It has been a full year since the end of the Sword Art Online incident and ten months since the end of the ALfheim Online incident. Although things had returned to normal for some time, mysterious incidents occur in another VRMMO game, called Gun Gale Online (GGO), when in two instances, a player in the game is shot by a mysterious person in a mantle who calls himself "Death Gun" and the shot player mysteriously disconnects after a few seconds, only for their real body to be found dead days later. After the second such incident, Kirigaya Kazuto is asked by a member of the VR Crimes Division, Kikuoka Seijirou, to investigate the rumours that the incidents in-game are related to the deaths of the players in the real world.
After hearing that Death Gun has a requirement for his targets: the people he supposedly kills are all top players, Kazuto agrees to convert his ALfheim Online avatar into Gun Gale Online using The Seed's character conversion feature to enter the most well known tournament in the game, the Bullet of Bullets, to draw the attention of the mysterious Death Gun.
Sword Art Online's story is divided in arcs, the Aincrad arc was beyond awesome and the Fairy Cancer arc sucked more than anything in this world. Now with the Phantom Bullet arc, set in the «Gun Gale Online» game we once again have a treath of imminent death thanks to the antagonist Death Gun.
The story of the Phantom Bullet is nice and different from previous installments, instead of the good ol' sword and sorcery in the previous arcs, now we have guns instead, Nothing much can be said without giving away heavy spoilers but I must say that in my opnion; Swords > Guns.
But that's just me, ranting for no reason.
Kirito's PTSD is now brought to the forefront and he finds someone whom he can relate and also add to his 'frenemies list'. A girl with a gun named Hecate. I'm talking about Sinon, which is a great addition to the SAO cast. With a design which seems to be a homage to GitS' Motoko Kusanagi's, with a nice background and a cool personality, Asada Shino is obviously the main focus of this character-driven arc, and whlie she's, by no means, better than the magnificent Asuna Yuuki (which takes the backseat, but has a pivotal role in this arc), she's an excellent character overall.
The art is cool, and there's some heavy fanservice, usually regarding Sinon's derrière and Kirito's design may make him look like a girl, but that's an important plotpoint, so no complaints here. With some heavy Star Wars references it's nice to see Kirito's photom sword «Kagemitsu G4» being used left and right to slice up bullets and show off all of his style. The world of Gun Gale Online looks gritty and dystopic just like in the novels and the dramatic moments felt touching and moving and the comic relief scenes were funny to say the least. While not as good as abec/bee-pee, Yamada Koutarou has a distinct art trace and a really good art overall.
A murder-mystery to be solved by Kirito and his crew, but mostly him and Sinon. The Gun Gale Online is a great arc overall. Not better than the Aincrad/Progressive but easily better than the unexistent Fairy Cancer arc.
Story - 8/10
Character - 9/10
Art - 9/10
Enjoyment - 10/10
Overall - 8/10
Similar recommendations for those looking for (nice) stories centered around guns, mystery and drama:
Black Bullet, Black Lagoon, Canaan, Koukaku Kitoudai:Ghost in the Shell, Gunslinger Girl, NOIR and Strike Witches.