The Second Squad Jam is days away! Can LLENN teach her friend Fukaziroh how to play the game in time? And who did M and Pitou recruit for their team? 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. Oh hello Best Girl, I didn’t know you’d been hiding in plain sight all along. I was wondering why they would spend so much time downplaying Karen’s best friend Miyu–turns out they had no choice. In a single episode she managed to shoot from relatively unknown quantity to Best Character on the Show. Miyu (known as Fukaziroh in the game) dominates every scene she’s in by actually treating the game…like a game. While Karen’s using gaming as a way to help her come out of her shell and develop as a person, and everyone else appears to be roleplaying existing in a weapon-obsessed post-apocalyptic futuristic world, Miyu’s just here to enjoy herself. She runs around the hub city to see how many dudes will hit on her, complains about her randomized design being flat-chested, and gets the most absurd weapons that deal the most damage.
Early in the episode, she realizes she doesn’t have any money and points out that maybe LLENN’s buddy M will be willing to help them. Of course he is, so they wind up retrieving a chest from a garbage can with ten million gil deposited directly to her account. Immediately they go weapon shopping, and she finds the most expensive stuff in the store…and gets it because, well. She’s got a Sugar Daddy. Miyu couldn’t have been in this show any sooner because honestly, she would’ve overshadowed Karen and her story by making this series way too much fun. Even her design is sweet–her hair is tied up in a bun by knife with brass knuckles attached to it. That’s so over the top and yet perfect for such a tryhard game.
2. How crazy would it be if these meatheads wound up being a threat in the second Squad Jam? There’s no chance this happens because they play like idiots and aren’t even trying to take this serious, but it’d be funny. Still, they nearly get killed by a giant monster because they’re too busy being idiots and not paying attention, so this is doubtful.
3. LLENN’s been forced into the actual leader position a lot quicker than I would’ve thought. In the first tournament she was “leader in name only”, as M did most of the strategizing and explained most of the rules, even teaching her advanced team based techniques. But here, LLENN has to run the show because while her friend is a long time gamer she doesn’t exactly know the rules of this world or experienced any time playing on an advanced level like the Squad Jam.
With the stakes as high as they are, she has to put aside her usual nervousness and make the best of things between her and Fukaziroh because she doesn’t have a choice. You can still see the confidence she lacks, but she’s not the same person, and she’s putting her best foot forward to try and save the woman who helped her break out of her shell as much as she has.
4. You’d assume a second confrontation between SHINC, the group of middle school girls who ranked second in the first Squad Jam, and LLENN is inevitable but…I’m not so sure. She basically solo’d the entire group last time, and I’m not sure how you top that. M sniped two of them, but she still killed the other four–does she kill all six this time? Somehow I doubt it, and I’m betting SHINC has quite a bit of trouble against Memento Mori in a tense episode of their own. If there’s anything left of either group, then they can think about going up against LLENN and Fuka.
In the meantime, one thing I didn’t expect about this show was how they basically used the first tournament to set up the second. The nature of GGO is essentially a online persistent world reminiscent of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare–a “serious”, futuristic shooting game. Typically anime makes characters that “matter” stand out by giving them fantastical designs, even if they stand out artistically against the core design of the show. But for the most part, the major characters in this world don’t stand out aesthetically–not in the typical way you’d expect. Instead, they use characterization based on past episodes to tell us who’s important and who isn’t. You’re excited about SHINC ’cause they did so well against LLENN in episode 5, and you want to see what happens with M and Pitou because they aren’t working with LLENN like you’d expect. Speaking of.
5. Something I’ve appreciated the last three episodes is the 180 they’ve done with Pitou’s character. We could’ve assumed she was just your average idol singer who relaxed by playing Gun Gale Online, but the last two episodes have really recasted her character as kind of a jerk, and I’m absolutely loving it.
Pitou enters next to last alongside M and four masked men, and the mood of the room instantly changes–she’s relaxed and telling jokes while everyone looks at her dismissively. At first I was concerned that they were going to downplay her character and make her into something of a joke, but I should have known better.
In the second episode she told LLENN she didn’t typically have a partner because she was a woman and thought most men were creeps. And while there’s a veneer of truth to that in the show and real life, the actual reason she worked alone is because she was more trouble than she was worth, reveling in the insanity of the battlefield and putting her allies lives at risk so much eventually no one wanted to work with her. Other players wonder if M’s four friends were legit, but I’m imagining they’re actually either a lot like LLENN–newbies who don’t know any better–or like Pitou in that they’re insane and want to cause as much chaos as possible before dying. Even her name has a different meaning: Pitohui is a bird from New Guinea that’s so poisonous any human that touches it dies.
Eventually they’ll have to rehab Pitou’s character for when her real life persona and Karen finally meet up, but for now I just want one fight scene where she’s just as unhinged in battle as they’ve been hinting at.
Sword Art Online Alternative is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.