The mainline Sword Art Online is not especially known for its comedy. It constantly takes itself pretty seriously, in fact. Most stupidly named spinoff ever Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online, on the other hand, is occasionally...not that.

Warning: Since the screenshots come from multiple episodes, they could be considered spoilers, no matter how context-free. Proceed accordingly. 

I’ll most likely go a bit more in-depth with my thoughts and feelings on it as a whole show, probably when I’ve seen it all, but right now, we’re two-thirds of the way into the series by this point, and I’m a happy camper. This is even one of the shows that I’m watching together with my noted not-an-SAO-fan girlfriend, something neither of us expected to be doing at the start.

On the one hand, it seems pretty evident now, going a little against my initial hopes, that noted gun geek Keiichi Sigsawa might have been way more interested in wrecking shit in GGO than taking much of a deep dive into player motivation and psychology. Honestly, though, I’m finding that easy to overlook. Gun Gale Online is way too fun of a time to deny!

And also randomly really goddamn funny. This was something that took me completely by surprise. I did not expect to laugh this much, especially from a Sword Art Online story.

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Like, right off the bat from the opening credits, we get this nice shot of protagonist in-real-life Karen flying back-first through the sky:

Which further cracked me up because literally the first thing it made me think of was that one (NSFW) bizarre old Xbox commercial:

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Just remember, Karen. Life is short.

The ending credits has something similar, with shots where the idea was to play around with the dual identity of real-life Karen and her in-game avatar LLENN.

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But...uhhh...

Baby Legs you’re a good detective, but not good enough because of your baby legs. So I’m partnering you up with Regular Legs.

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Granted, the ending can be endearingly silly as well. (I just really like the ending as a whole tbh)

This show also has the greatest mean tutorial segment.

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And the moment where I realized that I am still in fact nine years old.

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There’s this montage where LLENN is doing a bunch of tasks on command so that a teammate can get an idea about where her skills as a player are at. Somewhere in the middle of it all, this shit happens.

Super Mario Odyssey (2017)

Something that I did not get pictures of of, because pictures couldn’t do it justice: There’s something that happens in episode 4 that I really do not want to spoil, so I’ll just say that ever since then, either saying or hearing just “Gomen” can send me into fits of laughter.

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Pretty choice reaction faces on display as well.

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It also just gets straight-up batshit out of nowhere.

In this world of guns, P-Chan is best girl.

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Why don’t you agree, LLENN??

The absolute best shot of the whole show, however, on the basis of everything that’s been released so far, is this Act in Three Shots with GGO’s very particular rendition of a specific dramatic anime trope.

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When they did that pull-away shot, my girlfriend and I laughed sooo hard. We had to rewind it again at least once just to make sure it was real.

I love everything about all of this. I love that Gun Gale Online just sometimes decides on the fly that it’s a slapstick action-comedy, and that it goes absolute whole-hog whenever it happens. How ironic it is, in a sense, that the show about a game centered around all manners of gun-based carnage is by far the most lighthearted and un-serious entry in the SAO oeuvre. To which I say, cheers!

Coming from someone who appreciated the main show’s second-season stabs at being about Important Things, and who might have wanted something similar to that but done better by the Kino’s Journey author, what we’ve gotten instead is still thoroughly worthwhile. Having the audacity to recognize and remind us that ridiculous video games are, in fact, ridiculous—then lovingly playing it up with absurdity and hilarity—is, it turns out, a pretty good tack to nail a show on.

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Update June 8, 2018, 12:43 pm—Had to change the year for Super Mario Odyssey to the proper one because this moron forgets last year existed.