A return to the virtual world of Gun Gale Online sees what might just be the formation of the strongest team in the history of the game. The fourth light novel in Keiichi Sigsawa’s Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online brings us the third Squad Jam event, and this one has new rules in place to keep the players on their toes.
Old frenemies become staunch allies as the strongest team in the history of Gun Gale is born! This time, LPFM, named for Llenn, Pitohui, Fukaziroh, and M, will enter the third Squad Jam and overcome fierce competition as they aim for ultimate victory! But with a map that’s slowly sinking into the sea, and “unknown” area at its centre, and a “special rule” that won’t come into effect until the competition nears its end, this Squad Jam is proving to be one big mystery after another…
I’ve always felt that Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online‘s strength lies in the battles within the world of GGO, rather than focusing on characters in the real world. It seems that for this volume, Sigsawa feels the same, as only the first chapter focuses on Karen Kohiruimaki, and it is just the set up for her return to GGO as Llenn.
The majority of this light novel focuses on the third Squad Jam, and for the first time Llenn teams up with Pitouhui, Fukaziroh and M. Of course, a team consisting of such incredible players draws quite a bit of attention; it isn’t long before quite a number of enemies are converging upon them.
Joining this Squad Jam are some familiar faces, too. SHINC still have unfinished business with Llenn, and MMTM are there once again as well. SHINC are the team that Llenn wants to do battle with most, but naturally they start as far from each other as it is possible to get.
The most impressive gunfight in this volume arguably comes from another couple of familiar faces: Clarence and Shirley. Shirley in particular has come prepared to ensure that her targets aren’t able to escape with a sliver of health, unlike what happened in SJ2.
With other teams forming alliances to take out the likes of LPFM, SHINC, MMTM and T-S, Clarence has her own plan.
This ultimately leads up to Clarence and Shirley confronting each other, and their battle is of similar caliber to the fights that Llenn has had before. I’d argue that it is the highlight of this volume.
It would be pretty easy to have the 3rd Squad Jam be the same as the previous two, but some new rules are in play. The event takes place on an island, which is slowly sinking into the sea – that means the play area grows smaller as time progresses, forcing the teams to get closer and closer to each other.
Then there is the unknown area, and the special rule. These add a bit of mystery for this Squad Jam. The special rule is said to kick in when six to eight teams are left, and most teams surmise that it has some connection to the unknown area.
These changes keep the Squad Jam fresh, though I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Llenn and company participate in other events, too.
This volume ends on something off a cliffhanger, with the special rule finally coming into play. Seems like it will have quite an effect on how the remainder of the 3rd Squad Jam progresses.
The characters are just as fun as ever. Well, M is still M, but putting him aside, Llenn just wants to survive to fight SHINC, Pitohui is as sadistic as ever, and Fukaziroh is still a lot of fun.
As one would expect of Sigsawa, his gun nut tendencies are very much present too. There is a lot of detail when it comes to describing the guns; perhaps a little more so than necessary. It is pretty easy to get bogged down by all the terms, but I suppose it does give a sense of the research that went into writing this light novel. It is good to be passionate about something, I suppose.
Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online, Vol 3: 3rd Squad Jam: Betrayers’ Choice is a fun read, as it is a joy to see Llenn back in the world of GGO once more. Even better, she is teaming up with some of the most powerful foes she has ever taken on (and Fukaziroh). This volume picks up where the anime adaptation ends, so if you are eager for more Llenn, this is a pretty good place for that.
I believe she also appears in Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, and with the Complete Edition recently released for the Nintendo Switch at the time of writing… well, let’s just say I am quite tempted to expand my games collection.