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Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online
(All episodes watched):|
This is an 'alternative' in the sense that it does not involve the usual SAO characters, and instead is all about completely new characters playing the same game as we saw in the first half of SAO II. Just what existential problem (if any) will come up is not revealed in episode one, which instead gives us an introduction to the main character, the rules of the game, and what sort of tactics LLENN and her fellow team member, 'M', like to employ. I had a good time and was left enthusiastic about this show, in part because it would presumably be of similar quality to the original SAO and SAO II. It would need to delve into the psychology of LLENN/Karen, but all the signs are that it would. In episode two we learn about Karen's real-world life and how she got started in GGO.
One thing that had bugged me ever since episode one was the fantastic victory LLENN manages to pull of with a trick at the end. Basically, she evades automatic weapon fire from numerous opponents at point blank range while never missing herself. Her agility is such that she seems to moves faster than her enemies can track her--even though Karen herself doesn't seem to be particularly athletic. It was about as likely as the old 'a good swordsman can move fast enough to deflect bullets with his blade' load (except, come to think of it, Kirito did that at least once during SAO II; but he is clearly a genius). Here I didn't like it because the odds of such a thing actually happening were about one in a million, but I guess maybe this was that millionth time, so I let it slide. But in episode five, the same thing happens again--numerous times. Either the laws of physics in GGO are different than in our world, or we are expected to believe that such incredible things can happen routinely. But, come on! It's not an accomplishment to do something impossible if impossible things have become perfectly possible. Basically, the action scenes in this show are so outlandish that I had a hard time suspending disbelief. I was so dismayed that I considered dropping this anime altogether.
Also in episode five we finally get an idea of what the real-world threat that GGO poses is. Apparently Pito, the shifty looking girl, is patently insane and will kill you in the real-world if she doesn't like your performance in GGO. It seemed to me to be a bizarre and difficult to believe claim. Has such a thing actually happened to anyone? What does the real-world player controlling Pito look like? Is he/she tough enough to do such a thing? I hoped we were not just being expected to accept it at face value without any more evidence, but apparently we are. Episode six was better, perhaps because it took place mainly within the real world. It turns out that the only way to fix the problem is for LLENN to win another Squad Jam competition--somehow, that did not surprise me. I was confused by Pito's rationale; it seemed to me that if she really gets an immense thrill out of risking her life in virtual reality, she would set some sort of condition in which if she gets killed in GGO she must die in the real-world as well. And it seems that even defeating her would only be a temporary solution (she would still be crazy). And why would it be bad if someone other than LLENN killed Pito? I don't get it. But I was still curious to see how this would work out. It's kind of amusing to see how different real-world GGO players are from their tough and gruff avatars.
Karen recruits an inexperienced and firepower-happy friend to cooperate with her in the quest to kill Pito during the second Squad Jam. I was a little disappointed by the lack of tactical sense which the supposedly highly experienced competitors sometimes display. Like a team of five or six fighters sitting out in the open shoulder-to-shoulder in a small ring, where one well placed hand grenade could kill them all. Anybody who knows anything about squad level tactics will be underwhelmed by this show; it will not teach you much that is new (and might actually work on the battlefield). Things like the little laser beams that give you a moment's warning that someone is taking aim at you are not exactly realistic. Nevertheless, this show strikes me as being much more about how to win the game than about how to fix a serious real world problem, like the original SAO was.
The showdown between Pito and LLENN devolves into absurdity as the story nears a climax. Geysers? And LLENN's gun has a mind of it's own? The climactic fight was so implausible that I couldn't help laughing, which was almost certainly not the effect that was intended. "Slash off both my hands to free me from my restraints, then I'll bite Pito to death"!(?) I was left bewildered at the conclusion. Was this a good ending? The real-world Pito didn't seem all that dangerous; and why did it matter that she is actually a celebrity? Because everybody loves an Idol, so why not toss one in? And how, again, did Karen figure out who she really was? In the end, I never completely understood what the basic problem was or how it was solved. And we never get to know Karen/LLENN as well as we knew Sinon in SAO II. This show did not live up to the high standards set by the previous incarnations of SAO; it was sort of a poor man's version.
Last updated Thursday, July 19 2018. Created Tuesday, April 17 2018.