Everyone dreams of being something better: being able to change what they hate about themselves and reach their dreams. This is not what is taught in the light novel/manga/anime franchise Accel World, written by Reki Kawahara and originally published by ASCII Media Works. Instead the continuum, an action-science fiction series about a virtual game played by teenagers, is about healing the scars of the heart and learning to accept whom one is. The series is focused on Haruyuki “Haru” Arita, an overweight and bullied high school boy who gets involved with the mysterious and beautiful senior Kuroyukihime, the most popular girl in the school. From there, Haru enters the amazing and expansive world of Brain Burst, a program that allows humans to transcend their limits and battle each other in the infinite “Accelerated World.”
Accel World started as a light novel, which are targeted to young adults and vary in length from novella to full-length. What makes these different is that they may contain illustrations of characters and scenes from the story. Light novels are either self-contained stories or tightly continuing narratives that flow from volume to volume.
The story of Accel World is simple – the world of the series is one where technology has hit a point where every person has a device called a Neuro Linker attached to them. This device allows a person to connect to the internet wherever they may be, and essentially allows a person’s brain to be connected to the internet. Using the hacking program Brain Burst, a person can use the Neuro Linker to accelerate their brain to allow them extend the time of their thoughts and essentially freeze the world. Brain Burst also allows a user to fight other “Burst Linkers” in a massive online fighting game.
Haru becomes involved in the struggle for dominance in Brain Burst and competes to help Kuroyukihime become the top of the Burst Linkers. The fighting character of a Burst Linker is based on the personal traumas of the person. The characters design and special ability is based on that. For example, one person is unable to feel that they can embrace other, so their arms are knives. Burst Linkers then take their characters and fight for control of the Accelerated World. Based on the color of the character, different factions vie for control.
The world of the story is very fascinating and vast. There is much mystery about Brain Burst. Who made it? Why was it made? These are answers that come about through the story. The Accelerated World is filled with puzzles and Haru encounters many of them. He interacts with the powerful and sinister people in Brain Burst. His adventure is one of self-discovery and healing, beginning at a time when he is very hard himself and has little confidence. For years he has thought that he would not have the ability to reach the heights he wants and be wanted. All the characters in Accel World are damaged in some way. Either in a physical sense or an emotional sense. These damages become part of the characters and the each character’s arcs are based on the healing of those damages. This is concurrent to the ongoing battles that ensue for domination in the Accelerated World.
Accel World is currently available in multiple formats. Besides the original light novel, there is an ongoing manga series and an anime series. It is a fascinating and in depth series that has a terrific story. Go read it.