disc with plenty of room to work with. Animated by Sunrise, Accel World has a gorgeous look to it that really comes across beautifully here. With a high bit rate that has many scenes sitting in the thirties, colors are rich and vibrant with a great sense of depth about many of them. The vibrant world of the virtual side of things is fantastic and it just draws you in all the more, whether it’s the grime of it or the designs of how Kuroyuki portrays herself. The real world scenes are just as striking in their own way with great flesh tones, no banding issues or any other problems. It’s simply clean and beautiful throughout, making for a highly enjoyable presentation.
The packaging for this release is pretty solid as we get a standard sized Blu-ray case to hold the single disc and it comes with an o-card as well. The o-card uses some great artwork that showcases most of the cast with some good foil elements to it that gives it some additional life. It’s working some darker colors but it has a really great richness to it. The case artwork itself goes for one of the OVA pieces for its artwork with the core pair and their opponent where it has a nice illustration style feeling to it. The back cover for both is the same as it provides a split look at the movie and the OVAs with shots from each of them and some mild summaries of the premises. The technical information is broken out just below that as well as what extras are included with it. The set has a nice little insert included that gives us a look at the timeline for the property overall that has a lot of detail and we get a reversible cover where it’s a two-panel spread of all the characters in their swimsuits as viewed from above.
The menu design for this release goes with a lot of clips from the show playing throughout it and that works well to set the mood since there are so many stylish pieces to use. The colors look great and stand out well as we get a good look at both the characters and action from it. The navigation along the bottom gives us the logo, which actually is bigger than we usually see for something like this, and the basic selections just over it which is all done in a nice virtual style that fits the theme of the show well. Submenus load quickly and easily and are quickly accessible during playback as the pop-up menu as well. The discs are locked though in terms of language so you can’t change on the fly or play in Japanese without any subtitles.
The set puts the OVAs in the extras section, which we’ll talk about below, but we also get the inclusion of an art gallery here and some storyboards to flesh out the extras as a Blu-ray only release. We also get a few interviews with the English cast that run from eight minutes or so to over fifteen minutes, allowing some of the leads to talk about their characters and coming back to the show a bit more.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The original Accel World TV series was something that I had a whole lot of fun but it’s also been about five years since I last gave it much of any thought. With the novels and manga being released in English there’s been little in the way of new anime overall as that two-cour season was pretty much it for the TV side. What we do get were two OVAs produced for the videogame releases that landed in 2012 and 2013 and then the Infinite Burst film in 2016, which clocks in at 82 minutes. That’s the main focus of the release here but it’s also one that I felt didn’t work as well as the two OVAs simply because of the structure of it, which was helpful and hurtful at the same time.
With Infinite Burst, half of the film is a really streamlined and somewhat out of order recap that runs forty minutes. It’s helpful since it’s been so long and it provided an opportunity to reconnect with the larger themes of it all and I liked that since it reminded me of all the things I liked and some that I didn’t. But when it does shift gears into the new storyline it felt like it was too weighted down by all the recap material instead of having a fresh launch to it. The Infinite Burst side has a lot of great big screen action here with the different pairings going on but it’s focused on dealing with a problem opponent who see at the start that suffers from an accident. It’s all centered around saving them without realizing it at first but it really felt like plot was barely secondary to the film. It really just wants to showcase these battles in the framework of this powerful player that’s causing problems and it excels in those battles. The TV show was bright and colorful and exciting and this takes it up a few notches while still adhering to the style of the series itself. It’s just light on anything that feels like it has meaning with the characters.
When it comes to the OVAs we get some fun things here that are basically side stories within the main timeline. They were released as part of the PS3 game releases and provide for self-contained stories that are nicely accessible. The first one, “Reverberation,” deals with an event going on at the school where something is hunting kids within the local network and stripping them of their items. It’s a pretty tense thing but is also one that has Kuroyukihime intending to deal with it through the student council since bringing in outside help would reduce their own role and stature but also open them up to being looked at more than she wants. With it happening earlier in the run it’s fun to see the group dynamic play out with Chiyuri and Takumu but also just to see how tentative Haru is at this point in time and how he starts to get a little bit bolder.
The second one is just a big bowl of fanservice and fun as it’s entitled “Vacation.” This one has the gang dealing with how physical exams are being looked at more strictly in school and there’s a push to help Haru get into better shape so he doesn’t get into any trouble because of it all. Naturally, a lot of the diets and approaches used don’t get results as Chiyuri puts him through the grinder but that’s not the real focus here. While it’s fun to enjoy all the fanservice with the girls the real material here is how Kuroyuki is really wary of him changing because she loves him as he is and doesn’t want him to change for others, or for her. Some of it is a really nice nod to her own insecurities because she realizes that if he was slim he’d be considered a lot more handsome by others and she would have to compete to keep him whereas now she’s the only one that’s interested in him in this way. It’s a good look at some of what makes both Haru and Kuroyuki who they are.
I have a real affection for the Accel World property and I wish it had gotten more treatment on the TV side over the years since there’s a lot of things it digs into. This set brings out some really great stuff overall for a sweet price, especially when you consider that the two OVAs were part of PS3 games several years ago and a bit harder to acquire. The Infinite Burst film is a really great showcase for the animation on the big screen as I can imagine it for fans at the time but it’s not a great story, especially with half of it devoted to recap. There is a lot to like here though and Viz Media did a great job of producing new extras for the set to make it worthwhile to fans who want to engage with it more. It’s definitely an easy recommendation for fans of the property.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Reverberation OVA, Vacation OVA, Storyboards
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: October 23rd, 2018
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.