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Hello, there! Sorry for the delay. I have been dragged away to attend Olympic events this weekend, and couldn't get away. Stupid once-in-a-lifetime events...

Anyway, this week's episode of Accel World is brought to you by the letter E. E is for exposition, in this case. Taking over from where we left off last week, we learn that the Linker known as Rust Jigsaw has been doing stealth-challenges - the same MO as Nomi, using hit-and-run tactics to deadly effect. Blood Leopard decides that they should confront this Jigsaw, using the newly handicapped Haru as bait for the predator.

Before the battle, there's a little exposition though. Leopard forbids Haru from unnecessary use of the Incarnate moves he knows. According to her, the power born from the 'holes' in your personality can backfire. This is the legacy of the Chrome Disaster - abuse of the Incarnate power will turn you crazy and rabid. So until he can keep his strength in check, no awesome superpowers for Haru

A mostly uneventful duel takes place. Jigsaw attacks using a jigsaw blades - an ability resulting from his trauma of being locked in a carpentry shed as a child. Leopard uses her fangs in combat, which she uses to drain other avatars' Killer Move gauge as well as their health. Also, it seems she can shift to a leopard stance. This probably came from the traumatic episode where she was forced to play a cat in a school nativity. She really wanted to be an angel.

Where were we

After jumping around a lot and knocking out Jigsaw, our heroes log off to pursue the man behind the avatar. Haru almost get around to tailing him - catching a glimpse of the man shoving a peasant - but when faced with a mildly aggressive leaflet campaign, he loses the trail. That sucks.

Notice that during this episode, we are expected to ignore the fact that they could interrogate Jigsaw during the duel. Because that would have been easy.

Having dropped that subplot like a plague infected rat, Haru gets back to school. He and Taku are still planning their comeback, while also worrying about their respected girlfriends. Since she joined up with Nomi, Chiyu has been making an impact on the Brain Burst scene, having devastated the local areas. She's really thrown herself into the whole fighting scene - as shown by later cuts which show destroyed digital landscapes.

Haru, being Haru, decides to confront Chiyu about the situation again in the comfort of her home. We are treated to more of her previous arguments - Brain Burst is just a game; levelling up is fun. She makes it unequivocably clear that she's doing 'what she wants', and to prove her point, she undoes her top and gives Haru a peep-show. Yeah, this show really isn't geared towards the feminist demographic. Ignoring her denuded figure, Haru makes bold declarations that he's going to do what he feels like to - and he feels like socking one to Nomi.

The big E returns again, now. Haru decides to go over everything he knows about Nomi, with the hope that he'll pick up on something new. Which he does: remembering the weird shove that Rust Jigsaw made in real life, he concludes that Nomi has been using an illegal brain chip to challenge people and cheat on tests. The second one is serious business, by the way, and Haru thinks it's sufficient material to threaten his opponent.

We end the episode with Nomi's challenge - Haru is going to duel on the unlimited stage in one all-or-nothing battle. Both of their points are on the line, and losing this fight will end in someone losing their ability to accelerate. Haru agrees to the challenge: his only concern is that he can beat Nomi before Kuroyukihime comes back from Okinawa...

This episode didn't excite me. That's the sad fact of the matter, and it's my only real criticism of the episode. Well, apart from the random exposure scene, but that's just my opinion. It is a good episode for exposition, and we learn more about the intricacies of the Accelerated World, but unfortunately there isn't much else to this week's offering. There is a lack of physical effort in the fight scene, and the one-to-ones between characters lack the immediacy of previous episodes. There is a little more context weaved into this episode, though - fans of Sword Art Online will notice that one of the 'old' methods of connecting to the web is the Nerve Gear; this sets the Accel universe as a permutation of the technology used in the Sword Art continuity. These are interesting ingredients for a series, but it didn't work this time. Sometimes good ingredients mix together and make a grand product. In this case, we get something that is fragmented and a little confused.

I hope that next time, the ingredient mix will be better. Maybe episode 23 will be a delicious cake, instead of a collapsed souffle.