Recently, I bought the Accel World blu-rays, and I just finished marathoning them last week. I had already watched the whole series subtitled as it aired, and loved every minute of it. This time I watched the dub, because I wanted a slightly different experience. Not only did I really enjoy the dub, but I loved the show even more the second time around. So much so that I just had to write this up.

Accel World is a series of Light Novels by Reki Kawahara, who is also the author of Sword Art Online. Both take place in the same fictional future-Earth timeline, with Accel World taking place several years after the events of Sword Art Online. Each of the two series has been given the TV anime treatment, and Sword Art Online has gone on to be a massive hit with a second season currently airing. Accel World however, has not, and at this point I wonder if it will ever return for another season.

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And that's a damn shame, because Accel World is awesome in its own right. It does not follow the story of the nearly-flawless Kirito. It instead stars someone much more ordinary - someone who personifies the show's message to its audience. Someone whose real strength is not immediately apparent, as it lies in what is hidden on the inside.

Accel World follows the story of a 13-year-old boy named Haru. Everyone reading this likely knows - or knew - a real-life Haru in school. Haru is the short, fat kid that everyone in school likes to pick on. He is the victim of every bully in your school. He is the cowardly kid who apologizes constantly for everything, including his very existence. Haru is the kid that everyone thinks is a loser. He is the kid who believes himself a loser - but he isn't. Haru is more than that.

Haru is the underdog. He is stronger than he looks, and he's stronger than he believes. Haru may easily crumple in a heap of despair, but he always finds his way back to his feet. He knows he has to do something, he just has to figure out what. Haru understands that above all, giving up is never the answer, and this is the key to him beginning to believe in himself, which allows him to begin conquering his fears and realizing his full potential.

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Haru is a character I find myself empathizing with every time the shit hits the fan. He is someone I can care about as I watch, because he is vulnerable. I find myself cheering him on every time he pushes himself as hard as he possibly can, whether it ultimately ends in success or failure. Haru is the kind of person I would gladly stand up for in real life - the kind of person I would gladly call a friend.

Because Haru is you, and he is me. Haru is the underdog in all of us. Cheers, little buddy - you're stronger than you think! We're all stronger than we think.