SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online Review


Sword Art Online is a bit like Marmite. You either love or hate it. There’s no disputing that the anime adaptation of Reki Kawahara’s novels is insanely popular. We recently got a movie and a third season is due out later this year. Despite all that, many of the bloggers I follow detest SAO with a passion. They dislike how the second half of season one played out and how protagonist Kirito is a Gary Stu of Rey (Star Wars) proportions. If you are a Kirito hater you’ll be pleased to hear that this spin-off series stars a completely new cast of characters. Viewers of season two will recognize the setting though – it’s Gun Gale Online.


Karen Kohiruimaki hates being tall, which I can understand. Height may be a desirable trait for males, but that isn’t the case for members of the opposite sex. Lanky girls can have a tough time finding a boyfriend, as guys are sensitive about size… and no, I am not talking about their junk. Asking your partner to crouch down, for a kiss, can be a tad embarrassing for us blokes. Although there is nothing Karen can do about her stature in the real world, she can at least experience being petite in VR games. The main reason why she elects to play GGO is because it permits her to control an undersized avatar named LLENN.

LLENN begins life in Gun Gale Online hunting down NPC monsters. Due to her terrible aim, LLENN’s weapon of choice is a close range submachine gun that she christens P-chan. The pink firearm occasionally sprouts cute eyes and utters words of encouragement to her. Weird. Anyways, one day during her wasteland hunts she bumps into a fellow gunslinger named Pitohui. The pair become friends and begin grouping together to partake in PVP action. After proving her prowess, in taking down players, Pitohui suggests that LLENN register for the upcoming Squad Jam contest. Little did LLENN know that Squad Jam would live up to its name, by placing her in a sticky situation where Pitohui’s life is on the line.


My rating for Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online is a three out of five. The series is entertaining enough, but overall I would rank it as the weakest SAO title to date. My chief complaint with the show is its lack of story. The script tries to resurrect the SAO idea of “potentially fatal online game” with its finale, but for the most part the thirteen episodes simply chronicle LLENN’s performance in two battle royale tournaments. Due to the focus on competition, GGO feels like a sports anime. This sport however features brutal takedowns and inappropriate flirting, where opponents hit on a protagonist that looks underage.

Best girl without a doubt is Pitohui. She reminds me a little of Revy from Black Lagoon, as she excels at killing and is bat shit crazy. This bloodthirsty chick doesn’t respect truces and has a reputation for slaying her own teammates. LLENN is a far less interesting character. Just like Kirito, she comes across as plain and unbeatable. Despite being an MMO newbie she is able to defeat professional marksmen with a combination of agility and serendipity. Karen is the type of girl I would gladly group with in Overwatch. Would I date her? Nah. Climbing up a stepladder, every time I want a smooch, would get tiresome.

33 thoughts on “SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online Review

  1. Great review and I completely agree with everything that you wrote. As you know I am not one of the people that hates Sword Art Online, but this really was the weakest installment to date. Still there were certainly some things to enjoy to and you are right about Pito…she was batshit crazy. Hopefully the 3rd season of SAO will bring us more awesomeness 😀😀

    • I liked this series, but prefer the other SAO seasons over it. Gun Gale didn’t have the drama and focus on relationships that I enjoyed from past installments. The gunfights were cool and surprisingly violent, despite the lack of blood. I also had fun seeing how M’s ambushes would pan out.

      Pito stands out. Her insanity gives her a bit more personality than the other characters. Fingers crossed that season three will be more to our liking. I assume it will be based on novels written by the original author, unlike this spin-off that was written by someone else.

      • Well: having seen the trailer for that 3rd season it looks like the show is turning back to the it’s original roots, which is cool. Of course it’s only a trailer so maybe it will pan out differently, but I’m definitely optimistic for it . As for this one I hope we might see Pito back one day, that would be fun 😉

    • *puts on hipster glasses*
      I don’t love or hate SAO. Ha!

      I do, however, have no idea what Marmite is. (Well, I do now, since I looked it up.)

      And for all the Mary Sue questions, it’s a character that has little to no flaws, loved by everyone and having the special-est of special abilities. Usually an author’s ideal self set in the world, and the name originated from a Star Trek parody fanfic.

  2. Hello The Otaku Judge,

    I did not know about this season so thank you for sharing your review, I saw the second season when it came on Toonami, but I have not seen the first season.

    Hopefully I will watch the first season before this gets dubbed in English.

    Thank you,
    -John Jr

    • Hope you enjoy season one, even if some of the story will be spoiled as you have already checked out the follow up. There’s a movie too, although I have yet to watch it so cannot comment on how good it is.

      • Thank you The Otaku Judge.

        I recently noticed that there was a movie as well, I also have not seen it, but will probably watch it if I finish season 1.

        Thank you,
        -John Jr

      • Hello The Otaku Judge.

        Me and my brother GC are about halfway done with the first season of Sword Art Online, he already seen it before, thanks to my brother GC; so far so good except I do not like how they often skip around sometimes and not show or talk about certain details that I am curious about and feel that are important to know.

        -John Jr

  3. Pingback: Brotherhood of the World Bloggers Award | MoeGamer
  4. LLENN character design is so cool. She looks like the anime version of Kirby, but some how that works hehe 😀

    Great review 🙂 Although this anime lacks story and you rate it the weakest SAO title to date, it still sounds like a fun anime to watch if you have time to kill 🙂

    • She does look cute. All pink does however stand out, which is probably a hindrance in a game were people are trying to shoot you. Thankfully her tiny avatar and high agility make her hard to hit.

    • Yeah, this franchise can be hard to keep track of. Right now there are two seasons that are over twenty episodes long and a third one is in the works. Apart from that there is a movie and this spin-off. I would suggest watching the first half of season one and based on that deciding if you want to keep following it.

      The online debates on SAO are most amusing. Some people hate the anime and others love it. It really illustrates how the quality of entertainment is so subjective.

    • The first episode gives a fair impression of what the rest of the series is like. Gun Gale Online is entertaining enough, but not essential viewing. If you have better things to watch I can’t blame you for putting it on the back burner, for now.

  5. Didn’t watch SAO nor do I have much interest in doing so. GGO is all the SAO themed goodness I’ll ever need. Should it get a second season I welcome it with open arms…except M. M sucked.

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