Haruyuki has been bullied relentlessly for years. He doesn’t find he’s good at anything in his life aside from gaming and thus he spends most of his time online, racking up large scores that few can compete with. But when he encounters a female player, and older classmate, who beats his score, he’s introduced to a whole new online game: Brain Burst. And unlike other online games, this one affects the real world, be that for good or evil.
Because most of the fighting happens in the game, one would think the violence itself should be low (in-game characters die by turning into light and fading away or pixels dissolving. Not graphic stuff). However, there is a bit of violence in the real world. One character gets beat up a few times. Another gets hit by a car and has to be hospitalized. In both cases, blood exists (though more in the second case than the first). This alone is enough to bunk this show into the YA category.
Same as most PG14 shows. A few d-mns, sh-ts and a few “illegitimate son” words. The character that seems to have the worst mouth also pulls out the middle finger at least twice.
The worst part of this series would have to be the fanservice, which is extensive. From skimpy outfits to suggestive posses, there’s good reason this show is PG14. The worst scenes are when Haruyuki ends up in the girls’ locker room (yes, it’s as cliché as it sounds) and ends up “hiding” in a shower with his best (female) friend. Unfortunately, she’s naked. No details that would put it out of PG14 ground, but it comes reeeeally close. Also, this same female friend takes off her shirt at one point. She’s wearing a bra, so only bikini level skin is shown (shower scene was worse), even so… it’s just plain dumb. It makes no sense and really could have been cut altogether. Overall, this section pushed the Young Adult line the hardest, so be warned.
There’s really not much of anything to put in this category. Theological discussions on life’s origin and such are largely left out.
As one who has seen quite a few virtual reality based anime, this show honestly impressed me. The main character is of a kind that is somewhat taboo in anime. An overweight hero. Thankfully, that isn’t the only thing this series focuses, issues such as bullying take the main stage in this show.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. At first, this series isn’t too different (besides an unlikely main character). However, as the series progresses, it becomes clear that everything in the virtual world is a reflection of the real world (not to mention that Brain Burst affects the real world too). The reason this aspect of the show is so important is that it makes everything in the game world that much more important. These people are real. You see their lives and mental issues and you want them to succeed. In both worlds.
And as far as the characters go, they’re pretty well laid out. A few (as always) fall into stereotypes, but they don’t often stay there. Haruyuki experiences the worst bullying, but he isn’t alone. A few other characters do as well and each one shows it in their lives differently (some fear, some fight back and some turn to hate). Other characters, like the female leads hide issues of inadequacy, guilt and regret. These emotions affect every part of the story, be it their actions in the real world or the virtual. Considering how well they tied the real and virtual worlds together, it’s a shame this series felt it needed so much horrendous fanservice. It could have easily gone without it.
As for other aspects, the animation was wonderful and the music was fitting, though not stellar. Though this series pushed the YA rating to its limit, it’s a fantastic addition to the virtual reality anime lineup. And, in some respects, it actually beat out a few of its predecessors.
The only down side (besides the fanservice)? The ending is a bit… open. While the story arcs that were most critical to Haruyuki do indeed wrap up, the heroines and their arcs are not fully addresses and the major arc (aka completing the game) is left open. So if you want the story to finish completely…. You won’t be happy. But as for characters that you honestly want to win and root for, this series does pretty well for itself indeed.
Personal Rating: Young adult