"What if you could escape to an accelerated world?"
Faced with a Gang Of Bullies and a body that is not pretty, Haruyuki Arita, a shy seventh-grade boy, finds escape from reality into a cyberspace world maintained by his school. He loses himself in a virtual squash game no one else plays and holds all of its high scores. Until the day he finds his own scores topped by somebody else by a considerable amount of points.This sets up Haruyuki into an encounter with "Kuroyukihime", an enigmatic eighth-grader, School Idol and Student Council Vice-President of Umesato Junior High School — the girl who topped his squash scores — and offers him the opportunity to learn how to “accelerate to a faster world”. The "Brain Burst" program, downloaded directly to a neuro-link attached to the bottom of the skull, allows a person to make time appear to stand still by "accelerating" their brainwaves; this can often be used as Hyper Awareness, letting its users make decisions and strategies that normally take minutes in seconds. Unfortunately, there is a limit to how many times a person can accelerate. People with Brain Burst take Burst Points (BP) needed for acceleration from others by winning in a Fighting Game. The only way to avoid being challenged is to not be connected to the same network which, in a world where constant network connection is the norm, requires being very careful and a lot of willpower.Once in the game, Haruyuki turns into Silver Crow, and, in gratitude for bringing him into this world, decides to use his abilities to complete Kuroyukihime's goal: reach Level 10 of Brain Burst and discover its purpose. The catch: this requires defeating the current leaders of the game: six Level 9 players who have led the world for over two years and will do anything to win because one loss at Level 9 means Brain Burst will permanently uninstall itself.From the pen of Reki Kawahara (the same mind behind Sword Art Online), Accel World is an ongoing 2009 Light Novel series published by ASCII Media Works and serialized in Dengeki Bunko, with illustrations by HiMA. It has a manga adaptation, illustrated by Hiroyuki Aigamo, in print since 2010, as well as two spinoffs: Axel World, a 2010 yonkoma series illustrated by Ryuryuu Akari, and Accel World / Dural: Magisa Garden, a 2012 story illustrated by Ayato Sasakura focusing on the younger sister of a deceased member of Kuroyukihime's guild, Nega Nebulus.A 2-cour anime adaptation aired starting from the Spring 2012 Anime lineup, and has been licensed for streaming by Viz (which is sadly locked to Americans due to their use of Hulu). Viz has also announced a dub that will run on Neon Alley.The light novels have been licensed by Yen Press for a Western release.Also has a Character Page under heavy construction here.
This series provides examples of:
Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Not quite. Burst Linkers are granted special abilities in the real world, powered by Burst Points taken from defeated foes, but whoever ends with zero points are banned from the game and have all memories related to it erased, which may or not may be a good thing depending on whatever experiences you had there. Stakes are higher in "all points in" fights like those between Level 9 players.
Absolute Cleavage: Kuroyukihime's net avatar does this. Not that it, or she, has much cleavage to show.
First off Haruyuki would not tell any adult about his bullying, so none of them interceded.
Secondly no adult can Accelerate because one has to have the link installed since birth and the technology only came out around 15 years ago so the oldest persons who can accelerate are 15.
Ambition Is Evil: Kuroyukihime is treated as the highest criminal in the Brain Burst world for trying to reach level 10 and disrupting the Balance of Power. Haruyuki tells her reaching for that goal is only normal.
Animal Motifs: Kuroyukihime is heavily associated with butterflies, along with designing her public avatar as wearing a butterfly dress.
The Apunkalypse: Inserting Ash Roller into the End of Century stage launches straight into this trope, at least as a visual motif.
Augmented Reality: How users of Neuro-Linkers see the world. There are many applications including: vision correction, school work, camera, digital wallet, etc.
Awesome McCoolname: Some avatars deserve credit as their names were not chosen by the players, but given by the game itself, like Silver Crow, Black Lotus, Scarlet Rain, Blood Leopard, Ash Roller, Blue Knight, and more. In the real world, we have names like Kuroyukihime (Black Snow Princess).
However, the one who takes the prize of coolest name is without doubt Crimson Kingbolt. It's so cool he was instantly recruited by the Purple King into her Legion without knowing his ability was not a powerful lightning. In fact, (kingbolt is just a type of screw.)
