Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online

Spinoff of Sword Art Online II

Genre(s): Action, Game, Military, Sci-fi

Age-Appropriateness: 13+ (Violence, language)

Platforms: Netflix, Crunchyroll, Hulu

Episodes: 13 (one recap episode)

TheAwersome Rating: 8.1 / 10 (Solid all the way through)

Premise: Clad in desert pink, and only the size of a child, the infamous “Pink Devil” mercilessly hunts other players in the wastelands of Gun Gale Online. In reality though, the player Karen is a shy, unassuming college student, and an abnormally tall one at that. After playing in GGO to enjoy her alternate avatar, Karen meets another female player who convinces her to enter a team battle royale where she’ll need to push herself if she hopes to stand a chance.

TheAwersome’s Thoughts: There’s something special about a good spin-off of a popular series that can make them easier to connect to. GGO executes this perfectly by keeping a narrow focus regarding content and identity. The tone and vibe of this series is clear from the get-go and doesn’t deviate. The cast is the perfect size for a single-cour series: you get to know the very distinct characters well and at a good pace without sacrificing intense action. It reminds me a lot of my early days in games like Battlefield or America’s Army (yes I played that game, it was good for its time) where there’s a good amount of down-time for tension to build (in contrast to say, Overwatch). The overarching story is simple but intriguing; while it lacks the massive impact of the main SAO series, it’s gripping nonetheless. There are a few moments of very well executed goosebump-giving terror and intensity. And the whole show has a great soundtrack as well, so it’s definitely worth giving a watch.

TLDR: A great spin-off from SAOII, with a steady quality of episodes throughout.

What I really like about GGO is that I feel it accurately captures the tension of long-form battle royale FPS and focuses a lot on the strategies of the game. I feel this allows the viewer to always be enthralled, both with the overarching plot and the individual scenarios. I never said, “I don’t care about that, just get to the fighting!” or “Okay, it’s just fight filler until the next plot point.”  Also gets major bonus points for not bothering with annoying fanservice.

While this spin-off series technically came out AFTER the movie Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, it chronologically takes place before it, so watch this before that one (there’s really only one line in the movie that references GGO, but hey you’ll get it now!).

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