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Shinkawa Shouichi (新川 昌一(しんかわしょういち), Shinkawa Shōichi?), known as XaXa (ザザ, Zaza?) in «Sword Art Online» and as Sterben (ステルベン, Suteruben?, German for "to die") in «Gun Gale Online», is the main antagonist of the Phantom Bullet Arc and a minor antagonist in the Aincrad Arc. He is one of the 10,000 players who were trapped in Sword Art Online, where he was a member of the infamous red guild «Laughing Coffin», nicknamed as Red-Eyed XaXa (赤眼のザザ(アカメのXaXa), Akame no ZaZa?) because of the red eyes of his skull mask. After being released from the game, Shouichi began playing Gun Gale Online due to the recommendation of his brother, Shinkawa Kyouji. In October 2025, the two brothers created and began executing the «Death Gun» plot, which involved giving the impression that they could kill people in real life from within a game.


Sword Art Online Avatar[]

XaXa's overall design revolved around the color red. He customized his hair and eyes to be crimson,[5] and wore a skeletal mask with glowing red eyepieces alongside a ragged, black[6] hooded cloak marked with a red reverse cross, seemingly mocking the crest and colors of the Knights of the Blood.[5] In combat, XaXa utilized an estoc so powerful that the metal gleamed in what appeared to be the colour of blood.[6] He bore the Laughing Coffin guild tattoo on his right forearm.[citation needed]

Gun Gale Online Avatar[]

Shinkawa Shouichi's avatar in GGO.

Shouichi's avatar in Gun Gale Online, Sterben, is similar to XaXa in Sword Art Online. Like his SAO avatar, Sterben wears a skeletal mask[5] with black goggles containing red lenses, along with a dark gray, tattered[7] optical camouflage mantle[8] and grungy, faded boots.[7] On his right forearm, he re-tattooed the emblem of «Laughing Coffin»: a half-opened coffin with a eerie, leering smile on the lid and a white skeletal arm extending from the darkness within, beckoning the viewer.[7]


Shouichi is a cold and sadistic person who believed in PoH's principles. He enjoys killing other players, even with full knowledge that they would be killed in real life as well, due to relishing the feeling of being feared by others.[1] Shouichi's sense of reality began wearing thin since he joined Laughing Coffin, feeling that only things beneficial to him were real.[citation needed]

When Shouichi began playing Gun Gale Online, he maintained interest in observing other players on the streets and imagining ways of killing them, rather than fighting monsters. His obsession only grew after obtaining his camouflage mantle, as he began practicing ways of obscuring himself from others, feeling that it was interesting to stalk someone from behind.[1]


Since an early age, Shouichi had been rather frail and sick, thus resulting in frequent hospitalisations until he finished middle school. Due to him entering high school a year late, his father abandoned his hopes for Shouichi to inherit family business, thus pushing the burden onto his younger brother Kyouji instead. Shouichi eventually quit his high school and sought solace in the online world, where he started playing Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) until he became trapped in Sword Art Online.[1]


Aincrad Arc[]

A Murder Case in the Area[]

In April 2024, XaXa, along with PoH and Johnny Black, was hired by Grimlock to kill Schmitt, Yolko, and Caynz to prevent anyone from discovering the truth behind the death of Griselda, the leader of the Golden Apple guild. On April 23, after Johnny Black paralysed Schmitt while he was being confronted by Yolko and Caynz at the Hill of the Cross, XaXa seized the estoc Yolko and Caynz had requested to intimidate Schmitt, complementing on its design and deciding to add it to his collection. However, before the red players could accomplish their mission, they were forced to withdraw when Kirito arrived on a horse and warned them that he had arranged for reinforcements to arrive and had enough healing items to stall for time. As the Laughing Coffin members departed, XaXa promised Kirito that he would hunt him down on a horse like the Black Swordsman had done to them.

August, 2024[]

During the anti-Player Killer raid led by the Clearers, XaXa fought Kirito at the start of the counterattack but was forced to retreat after his hit points were reduced to less than half, swearing to kill Kirito. Before being sent to the Black Iron Palace prison, XaXa offered to reveal his name to the Black Swordsman, but the latter refused to hear it, declaring that he never wanted to meet him again. While in prison, XaXa spent an indefinite amount of time practicing Sword Skills repeatedly, despite the lack of gain in cor and experience points, burning the motions into his muscle memory.[5]

November, 2024[]

XaXa was one of the 6,147 surviving players to log out after Kirito defeated Heathcliff on the 75th Floor.

