Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online is a 2018 anime series animated by Studio 3Hz, published by Aniplex and is based on the light novel series of the same name by Keiichi Sigsawa. This is a spin-off to Reki Kawahara’s Sword Art Online series but you only need knowledge of at least the Gun Gale Online arc to enjoy the rest of this!
SAO Alternative is an interesting spin-off because we focus on a different group of characters who have had no interactions with Kirito and the rest of his gang from the main series. In fact, studio A-1 Pictures didn’t even animate this spin-off so that’s another factor. I watched all 12 episodes during its simulcast on Crunchyroll and it’s a surprisingly enjoyable series and Karen is now my favourite SAO girl now (don’t fight me).
Much like the main series, SAO Alternative is published in the English territories by Aniplex and that means licensing restrictions. The series will be split between two volumes carrying around 6 episodes each, but the UK release distributed by Anime Limited is now the best option to acquire. Many Aniplex titles distributed by UK distributors tend to be using the Australian author to save costs, but SAO Alternative takes the best route – using the Aniplex of America masters. This is the same sort of treatment that Anime Limited also gave to March comes in like a Lion. As such we have two Blu-ray discs instead of a combo pack, as the series remains Blu-ray only across all English territories (making DVD discs aren’t cheaper either).
The UK release by Anime Limited also has two variations of the collector’s edition set. The variation I have is exclusive to Shop AllTheAnime and it comes with a box to house both volumes of the series. This box is rather nice and doesn’t have the foil effect made the Sword Art Online II set a bit messy to view (especially with photos), though there are foil effects on parts of the main volume’s box itself which works well.
Released in June 2019, Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online Part 1 contains episodes 1-6 of the series across two Blu-ray discs. Audio options available include the English Dub and main Japanese language with English subtitles. The discs are region locked to B territories, and the white subtitles are unlockable during playback. Also included in this set is the Episode 5.5 recap (which is dubbed also) as well as a number of on-disc features that were also in the Aniplex of America release. The physical contents exclusive to the UK Collector’s Edition are also replicas of the Aniplex of America release, in other words, you are essentially getting the exact same release (with AL packaging) for a better price point.
Languages: English, Japanese
Audio: English Linear PCM 2.0, Japanese Linear PCM 2.0
Video: 1080p High Definition Native format with 16:9 ratio
Locked Subtitles: No
Plot Synopsis (via Anime Limited):
“In the world of guns and steel that is Gun Gale Online, LLENN has been a devoted, female solo player. She is obsessed with two things: donning herself entirely in pink and honing her skills with consistent gameplay.
She soon discovers her love for hunting other players (a.k.a. PK or Player Killing), and quickly becomes known as the “Pink Devil.” Meanwhile, LLENN meets a beautiful yet mysterious player, Pitohui, and the two click right away. Doing as she is told by Pitohui, she enters the Squad Jam group battle.”
Blu-ray On-Disc Extra Features:
Episode 1 Japanese Audio Commentary
Episode 5.5 Refrain Special
Episode 4 Japanese Audio Commentary
Episode 5 Japanese Audio Commentary
Episode 5.5 Refrain Special
Textless Opening Song “Meteor”
Textless Ending Song “To see the future”
Collector’s Edition Extras:
Rigid Box with clean artwork, and also AL logo and title on spine.
Outer Rigid Box (exclusive to Shop AllTheAnime) with clean artwork and title on spine.
3 Art Cards
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online is available on Blu-ray from Anime Limited.