Gun Gale Online
About a year after the events that transpired in Season 1, a new virtual world has gained momentum called Gun Gale Online (GGO). The gameplay is based around guns and utilizes full-dive virtual reality technology. Objectives in the game are to level your character up and put points into certain skills. There is one grand event held every month or so that is called the Battle of Bullets. Here, the best of the best fight against each other in a free for all death match. Our main hero from SAO finds himself pulled back into the virtual landscape again. Here is an overview of him and some of the characters he meets along the way.
In the original Sword Art Online world, Kirito is known for being one of the best swordsman. He was able to successfully defeat Heathcliff, A.K.A. Kayaba Akihiko the creator of SAO, and designer of Nervegear. The two of them share some similarities. Both of them share a love for computers and virtual worlds. The major difference being Kirito has great regard for human life and will do anything to protect people, while Kayaba only cared for his vision of a death game. Oddly enough there is a mutual respect between the two of them. This shows Kirito's capability of being able to respect his enemies. He has come a long way since he was first seen trapped in the world of Sword Art Online. When the viewer is first introduced to Kirito, he is a loner both in the real world and the virtual one. He prefers to work alone and not join a Guild, being a solo player. This puts him at odds with many other players as he is also a Beta player. Alone and accused of being a cheater Kirito pushes forward to try and end the game. This is a moment of sacrifice as he puts the blame on himself for being a Beta player, and acting like he is withholding information. He went from being a loner gamer to a respected, popular, and skilled hero. Meeting his girlfriend and in-game wife changed his introverted perspective on life. He slowly became more outgoing and receptive to the his group of friends. Living in game for around two years has matured Kirito, and made him realize what the important things in life are. In the second arc of the first series, he dedicates his time to finding and rescuing his girlfriend. He will not stop for anything. This is an example of him setting a goal and sticking to it no matter what the costs are. As this is happening he's also rebuilding his relationship with his cousin (adopted sister). Many instances like these build up to make the character Kirito we know today in Gun Gale Online.
Kirito is recruited by the Japanese government to join GGO in order to figure out the mysterious and deadly happenings of the Death Gun. Kirito's GGO avatar is unlike his many other incarnations of his virtual self. His black spiky hair is replaced with a long flowing mane and feminine facial features. For the majority of his time in Gun Gale he is mistaken for a girl. Hilarity ensues as he uses this to his advantage pretending to be a girl. In a game filled with guns, it would be expected that Kirito choose an incredible gun. But, this is the master swordsman we're talking about here. In a display of complete expertise and skill, Kirito beats a bullet dodging game. Giving him the funds to buy himself a top notch photon sword. It doesn't matter what game Kirito is in, his default weapon will be the sword.
Kirito's friendly relationship with the new female lead, Sinon, is an important plot line. He is no stranger to having people counting on him. His many friends and family are all supporting him in his new foray into the virtual world. The Japanese government wants him to find the killer to stop innocent gamers from being killed. On top of all of that, he is a supportive and inspiring influence on his new friend Sinon. He is sensitive to the emotional problems that Sinon is facing, while at the same time trying to overcome his own emotional burdens. Having killed real human beings in Sword Art Online wears on his psyche. He's battling with the guilt, trying to determine if what he did was justified or not. Even though the people he killed were members of the Laughing Coffin, the player killer guild. Kirito still feels remorse, showing his true character.
Sinon may not have been trapped in a virtual death game for two years. But her personal demons are equally as frightening. When Sinon was only 9 years old she was at the scene of an armed robbery. As the crazed robber got out of hand, he threatened to kill her mother. Fearing for her mothers life, Sinon sprung into action and attacked him. In the tussle the gun was thrown to the ground. She grabbed the gun and shot the robber three times. This event has followed her throughout her life and has had dire consequences on her mental well-being. We're introduced to Sinon being bullied by a pack of girls goading her about her innate fear of guns. Sinon leaves the bullies and goes to her home, where she has a PTSD induced panic attack. This is in stark contrast to when we meet her GGO counterpart.
Sleek and refined, her virtual avatar is a tough looking girl who wields a large sniper rifle, the Hectate II, which she won by defeating an incredibly difficult boss. There seems to be a contradiction in Sinon's personality. She is unable to stomach the sight of guns or weapons in real life. In contrast to her In-game persona, she flourishes and uses the gun play as therapy. It is an odd coping mechanism, but does serve to advance the mental healing process due to that tragic event. Aside from Sinon's emotional problems, she is an incredible force of a character. She is focused on a few set goals in her life. The Battle of Bullets is something that she has wanted to win for a long time. She knows she is one of the best snipers in the game and wants to prove it. Sinon has few friends before she meets Kirito. Her one good friend is named Kyouji. He's a decent friend to her and has helped her a few times. He got her involved with GGO to overcome her fear of guns and fended off her bullies. Even though he is a weak kid he's served some use to Sinon. Clearly his feelings towards her are unrequited. He's always offering to walk her home, or making other suggestions to advance their relationship. But he's stuck being just friends with her, leaving him a lonely guy.
On the other hand, her relationship with Kirito has led her to trust her instincts and embrace her weaknesses. Sinon is fascinated with figuring out Kirito's backstory. She knows that something drastic has happened to him and this attracts her to him. She learns to accept herself as who she is and is inspired by him. Throughout the story she is confronted with some of her deepest fears. At the end of her story there is a final culmination of her facing her fears. The bullies come at her again pointing a gun at her. In an emotional catharsis, she takes the gun away from one of the bullies and shows her how to properly use it. Leaving them stunned and shamed. Sinon grew as a person during the events of GGO due to her friendship with Kirito and more importantly accepting her weaknesses.
