Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’ll be covering a story in a franchise loved by many and bashed by perhaps even more! Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online takes place in the world of Gun Gale Online as seen at the beginning of SAO season 2, but the cast of characters is entirely new! No Kirito here! SAO Alt GGO (as I will be calling it for the rest of the review) evades several of the pitfalls of mainstream SAO. Since it will doubtlessly come up, I’ll start by saying I do like the existing SAO anime despite acknowledging that they are rather flawed. Personally, I just try to take as much enjoyment as I can from stories! But I would prefer to focus discussion to just SAO Alt GGO for this review, so for now, let’s just forget about the rest. Even if you hate normal SAO, you may enjoy this!
SAO Alt GGO is focused on Karen Kohiruimaki, a Japnese woman who is quite tall and has a complex about it. At the advice of her friend Miyu Shinohara, she decides to retreat into a virtual world to escape, and converts from game to game until she finds one where her randomly generated avatar happens to be short and cute, as she wishes she could be. Naturally, that VRMMO is Gun Gale Online. At first, she plays just for the escapism, but, as time goes on, she becomes fond of the game, advancing her character and meeting new people.
One of those is a quirky woman whose avatar is named Pitohui, a long-time veteran of GGO. She takes LLENN (Karen’s avatar) under her wing, and the two become friends and teammates. Pitohui, too, plays GGO to avoid real world problems. She says that, some day, she and LLENN will go all out against each other in GGO, and, if LLENN wins, the two will meet in real life – a prospect LLENN finds scarier than appealing, I think!
One day, Pitohui convinces LLENN to sign up for Squad Jam (SJ), a free-for-all tournament between teams of up to six players. Pitohui herself is unavailable that day, so she has LLENN partner with her friend M, an experienced man with a knack for strategy. Since LLENN’s own real life plans fall through on the day of the Squad Jam, she agrees to enter alongside M, as part of a team of a mere two players. Of course, I’m not going to tell you what happens after that! SAO Alt GGO is only twelve episodes long, so if you’re interested, you ought to check it out for yourself!
While I don’t intend to get into spoilers, one of the things I loved about this anime was how it showed how several VRMMO players were driven together in the world of GGO by their real life insecurities and problems. Karen/LLENN and Pitohui were both ultra relatable to me. It felt quite nice to explore virtual reality themes without intrusive fanservice.
It’s hard to go into too much detail without spoiling something, because the meat of SAO Alt GGO’s story occurs after the Squad Jam plays out. So, instead, I’ll just recommend that if you’re interested in virtual reality based anime, this one is worth checking out. If you liked the original SAO, you’ll probably like this too, and if you wanted to like SAO but found some of its flaws difficult to look past, you may find them absent or mitigated here. SAO Alt GGO is provides a lot of good action and an interesting story surrounding characters who feel capable without being too overpowered. As in normal SAO, the music is good, too!
I’d rate SAO Alt GGO 4.4/5. It got me hooked early on, and before I knew it, I had marathoned the series and waiting for a season two. xD
Have any of you watched Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online? If so, what did you think? Let’s try to avoid talking too much about normal SAO in the comments; I don’t want a flame war on my hands. That said, I’d love to hear your opinion on the VRMMO-centric genre of anime! Personally, I’d like to see more of it, so I welcome your recommendations! Hope ya have a wonderful week! Ciao!