Story: Reki Kawahara
Art: Hiroyuki Aigamo
Character Design: HIMA
Translation: Jocelyne Allen
Letterer: Brndn Blakeslee
What They Say:
The final stretch of the Hermes Card Race has arrived, along with a nigh-invincible opponent who throws the entire event into chaos! Nega Nebulus’s chances of winning are riding on Haru, but he’ll have to rely on a dark power to overcome this fearsome foe…with the stakes higher than ever, who will emerge victorious in this pulse-pounding finale?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Before commencing with this review, I have to disclose a potential conflict of interest. Years ago, I did some freelance proofreading for Yen Press, and one of the titles I worked on was an earlier volume of the Accel World manga. However, I have not received any assignments from Yen Press since 2015, and I don’t receive any royalties or anything of that kind from the series; it was a work-for-hire, single payment job. So while I felt I would be remiss not to at least mention my history with this series, I have no financial investment in how well Accel World (or any other Yen Press title) performs.
That out of the way, on to the Accelerated World. This volume leaves me in an awkward place, because while I’ve always liked this series, I’m not sure if this conclusion is worthy of it. The manga does end in a reasonably satisfying place (while the light novels continue on), but the way it gets there feels pretty rote and uninspired.
One of the reasons why I was initially drawn to Accel World is because I related to Haru, the protagonist; I actually prefer him to Kirito, the protagonist from author Reki Kawahara’s other big series, Sword Art Online. Haru faced different problems than his peers, and his relationship with the mysterious Kuroyukihime was more interesting than most romances between high-school-aged characters ever become. However, this volume has him facing a bog-standard dilemma: he has the power to save his friends, but to do it, he has to rely on an evil, corrupting power: the cursed Enhanced Armament, Chrome Disaster. Will Haru lose himself in Chrome Disaster’s darkness, or will he somehow manage to save his friends without joining Team Evil? I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to tell you that this scenario plays out pretty much the same way it always does.
I like Accel World for doing things differently, and here it is using some of the most hackneyed tropes imaginable in its final volume. That’s not the only problem; the action is often hard to follow, with lots of speed lines in place of details that the reader really needs to orient themselves. Since the final conflict takes place inside the video game Brain Burst, it’s hard to feel like this conflict has the weight we’re supposed to believe it has. Presumably there will be serious consequences if Team Nega Nebulus’ loses, but those consequences will be…what again? I’m sure there is an answer to this question somewhere, but it’s not in this volume.
It’s not all bad news. Once we get past the tedious bit with Silver Crow and Chrome Disaster, the way Nega Nebulus manages to finish the race, with a little help from some old friends, is much more satisfying. Sky Raker has been one of the more interesting characters all along, and the conclusion to her arc feels properly earned, even if I can’t say the same for everything happening around it. In fact, the scene between Raker and Crow is actually beautiful on several different levels; I just wish the manga had been more about that, and less about the disappointing racing and battle scenes.
I don’t like saying negative things about Accel World. I still think it has a lot of intriguing elements that set it apart from other entries in the genre, as well as just being good, clean fun at times. However, this installment is not the series brightest moment. Rather than settling for this ending, fans of the series would be much better served by picking up the story in light novel form; I don’t know how the light novels end, but I’d put money on the novel ending being more worthwhile than the truncated manga ending.
In Summary: The Accel World manga ends with a whimper rather than a bang, which is a shame because there are still some good moments here. Fortunately for fans, this is not the true end of the story.
Content Grade: C
Art Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 11, 2018