Balance of Power: Because of the risks involved with getting to level 10, the top players of Accel World have signed a peace treaty with each other and are perfectly happy to not try and "complete" the game. Kuroyukihime and now Haruyuki do not play by these rules and plan on upsetting the balance.
Episode 15 has a suspicious search engine that has Google's color.
Blatant Lies: When Haruyuki is asked by the School Newspaper News Hound if he is dating Black Snow. He says he was just fixing her Neurolink OS. Not a bad lie, but they see through it with further questioning.
Blessed with Suck: When Haru becomes the 6th Generation Chrome Disaster. However, each subsequent generation from the first seems to be easier to defeat.
It should be noted that during the first Disaster, there were NO level 9s. So each new generation being "easier" to defeat only meant that everybody else was becoming stronger.
Also keep in mind that the previous Chrome Disasters were far more badass before being possessed. First Chrome Disaster had pseudo-teleportation and was *really* pissed. Second had possessed a dragon-like Duel Avatar with the ability to breathe flames. Third was a sword saint with skills second only to Blue Knight's. Fourth took a while to take down. Then came the fifth whose color is a mix between red and yellow, meaning he had low defense and poor melee damage. The Disaster makes you strong, but not invincible. Then came (Silver Crow as the 6th Chrome Disaster, who was weaker in terms of raw power because he did not give into insanity, yet better overall because he had a semblance of control and rationality allowing him to match elite Linkers like Iron Pound in 1 on 1)
Justified in that it's a game and they apparently didn't want to animate realistic blood from the fighters.
Averted in the real world though when people are hurt they bleed. Not to unrealistic levels though.
Bridal Carry: Silver Crow carries Black Lotus like this once.
Bullet Time: An ability granted to all Burst Players. By spending burst points, one can speed up their thoughts in the real world so that 30 minutes can pass mentally in a few seconds. Normally, one cannot move during this period, and the program uses the brain's memory to extrapolate their surroundings; but this does give a distinct advantage to tests, stock market choices, strategies, etc. (Which is why most players don't want to finish the game.)
Cain and Abel: Kuroyukihime and her sister, the White King White Cosmos.
Chekhov's Gun: The Legendary Reins that Black Lotus got after beating Sulfer Pot, were later used to let her tame an Enemy which she rode for 15 hours from Okinawa to Tokyo, just in time for her Big Damn Heroes moment.
Childhood Friend Romance: Haruyuki, Taku, and Chiyuri grew up in the same apartment complex. Chiyuri and Taku are dating, but Taku feels jealous and threatened by how close Chiyuri and Haruyuki still are. It's implied that this is another reason for his Start of Darkness and his use of Accel in his sports and academics to make himself that much better than Haruyuki.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: You can have a basic idea of what strengths your opponent has by the color included in their user name. The closer to a "pure" color, the more focus is given on a particular fighting style.
Contralto of Danger: Yuniko (AKA Scarlet Rain) puts up an act with a high pitched voice to seem cute so she can get closer to Haruyuki, but when she drops that facade her normal speaking tone is much more deep, gruff, and angry to emphasize her Little Miss Badass and Cute and Psycho character traits.
Incarnation attacks count as well. They're so secret the players are not supposed to realize the technique even exists without external assistance. The reason for their status as this trope is because an incarnation technique gone wrong is what gave birth to the Chrome Disaster; hence the Kings' unwritten rules banning first-use except in self-defense against another user.
The Red King (the best long range lv 9) vs Silver Crow (lv 4).
Early on there is also Silver Crow vs Ash Roller. Twice. (complete newbie vs level 1, then level 1 rematch vs a newly minted level 2).
In the Light Novels it's mentioned many times that unless you invest your Level Up Bonus there is almost no difference between levels. Thus, a level 1 can match a level 3 as long as their combat skills are roughly the same, and there's almost no difference between level 4 and 5. However, those in the upper brass (level 7 and above) have far more combat experience and are specialized, making it a stretch to defeat them. Thus we have for example...
Determinator: Haruyuki will not give up a net fight after he learned how. He got his arm and leg blown off fighting someone three levels higher than him and he would not back down.
Despair Event Horizon: the death of Saffron Blossom at the hands of those whom she was trying to help with the Destiny caused Chrome Falcon to go insane with rage and combine with Incarnate System the Starcaster and the Destiny into the Disaster.
