Obsession and repressed feelings in Accel World
August 9, 2012 2 Comments
The central relationship in Accel World is that of Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime, it is a relationship marked by repressed feelings and the power that the Brain Burst programme has over them. They are a very odd couple, one that in many respects should not exist, largely because of the pressures that each place upon the other, and themselves. Kuroyukihime is clearly in love with him, even going so far as to confess right before saving him from the crazed Araya. For his part Haruyuki loves the idea of being close to her, wanting to stick by this girl who he idolises and considers her a goddess in human form.
Their relationship is held back by their own personal problems, along with the attitudes that they hold towards the world around them and how they fit into it. Haruyuki for example has a massive inferiority complex, and while he wants to stand besides Kuroyukihime, he believes that he does not deserve this honour. Throughout the series so far we have seen Haruyuki second-guessing himself and also her feelings, questioning whether she can truly love someone like him, or whether she is merely playing with him. And yet he also wants to become strong enough to protect her, believing that by doing so he will perhaps be worthy of that place by her side. Through all this we see the notion that he has to support her, in effect Haruyuki has not, and cannot accept the idea that someone as beautiful and powerful as Kuroyukihime can possibly be in love with the pathetic person that he sees himself as.
Kuroyukihime is a character that is hated and reviled in Accel World, the great betrayer who broke the truce and attempted to gain even more power. Her sole goal, her drive is that of achieving the mystical level 10 and discovering the truth behind this dark and foreboding world inside the game. She appears to hate and despise herself, suggesting that while she has a beautiful exterior her heart and soul are as black as the knight. This attitude has worked its way into her avatar, a spectacular, but also fierce looking being with blades for hands and feet, something that was built to kill, to annihilate, to rule. Kuroyukihime views this avatar as the representation of her ugly soul, something that she never wished for Haruyuki to see, something that she still tries to hide away from everyone else.
The drive for Kuroyukihime is to discover the truth behind Accel World, uncovering the mysteries of this game and why it exists. To her this takes president above all else, thus her betrayal of the truce and beheading of the Red King. Her love for Haruyuki is in some respects tainted by this drive, going so far as to suggest that he should turn back, despite being the person to introduce him to the Accelerated World. She wants him to be her equal, and yet is constantly in fear of her own drive to succeed, worrying that this will force her to betray him and thus make him hate and revile her as a disgusting existence. We are constantly reminded of her guilt at bringing Haruyuki into this sordid world of backstabbing and constant challenge; she worries that he will come to hate her once he has learned of her true nature, as she perceives it.
Kuroyukihime is far from free as her butterfly avatar may suggest, she is in fact chained to the game, constantly pushing forward into the darkness to discover what lies on the other side. This motif has been used specifically in the ending sequences, with Kuroyukihime literally chained up, unable to move while her butterfly avatar disappears with Haruyuki in her arms. In this respect the game has consumed her, and the draw of the virtual world has in many respects overridden the life she currently lives, taking over every waking hour and her fear is that the same will happen to Haruyuki, and worse, she will be the person responsible. There is a sense of helplessness about her character, partly shown through her desperate attempts to conceal certain horrible truths about what she has done from Haruyuki. In many respects Kuroyukihime has become a prisoner of the Accel World, constantly pushing towards achieving her goals or die trying. Her fear therefore is that such a goal will break up her relationship with Haruyuki, and that his goal of supporting her will utterly consume and destroy him as well.
The Accel World and the relationship that Kuroyukihime and Haruyuki share within it greatly affect how they interact in reality as well. While in the Accel World Haruyuki is this beautifully sleek silver avatar with the rare flying ability, an unheard of fighter who is unique and special. However in the real world he is a short and chubby middle schooler who was constantly bullied and has a significant inferiority complex when it comes to Kuroyukihime and his friends, who are all beautiful or spectacular in what they do. By making his character so very different from everyone else in the series this juxtaposition between sleek, brilliant and unique as opposed to short and chubby becomes even more marked. His normal inferiority complex and attitudes become even more powerful in the real world, with Haruyuki constantly worrying about what others would think if they saw him with Kuroyukihime.
The difference between his real world appearance and that of the Accel World only further reinforces Haruyuki’s personal problems and continues to feed his ever growing sense that in order to stand beside Kuroyukihime he must become as strong as possible. He cannot accept that someone as beautiful and strong as Kuroyukihime loves him, and thus seems to feel that in order to justify her love he has to become as strong, and perhaps as merciless as she once was. Furthermore, in recent episodes when we see Haruyuki apparently lose his flying ability for good, he automatically believes that this now makes him useless and less than the dirt of the floor. The amount of faith that he has placed upon his Silver Crow avatar is ultimately one of his weaknesses, since without this power and uniqueness he believes that his existence means absolutely nothing.
