Small little lolis running around shooting people. What could possibly go wrong?
As a huge fan of the Sword Art Online series, I was really happy that this particular spin-off was getting a anime adaptation. Now I’ve never actually read the original light novels, but there was an ongoing manga adaptation of it that suddenly stopped for some reason. The first volume of the Yen-Press English release of the light novels were released four days prior to the last episode’s airing, but I still haven’t gotten to reading it yet.
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online gives a fresh new look at an already present Sword Art Online element that is highly overlooked, Gun Gale Online, which was first introduced in SAO’s second season. The author of AGGO, Keiichi Sigsawa wanted to give a entirely new outlook at Gun Gale Online since he felt like Reki Kawahara had wasted so much potential. He created a new story set in Gun Gale Online, with an entirely new cast of characters, although there are some references to the original series here and there, particularly to Kirito and Sinon.
Our main character, Karen Kohiruimaki is a college student who has a complex with her tall height in the real world, thus began playing Gun Gale Online at the recommendation of her friend as a small cute loli girl named Llenn. Already, this characterization already sets her apart from Kirito, who simply plays VR games just for the sake of playing them. It’s been established from the very beginning of what Karen’s true goal is, to rid herself of her complex and find people who are excepting her of tall height. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of Karen and her interactions with the real world, but at least it’s… well her.
The other characters are also very unique in their own way. Amongst one of my favorites is Pitohui, a deranged woman who was once an SAO-beta tester. Her secret identity is also in fact Elsa Kanzaki, a famous singer whom Karen is a fan of. What I really like about her is that her drive in the series is directly connected to events in the original series, or rather she wasn’t able to participate in an event in the original series, thus driving her to almost complete insanity. She easily brings out the energy in the series, compared to her partner, M. However it’s hard to believe that they’re actually the same person. You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that Elsa was Pitohui, because they both act so differently.
M is quite the mysterious guy who so happens to be friends with Pitohui and an extremely powerful tank. Amongst one of the players that teaches Llenn how real-time battle works, he is forced to team up with her on behalf of Pitohui, and results in their win of Squad Jam. M is such a honest character, you know. He reveals his entire life story to Karen after meeting her in real life and has this damn politeness that you really can’t complain about, aside from his extensive gun knowledge.
Miyu is quite an interesting character and could be considered Karen’s polar opposite. She played a ton of VR games before GGO, and obviously has more experience than Karen. She delightfully ropes Karen in and that’s how this whole thing started, although it probably wasn’t their intention to actually play with (or against) their favorite singer. She definitely should have gotten more spotlight for being the one to bring our protagonist in the game.
I think one of the defining aspects of the series is its music. Eir Aoi returned in the nick of time for a new Sword Art Online entry after a SUPER long hiatus, with Ryusei, the theme song. God, the song is so damn satisfying and really reminds you of Ignite. The ending theme, To See the Future, is also a good one too, and follows tradition by having a female voice actress of the show sing it. No wonder these two songs reached Top 10 charts and stayed there for at least three weeks straight.
To be frank, SAOAGGO wasn’t exactly too heavy on story, since Gun Gale Online was already fully set up during the prime series’ second season, plus the Fatal Bullet game. Still, this series was fun to watch for the laughs, Pitohui’s deranged breakouts, M’s gullible personality, and Llenn’s prowl. Now I’m really aching for a season season.