The first Squad Jam is over, but a new one is about to begin! Meanwhile, can Karen deal with meeting her GGO friends in real life? 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. We finally come back around to the scene from the end of the first episode, where Karen’s friends are watching her performance in the Squad Jam, and boy do things look differently now that they’ve been re-contextualized. Since a key part of Karen’s complaints is that she’s exceptionally tall, I was under the impression her friends would all be her age. Nope; they’re all high school kids. I thought they were all marveling at her performance because they were newbies to the game and wanted to get in to GGO through her; nope, they were the last team she faced and she murdered them all.
It’s heartwarming to see that GGO has caused her to make friends so quickly, though. The girls turn out to be part of an athletics club, and they started playing GGO to learn to be in sync with one another and put aside their differences. One of the things this series has set up is the sharp contrast the show has between players in real life and their virtual avatars. I’m kinda bummed we don’t get to see what all of them would look like if they could customize their characters personally (except Karen, who essentially re-rolled until she got a look she liked), though.
2. Karen’s barely won the first Squad Jam before they’re already talking about holding another. She’s on Spring Break and about to visit her parents when she gets the email that they’re fine-tuning the rules and doing a second Squad Jam. Again accepting all applicants but those who managed to make it to the Top 4 teams get to skip a preliminary tournament phase.
And I mean, all of that’s fine but…are we really doing another one of these so soon? Didn’t Karen just win hers? It feels like it’s barely been two weeks and they’re already scheduling another. Usually tournaments like this aren’t set up this quickly in gaming–especially when they only existed thanks to some eccentric investor–but presumably this was such a massive success they just had to go for it? That, or we don’t have a lot of time and they needed to get to the point of this arc.
3. And just like that, these real life meet ups got real creepy, REAL fast. While on her way back to her apartment, Karen randomly runs into the real life counterpart to M. A young man named Goushi, he approaches her outside of her place. He confronts her asking for help for the sake of Pitohui, and honestly this is where the episode kind of got off the rails. She agrees to hear him out but she really should’ve just called the cops on this creepy fuck who tracked her down in real life after playing with her on a video game once. He doesn’t give her any real information to make him less creepy, he just talks about how people are going to die if she doesn’t go somewhere and talk to him.
At this point, can we just assume Elsa Kanzaki, the singer Karen’s a big fan of, is Pitohui? I know they’re trying to make it a secret, but let’s connect the dots. On the same day Elsa Kanzaki has a major performance, Pitohui can’t make the Squad Jam because of a “prior commitment”. She has a life she can’t change much in, like a celebrity in Japan might, so she blows off steam in GGO. M is close friends with her. Karen writes a letter to Elsa talking about how she exists in GGO–a letter which has her address on it. Then suddenly M knows where she lives and is easily able to find her. Yeah, this is about to get weird.
4. Speaking of weird, here’s the most insane way to tie in the original SAO I never would have seen coming: Pitohui/Elsa’s intense real life personality is due to her being frustrated she didn’t get trapped in the original Sword Art Online. Goushi reveals Pito has a death wish, and once she learned what actually happened in Sword Art Online she became obsessed with how she missed logging into the game. Even worse, now she’s entering the Squad Jam along with M and some other players for the sole purpose of reaching the top…or killing herself if she fails.
Because Goushi is madly in love with Pito, he wants to save her. So he’s encouraging Karen to battle Pito in Squad Jam and take her out, in the hopes that if she gets destroyed by Karen, she’ll be able to accept her loss. And if she doesn’t, apparently they’ll both take their lives, because getting the woman he loves mental help is too hard.
5. With Karen forced now to deal with taking out her best friend in GGO, she turns to her best friend in real life because she doesn’t know anyone else. We’ve kept Miyu off to the sidelines from the beginning, but it seems it’s finally time for her to enter Gun Gale Online, and seemingly she’s something of a legendary gamer in other games so hopefully she’ll be able to do some good. Though I admit it’s hard not to wonder why Miyu didn’t also suggest getting Pito some help.
Sword Art Online Alternative – Gun Gale Online is available on Crunchyroll.