Snow White’s Slumber
Story: Reki Kawahara
Translation: Jocelyne Allen
What they say
PREPARE FOR A FULL DIVE!
After promising to save Niko no matter the odds, Haruyuki enlists the aid of Archangel Metatron and charges into the headquarters of the Acceleration Research Society with his friends. But before the decisive battle can even begin, a mysterious red light abruptly falls from the sky and gives birth to the Armor of Catastrophe, Mark II.
Suddenly, their rescue mission becomes a bitter struggle for survival. Just when all hope seems lost, Haruyuki manages a perfect synchronization with Metatron and finds himself in a world where time stands still. In this extraordinary space, everything can be know, and Metatron tells him her story: the reason why Brain Burst was created—and the true meaning behind the Burst Linker’s existence…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Volume 16 of Accel World is full of combat, revelations, and a lot more questions. The Armor of Catastrophe, Mark II, which was created from four of the five Enhanced Armaments of Scarlet Rain, is doing its utmost to annihilate Haruyuki and his companions. It seems like the Mark II is even stronger than the Mark I, the previous Armor of Catastrophe known as Chrome Disaster that had parasytized Haruyuki in the last arc. I do find this a little unbelievable. The previous Armor of Catastrophe had been created by two Arcs—powerful Enhanced Armaments that are supposed to be the stuff of legends—known as the Destiny and Star Caster. However, I understand how shonen mechanics work. Every enemy that comes after the previous one must be more powerful to raise the stakes. Sadly, I feel like the stakes here didn’t really feel as raised because I had to suspend my reality of disbelief for this fight.
While the fight wasn’t as believable and therefore not as thrilling as usual, Reki Kawahara still manages to weave a well-written story that has some surprisingly well-thought-out revelations, though a lot of what we learn only presents more questions. During the battle with the Armor of Catastrophe, Haruyuki synchronizes with Metatron and ends up in a world called the Highest Level. In this world, Metatron talks about the two other worlds that once ran parallel to Brain Burst known as Accel Assault 2038 and Cosmos Corrupt 2040. Green Grande, the Green King, had actually mentioned these two programs during one of the previous volumes when Haryuki confronted him as the fifth Chrome Disaster. We learn from Metatron that the entire purpose of Brain Burst is to travel into the Castle—the Imperial Palace in the real world—and claim the final Arc known as The Fluctuating Light.
Of course, while Metatron states this is the true purpose of Brain Burst, we aren’t told why this is its true purpose or for what reason. There are a lot of unanswered questions. I have mixed feelings regarding this. On the one hand, I am very curious to learn why attaining The Fluctuating Light is the true purpose of Brain Burst and what will happen once someone acquires it. On the other hand, we’re given another mystery that probably won’t be solved until the very end of this series, which I feel is going to be a long ways off. Given Reki Kawahara’s penchant for creating extraordinarily long arcs that last around 5 to 7 volumes, I really have no idea how long it will take before we finally reach the finale.
I found myself appreciating Metatron a lot during this volume. Having an Enemy that has gained awareness provides a new twist to the series, which could be taken in multiple directions. She’s also an interesting character. Her snooty and somewhat arrogant personality makes the interactions between her and Haruyuki fun to read about since it adds a new relationship dynamic that hasn’t been explored. I’m not sure exactly what Reki Kawahara has planned. However, I can say I’m curious to find out where this partnership will go.
After the conversation with Metatron, she and Haruyuki truly synchronize, which allows Haruyuki to use one of Metatron’s attacks at the cost of Metatron expending her life force. He defeats the Armor of Catastrophe and Chiyuri manages to take back three of the four Enhanced Armaments that had been stolen from Scarlet Rain before Wolfram Cerberus’s connection to Brain Burst is cut. With the battle over, Haruyuki and the others return to the real world. This is about the halfway point in the light novel—maybe a third—and the pace slows considerably after this since the high-octane action is now finished.
I’m incredibly happy to see this arc has finally ended. While this arc was filled with action and revelations, I also feel like it was becoming incredibly tedious to slog through an arc that I feel should have taken less volumes to finish. Reki Kawahara, as a writer, pays an incredible amount of attention to detail, but while this makes his writing really interesting and fun, it can also drag down the pacing. What should have been fast-paced action suddenly felt like it was slowing to the crawl of a snail. Part of the problem are the internal monologues that happen during the battle. That said, while this arc felt too slow at times, it was truly fun to read. I’m honestly looking forward to finding out what the next arc of this series will be about.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 18, 2018