Death Gun (デスガン), one of the biggest mysteries of this character is just who is he? For the majority of the story, no one knows what his motives are. This character is a villain through and through. There are no redeeming qualities to him and he kills indiscriminately and whenever he can. Eventually our main characters deduce that Death Gun is not one person, but a group of sick nobodies. Their big plan was to make it seem like a gun in game would kill someone outside of it. They would use their invisibility ability to spy on characters and watch them put in their personal information. Then find them and use their hospital connection to get a syringe of heart stopping medicine. Death Gun represents cowardice and the dangers of anonymity in the online world.
With that being said there is a moral lesson to be learned with the character of Death Gun. The world of Sword Art Online deals extensively with analyzing the line between what is real and virtual. Some characters such as Kirito, think of virtual reality as just another part of humanities' reality. Inhabiting the virtual world is no different then the real one. It is simply an expansion of the mind and the world. Death Gun doesn't limit his atrocities to the virtual world, he shares them with both worlds. This is the pure evil side of this technology and something that our main heroes have been facing since they entered Sword Art Online.
We've seen the immense possibilities for good and evil that exist online in the virtual world. Asuna's story in this season shows us a glimmer of hope and sadness as she ventures online again. Here she meets a great group of people who have interesting and heartbreaking backstories. The power of humanity shines through in this story.
Asuna began her life-changing journey during the Sword Art Online incident. She began not caring much for anything including her own life. Asuna is from a well-off background and is a little bit older than Kirito. She is his real life girlfriend and in-game wife. Her journey has been one of many ups and downs. Asuna is a proud and kind person. She can't stand the sight of others being hurt or killed, as evidenced by her reaction to those dying around her in SAO. Throughout the first part of the story she learns to put worth in herself and become an independent, strong woman. Asuna's love for Kirito is immensely powerful as she sacrifices herself for him when Heathcliff is about to kill him. Their love breaks through the barriers of even the game itself. They both survive even after their health goes below the red zone. After the SAO world ends she gets stuck in the next world. In ALO she becomes an abducted victim and is trying to escape. But this does not stop her from trying to fight back and return to her love. During Kirito's mission in GGO, she is by his side and gives him the support he needs to defeat Death Gun. After Gun Gale Online, Asuna hears of an extremely powerful warrior in ALO who is challenging and beating other players. She goes out to face this player. This is where she meets a new friend named Yuuki. At this point in her story, she begins to grow even more as a person. On her own she learns more about herself through the trials and tribulations of Yuuki.
Yuuki and Asuna have a duel and she almost beat Yuuki. Even though she didn't win, Yuuki offers her the chance to join her guild, the Sleeping Knights, to try and defeat the 27th floor boss. Asuna wonders why it is so important to all of them to have their names on the Monument of Swordsmen, which is the place winners get their names placed when they defeat a boss. The Sleeping Knights want to have their names immortalized in stone because they are dying. All of the members are terminally ill patients who have been in Virtual reality for longer than most SAO survivors. Being in this state has helped them relieve the pain of the real world. Even with their deaths approaching, they are living their lives to the fullest. Yuuki inspires Asuna to keep on pushing forward on in life no matter what the circumstances are.
There are two points of growth for Asuna in this storyline. The other being her mother's negativity to what she does in her spare time with her friends. Her mother does not see the purpose of spending so much time in the virtual world. She thinks that the SAO survivor school is not properly preparing her for her university studies either. This is a major point of contention for the two of them, and strains their relationship. It isn't until Asuna tells her mother to join her in the virtual world does her view change. When her mother enters the world and sees her home, her icy demeanor breaks away. She is reminded of her childhood home and finds the beauty in this virtual space. The once strained mother-daughter relationship has now been restored. On an emotional level, this greatly aids in Asuna's sense of self worth, knowing that her mother respects and supports what she does.
Yuuki is a tragic and hopeful character. Yuuki is the leader of terminally ill patients, who have been full diving in the virtual world for a few years. She was infected with HIV due to a contaminated blood transfusion when she was younger. As her condition worsened, she was soon completely confined to her bed and fully immersed in the virtual world. One of her goals was to get her name and friends' names forever written on stone for beating a floor boss. When Asuna helped them achieve this she was overjoyed.
Asuna became very close to her and she looked at her as an older sister. In order to spare Asuna the heartache of knowing about her condition, she distanced herself from her. When Asuna confronted her about this she eventually told Asuna about her condition. Accepting her fate she wanted to do even more. With the help of both Asuna and Kirito she was able to go to school through a camera Kirito had created. In one of the saddest and most emotionally charged scenes in the series, Yuuki died in Asuna's arms. Surrounded by her closest friends and many other players paying their respect.
Sword Art Online II shows both the worst and best of humanity. In the world of Gun Gale Online, Death Gun serves as the main antagonist who kills out of spite and boredom. Utilizing the powers that are available to him for evil. Kirito is tasked again with being the purveyor of justice and disposing of this villain. Asuna finds people who are literally dying by living their lives to the fullest. Savoring every moment that life has to offer to them and spreading positivity and love. This season had some characters who are still growing as people and learning more each day in all the worlds they inhabit.