The anime hit of 2012 is back with a new season, but is it still the juggernaut it once was? Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD!
The year is 2025, one year after the events of the first season, and Kazuto and Asuna are enjoying their beautifully wonderful lives as a young couple in love. That is until a new threat emerges within the servers of the next “Best VRMMO in the world”, Gun Gale Online. See, people in this game are succumbing to the deadly effects of acute heart failure, coincidenly after being shot by “Death Gun” (which is oddly the name of the “murderer” and their gun in question). Seeing as how this is only chalked up to mere coincidence, Kazuto once again dons the moniker of Kirito in order to play GGO and find out just what in the virtual hell is going on…by essentially getting shot at.
Here we are again, another game, another mystery to be solved. Although, unlike the first episode of the first season, “Gun World” is all set up, which is fine. We get a look at what the newest VRMMO craze is like and to its credit it has a vastly different feel and look from both SAO and ALO. GGO boasts a sci-fi like dystopian setting complete with roving gangs of gunners, seedy bars where players conversate, and deserts perfect for sniping out enemies. It sort of resembles Reki Kawahara’s other work “Accel World” with the setting and gloomier color pallete.
The information is delivered mostly through Kirito talking to Asuna in the park about their life plans, or Kirito talking to his agent friend about the supposed murders and how impossible they seem. There is some useful information given in these moments though. GGO, unlike it’s predecessors is a game that allows players to use in-game money in the real world, and according to Kirito some of these pro players make big bank from this method. This gives an interesting perspective seeing as how the players of GGO are no mere noobs (although they can’t hope to measure up to the all mighty Kirito). The mystery of the deaths is also given some thought as it is explained that unlike the deaths in SAO, nothing happens to the victim’s brains during death; so the Amusphere (the device that allows them to play the game) is not to blame.
As for character development, there isn’t much to say. Kirito and Asuna are basically the same as they were at the end of the first season (which is kind of a detriment to Asuna seeing as how shambled the ALO arc left her character). We get a few name drops of Kazuto’s cousin Suguha AKA Leafa and Lisbeth in the episode, but we have yet to see them.
With the wheels beginning to turn, SAO II so far looks to be heading in the right direction, but only time will tell if it will succeed the first season or shoot itself in the foot (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Minor Gripe: It’s been a year, why is Asuna still calling her friends by their avatar names? I can understand calling Kazuto “Kirito” as like a pet name and calling Rika “Lisbeth/Liz” because they were besties in SAO, but why is she still calling Suguha “Leafa”? Just seems awkward to me.