Passionate Fandoms Never Die

Passionate Fandoms Never Die

©2023 時雨沢恵一/KADOKAWA/GGO2 Project

Fandom was the focus of the Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online II panel at this year’s Anime Expo. While there was some new information about the second season and broader franchise, the highlights were winks, nods, and acknowledgements of the passionate and more than a decade old SAO fan community. As it’s been six years since the first season of Gun Gale Online aired, the attendees’ excitement was palpable and their enthusiasm infectious.

Kicking off the panel, and making it clear that this event was for hardcore SAO fans, was the introduction of content creator and internet personality Gigguk. Primarily via YouTube, Gigguk has been making videos and otherwise discussing Sword Art Online since nearly the premiere of the original season. Having one of the most prominent SAO fans on stage asking questions made it feel as though they were coming directly from the fan community.

Most of these questions were directed towards Tomori Kusunoki, the voice of GGO’s protagonist LLENN/Karen. Over the course of the panel, she described how she was only 18 when she landed this role, and how the experience working on the first season alongside her more senior cast members helped her mature as both a voice actor and person. In fact, when asked what inspiration she draws upon while recording, she answered with, “I relied upon the advice and experience of my senior voice actors. As an up and coming voice actress, I focused on learning as much as I could.”

Also on stage were Aniplex producer, Wataru Hashimoto, and a developer for the upcoming Sword Art Online: Fractured Daydream video game, releasing on October 4, 2024. Hashimoto gave some insight into the production process, showcasing aspects of the production process of the second season and how they’re regularly interfacing with the creator of the GGO light novels, Keiichi Sigsawa. His attitude toward this production was that he wanted it to be a “powered up” version of the first season, but also that, “I want new fans to be able to experience this season as well.”

This is reflected in the new key visual for the season, which features LLENN front and center, and various other characters from the series forming a spiral of guns behind her. Hashimoto felt that this image highlights LLENN, but also has hidden references in the background that long standing fans will pick up on, like key locations from the first season.

The reveal that Gun Gale Online characters will be playable in Sword Art Online: Fractured Daydream was met with raucous applause. Both LLENN and Fukaziroh will be playable, and differentiate themselves from SAO characters by being able to do sustained damage at range. Pitohui will also appear in the game, but as downloadable content sometime after the game’s launch.

The panel wound down with a new preview trailer for season two, which was a mix of old footage from season one and new material from season two. The big takeaway from the trailer is that there will be at least one more Squad Jam event in season three; meaning season two is set to be as action-packed as the first. Gigguk also read a note from LN writer Sigsawa. His letter expressed that, “The staff and cast are currently working hard to make the show. If you enjoy it, that’s all that matters.” Sigsawa also acknowledged a long running joke in the SAO fandom, and he confirmed that he does in fact play FPS games; but didn’t offer on comment on if Sword Art Online author Reki Kawahara is a gamer or not.

To close the event, Kusunoki said, “I’m so thrilled and happy to see fans worldwide excited about season two. I’m going to tell my fellow cast members about your enthusiasm.” Despite the later panel time and the exhaustion that comes with attending a large-scale event like Anime Expo, the crowd seemed even more energized as they left Petree Hall than when they entered. One attendee even expressed to me that this panel inspired him to convince his anime club back in Texas to binge through the first season of Gun Gale Online before the premiere of the second season. While the anime community tends to put an increased focus on new series premiering titles, this panel made it clear that the Sword Art Online fandom is still thriving and just as passionate as ever.

Read More

Zaļā Josta - Reklāma