Let’s continue to diddle around the plot!
The best aspect of this episode was the return of Niko. The fiery redhead was a bright spot in the tepid early outings of this series, so it’s great to have her back when the story is becoming a bit of a drag. This time around her role isn’t to advance the plot, but to help Taku learn to harness the incarnate system. It’s sad not to have her at the forefront of the action, but just having her personality around is a great boon.
After about twenty-four minutes I feel as if nothing really was accomplished in this outing. Other than Niko, the episode seemed to be a patchwork of many of the elements I disliked from previous episodes. But rather than being obnoxiously offensive, it just comes off as mildly boring.
First, Taku and Haru have one of their sappy heart to hearts that feel contrived rather than moving. The entire scene is wrapped up in homoerotic innuendo nullifying any weight it had. While their relationship has been at the forefront for most of this arc, I don’t feel as if it’s really gone anywhere. We know that their close… but that’s about it.
Second, there is another uninteresting character introduced. Accel World has had it’s fair share of these and Blood Leopard sadly falls into this group. Certain plot points surrounding her background are quickly shoved down the viewers’ throats and not much else is done. Does she have the potential to be a cool character? Yes. Will it be taken advantage of? Probably not.
Last, is the underwhelming impact of the episodes ending. Haru isn’t against a single person, but an organization. But we already knew this from the Okinawan arc. This might be news to our round hero, but isn’t to the viewers. There could have been something more important revealed, such as the nature of the organization or a clue hinting to its greater implications.
Considering how the mystery has been handled so far, once I do find out, I won’t particularly care. Many of the puzzle’s facets are being solved by the intricacies of the game mechanics rather than logic. I wouldn’t mind something like this if I didn’t feel unfamiliar to how this game and world actually work. I have a vague idea, but sometimes there are details thrown about that would be hard to intuit.
Maybe this isn’t a problem in the light novel, which has a greater amount of space to tell its tale. I might catch up on them to see how much better the story fares with so much more room. Regardless, Accel World recent disappointments hurt considering how good the show had gotten at the turn of the arc.