Phantom Bullet Arc[]

Due to being an orange player in SAO, Shouichi underwent a time of observation and counseling after his release from the death game, though he only confided his experiences and accomplishments therein to Kyouji. Lacking other SAO Survivors' aversion to virtual reality, he accepted his brother's advice to begin playing Gun Gale Online, where he focused on observing other players in town and imagining ways to kill them. However, when Shouichi acquired an invisibility cloak via a Real Money Transaction (RMT), he started utilizing it to stalk other players undetected just to amuse himself.

Sometime in early September, 2025, upon following one of his targets into the governor's office, Sterben impulsively decided to use his binoculars from a pillar's shadow as a player operated an information terminal. Surprised to find the player's real-life name and address displayed on the screen, he memorized the information and wrote it down after logging out. Excited by his theft, Sterben spent the following days in the governor's office, secretly observing player interactions with the information terminals, until he had acquired the personal information of sixteen players using this method.

One day in October, Shouichi shared the information on one such player named XeXeeD (Shigemura Tamotsu) with his brother, who believed to have been deceived by the player. The pair began discussing how they could hypothetically use the information to kill the player in real life, while making it seem like he had been killed from within the game. The plans stopped being hypothetical over time, leading to Shouichi using a master key stolen from his father's hospital to infiltrate Tamotsu's apartment on November 9. At 23:30, the boy killed Tamotsu with a lethal injection of a muscle relaxant called suxamethonium chloride (succinylcholine) via a high-pressure needleless syringe, just as his brother shot an image of XeXeeD from an interview on MMO Stream in-game.

Several days later on November 25, Shouichi repeated the feat by infiltrating Usujio Tarako's real-world apartment and injecting him with a lethal dose of succinylcholine around 22:00 just as Kyouji as Sterben shot the player in-game. However, both of their murders failed to garner any serious attention, prompting the duo to enact a more drastic demonstration by killing three people during the upcoming 3rd Bullet of Bullets tournament. Due to one of their targets living farther from the others, Shouichi also invited his former Laughing Coffin guildmate Kanamoto Atsushi (Johnny Black) to facilitate the execution of their plot.

Having passed the preliminaries, Sterben was qualified to enter the Bullet of Bullets battle royale when it began at 20:00 the next day on December 14. During the tournament, Shouichi as Sterben would stun people with special shells from his L115A3 Silent Assassin sniper rifle and then get up close to shoot them with his «Death Gun», the Type 54 "Black Star". While he committed the kill in-game, his brother and Kanamoto Atsushi would inject the players in the real world with succinylcholine. His plans were foiled by Kirito and Sinon, and he eventually went to prison after the incident had passed.

Non-canon Chronology[]

NonCanonAlert.png Non Canon: Some or all events and details given in this section, may be considered non-canon to the main story.

Hollow Realization[]

Sometime after Richter's (Kyouji's) second meeting with Kirito and Sinon, Shouichi used Kyouji's account to log into Sword Art: Origin. While wandering around the Town of Beginnings, he encountered Kirito, just as the boy was about to log off for the day. When greeted by Kirito, Richter inquired whether the boy was truly the legendary Black Swordsman of Sword Art Online. Treating his startled reaction as a confirmation of this, Richter commented on the strangeness of the Black Swordsman being in a world so similar to Aincrad. Before taking his leave, Richter gave a warning that the swordsman could not do as he pleased in Ainground, regardless of the resemblance between the two worlds.

Sometime later, after Richter's confrontation and reconciliation with Sinon, Shouichi logged into Sword Art: Origin with Kyouji's account again while his younger brother was taking a temporary leave from the game. Upon spotting Kirito in the Town of Beginnings, he briefly trailed the boy, until he was detected. Addressing Kirito by his SAO title, Richter disparaged the Black Swordsman for roleplaying as the hero, ominously warning the swordsman that he would end his story someday, before logging off.

Known Equipment[]

Gun Gale Online[]

Name Type Acquisition Notes
«Accuracy International L115A3» Sniper Bought from the Real Money Trade system. Primary weapon
Unnamed cloaking mantle Armour Bought from the Real Money Trade system
«Type 54 "Black Star"» Pistol Used for the Death Gun plot to allegedly kill players in the real world.
Unnamed estoc Knife Secondary weapon for close quarter battles.