Notice how Chiyu's 'healing' ability depletes her target's special gauge? She's really reversing time, rather than healing them.
On top of that, whenever she uses her ability, you hear the sound of bells, similar to those of a clock, and on at least one occasion clockwork gears are visible inside the cannon itself.
As Rust Jigsaw is entering the net cafe at the end of episode 21 he passes by a poster of a character dressed as Snow White. Given who leads the Acceleration Research Society and that person's relation to Kuroyukihime (Princess Snow Black)...
Haruyuki and Chiyuri's relationship is a sore point with Taku as well.
Chiyuri is jealous that Kuroyukihime and Haruyuki had a direct connection among other things.
After Kuroyukihime lost her connection cable which she used to connect with Haruyuki, she bought the shortest one she could find. Supposedly because she didn't have money for a longer one, but it's very probable that she did so because she was jealous about Haruyuki connecting with Chiyuri through an even shorter cable.
Also she gets jealous when Scarlet Rain intrudes on Haruyuki, thus causing her to spend the night.
"Hell Yes" Moment: In the anime finale, Haruyuki and Chiyuri have a big one when Noumi's wings unexpectedly disappear and Silver Crow unexpectedly starts to float without the Gale Thruster being on. What actually happened is that Chiyu's healing ability actually rewinds time and she not only managed to level it up enough to undo Dusk Taker's stealing of Silver Crow's wings but waited until the opportune moment in the battle where both combatants are in the air before backstabbing Noumi, sending him plummeting down like a rock and enabling Haru to utterly obliterate the now helpless Dusk Taker with a single attack.
Heroic Self-Deprecation: Haruyuki hates himself and this causes much confusion and problems because of how this messes up his relationships.
Ho Yay + Not What It Looks Like = Yaoi Fangirl: Unintentionallyinvoked. When Haru and Taku talk on a bus ride about Chiyu's apparent removal of their relationship from the two guys in the previous episode, Taku becomes excessively dramatic about the situation since he loves Chiyu. However, since they are talking privately and since none of the other riders know about the context, the majority take this as Ho Yay. It does not help that the lines spoken afterwards make this even more Ho Yay. It also looks like all the girls in the bus want that supposed kiss to happen.
Haru: (out loud) Wait, Haru. You should be the one hitting me.
Humongous Mecha: The Red King's combat form. One of Kuroyukihime's old Level 7 acquaintances can build himself one out of scrap metal and is mentioned as having firepower second only to the Red King herself.
Haruyuki counseled Chiyuri to accept Taku's love confession because he honestly thought they would be happy together, and well his self esteem problems.
She only accepted his acceptance because he promised he would continue to be their friend and nothing would change.
Jet Pack: Sky Raker's Gale Thruster. When Dusk Taker steals Silver Crow's wings, Haru borrows the Thruster and subsequently gives it back in the final episode as he no longer needs them.
Jumped at the Call: Haruyuki accepted Brain Burst much faster than Kuroyukihime anticipated.
Karmic Death: Dusk Taker "dies" in the exact same way he "killed" his own older brother: outsmarted by somebody he thought was under his control, overpowered, and left whimpering and begging for his life before finally losing his last Burst Point.
Kick Them While They Are Down: Haruyuki has never shown any hesitation to jump on and pummel his opponents while they are down in the game if he can manage it. This back fired in his fight against Cyan Pile though.
Mistress and Servant Boy: Haruyuki sees his relationship with Kuroyukihime this way. This causes Chiyuri and Kuroyukihime herself call him out of it.
Mooks: Haruyuki complains that his Brain Burst Avatar looks like a mook.
His moveset is also; Punch. Kick. And a Headbutt as a finisher.
Though it makes sense later on when it's revealed that these moves are supposed to be used in conjunction with his ability to fly, which makes them far more powerful.
Nanomachines: Apparently they use these in the field of medicine - the story takes place in 2040's.
Non-Standard Character Design: Haruyuki, and it is played for drama with his very low self esteem and bullying at the series start. Of course, to the viewer or reader though, he's drawn more cartoonishly, so he doesn't look particularly ugly at all.
Oblivious to Love: Haruyuki because of his low self esteem. He takes to a new level by finding signs that she does like him and refusing point blank to even consider it.
