OP: 「流星」 (Ryuusei) by 藍井エイル (Aoi Eir)
「スクワッド・ジャム」 (Sukuwaddo • Jyamu)
I’m not afraid or ashamed to say it — I LOVE EVERYTHING SWORD ART ONLINE.
Boy oh boy this was a fantastically fun first episode for a show that’s using Sword Art Online’s world to fantastic effect. From the characters to the scenario all the way to those in-game UI shots reminding us that this is all happening in a virtual world, I was absolutely in love with everything about Sword Art Online Alternative ~Gun Gale Online~.
First things first — the new characters. Seeing how there isn’t nary a mention of anyone from the main show, you may be asking how well these new characters hold up and boy do I have some great news for you. Main character Llenn and supporting strategist M do a surprisingly good job at keeping things fun and engaging as the story trots along. Through a mix of adorable pouting and (what feels like) realistic combat strategizing, it creates a similar atmosphere to what one would experience if they were playing a game like PUBG or maybe even CS:GO. A feeling that is well received when you remember that everyone participating in Squad Jam are playing for a competitive prize and not for the lives of others. Also, I must say that I love how M is extremely knowledgeable about everything in-game since it still amazes me when friends can tell me what type of gun is shooting from where from the sound of literally a single shell dropping.
Actually, let’s take a detour and talk about the story as a whole for a second. If there’s one thing complaint I hear about Sword Art Online besides Kirito being Magical Jesus, it’s the fact that the characters always end up in some sort of conflict that will inevitably have some sort of pull on the real world. A plot point that for some reason tends to divide viewers into two camps who can’t ever see eye-to-eye. Luckily, the “Alternative” in the show’s title is taking the word quite seriously and focusing on totally different ideas to (in my opinion) great success. Pulling back from having the game have real world implications, I’m loving how we’re instead focusing on the ideas and gaming fantasies that would make a game like GGO insanely fun — like bringing real world skills to improve your game play or using in-game skills to take down enemies who may have an advantage against you. Situations that I’m sure we’ve all dreamt of, but have only experienced a handful of times at most. And while we haven’t seen the other side of things yet since we’ve only seen a glimpse of Llenn’s real world counterpart, I’m excited to see Karen (Llenn’s real name) deal with some of her real life struggles through being a tiny badass GGO player.
Jumping back to the characters, I love how Llenn feels like a personification of myself in-game. As someone who isn’t the best at shooters but enjoys playing them, it was great to see someone on-screen share the same struggles. Be it wanting to go in guns blazing (but in return blowing your cover) or freaking out behind cover while getting sprayed by an entire squad, the amount of charm they packed into Llenn as a gamer was literally over 9000.
When it comes to the story, it looks like we only got a tiny taste of what’s to come. Based on what I remember from researching the show, it looks like the heavier topics are on their way and if this episode is any indication of what things are like in-game, the real life aspect should be the perfect foil to help keep things from feeling too repetitive. And while I’d like to comment more on what’s to come, I think I’ll take a wait and see approach.
Overall, a really good episode that I think embodied everything we could have asked for. So, if you’re a Sword Art Online fan or just a fan of the world of Sword Art Online, I don’t think you can go wrong picking this one up.
See you guys later!
ED: 「To See The Future」 by LLENN CV: 楠木ともり (LLENN CV: Kusunoki Tomori)