Sword Art Online's Gun Gale Online Is A Meh Anime, But A Cool (Fake) Game

Here we are, in 2018, with a new Sword Art Online anime series, this time about a woman playing as a loli avatar in a VR battle royale game. It isn't wholly bad, but like its predecessor, it fails to live up to its intriguing premise so far.

Definitely not plucked out of a garbage bin of Google search-optimised otaku terms, Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online follows university student Karen Kohiruimaki's foray into a virtual world created in the aftermath of the original (and fatal) Sword Art Online MMORPG.

This time, it's ostensibly safe. The VR devices of the past have been recalled and, in the year 2026, VR experiences a resurgence in popularity, apparently with all its previous dangers forgotten.

Gun Gale Online, the game within the anime, is the VR PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds of the future, in which the last team of gunmen standing wins.

Karen, who is very tall in real life, is convinced to try out the survival shooter because it's the only game that lets her be short and cute. With a bright pink uniform and a bright pink submachine gun she calls P-chan, Karen becomes the hyper-dextrous shooter Llenn.

This is a game I wish existed in real life. It has RPG elements, such as roaming mobs in an open world and pubs for players to relax in. It's also decidedly battle royale, with a good twist: Every few minutes, scanners carried by the players reveal everybody's location. That gets things going and makes hiding less of an option.

I'm appreciative of these variations, since an anime actually replicating PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds might be 23 minutes of watching someone lie prone in a dirty bathroom.

The design of Gun Gale's gameplay is poised to create a lot of suspense, and it would if not for the poor storytelling habits that this show inherited from the original Sword Art Online. Mid-action, characters are explaining the game's rules. Mentor figures introduce random, game-changing ideas in crucial moments, which always just feel like dei ex machina.

The characters don't even feel self-consistent. Karen, for example, vacillates between hyper-incompetent and hyper-competent in a matter of minutes. All of a sudden, after never playing a VR game, she's the "pink devil". OK, Gun Gale, seems legit.

Karen's character motivations suffer from a stunning lack of creativity: She's self-conscious about her height, so she becomes a master VR gunslinger?

Still, seven episodes in, Gun Gale Online has treated its female characters decidedly better than the anime's earliest iteration. Women get each other into Gun Gale. Women dominate Gun Gale. Women watch Gun Gale. There isn't an excess of unnecessary breast physics or senseless groping - thankfully, since Karen's avatar appears to be about 10.

Whenever the original Sword Art Online is brought up, one of the big criticisms I hear is that, despite its promise, it's a bad shonen anime but a good harem anime if you're into that.

Gun Gale could be an excellent show where a girl who doesn't feel comfortable with real-world beauty standards forges deep and gratifying relationships with gamers' avatars in a virtual world. It could be a show where we watch Karen struggle over time to hone her battle royale skills and, in the process, learn the confidence she needs to succeed in real life.

Instead, it's just more blah anime about video games we wish existed.


Comments

    HORY SHEEEEEEETTTT!!! Did Cecilia D'Anastasio actually do more than read the synopsis on myanimelist.com and view a few screenshots? Like, I dunno, watch the actual show!?

    Karen, who is very tall in real life, is convinced to try out the survival shooter because it's the only game that lets her be short and cute. With a bright pink uniform and a bright pink submachine gun she calls P-chan, Karen becomes the hyper-dextrous shooter Llenn.Karen tries multiple games before getting to Gun Gale, each game works with a feature in the VR headsets that keeps proper real world measurements in order to keep players from getting disorientated. Gun Gale was the only one that read her mind more than her body type. Karen wants to be small because she is sick of the attention she gets for being tall in a society where small is normal. As for the uniform, it was originally the standard green that all players have, but Karen DECIDES to change the color herself, some with the color of her gun and another player convinced her to name her gun.

