Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
Episode 9

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online ?

If you want to see what happens when an otherwise-good episode suddenly grinds to a screeching halt, check out the shift in episode 9 from about the 16:30 mark forward.

This ill-advised shift into comedy isn't the episode's only problem. It also insists on tossing in unnecessary creep factor when one male character talks about molesting Fukaziroh's body after she dies - because she remains around as an Immortal Object and thus won't trigger system protections, you see. It does give her the motivation to beat the guy to death using her gun as a club (since she's a hopeless aim with direct-fire weapons even at close range), and it's interesting to learn how lowlifes would abuse VRMMO mechanics for perverted reasons despite harassment protections, but it was still a rather tasteless play in an otherwise upbeat episode.

Still, the bigger problem is the scene after that, where Fukaziroh and LLENN discover an androgynous avatar playing dead. This rather mercurial player soon agrees to provide ammo clips for LLENN's P90 if she'll let them resign and get a kiss on the cheek (or two). This whole routine takes about five minutes to play out when it should take only two. Over the course of those five minutes, the writing gets quite inane, and efforts to establish the character – who the girls think is a man despite all evidence to the contrary – only result in her explaining her quirks instead of proving them in any useful way. I can only assume that this was done to stretch the timing so that the episode could end on the cliffhanger of the Memento Mori team encountering team LF, and it looks like they may have found at least a temporary ally in the androgynous player, but there had to be a better way of establishing this. As is, it totally disrupts the flow of the episode.

The episode had a pretty good flow going too, with LLENN realizing that her team was crawling into an ambush and then turning the situation on its head under the cover of a smoke screen. Pito's team pulls a similar stunt by wrecking the coalition who attempted to overwhelm them, with M playing bait behind his shield while Pito went wild in the backfield and demonstrated why the Memento Mori leader said she was so strong. There's also a scene in that section which drags a bit, where Pito is contemplating shooting a guy who's trying to keep his ally from falling off a ledge, but it's not as pronounced as the scene with LLENN. Regular flashes to the crowd continue to provide worthwhile color commentary, along with the obligatory reference to SAO II, specifically a mention about Sinon being highly-competitive in the BoB tournament with her Hecate.

Seeing that the giant dome was some kind of biodome rather than a sports venue was an odd twist, but it doesn't seem to have much to do with anything. The artistry also struggled at times to stay on-model. Despite its handful of problems, the story is still chugging along exactly on schedule, with the competition pared down dramatically and the first conflict between major players ready to get underway.

Rating: B-

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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