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  • Angst? What Angst?: For a grim and brutal "world of guns", LLENN tends to treat GGO like a giant playground where she can role play at being cute.
  • Ass Pull: In the first Squad Jam, LLENN got spared from death because she conveniently had the Satellite Scan Terminal in her chest pocket when Eva unloads her gun where its located. Since the terminal was an Immortal Object it No Selled the kill shots. This wouldn't be an issue except the viewers weren't told about its status as an Immortal Object prior to this.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: One of the biggest contentions of the Phantom Bullet arc was the new game that was introduced, Gun Gale Online, was largely left unexplored, where instead the plot of Kirito and Death Gun took center stage. This series features heavy exploration of GGO as a whole, with its many mechanics and features that the main anime left untouched.
  • Awesome Music:
    • "Ryusei"note , the opening theme, and marking Eir Aoi's return to music after a two year hiatus with another stunning SAO soundtrack.
    • "To see the future", the ending theme sung by LLENN's voice actress, Tomori Kusunoki.
    • The insert song "Pilgrim" sung in-universe by Elza Kanzaki and one of LLENN's favorite songs, with many viewers wondering who the actual singer is as it hasn't been revealed yet. The Episode 4 credits reveal it to be a new singer in the industry called ReoNa, affiliated with SACRA Music.
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    • "Step, Step" which plays in Episode 3 while Karen is writing her fan letter.
    • ReoNa again in Episode 5 with "Independence", the insert song doing double duty as LLENN's Theme Music Power-Up after P-chan makes its Heroic Sacrifice. The full song gets used in the recap episode.
    • Once more in Episode 9 with "Disorder" that plays during the aptly-named "Ten Minute Massacre."
    • And finally, one more in the final episode with "Rea(s)oN." That makes five Insert Songs that ReoNa debuted with this series, quite an accomplishment for such a new singer.
  • Base-Breaking Character: If there's one character that can start arguments in this series, it's Pitohui. The most controversial aspect of her is her backstory as an "SAO Loser" and her obsession with committing murder-suicide if she loses Squad Jam 2 unless LLENN can defeat her. One side argues that AGGO's storyline is too comedic and comical to introduce such a serious plot thread, while others argue that Karen needed to have a compelling reason to enter Squad Jam 2 after she'd decided she wasn't interested in doing so. There's also divided opinions on the approach of using her to drive the plot rather than a proper antagonist. On the one hand it makes her sympathetic in a way none of the other SAO villains could have, while on the other hand people say her psychotic streak is very one-note and generic and it would have been better to just have someone actually evil that fans could root for the heroes to take down.
  • Broken Base:
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    • The absence of Kirito and other key Sword Art Online characters, especially Sinon, in the spinoff. Many feel Kirito has already gotten enough attention and it's high time for him to move aside to explore another side of the Sword Art Online universe without him around. Others find it hard to get engaged with the new characters and think that without him it lacks the SAO feel. Then there's those who like it because they didn't enjoy the main series and its characters, but do enjoy this approach to the universe without Kirito's presence spoiling the interesting setting.
    • Somewhat similarly, whether the series is better off without Reki Kawahara's involvement. Those who dislike Sword Art Online will almost certainly say yes unless they dismiss both series as garbage, while those who enjoy Sword Art Online tend to disagree, whether because they like the parent series better or enjoy both series equally.
    • LLENN's overpoweredness. One of the few criticisms that carried over from the main series is The Protagonist is unbelievably overpowered. Some argue that it's forgivable for LLENN, as unlike Kirito she actually offers a lot more as a character than simply being strong, as her personality is simultaneously very entertaining. However others say the extent to LLENN badassery takes the series down a peg as it completely throws out the realism of FPS games that the series had going as an appeal, especially considering a large amount of LLENN's dominance in fights is due to the physical traits of her avatar rather than skill like Kirito.
  • Cargo Ship: LLENN's over fondness towards her P90 sub-machine gun practically invites shipping. She affectionately calls her gun "P-chan", openly thinks of her gun as cute, and has been known to talk to it. The fact that P-chan ends up talking back seals the deal. When it was damaged near the end of the first Squad Jam, she goes berserk!
  • Crazy Awesome: Fukaziroh is the resident Cloudcuckoolander and quite off the rails, spouting silly nonsense at inopportune times but also being a badass force to be reckoned with.
  • Creator Worship: Keiichi Sigsawa has been getting this treatment compared to Kawahara, with fans having far more faith in his work. The success of the spin-off has almost entirely been credited to him taking over.