    This is a game I wish existed in real life. It has RPG elements, such as roaming mobs in an open world and pubs for players to relax in. It's also decidedly battle royale, with a good twist: Every few minutes, scanners carried by the players reveal everybody's location. That gets things going and makes hiding less of an option. Gun Gale has two formats, like all other RPG games: PvE and PvP. The whole thing of the pub is a hub world, then the players go out and either grind mobs in PvE (which Llenn does in the beginning before she is forced into a PvP situation) or they can join an optional game mode that is very much like PUBG. After finding that her speed is an asset that other players lack, Llenn decides to give the Battle Royale mode a try in order to test her skills against another player she meets in the PvE section.

    The characters don't even feel self-consistent. Karen, for example, vacillates between hyper-incompetent and hyper-competent in a matter of minutes. All of a sudden, after never playing a VR game, she's the "pink devil". OK, Gun Gale, seems legit.The "Pink Devil" nickname came about because she attacks quickly and silently, becoming more of a myth of Gun Gale. She didn't just one day appear with the idea of becoming a player-killer, it was something that was built up outside of Llenn's personal wishes.

    Still, seven episodes in, Gun Gale Online has treated its female characters decidedly better than the anime's earliest iteration. Women get each other into Gun Gale. Women dominate Gun Gale. Women watch Gun Gale. There isn't an excess of unnecessary breast physics or senseless groping - thankfully, since Karen's avatar appears to be about 10. Shock! It seems to mirror the real life gaming world in where woman are actually welcome and are some of the top players in those games... Unlike what clickbait websites tend to go with the constant harassment narrative.

    Gun Gale could be an excellent show where a girl who doesn't feel comfortable with real-world beauty standards forges deep and gratifying relationships with gamers' avatars in a virtual world. It could be a show where we watch Karen struggle over time to hone her battle royale skills and, in the process, learn the confidence she needs to succeed in real life.Except it does, quite a few times. Karen's personal issues with her height are explored, she also makes friends who challenge her to get better at the game and help give her the means to become better.

    For someone who finds the show "meh", this whole thing reads like someone who has seen very little of the show overall, or someone who hasn't seen it at all and just watched a trailer or read bits about it, or someone who had the show on in the background and barely paid it any attention. There is a lot more to Gun Gale than this "writer" seems to say about it, and her problems with the show are addressed in the show itself.

      Agreed, completely. Not to mention the writer has forgotten that Gun Gale Online was already covered by Season 2 of Sword Art Online. The protagonist (LLENN, Pito, M and LLENN's friend), were NPCs made for the game Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, and this anime has been created from those characters... so hey, this game DOES exist!

      Also, LLENN's pink clothes were picked because they helped her camouflage in the barren waste lands in one of the PVE areas, where her nickname of the Pink Devil came about as she started to explore PVP in the same area, and found that she was good at it; mostly because of the camouflage.

    This is a game I wish existed in real life. It has RPG elements, such as roaming mobs in an open world and pubs for players to relax in.Man, if only someone
    made a game based on it...

    Once again a reader does more than the writer, thankyou

    Also just a note: the original SAO and this 'Alternative' were written by different authors, so one really shouldn't try compare them as if they were.

    Karen's character motivations suffer from a stunning lack of creativity: She's self-conscious about her height, so she becomes a master VR gunslinger?
    Gonna have to agree with Mase in that this reads a lot like the author of this article didn't actually watch the show.
    Karen is self conscious about her height in a culture where it stands out more so when she sees a show talking about VR and gets some encouragement from a friend she gives VR in general a try. She went through a bunch of games before settling on a shooting game because the randomly generated avatar was to her liking and from there she actually had to learn how to play the game.
    Through the tutorial she learns what she's good at (SMGs), then through playing the game she discovers more of her strengths (small hitbox, high speed, deadly at close range) and finally figures out how to make the most of them (hard to see especially when appropriately camouflaged and hard to hit when moving which makes closing in to make the most of her preferred weapons easier) all resulting in her actually having fun and realizing she's actually good at this game she originally picked up just as some casual escapism.

      Thats the best part... shes a casual gamer who stumbles upon the fact that she is terrifyingly good at the game by chance (right place, right time, right clothes). She stumbled onto something that clicked... and exploited the hell out of it.

      So far enjoying it a lot more than the other series by a huge amount.

      That said knowing in advance she was using the game to escape her height complex... why didnt she roll a Gnome. She picked the tallest race by default.

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