Learn the origin of the Pink Devil of Gun Gale Online, LLENN! Also, discover how LLENN came to join up in the Squad Jam. Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. As last week’s episode finished with us meeting the person behind LLENN’s avatar, this week’s episode gives us a flashback on the character, and how her story began. LLENN is actually Karen Kohiruimaki, a girl that is…exceptionally tall. She moved from Hokkaido to Tokyo to attend school, but because of a complex involving her height she’s been too scared to reach out and make friends. She hasn’t joined any clubs, and her parents have forbidden her from taking any jobs. With no other outlets for socialization or having fun remaining, she reaches out to her friend Miyu–a gigantic geek–about trying VR gaming.
Like many geeks, Miyu is all too happy to drag her friend into the world of nerdom. There’s a bit of time spent on how an older VR game Sword Art Online resulted in a major kerfluffle where ten thousand people got trapped in the world and four thousand of them died, but they write it off as saying newer VR models have made such a scenario impossible now. I almost want to say this is absurd and in the real world they’d definitely shelve VR tech forever if it was responsible for killing four thousand people, but guns kill people every day and no one’s even trying make them harder to get. At least with this they created an entirely new model that auto logs players out if the system detects tampering, and from the episode is also logs you out if your vitals are even slightly off tune.
2. Karen tries to log into the game ALfheim Online, or ALO for short, which for Sword Art Online fans is the game that turned the original series to crap. But unfortunately, for some reason you can’t actually choose your appearance in VR games. When her avatar winds up as tall as she is in real life, she freaks out, and the VR headset immediately kicks her out of the game. Learning appearances are randomized, she runs through over thirty games trying to find an appearance she actually likes.
…Y’know, unlike the “once killed four thousand players” thing, I’m pretty sure this would sink most platforms, but whatever. On her thirty-seventh try, she logs into GGO and finds the perfect avatar for her–small and cute, she finally feels comfortable enough in her own body to start playing. There’s a lot to be said her about using video games as a proxy for body dysmorphia, but I’ve got this feeling they won’t come back to it enough for it to be worth my devoting two or three hundred words to it. In the meantime, once Karen becomes comfy with her character, she decides to figure out exactly what sort of game she’s in by opening the tutorial.
3. …Oh boy. So Karen (now LLENN) opens the tutorial and is immediately greeted with the in-game teacher: a woman with the demeanor of a Drill Sergeant, the dress sense of Aeon Flux, and the insults of a dominatrix. She teaches LLENN the basics of the game, helping her learn how the guns work in the game, and even helping her figure out what gun works best for her. She’s surprisingly accurate with the submachine gun, and so sticks with it once she joins the real game.
The only problem is, she spends most of her scene yelling at LLENN for not knowing how to play and calling her a dung beetle. It felt less like the drill sergeant thing and more like some kind of weird S&M play. She even comes with a riding crop! Then again, I guess Sword Art Online fans are kinda masochistic in nature, so why not.
4. Afterwards, LLENN starts figuring out how the game works by playing some Player vs. Enemy (PVE) missions. She gradually levels up, getting the hang of battle and figuring out how to defeat most enemies until she finally grows comfy with the game. She’s in the middle of trying to trap an enemy, calmly eating a snack and playing music, when she runs across some other players for the first time. Flashing back to what she remembered from her teacher–shoot first, ask questions later–she decides to try and rush her enemies. Thanks to the game’s weird lighting, no one’s able to actually pick her up in the desert because her bright pink outfit (which she buys after some time in the game) and diminutive size works as excellent camo. They don’t even see her coming, and in seconds she’s taken out all three players all on her own.
Word travels fast, and she eventually becomes known as the Pink Devil, someone you don’t even see who guns you down with her machine guns before you realize what’s happening. But before LLENN can come off as looking too cool, she gets caught off-guard by another, more experienced player.
5. LLENN’s relationship with Pitohui is easily what makes this episode stand out as superior to the previous one. Pitohui tracks down LLENN out of curiosity, but instead of killing her when she catches her by surprise, she decides to invite her to tea. Pito admits games usually don’t have many women playing, and she’s gotten tired of hanging out with sleazy guys, so she invites LLENN to team up with her. They spend a while gaming together, before the subject of hobbies come up.
LLENN talks about loving music, while Pito admits her only hobby is GGO. A bit surprised, LLENN tries to change the subject, but Pito suggests a challenge: One day, if LLENN can beat Pito in a fight, they’ll meet in real life. To seal the deal, they cross weapons with one another, calling it a promise between women. I’m not gonna lie, I popped hard for this. I’m a sucker for anime that let women do stereotypically shonen-like things, like heroic power ups, beatdowns, and now apparently “a promise between men”? Fuck. Yes.
A year later, we’ve gotten close to the Squad Jam from the first episode. Looks like LLENN’s opportunity to defeat her friend is coming up.
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.