  • Critical Research Failure: Although it's Played for Laughs, when Karen was converting accounts between games, her heart rate ended up hitting well over 200 bpm from the shock. Lots of people have pointed out with a heart rate that high, she should be heading to hospital.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Among the main quartet, Miyu/Fukaziroh is easily the fan favorite, despite receiving the least focus. She's beloved for being Fun Personified and the source of a good deal of the show's humor with her many antics, and unlike most Plucky Comic Relief characters she's very useful to her friends being a Glacier Waif who can destroy her enemies with ease. She also memefied "Loli with grenade launchers".
    • The scantily clad Drill Sergeant Nasty was an instant hit with fans. Many a gamer stated they'd love that kind of a tutorial in a real game. Aside from her appearance, the tutorial was also relatively to the point, immediately immersed you in the world, and doubled as an assessment of the players play style to provide suggestions.
    • P-chan. Since episode 5 has teased the possibility it may be an actual character. During LLENN's Imagine Spot, she starts hearing a voice that gives her a motivational speech. The source of the voice is from none other than P-chan, who has sprouted cute anime eyes.
    • Clarence. Her entire scene of negotiating with LLENN for her magazines was very hilarious. There's also the fact she's an openly bi girl.
    • Team ZEMAL unexpectedly found fans as well, if only for the fact that they're easily the guys having the most fun in the game and that they pretty much act like how most real players who get their hands on heavy machine guns would in an online shooting game.
  • Escapist Character:
    • Although she's vastly different to Kirito personality wise, LLENN still fits this role for fans of FPS games. This is especially the case with providing the option of being a cute and adorable anime girl in a shooter, which is relatively rare.
    • Pitohui can also be considered such, being the PUBG pro that countless players wish they could be.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • Sinon showing up and interacting with the AGGO cast.
    • Fukaziroh's adventures in Alfheim Online.
    • What SAO would have been like if Pitohui took part.
    • Anyone who's playing a game (BoB or Squad Jam) in GGO and interacting with other players.
    • LLENN vs Kirito. By extention, LPFM vs Kirito and Sinon.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Karen and Elsa Kanzaki quickly became the One True Pairing for many fans after they meet in real life and the latter kisses the former.
  • Genius Bonus: The orange & black bird that appears on Karen's monitor during the opening? A pitohui.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The date of the second Squad Jam is 04/04/2026, which is the same date that Yuuki's funeral was held.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Due to the SAO franchise's memetically bad reputation and the memetically good and memetic in general reputation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, many memes had been made illustrating what appears to be a Fandom Rivalry between the two. Episode 5.5 takes a cue from Jojo's anime adaptation and adds sound effects to the intro.
    • Casting Faya Mata as Miyu is funny once you consider that she's an actual gamer and is known in various gaming circles.
  • HSQ:
    • Seeing LLENN run at top speed for the first time, where she blitzes down a highway like The Flash.
    • LLENN slaughtering an entire squadron of elite soldiers, flipping and weaving as she shoots all of them dead.
    • P-chan growing eyes and talking to LLENN in her Imagine Spot.
    • Pitohui slaughtering the entire ambush team of 20+ players all by herself, in what can only be described as pure carnage.
    • Pitohui getting headshot and very nearly dying.
    • The completely unexpected return of the Photon Sword in Pitohui's hands.
    • LLENN having her wrists cut off by Fuka upon her request, then getting kicked through the air so she kills Pitohui by biting her neck!
  • Just Here for Godzilla: A fair few late comers started watching after seeing Fukaziroh was a "Loli with Grenade Launcher".
  • Les Yay:
    • LLENN and Fukaziroh's friendship can sometimes be seen as something a little more, especially Fuka who appears to flirt with LLENN at times. However, this seems to be just an in-game thing with Fuka; Miyu in real life doesn't seem to swing that way at all and she's all over Goushi the moment she sees him in person.
    • Pretty unambiguous with Karen & Elza Kanzaki, at least one-sided on Elza's part considering she gives her a French kiss upon meeting her for the first time in reality.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Expect an endless stack of "loli" jokes for any scene featuring LLENN.
    • "LLENN is the fastest loli alive!". note 
    • "P90 too OP, plz nerf." note 
    • "Watashi wa Lucky Girl! Lucky Girl Dayo!"note 
    • "It's just darlin'." note 
    • Episode 5 is basically one giant Fountain of Memes:
    • Viewers finding Karen to be the type of girl they want to do a Wall Pin of Love on.
