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Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online Collection 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read
The matches continue with action at the forefront.

The matches continue with action at the forefront.

What They Say:
“Watch out, Pito. I’m coming!!”

The Second Squad Jam is going to be held and Karen’s friend, Miyu, decides to join her in the battle royale. Converting her avatar from another VRMMORPG, she joins Gun Gale Online as Fukaziroh. As the SJ advances, LLENN becomes nervous about taking Pitohui down.

Before she faces off Pitohui, LLENN makes a big decision!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation here is one that has both language tracks and it’s definitely a big step up over how the first season was presented. The original Japanese language track is done in the uncompressed PCM format so we get the stereo mix in a very strong and clear manner here that sounds great and definitely conveys some solid warmth and overall forward soundstage directionality and depth. The English mix is now thankfully done in the same way rather than using the lossy DVD level Dolby Digital codec. Getting the English mix uncompressed helps to bring that out in a better way with more clarity and overall warmth to it. The mix does the same work as the Japanese mix and the dub is solid itself and both tracks come across clean and clear and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The six episodes for this set are spread evenly across two discs. Animated by 3Hz, the show has a really great look about it that feels very much in line with what the other series has produced. Colors are rich throughout with a solid and deep palette that’s used whether it’s the dark night scenes or interiors as well as the brighter exteriors of the battle zone. The detail is well handled with crisp lines where appropriate and no problems such as line noise or breakup among it. The transfer here captures the source material in a way where there’s nothing to really find fault with during regular playback and it just allowed me to be sucked into this fully realized world in an engaging way.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release is done up the same as the previous sets with the limited edition form that really hits well as it has a certain simple sleek classiness about it. The thin slipcase is done up in a flat white look that has on the back panel has the GGO logo design in silver that looks good. The front panel goes for a look at the two main characters here with LLENN and Miyu that’s dynamic and fun, especially with the mix of pink and lighter tan and green against the white. The case artwork goes and changes it up a bit with the GGO logo element spread across front and back but done with a tan/green background and some light pink to mix it up some. This is also done up for the reverse side of the case which is a nice bit of continuity. The set also comes with a couple of high-quality postcards and a great full-color booklet that breaks down characters and weapons with a lot of detail and appreciation that looks great and makes for a good reference.

Extras:
The extras for this release are pretty much focused on the audio commentaries with a couple of them included here. In addition to that, we get a small selection of the Japanese commercials and promos for the series. The Japanese commentaries are definitely the main draw and those that want to dig deeper are well rewarded with what you get here in hearing them talk about the show..

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of the Gun Gale Online series was pretty fun as we got to look at a different take on the overall concept that was “released” by the end of Sword Art Online early on. Having an infinite range of servers and styles out there with popular ones growing nicely made a lot of sense and dipping into the gun play side was an easy expansion without harming the core brand. I liked the first half of this series well enough with what we got even as it worked the back and forth narrative that slowed things down. But the thing that got me with that opening half is that it really is just a simple action-based work, the kind of thing where if you had these twelve episodes of action amid a much longer running series you wouldn’t blink. But for almost all of this series to be this way? It’s a little surprising.

And that does limit some of what there is to talk about with it because a lot of what it becomes engaged with – not bogged down in – is strategy. The start of the SEcond Squad Jam gets things moving pretty well as we get the tournament moving forward, the teams set up, and then a hard and fast run into it all. That the main session runs just over 90 minutes in the show itself is interesting and giving us a bit of a decompressed view of that over the six episodes provides for a lot of the strategy elements to be mixed in. Some of the fun early on is the whole outfitting for the game, but also just the way the personalities clash with it. It’s no surprise that Pitohui is going to be pushing at LLENN as strongly as she does, and as openly as she does, but it’s still fun to watch since it riles up LLENN just enough a well as others.

The Squad Jam event does have a few different teams going on here but they’re all just things to get past, minor distractions that provide small obstacles to overcome or problems that hang on a bit and keep LLENN and her team from being as flat out on top of things as they would be unscathed. The engaging part of all of this is that while these little side bits play into it all, the main focus is on how LLENN and Pitohui are doing as they come at each other from different sides. There’s a lot of intensity in all of this and a real desire to win, though Pitohui is obviously the more outgoing in regard to it all with how she presents herself, and it turns into some good fights across the stage that’s set. We do see in the end report just how many bullets were fired and the cost of it all and that’s definitely impressive.

But it does all come down to LLENN and Pitohui as they face each other. It’s simplistic in a lot of ways, going to that last episode as it does with the two of them on the field and their associates being roughed over in a lot of ways. It does lean into the usual bonds of the team outweigh someone like Pitohui, but you do have to admire Pitohui in how she even tries to use one of LLENN’s own weapons to defeat her with only to fall short. That it comes down to a knife battle is almost comical but there’s still a lot to like with how they throw themselves at each other and just don’t stop until there’s nothing left at that point. It’s solidly done and you feel a lot more for both of these characters at the end knowing that they put everything into what they were trying to accomplish and that someone had to come up short.

In Summary:
Gun Gale Online is a fun show and a nice little side diversion from Sword Art Online. I like that it largely eschews anything but guns and lets those that enjoy that realm have something to run with, which it does well without going all fanatical about it in a way that might be disturbing. It does keep to mostly being about the female characters and their journies and makes for a solid adventure, one that covers just a few matches overall and spends a lot of time giving them room to breathe so that it can get into the fun of the strategy. Aniplex’s release is one that looks and sounds great and comes in a good package overall, though I would have preferred a heavy chipboard box to give it a bit more impact and tie it into the mothership series. Fans of the show and those that picked up the first half get the complementing side presented just as well done. Definitely an easy recommendation for fans of the show that want to own the series in a good form.

Features:
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Audio Commentary by Japanese creators & cast with English Subtitles, Promos, Commercials

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: May 21st, 2019
MSRP: $74.98
Running Time: 164 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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