Oddly Small Organization: The Legion Nega Nebulus declares war against the rest of the Accel players and vows to reach level 10. It has four people in it thus far.
It will, however, have slightly more members in the future, most of them with very rare abilities or avatars of unique design, like Aqua Current or Graphite Edge.
Offscreen Break Up: The novels have Takumu saying, at the start of the second arc, that he and Chiyuri have broken up. The anime omits this line, but keeps Haruyuki asking Takumu during third arc whether he wants to be Chiyu's boyfriend again. As a result, when and why they broke up isn't as clear in the anime.
Older than They Look / The Slow Path: Even though the oldest Burst Linker's physical age is limited to 15 years or younger, time passes faster in-game at 17 minutes for every 1 real second, making those who spend more time there much older. Also, the main benefit of Burst Points in the real world is to slow down time. So it's anyone's guess as to how old the earliest players really are.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Kuroyukihime (Princess Snow Black). Even after she tells Haruyuki her name and tells him to call her by name from that point (the readers don't get to hear the name), he doesn't use it because it's embarrassing to.
On a broader level most Burst Linkers know each other only through Brain Burst and thus know each other only by their duel Avatar names. Niko in particular, only refers to people by their Duel Avatar names, even when she knows their real identities.
The Red King Scarlet Rain is currently the best long-range type avatar in the Accelerated World. Niko, being afraid of the world, prefers to keep distance from everything she fears that would hurt her the more she gets close to it, giving her an avatar designed for long-range combat, and true enough, she invested all of her points on strengthening its long-ranged attacks.
Despite being designed for close range combat, Cyan Pile's weapon is best suited for long range combat. That's because Taku desires revenge towards his Kendo club seniors who bullied him way back from third to fifth grade.
P.O.V. Boy, Poster Girl: In marketing to an extent, but subverted by the story itself. Kuroyukihime fulfills all the qualities of a poster girl, but Haruyuki is far less generic and much more developed as a protagonist than is typical for light novels and can easily stand on his own. It helps that he's visually distinct as well.
Really 700 Years Old: Burst Linkers in general tend to be mentally much older than their physical age due to the Year Inside, Hour Outside properties of Brain Burst. This is especially true for Black Lotus and Niko, who had played long enough to reach Level 9.
Burst Linkers can also get separate titles as well, such as how Blue Knight is sometimes called "Legend Slayer" due to his ability to solo Legendary monsters, and how Sky Raker is called "ICBM" because her role in territory battles is equivalent of being a strategic weapon of mass destruction.
Sky Raker is also called "Icarus" because she was the only Duel Avatar who came the closest to ever fly, until Silver Crow, the first flying Duel Avatar, came along.
Ridiculously Cute Critter: Haruyuki's net avatar is a cute little piggy. He does not like it though seeing as it was forced on him as part of his ongoing humiliation and more specifically he's over weight and it's a pig. But he never replaces it, even after the bullies are gone, because Kuroyukihime finds it cute.
Scenery Porn / Scenery Gorn: The Accelerated World can turn into either version depending on which stage the system selects for a battle. The post-apocalyptic End of Century and Weathered stages run more to the Scenery Gorn end of the scale.
Sempai Kohai: Kuroyukihime is Haruyuki's sempai in school and in Brain Burst matters.
Yellow Radio has shades of this, especially when he expects Kuroyuki to stay down after reliving her worst memory and is shocked when she gets back up. He's still more Badass than the aforementioned.
Stealth Pun: Haruyuki's normal avatar is a pig and one of Silver Crow's main powers is flight. This means that everything did happen because pigs fly.
Sweat Drop: In the anime, Haruyuki has an animated hourglass icon in a Speech Bubble-esque chat window hovering next to his head for this effect. It's both hilarious and appropriate, considering the setting.
Tempting Fate: Cyan Pile does it by telling Silver Crow in their duel to use his special power, to mock his low strength compared to his. And then Silver Crow activates his power for the first time, turning the tables in just one attack.
Theme And Variations Soundtrack: In the anime, Haru's Leitmotif "Silver Wing" gets a number of remixes for various situations (including a rock remix, "Iron Will", for Gale Thruster). "Blood History"/"Re-Incarnate" gets similar treatment, with Sky Raker's theme being among its mixes.