    • Loli with Grenade Launcher note 
    • Darth Pitohui note 
    • "Kirito, I am your mother."note 
    • "M is for Masochist"note 
  • Memetic Psychopath: Pitohui. Fans are torn between being awed or disturbed by how utterly savage she is when she slaughters entire squadrons of players all with a Slasher Smile on her face.
  • Moe:
    • LLENN/Karen. Pint-sized and adorable in-game leading others to be protective over her, while in real life she's introverted due to being a victim of constant bullying over her height.
    • Fukaziroh/Miyu. Many find her excitement and giddiness over everything to be endearing and cute.
    • Team SHINC in real life. Just look how cute and adorable they are!
  • More Popular Spinoff: The main Sword Art Online became one of the most divisive animes in The New '10s, while the Alternative Gun Gale Online spin-off received near-universal critical acclaim. Virtually all critics and even most fans of the original series agree the spin-off is far better, with only a select few die-hard SAO fans preferring the original.
  • Narm:
    • Pitohui is generally referred to as Pito in the show. One childish joke among the fandom is that "pito" is Spanish for penis.
    • The fact that Fukaziroh not only named her in-game avatar after her late dog, but her name translates to "not allowed second son". Thankfully, it's generally abbreviated as "Fuka," which sounds like a Japanese girl's name.
  • Narm Charm:
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • GGO's Drill Sergeant Nasty Tutorial NPC.
    • The 'Avatar Buyer' who tried to buy Kirito's GGO avatar in SAO, is back again in Episode 7 where he tries to buy Fukaziroh's avatar. It's a nice Continuity Nod to the original series and a reminder they are indeed in the same Shared Universe.
    • The Expendables camoeing in Episode 9 as the leaders of the allied teams, before they all get taken out by Pitohui.
  • Squick: While the series already amped up the blood and gore compared to its parent show, it got taken Up to Eleven in Episode 12 where LLENN bites Pitohui's neck and ruptures her carotid artery, spewing a great deal of blood. Yes, LLENN literally has Pitohui's blood in her mouth that she drew with her teeth.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: For all the divisiveness of the main Sword Art Online, the spin-off has been very warmly received. LLENN is praised for a better choice for The Protagonist compared to Kirito, being far more interesting and entertaining, while being much more complex as a character. In addition, as mentioned in Author's Saving Throw, the spin-off fleshes out the largely unexplored Gun Gale Online and all the interesting aspects of the game that the main series briefly touched on upon. The spin-off also has a better pacing which was an issue with some of the Sword Art Online arcs, not rushing the plot and taking the time out for character exploration inbetween the action. There's also no sign of the Supporting Harem that plagued the main Sword Art Online, as relationships and romance are scarcely touched upon, and even when it is featured it's never a major focus.
    • From more cynical minds, "The best way to make a good Sword Art Online arc is to not make it Sword Art Online". The fact that this series has next to none of the elements present in the main series —no Kirito, no Asuna, no romance, no Reki Kawahara— but just kept the gameplay and Death Game elements and enjoyed critical success caused some haters to joke that SAO had to get rid of everything to be accepted again, or, more damningly, that SAO being "good" would be SAO In Name Only.
    • More charitable minds would say that certain characters and harem comedy are only surface elements in the original Sword Art Online, and do not define it. The true core elements are the themes of identity, behavior, and relating to others through virtual reality and the differences (or lack thereof) between it and physical reality. These are present in both Sword Art Online and Gun Gale Online. While Reki Kawahara is not directly involved in the latter, he still set the foundation which the actual writers of Gun Gale Online build upon. They just take what worked and improve on it while dropping what did not.
  • Tearjerker:
    • Despite being Played for Laughs, Karen's first avatar being just as tall as her real self is so upsetting to her that it spikes her vitals enough to trigger the emergency logout failsafe.
    • Slightly more seriously, it's revealed in the second volume of the light novel that while Karen has a loving family, she doesn't feel comfortable telling any of them about playing a VRMMO. It's indicated that her feeling as though she has to keep secrets is slowly driving a wedge between her and the rest of the family.
    • In the game, there's a ruined church with a dog guarding a tuxedo and a wedding dress. Pito infers that the bride and groom must have wanted to get married quite badly, even knowing that the world was about to end.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • For some fans, the fact that Sinon never makes an appearance to interact with any of the spin-off cast, despite being a major GGO player still involved in the game. Given that she's largely absent from Mother's Rosario she could have easily fit in a Guest Star Episode to better tie the series together.
