Sword Art Online is one of the most popular anime to release during the 2010s. It tapped into so many things fans love all at once—video games, fantasy settings, and overpowered main characters. But while the “Sword Art Online” game is where the series got it’s fame, they continued to expand by introducing different VR MMOs.
One of the most unique ones the series had was Gun Gale Online, where characters used guns rather than swords in an FPS setting. This setting was so liked that it got it’s own spin-off, Sword Art Online Alternative. For long-time SAO fans, this article delves into everything they need to know to get involved in this popular spin-off.
10 CREATED BY KEIICHI SIGSAWA
Set in the Sword Art Online universe, Gun Gale Online isn’t actually made by Reki Kawahara. Rather, instead it’s written by the novelist Keiichi Sigsawa, who decided to create a light novel with Reki Kawahara’s permission. Sigsawa is better known for his work on a pair of other series, including what he did on Allison and Lillia, and what he’s best known for is his story Kino’s Journey, following a young woman and her talking motorcycle as they travel the world.
9 HAS A MANGA
The popular series not only managed to get an anime adaptation, but has a manga adaptation as well. This story is created by Tadadi Tamori, and is published monthly in Dengeki Maoh. It was announced in 2015, and continues to run unlike the anime, but the pacing is much slower since the series is monthly. It follows the storyline of the light novel and anime, and was localized for English audiences in 2017.
8 THE MAIN CHARACTER IS A TINY SNIPER
The main character of Sword Art Online Alternative is a girl in her twenties named Karen Kohirumaki. In the real world, Karen is very tall, and has a complex about her height. As a result, she gets into virtual MMOs to withdraw from the real world.
She starts playing Gun Gale Online because it gives her a tiny, cute virtual avatar that she enjoys playing as. Naming herself LLENN, she decides to learn the game after seeing her character, which leads to some amusing hijinx.
7 ANIMATED BY STUDIO 3HZ
Sword Art Online Alternative was animated by Studio 3Hz, a group that hasn’t been around very long. The studio’s first anime was Celestial Method in 2014, and since then they haven’t actually done very much. They did the adaptation of Dimension W, then later did Princess Principal before finally getting to Alternative in 2018. They’re actually better known for their work in video games, working to do the opening animations for Falcom’s last four titles: Tokyo Xanadu, Ys VIII, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III, and Trails of Cold Steel IV.
6 THE WRITER IS OBSESSED WITH GUNS
The creator of Sword Art Online Alternative is very much a fan of weapons. To begin with, his name is a pen name, which is pulled from the manufacturer SIG Sauer. But to take it a step further, characters in the series often talk about their obsession with weapons in a way that would only come from someone who really loves weapons themselves. The first few episodes has a character talk about the different between weapons based purely off the sounds they make when fired.
5 VOICE ACTOR LEVEL UPS
An interesting thing about Sword Art Online Alternative is that many of the voice actors involved were once part of the Sword Art Online universe as bit players. Pitohui’s voice actress was the voice actress of Sinon’s bully in SAO II. M and Fukaziroh are both from the video games Hollow Realization and Lost Song, respectively. As for LLENN, her voice actress is Tomori Kusunoki, who went from being a relative unknown to scoring a part in the latest Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime.
4 A TALKING GUN
As LLENN gets into the game, she slowly adapts to how things are done in the world. One of the first things she realizes is that her small size necessitates getting a weapon that fits what she’s good at.
The weapon in question is the P90 submachine gun, which works with her speed. Multiple times in the series, the weapon she comes to use (known as “P-chan”), actually converses with her. This isn’t ever explained, save that LLENN seems to use this as a way to get her own thoughts out.
3 KAREN’S FAMILY
It’s not actually mentioned in the anime, but Karen’s family is actually incredibly rich. This is how she’s able to stay on her own while she’s in college without any issues. But Karen doesn’t explain to her family what she’s doing in her free time, because of the stigma surrounding games following the initial Sword Art Online incident. This isn’t discussed much in the light novel, only brought up a few times before being forgotten in favor of doing more cool stories in Gun Gale Online.
2 THERE’S NO SAO CHARACTERS
Sword Art Online fans looking to see if Kirito and the others make an appearance are out of luck. Those characters are referenced thanks to their influence on the game itself, but the story isn’t about them. Instead, this series is about an entirely new cast of characters, building up the universe further and making it feel like there’s a whole world that doesn’t revolve around Kirito and his friends.
1 BATTLE ROYALE
Gun Gale Online has one main source of conflict that might look incredibly familiar to gamers: it’s a battle royale style. Reflective of the original Sword Art Online II tournament Bullet of Bullets, the conflicts in Sword Art Online Alternative are all battle royales that are team-based. Things are referred to as Squad Jams, and people who die once are removed from the conflict until everything ends. This actually pre-dates Fortnite and PUBG by quite a bit, as it originally released in 2014.
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online might have the name recognition of the original series, but there's a lot about it fans don't know.