5 Point Discussions – Sword Art Online Alternative: GGO 12: “Applause”

by Sage Ashford

The tournament finally comes to an end, with a surprising winner. Karen finally gets to meet the woman behind Pitohui. What’s her secret? 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. I pointed out last week how insane Pito’s kills were, so of course LLENN had to figure out a way to top it.  After they finally get into it hand to hand, Pito shows off the same freakish strength which let her lobotomize two dudes at the same time via a lightsaber to dominate LLENN.  LLENN loses faith in her abilities a little too often for my tastes, but she makes up for it in the end with potentially the most epic kill we’ve seen yet.
While Pito’s holding LLENN by her arms with one hand and trying to go for the kill, Fuka comes and chops off LLENN’s hands. After getting free, she ends things by ripping Pito’s freaking throat out. I’m not sure what I’m more impressed by; LLENN having grown enough to be so savage, or the programmers for GGO even putting such a particular melee ability in the game. Seriously, the best Call of Duty’s ever done is a ballistic knife–this game lets you go full on Hannibal Lecter?

2. And, anti-climactic ending predicted! With M dead before the final encounter thanks to Pito killing him with a bullet to the head, LLENN and Fuka are the only two left standing…and they get immediately gunned down by the mysterious T-S squad.
It’s the most boring ending possible, but also probably the one that’s most like real life. If a squad can last long enough through camping to be one of the last three, and the other two have some freaky blood feud thing going on, why not sit the match out and clean up the leftovers?  Granted, after so many epic encounters literally no one was happy about the winners, which is why people watching the match literally flipped off the winners. Somehow I doubt the T-S squad cares though–they seem like the “It’s a valid strategy!” types. Hilariously though, it’s mentioned in the light novel these geeks couldn’t even head back to the bar after winning the match because the players watching from outside were too pissed about the way they won.

3. Back in real life, Karen and Miyu finally get to meet the woman behind Pitohui. Goushi takes them to Pitou’s location, and on the way we get the story of how the two first met. Turns out, Goushi was an overweight fellow in college who met Pito while she was waiting tables. He became obsessed with her, and started following her around after work. Despite that being incredibly gross and sounding like the start to a really dark hentai, he was apparently innocuous enough to leave her alone, content with the fantasy of them being together.
….At least until Pito revealed she knew she was being followed. In the most unexpected plot twist of the show somehow, Pito somehow managed to tie him up, take photos of him for blackmail, then stop him from going to the police by mentioning his stalker ways.  Completely under her thumb, Pito all but ruined M’s life by stopping him from getting a proper job or going to classes regularly, turning him into her servant.  I’m…torn. On the one hand, Goushi was a creepy stalker.  On the other…she basically ruined his life afterwards, so the punishment seems like it supersedes the crime?
Still, Goushi seems overwhelmingly happy about his status in life as a servant, and he did turn into a hottie because of it…so maybe they deserve each other?

4. Despite everyone having known Pitohui was Elsa Kanzaki almost since the very beginning, the story tries one more red herring to trick us. Goushi invites them to a concert of Elsa’s, claiming the person who runs the club she’s working at is actually Pito.  But that fails because Karen’s not an idiot–there was literally only one way Goushi could have ever known who Karen was in real life, and it was through the letter she sent to Elsa.
One thing I love about this is how both Elsa and Karen both wind up being mirror images, having virtual personas which show how they would prefer to be in real life: LLENN is small and cute compared to Karen’s tall model-like figure, while Pitohui is a sexy, femme fatale-type character while Elsa Kanzaki looks like…well, what you’d expect a pop idol singer to look like.
Of course, hearing her talk it’s even more obvious, as Elsa boasts the same free spirit and trickster attitude as in the game, only slightly toned down and a little more visually incongruent since Elsa’s so tiny. We get a moment showing Karen’s growth, as she continues to be the mom of this group of misfits, hugging Elsa and telling her maybe she shouldn’t be so obsessed with death and just enjoy GGO like a game like everyone else instead of being a giant edgelord.
….And then we get a bit of a regression, as Elsa steals what could potentially be Karen’s first real life kiss, and it’s revealed Elsa’s bisexual. It’s a cute moment, and I’m willing to overlook Pito’s behavior essentially making Elsa the “Depraved Bisexual” trope since she’s supposedly grown and changed a bit from her experiences. That said it’s hard not to think they weren’t just going out of their way to make sure the doujinshi artists have plenty of material coming out of this season.

5. Final Thoughts: Somehow in a single season this managed to out Sword Art the actual Sword Art. We got all the absurd action you’d expect of a “real life characters playing a video game” genre, but without all the things that make Sword Art so disliked. There’s no overpowered main character living out his Gary Stu-ass fantasies, there’s no harem of pretty girls all hungry for the D.  But there are a lot of surprisingly well-rounded female characters genuinely enjoying video games in a series where the writer put as much thought into their inner character as he did in their actual visual representation, resulting in a show where not every woman is designed for the male gaze.
It also gave us Miyu, who might legitimately be the best anime character of 2018. I don’t know how, but literally every line of dialogue she had with this last episode was a legit laugh out loud moment.
This could easily have gone for another twelve episodes, and hopefully the popularity in Japan is enough that this can come back for a bit.  With Pito’s over the top edgy origin out of the way this series can only get better. They’ve assembled a decently affable main cast, and there’s plenty of source material out there left undone.
For now, this show is a solid B+, or an 8/10…and belongs in the pile of “great, incomplete anime” alongside Grimgar, Legend of Legendary Heroes, and Log Horizon.
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

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