    • In Volume 2 of the light novel, it's implied that the large amount of time Karen spends on GGO, which she refused to tell her family about, has resulted in Karen's sister becoming worried about her, knowing that she hasn't made any friends at school. One would think that this would result in Karen potentially being forced to come clean about playing GGO to her family, or at least her sister. Volume 4, however, begins two months after the end of SJ2, during which time Karen hardly played GGO at all, and this plot thread has not been brought up again.
  • Tough Act to Follow: As a spinoff of one of the biggest modern Japanese media franchises, this series debuted to high expectations. This is especially in comparison to the Phantom Bullet arc of Sword Art Online which also focused on Gun Gale Online and is considered one of the stronger points of the series. It not only lived up to the expectations, but greatly surpassed the reputation of its parent show meeting almost universal critical acclaim.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Karen's Height Angst can be a bit hard to understand for Western viewers, who wonder why a woman who's fairly attractive by their standards is so insecure about being tall.
    • The series also showcases Japanese attitudes toward tattoos, with Pito's tattoo turning off many men, and her saying that there would be problems if she got one in real life, probably because she's also a celebrity.
  • Win Back the Crowd: This series managed to win back a lot of people that had gotten sick of Sword Art Online for several reasons. It does not feature Kirito at all, instead introducing a completely unrelated female protagonist called LLENN, with her own backstory, personality, and story arc. It's written by Keiichi Sigsawa, who is far more knowledgeable about shooter games than the main series writer Reki Kawahara, who filled the Phantom Bullet arc with Laser Blades and Sniper Rifles rather than weapons more common to shooters. This is also played up when an anime adaptation began airing. Nearly all of the big names among the SAO hatedom, who spent years bashing SAO, have spoken positively about the spin-off, praising it for its better pacing and handling of characters and being superior to the original.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Almost averted with Team Narrows in SJ1. As expected from seasoned JSDF regulars, they display near-perfect coordination and sound tactics, a dedicated sniper pair giving the rest of the squad cover while taking full advantage of real-world knowledge of Fast-Roping to swiftly exit from their previous positions. They kind of dropped the ball later on when they decided to take positions on an open street without the use of cover during their hunt for LLENN, and their sniper pair not being in a more advantageous position to cover the rest of the team.
    • Most of the Red Shirt Army teams like Team ZEMAL apparently think it is perfectly sound to gather and advance closely in a group, without taking cover while completely disregarding the possibility of enemy snipers within range of their squad.
    • Team Memento Mori during their hovercraft assault in SJ1 completely wastes their vehicular and numbers advantage by approaching LLENN and M from a single direction and in a unified formation, essentially becoming a shooting gallery for M. The light novel at least tries to explain that they were staying close to conserve their fuel to fight Team SHINC afterwards.
    • During SJ2, seven teams had decided to gang up on Pitohui's squad. At least four of those teams were travelling together in a tight group with a few others scattered around to cover the massed platoon. At no point did their leaders bring up the strategy of thorough recon and had assumed that all of the enemy were in a single location.
    • In Episode 10, the mercenaries from PM4 make some pretty poor tactical decisions during the log cabin siege, to say the least. The heavy weapons man, despite having a machine gun, straps on a dozen grenades onto himself and rushes at the enemies... but they gun him down before he can get close enough to hurt anyone. The shotgunner charges down the stairs and only fires one shot before he too is mowed down. The pistolier makes the best effort, throwing a chair down the stairs and laying down suppressive fire from the 2nd floor, but he is vastly outgunned and gets shredded when an enemy fires through the floor. They could have made a better showing had they fought as a team instead of going piecemeal.
    • In Episode 11, this is an Invoked Trope: Team SHINC and Fukaziroh decide to abandon all strategy and charge straight at Team PM4's compound like idiots, where they all predictably get sniped out by M and Pito. Only Fuka gets spared due to Pito intentionally keeping her alive after shooting off all her limbs. The whole point is to break LLENN out of her funk and spur her into action.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Unlike Sword Art Online, a lot of the violence in this series is so graphical it really makes one wonder if the ratings will be pushed up. Even though it's supposed to take place in-game in a simulated virtual world, a lot of fight scenes (especially Pitohui's) involve decapitation, bisection, bone crushing, torture, and a lot of digital blood.
  • Woolseyism: Since the anime dub doesn't use honorifics, M's request to use yobisute on LLENN is instead translated as him asking if he doesn't have to call her, the leader of his team, "Captain." It fits fairly well, especially since M ends up giving the orders to LLENN.
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