Sword Art Online[]

One-Handed Rapier

Gun Gale Online[]

  • Knife Creation
  • Weapon Creation


See Shinkawa Shouichi/Image Gallery


  • Shouichi's GGO avatar was named as Mortale fucile (モルターレ・フチーレ, Morutāre fuchīre?)[9] while Shouichi's real name was Ryouichi (亮一?)[10] in the web version.
  • Shouichi has an amazing memory, as he was able to remember players' addresses and then write them down when he logged off.[1]
  • Shouichi makes a brief cameo game appearance in Hollow Realization by using Kyouji's in-game avatar to speak to Kirito while his younger brother was spending time with Shino in the real world.


  1. Appears under another VR avatar in Hollow Realization


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Volume 6, Chapter 16
  2. SII Episode 14
  3. SII Episode 05 credits
  4. Dubbed SII Episode 05 credits.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Volume 6, Chapter 14
  6. 6.0 6.1 Volume 8, A Murder Case in the Area, Part 11
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Volume 5, Chapter 6
  8. Volume 6, Chapter 12
  9. Web version Death Gun story, chapter 5.
  10. Web version Death Gun story epilogue.


Major Characters
Alice Zuberg - Asada Shino (Sinon) - Ayano Keiko (Silica) - Eugeo - Kayaba Akihiko - Kikuoka Seijirou - Kirigaya Kazuto (Kirito) - Kirigaya Suguha (Leafa) - Shinozaki Rika (Lisbeth) - Tsuboi Ryoutarou (Klein) - Yui - Yuuki Asuna (Asuna)
SAO Players
Aincrad Liberation Force/ALS Hokkaiikura - Joe - Kibaou - Kobatz - Liten - Melonmask - Okotan - Schinkenspeck - Thinker - Yulier - Yakumo
Divine Dragon Alliance/DKB Buxum - Hafner - Lind - Morte - Schmitt - Shivata - Yamata
Fuumaningun Isuke - Kotaru
Fuurinkazan Dale - Dynamm - Harry One - Issin - Klein - Kunimttz
Golden Apple Caynz - Grimlock - Griselda - Schmitt - Yolko
Knights of the Blood Asuna - Daizen - Godfree - Heathcliff - Kirito - Kuradeel - Nautilus
Laughing Coffin Johnny Black - Kuradeel - Kuro - PoH - XaXa
Legend Braves Beowulf - Cu Chulainn - Enkidu - Gilgamesh - Nezha - Orlando
Moonlit Black Cats Ducker - Keita - Kirito - Sachi - Sasamaru - Tetsuo
Titan's Hand Rosalia
Two-Handed Builders Agil - Lowbacca - Naijan - Wolfgang
Others Argo - Ashley - Ceba - Coper - Diavel - Gin - Gwen - Kein - Lisbeth - Lux - Mina - Nishida - Rossa - Ryufior - Sasha - Silica - Yuna
Beta Testers Argo - Coper - Diavel - Isuke - Kotaru - Morte - Kirito
NPC Angel - Kizmel - Leyshren Zed Yofilis - Lion - Myia - NPC Orchestra - Pina - Ruru - Scarecrow - Theano - Tilnel - Tin - Toto - Yui
Non-Canon Aaaa - Alberich - Leafa - Philia - Rain - Sinon - Strea - Yuuki
ALO Players
Cait Sith Adie - Alicia Rue - Silica - Sinon
Gnome Agil - Tecchi
Imp Yuuki
Leprechaun Ceba - Granze - Lisbeth - Talken
Pooka Sasha
Salamander Eugene - fastuosa - Gtacs - Jun - Kagemune - Klein - Mortimer - UxperXJ
Spriggan Kirito - Kuro - Nori
Sylph Erika - Fukaziroh - Leafa - Lux - Recon - Sakuya - Sigurd
Undine Asuna - Chrysheight - Siune - Thinker - Yulier
NPC/Navigation Pixie Angel - Emely - Hraesvelg - Leviathan - Nerakk - NPC Orchestra - Pina - Skuld - Thiazi - Thor - Thrym - Tonky - Urðr - Verðandi - Yui
Others/Unknown Ashley - Fairy King Oberon - Garnet - Gwen - Marinca - Saitou Shouichi - Slug Researchers