Theme Naming: Nick names of players are generated by the system, which always start with a keyword related to a color or a kind of material. A few key characters are named after famous cards in Magic: The Gathering. Kuroyukihime herself is named after the top card of the Power Nine - Black.Lotus. The key villain of the story is named Black.Vise, and there is a player named Ivory.Tower who's intentions have not been revealed yet. An interesting fact is that the cards Black Vise and Ivory Tower are exact counterparts of each other.
Tokyo Is the Center of the Accelerated World: Probably at least partly justified given how such a large percentage of Japan's population lives in or around Tokyo but still rather dramatic. Tokyo has hundreds of Burst Linkers divided into seven Legions fighting over virtual territory, points and prestige. Okinawa has three and one of them is from Tokyo originally.
Another possible justification: you need to be physically link up to pass on and install Brain Burst, and you only have one chance to do so. Thus everyone who has Brain Burst got it due to them living in Tokyo and knowing another Brain Burst user living in Tokyo, and chances are high the "children" are on very friendly terms with the "parents". Case in point: the two non-"imported" Okinawa Burst Linkers and their relationship with each other and their "parent".
Not to mention the age limit: Burst Link appears to be a very new program with steep entry requirements (including the link-from-birth requirement) and a poor distribution model (one time only face-to-face). It is likely that the program is only just starting to spread from Tokyo.
Training from Hell: At least in the anime, Haru trains himself to dodge bullets...by having a virtual revolver shoot at his pig avatar from a few meters away. And, given his reactions to being hit they hurt about as much as real ones.
In the novels, Haruyuki created the program himself so that when it started it would randomly fire at him at him sometime within 30 minutes of starting, so not only would he have to dodge, he would have to be able to focus on the gun for up to 30 minutes waiting for the bullet. He also programmed the bullets to inflict the maximum amount of pain it could, so it would feel like he was actually getting shot, giving him an incentive to dodge. He then added to this by downloading an illegal app that disables the feature that would cause the Neuro-Linker to automatically disconnect him when he felt such immense pain, in order to do it at as many times as possible. And he did this all of his own volition in order to learn how to dodge better.
And then there's the Incarnate System training for both Haruyuki and Taku. Sky Raker pushes Haruyuki off a very, VERY tall tower and makes him climb back up, while Niko just shoots lotsand lots of missiles at Taku.
Triang Relations: Class 10 (Taku, Chiyuri, Haruyuki) and Class 12 (Kuroyukihime, Chiyuri and Haruyuki) during the first arc.
A Truce While We Gawk: A large battle royale that's taking place stops fighting to watch Black Lotus fight Yellow Radio. Justified in that said fight is the first time two level 9s fought each other.
Tsundere: Niko is a Type A and Kuroyukihime is a Type B.
Unstoppable Rage: In episode 20, Noumi successfully manages to piss off Haru to an extent no one managed before. Cue Haru's rage awakening the piece of Chrome Disaster hiding on his avatar's back... Good thing the duel timed out or things would've gotten VERY ugly very fast.
Villainous Breakdown: Noumi gets two. A minor one when Haruyuki tells him he knows how he stays off he matching list, and a second very satisfying one when he is finally beaten by Haruyuki for good.
We Have Become Complacent: Kuroyukihime accuses the Kings and the Burst Linkers as a whole of this trope, calling them fakes. Part of her desire to become level 10 is to get rid of the "false tranquility" that she considers their peace treaty and pull the Accelerated World out of stagnation.
Year Inside, Hour Outside: The Unlimited Neutral Field enables Burst Linkers over level 4 to Accelerate for an unlimited amount of time. Haruyuki calculates that since one second in the real world is equal to seventeen minutes of Acceleration, a full day of real time spent in the Unlimited Neutral Field would equal three years. Taku and Kuroyukihime advise him not to spend overly large amounts of time inside the Field, saying that doing so would cause him to become increasingly disconnected from the real world since while his body doesn't age from the months of memories, his mind and soul do.
Zeerust: The series is set somewhere in the future but still has wheeled modern cars? Not to mention that there were still some fashion of the modern times albeit the presence of high tech gizmos and hospital facilities. On account, the high-tech things that are present here could work but the fashion and some of the aesthetics have yet to be either confirmed or contradicted by that time.