It is that time again doods and peeps. Newcomers will surely ask “What time is it?”. Why it is “OG reviews a spinoff, starring a girl/woman, of a (usually) popular series he (usually) has zero interest in” time. You know. Spinoffs like Soul Eater NOT!, Hidan no Aria AA, DanMachi Gaiden: Sword Oratoria and Hina Logi: From Luck & Logic to name a few. In this installment of that unofficial G-View segment we will be taking a look at the spinoff of arguably the Meduca Meguca of the Isekai sci-fi/fantasy subgenre, Sword Art Online. This is Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online.
Genres: Action, Sci-fi
Themes: Battle Royale, Online Multiplayer, Shooter, Yuri.
Number of episodes: 12
Objectionable Content: Very brutal violence.
Plot Summary: Karen Kohiruimaki is a 183-centimeter-tall (6-foot-tall) college student who’s insecure about her height, and is bad at dealing with people in the real world. She enters the world of Gun Gale Online with her avatar, LLENN, who is less than 150 centimeters (5 feet) tall and wears all pink. She meets a beautiful, brown-skinned female player who goes by Pitohui. They hit it off, but one day Pitohui pressures her to participate in “Squad Jam,” a team Battle Royale variation of the Bullet of Bullets tournament.
Like most other female led spinoffs it is not necessary to have seen Sword Art Online to follow the events of Gun Gale Online. It is its own thing despite being set in the same world. Also like other spinoffs do not come into this show expecting a similar or identical viewing experience to that of the main show. Gun Gale Online does its own thing while using elements from the main show like referencing events or featuring cameos and Easter Eggs here and there.
Before I got the ultimate persuasion to pick up this show there was one moment that made me go “I am definitely checking this out when I am in the mood”.
When LLENN made this face. Not the reason she made this expression, just the expression itself. It was fantastic. So Gun Gale Online, or GGO for short. If I could describe my thoughts on the show in one word it would be “fun”. This show was so much fun to watch most of the time, especially online. Offline was…okay. Allow me to elaborate.
The main draw of the show are the Battle Royale style team battle events called Squad Jam. There are also times players go on monster hunts or grinding for experience points, which are fun little scenes, but the real treat comes from the team battles. Think of them as more intense battles than the ones found in Upotte!! (more fun than Upotte) Stella Women’s Academy C3 and Sabagebu!. Much more. Viewers will get both long and short range combat that is more akin to Doom 2016 than Call of Duty, which is a good thing. Speaking of Doom 2016, the battles can get quite brutal. so brutal in fact the digital blood is a combination of pixels and early 2000’s game blood, meaning viewers should expect visceral combat rivaling that of “Moepocalypse” shows. Oh and for viewers who did not quite enjoy the CG combat in Toji no Miko I can at least assure the fights here are (for the most part) far less CG-tastic…at least I hope so. Too used to this stuff to let it bother me personally.
Speaking of animation GGO is set in a post-apocalyptic environment meaning expect a lot of gray, dark yellow, dark blue, dark green and brown everywhere. Still the characters, the colorful ones anyway, are nice to look at and even bless viewers with different shapes and sizes which is very nice. So while the setting is intentionally not pretty it is still presented in a nice way. As mentioned above I felt the action scenes were fantastic. The soundtrack had some rock hard beats here and there and the OP and ED are pretty good.
Another thing to keep in mind is that similar to Mouretsu Pirates‘ earlier episodes there are “Tutorial Episodes”. There is some action to be found in these episodes but the main focus of them is to explain the rules of GGO and prepare everyone for what is to come.
Having sun the praises of he online parts of the show let us next talk about the “offline”/real world parts. As the plot summary said Karen grew up in an environment that seemed to not be welcoming to big hotties like her. From an outsider’s perspective she is a tall and beautiful young adult woman but because many of the people around her, especially girls, were short I guess she felt out of place. I cannot say for sure. Maybe it is something girls and women go through. I like all kinds of ladies so…Anyway her time in GGO forever changed her life. Viewers will have to see for themselves whether it was for the better or worse.
Most of the female characters are cool online and offline but for most of them their online counterparts are more interesting, except Fukaziroh, who like LLENN is fun to watch both on and offline. There are also some male teams who, while nothing special, were also fun to watch strategizing or go all gung ho and stuff. A familiar theme in media involving people playing video games is the desire for them to do so for the sake of escapism (meaning the real world sucks and they want to get away for a while). That is the same here but for some characters their motivations are different such as improving teamwork, letting off some steam or finding new friends.
And now we come to Pitohui…hoo boy…Let me see. Umm, without spoiling anything let us just say that as I watched the show I was reminded of Vivid Strike! (one of the few spinoffs whose main series I also enjoyed) and even a little bit of Stella Women’s Academy C3. I do not mean the stories told are identical, I mean their end goals are. Put simply Pitohui is kind of character worth of writing an editorial…but not really. Just think of her as a very, VERY loose cannon and because of that she is my third favorite character. Watching Pitohui go all out…WAS…A…HOOT! So good. It also helps she is quite the looker.
Lastly we have M. I will make this brief. M’s story was done better in a Western comic. He started off fun, quickly became “Yeah I could care less about this guy” and by the epilogue I was laughing at him. He did not entirely suck because like everyone else he was (mostly) cool in battle but I ended up not caring about him.
For readers wondering, the show is set 10% offline, 10% Tutorials and 80% online.
Normally this would be the part I talk about the Yuri but this time I will only say this: Viewers who are patient and have an EXTREMELY OPEN MIND (really, REALLY OPEN MIND!)…will be rewarded. Super picky people who NEED their Yuri to be presented in a certain way need not bother. Oh and there is a neat little bonus near the end of the 3rd quarter. This person “surrenders”.
Overall Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online was a blast to watch. The main draw of the show is the action packed and super intense battles. While the offline parts of the story are not as fun to watch they have their moments and are not total wastes of times (except M’s story). I would go so far as say I enjoyed this show more than Sabagebu! But that is just me. Recommended to people who enjoy “shooter” anime. As for SAO fans, again do not expect a similar experience going into this show. It is a fun spinoff that features elements from the main series but is still enjoyable as a standalone show, provided the viewer is into shows featuring/starring mostly ladies. No wait. Viewers are reading THIS GGO review here precisely because they enjoy shows with female leads. Anyway you get my point.