Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online ?
The Spring 2018 season has had some quality comedies (Hinamatsuri and Wotakoi, among others), but SAOA: GGO isn't one of them. So the biggest surprise about its finale is that it provided me easily the biggest laugh I've had all season.
This comedy comes by way of the series' climactic scene. GGO is a game built for dramatic action, so it's naturally going to have some outlandish scenes that go beyond the scope of physical reality and perhaps even violate the game's rules. Even so, the move that LLENN uses to finally beat Pito – where Fukaziroh cuts her arms off at the wrists to free her from Pito's grasp and then kicks LLENN's body into Pito so LLENN can bite Pito's throat – is such a stupendously, ridiculously over-the-top way to abuse game mechanics that I have to applaud the sheer audacity of it.
The scenes surrounding it also delivered strong story progression, even if they were mostly predictable. In a 1-1 match with no guns, LLENN should have been able to do some serious damage to Pito with her speed, but she was still ultimately at a disadvantage due to her avatar's relative size. Pito is sharp enough that it wouldn't make sense for her not to realize that M was subtly working with LLENN, and I liked the way the series worked in the running joke about P-chan protecting LLENN and the knife that Fukaziroh has always been using for a hairpin. The scene with LLENN talking to Pito before finishing her off, where she emphasizes that this is just a game and reminds her about their promise from back in episode 2, also had to happen at some point, and I can't even be disappointed about team T-S showing up to unceremoniously finish off team LLENN for the win; this story was never about LLENN becoming a two-time champion, after all. I actually feel sorry for T-S, because their win is going to ring hollow in the minds of anyone who watched the final round play out, as the jeering rather than cheering during the concluding announcement reinforces. (It was slightly disappointing that they were such a generic team with no significant characters, though.)
What happens after the battle is just as important and nearly as good. The story that Goushi Asougi spills about how he met the real-life Pito sounds right, as is the strong implication that M might stand for “masochist”. Viewers probably shouldn't be surprised that they end up at a secret Elsa Kanzaki concert by the end. The stark contrast between Elsa's stage attitude and her real personality is just too stark to pass up, and I liked the way they worked the fan letter Karen wrote back in episode 3 into the story (as an explanation for how Goushi knew where to find her back in episode 5). Seeing that the Pito personality wasn't just an act for the game was also satisfying, as was the lovely song that Elsa performed. (If anyone can provide a rough translation of the lyrics, please post it in the response thread.) Concluding the series by having LLENN and Pito work together again in GGO was also satisfying.
Although the animation effort still has issues in places, the key scenes were handled well enough, including Elsa's performance. I especially liked the little details, such as how the cat theme on her guitar and shoulder strap matches her promotional posters. Even beyond Elsa's song, the musical score was also used as well this week as at any point in the series.
On the whole, Gun Gale Online serves its purpose well as a standalone side story to the SAO franchise. The story it tells is complete, it provides some additional details about the setting, and it delivers plenty of rousing action and likable characters. Some aspects of the premise, such as infusing such real-life urgency into a purely recreational game – may be a little distracting, but everything else is solid enough that I can easily excuse it as part of the fun.
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