Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online (Spring 2018) – A Great Forgettable Spin-off

Sword Art Online” became one of the most popular series ever. For several years, its fanbase quickly expanded and more expanded. It’s just that, not many people say that this is the worst series ever. Therefore, a lot of controversies has emerged around the community both in “Sword Art Online” and Reki Kawahara himself. Except, this time, we got “Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online” as a spin-off. While I like “SAO” as one of the first anime I watched, I dare to be honest that this is better than the original, second season, and the movie. I mean, the movie is pretty good. But, this is a bad step in borrowing “SAO’s” own name into a good anime like this at the same time.

Clearly, you don’t need to watch all the series or read the light novel adaptations. “Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online” doesn’t have a large connection in the universe. So, this series is a stand-off to the original but doesn’t have any connection. In fact, the light novel itself written by Keiichi Sigsawa and did not have any hands to Reki Kawahara.

Simply, it’s a story about Karen Kohiruimaki, a college student with an ordinary life. She has a problem because of her height as a woman where she does not have friends because she is seen differently. After growing up, now, she still doesn’t have any friends except just a few except her best friend. After entering into GGO with her alias as LLEEN, she can vent it every day into the game. Until her meeting with Pitohui, her world was expanding. Two of them finally participated in a battle royale game.

This alternative spin-off is not very different from the original. You can call this anime as “SAO” without Kirito. I don’t really like how this anime will be self-explanatory at first glance because of the marketing of this anime. This anime shows where battle royale games are very popular. Like which, there are so many people who really attached to this anime whether they know “SAO” or not. The majority of the story shows more about the world of GGO. Besides, Karen is a complex and more realistic character. More precisely, all the characters in this show have their motivation, relationships, and reasons.

Karen has a slightly complex characterization. In GGO as LLEEN, she has a chibi body where it is her dream compared to her body in reality. At least, this is two different personalities in one character. Unlike the original, LLEEN has characters that are built from scratch, self-aware, and easier to attach. “Alternative GGO” also has a lot of easter eggs with the original and second season apart from things like that seems vague. In fact, this anime gives us a few easter eggs to the author’s own novel and a little bit of breaking the 4th wall. This anime, when it comes to that, is self-aware to its comedy and humor. They include characters such as Pitohui, M, and Fukaziroh. A P90 named P-chan maybe could also be said as a character as well.

Besides this is a stand-off show from the original series, this spin-off does not have a memorable impression on its character. Regardless, this is also just a spin-off. LLEEN is childish but when it comes to her real life, she is an adult woman. A bit of contrast to Pitohui which is also a contradiction with her game avatar and real life. M is a comic relief who pretends to be serious in the game. When it comes to reality, he is just some guy who has a weird nature.

Definitely, Fukaziroh is the only character that’s exactly the same as her reality and game avatar. Although this is also just a spin-off, the development and chemistry between characters are well-built. The author develops all of those with just 12 episodes. On the other hand, this is a really great show but very forgettable. I can only hope that if all the main cast in this show is brought back in the original universe.

Studio 3Hz has had many projects they have adapted. But, this is the first opportunity to adopt a light novel series. Before this anime, they had worked on “Dimension W”, “Flip Flappers”, “Princess Principal”, and “Celestial Method”. I can say that this studio is very good at working on their projects. This anime has a great choreography battle and it feels fast-paced. This spin-off series also relies more on patience and strategy than on an RPG game which basically, they attack from the front in one time. The camera angle, movement, and character expressions bring memorable impressions when it comes to this aspect. One minor problem is just its environment battle feels repetitive and monotonous. The soundtrack brings all of them on beyond. The voice acting may sound generic but it’s all as balanced. The theme songs are quite catchy and fit with the mood just like other SAO series.

“Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online” is a great stand out of a spin-off that borrows one of the popular anime ever existed. I prefer to say this is “SAO” but no Kirito. I mean, everybody said that bullcrap. But, it feels like this show feels more like a video game than an anime. There are lots of easter eggs and references related to the original series. The comedy also has the fit placement in the circumstance. The sensation of battle royale is very pronounced. This is a really great spin-off show when comparing it to the original. But, maybe this anime also has more space to be able to connect its universe to the original “SAO” series.

4 out of 5 stars.