Non-Canon Alice Zuberg - Argo - Black Lotus - Eugeo - Heathcliff - Persona Vabel - Philia - Rain - Sachi - Seven - Strea - Sumeragi - Yuna
GGO Players
Dyne's Squadron Arashi - Dyne - Ginrou - Jin - Miso - Sinon
BoB Participants Blackwood - Colonel Liberty - DA*LU - Dyne - E.J. - Fernil - Garrett - huuka - Jack Reacher - JIGEN - Kakouton - kaeeeede - Kakameposu the II - Keith - Kirito - Lion King Richie - Masaya - Musketeer X - No-No - Pale Rider - Pancho - Raiden - Licoco - Setsugekka - Shishigane - Sinon - Sterben - Stinger - Subtilizer - Ten-Q - Uemaru - Usujio Tarako - Yamikaze - XeXeeD - XYZ
Death Gun Victims Garrett - Pale Rider - Usujio Tarako - XeXeeD
Squad Jam Participants KKHC Shirley
LPFM Fukaziroh - LLENN - M - Pitohui
MMTM Bold - David - Jake - Kenta - Lax - Summon
Narrow Dashin - Hidehide - Nagama - Nobu - Saika - Yasu
SHINC Anna - Eva - Rosa - Sophie - Tanya - Tohma
ZAT Benjamin - Casa - Frost - Koenig - Yamada - Let's Play Host
ZEMAL Heuy - Max - Peter - Shinohara - Tomtom
Others Clarence
Other main series characters Behemoth - Spiegel
AGGO manga original characters Batian - Boss - Costa - Lorosae - Panama - Rio
Underworld Resident
Human Empire Rulid Village Algu - Alice Zuberg - Bercouli - Donetti - Doyke - Eugeo - Garitta - Gasupht Zuberg - Ivenda - Jaina - Jink - Kirito - Nigel Balbossa - Orick - Ridack - Sadina Zuberg - Selka Zuberg - Sister Azalia - Sulinea
Zakkaria Banou Wolde - Egome Zakkarite - Kelgam Zakkarite - Telin Wolde - Telulu Wolde - Toriza Wolde
Centoria Azurica - Cardinal - Quinella - Sadore
Sword Mastery Academy Azurica - Eugeo - Frenica Szeski - Golgorosso Balto - Humbert Zizek - Kirito - Raios Antinous - Ronye Arabel - Sortiliena Serlut - Tiese Shtolienen - Volo Levantein - Zobun
Central Cathedral Cardinal - Charlotte - Chudelkin - Elevating Operator - Fizel - Linel - Quinella
Integrity Knight Alice Zuberg - Bercouli - Dakira - Deusolbert - Eldrie Woolsburg - Eugeo - Fanatio - Fizel - Giro - Hobren - Jeis - Linel - Renly - Scheta
Dragons Amayori - Himawari - Hinageshi - Hoshigami - Kazenui - Shimosaki - Takiguri - Tsukigake - Yoiyobi
Others Almera Woolsburg - Eschdol Woolsburg
Dark Territory Black Iums D.I.L - Dampe - Fu Za - Iskahn - Lengil Gira Scobo - Lipia Zancale - Vixur Ul Shasta - Yotte
Orcs - Renju - Rilpirin
Ogres Furgr
Giants Sigurosig
Goblins Aburi - Hagashi - Kosogi - Kubiri - Oroi - Shibori - Ugachi
Underworld Visitors
Agil - Alicia Rue - Asuna - Eiji - Eugene - Gabriel Miller - Hirono Takashi - Jun - Kirito - Klein - Leafa - Lisbeth - Moonphase - Nori - Sakuya - Silica - Sinon - Siune - Tecchi - Vassago - YUNA
Asuka Empire
Players Clevel - Koyomi - Merida - Nayuta - Ran - Yanagi - Yuuki
NPC Clovis (AI)
Staff Torao
Reality/Other Games
Rath Aki Natsuki - Higa Takeru - Hiraki - Ichiemom - Kikuoka Seijirou - Koujiro Rinko - Nakanishi - Niemom - Yanai
Others Alicia Klingerman - Cel - Clovis - Critter - Doctor Kurahashi - Eiji - Endou - Fujita Shin - Kirigaya Midori - Okano Kouji - Oosawa Mizue - Oosawa Sachie - Sada Akiyo - Satou Rei - Shigemura Tetsuhiro - Yuna - Yuuki Kouichirou - Yuuki Kyouko - Yuuki Shouzou
Non-Canon Gattas - Genesis - Laraiah - Premiere - Richter - Sigil - Tia