For her part, Kuroyukihime seems to want to get close to Haruyuki, using every opportunity to use a direct link and eat lunch together. And yet, despite being so close there is also a significant distance between them. This gap is in part artificially created by both characters using terms such as parent and child, legionmaster and her subordinate that are used to skirt around the issue of their relationship. The Accel World constantly invades their personal space, and even during a lunch break when they are using a short and intimate cable to talk we consistently have conversations regarding the status of the Accel World and their legion within it. They are handy tags used to denote a place and a rank, leaving out the idea of any other sort of relationship or feelings. They are therefore used to skirt around the issue, deliberately avoiding the questions that they must answer, but wish to ignore. We have seen Kuroyukihime declare her love with Haruyuki and even save him from an oncoming car almost at the cost of her life, but she also sometimes appears incapable of truly expressing her emotions.
She loves Haruyuki, and yet the Accel World takes up such a significant place within her heart and mind that she cannot move away from it and focus on Haruyuki. They are both guilty of putting barriers in the way of their relationship, and yet it appears that Kuroyukihime is the one who ultimately seems to stay out of reach. She is clearly a little awkward around him, although this is perhaps in part due to her having no experience with being in love. Within the Accel World and her life before meeting Haruyuki we see a character he is cold, calm and collected, capable of rationalising everything, and consumed by the desire to learn all the hidden truths about the world. When she interacts with Haruyuki, we see a completely different character, one that gets jealous easily, is thrown off by the simplest of things, and is almost incapable of actually asking if he wants anything from her school trip. She is almost the classic innocent school girl, well, perhaps a little more extreme in her inability to talk about normal things due to the all-consuming nature of her relationship with the Accel World.
We therefore have characters that despite their intimacy are also utterly controlled by what on the face of it is a simple fighting game. Kuroyukihime has only ever had the Accel World, and despite her beautiful appearance seems to be socially inept when it comes to Haruyuki, even though she does flirt with him on a regular basis. But, because of her fascinating and addiction to Accel World there is little else for her to talk to Haruyuki about. For his part Haruyuki perhaps views the Accel World as a way of getting closer to her, and finding out what she is like. Furthermore it is the only way he can realistically see himself standing next to her and helping her, since in the real world he considers himself to be incompetent and perhaps ugly. Furthermore we know almost nothing about Kuroyukihime, she is a mystery and an enigma. While she has seen Haruyuki’s house and even stayed over, her private and family life remains a mystery, and one that she seems unwilling to talk about. This then is a very real barrier between her and Haruyuki, while she clearly knows an awful lot about him, he knows next to nothing about her, as if she is either afraid of what he might say were he to know the truth, to she is unwilling to tell him anything for a different reason.
The ending sequence, and in particular the second ending perfectly encapsulates their relationship. They are so very close to each other, but are being torn apart by their own obsession with getting stronger at all costs, viewing it as the ultimate goal that they can strive for. This virtual world has a particularly strong grip over Kuroyukihime, pushing her forward, becoming this all-consuming drive that forces her to keep moving regardless of the casualties, both physical, but also emotional that she leaves in her wake. In a very real way her salvation is Haruyuki, however, his inferiority complex and attitude that he does not deserve to have such a beautiful girl confessing to him means that he constantly pushes away. By bringing him into the Accel World we see Kuroyukihime almost wishing to bring him onto a level ground with her, sharing in each other’s secrets, dreams and goals.
However, in doing so she has brought them together but also ultimately strengthened Haruyuki’s resolve in getting as strong as possible in order to be worthy of standing beside her. They are further apart due to the ties that they share in the Accel World than they would be without it. Haruyuki must therefore come to the realisation that he is capable of standing beside her already, and that it was the person he is in real life that she fell in love with. Ultimately however, it must be up to Kuroyukihime to exorcise her demons and leave the Accel World behind, realising that finding out what it means to be level ten is not worth jeopardising her relationship with Haruyuki and that of her real life. What we see in Accel World is how a simple game can become an all-consuming monolith; something that at first seems silly and perhaps easy can become your reason to live.
Reaching level ten could perhaps mean nothing, simply another level, one that either ends the game, or perhaps it doesn’t even exist. However, the mystery surrounding this mythical level has become an addiction for many players and especially Kuroyukihime, who chases after it with an intense passion that is as scary as it is spectacular. As Chiyu points out, she thought that by becoming a Burst Linker she, Haru and Taku could finally go back to being friends as they were in the past, but it has had the opposite effect. The presence of the Accel World and its ability to bring out the worst in people has only further hurt them, almost breaking their friendship up and pushing Haruyuki into a corner. Perhaps then the answer that this mythical level ten holds is that there is and never has been any reason for the Accel World, and that you can have a normal, and happier life without it. In the end the Accel World is a dangerous and destructive force within this series, something that could be described as demonic, driving people, pushing them to achieve goals that they should be doing in the real world, and pulling apart friendships.