|“||One day, I'll kill you properly.||„|
Shoichi Shinkawa is one of the 10,000 players who were trapped in Sword Art Online where he was infamously known as Red-Eyed XaXa, a member of the infamous red guild: Laughing Coffin. He later became a player of Gun Gale Online under the name Sterben (German for "to die"). He is also the mysterious self-proclaimed Death Gun, alongside his brother Kyouji Shinkawa and Atsushi Kanemoto (Johnny Black), and is the main antagonist during the Phantom Bullet arc.
Sword Art Online Avatar
XaXa wears a skeletal mask and a black cape with a hood. He has the guild tattoo on one of his arms.
Gun Gale Online Avatar
Sterben's avatar in Gun Gale Online is similar to the one in Sword Art Online. Like his SAO avatar, Sterben wears a skeletal mask and also wears a dark optical camouflage mantle around him. He re-tattooed a half-opened coffin with an arm sticking out of inside, waving; the manga version of the emblem of «Laughing Coffin».
Shoichi is a cold and sadistic person who believes in PoH's principles, thus he enjoys killing other players, even knowing that they would be killed in real life as well. It was later revealed that Shoichi enjoyed killing other players because he enjoyed the feeling of being feared by others.
As Shoichi's father did not have any expectations for him due to him being frail and sick, he eventually dropped out of high school and turned to the Internet as his heaven and started playing MMORPGs until he was trapped in SAO where he committed various crimes, becoming a Player Killer one year after the game started and joining Laughing Coffin. Shoichi's sense of reality has been wearing thin since then, feeling that only things beneficial to him were real. After the death game had ended, under his brother's Kyouji's advice and started playing Gun Gale Online, however, instead of practising his skills against monsters, he spent time on the streets observing other players and imagining ways of killing them, while, after obtaining his mantle, he had been practising ways of obscuring himself from others, feeling that it was interesting to tail someone from behind. After he managed to find out the real life address of several players by tailing them when they were inputting their personal information in the presidential estate of SBC Gurokken, he and his brother came up with a plot to continue killing people in the real world, supposedly via the use of a «Death Pistol» in-game.
When he was young, he was rather frail and sick, thus he was often moved between his home and the hospital after graduating middle school. He entered high school a year late but his father had already given up on him taking over the family business, thus he pushed the burden onto his younger brother. Shoichi eventually dropped out of high school and turned to the internet and started playing MMORPGs until he got trapped in Sword Art Online.
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. 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.
During the anti-Player Killer raid led by the Clearers, XaXa fought Kirito in battle, 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 Palaceprison, 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.
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. He began to play Gun Gale Online under the advice of his brother Kyouji. After obtaining his camouflage mantle, the two brothers looked to Johnny Black, another former Laughing Coffin member, and began to plot an ingenious plan to kill players in the real world from within the virtual world.
Shouichi entered the Bullet of Bullets tournament under the name «Sterben» to prove his "true" killing ability to the rest of the world. He 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 the other Laughing Coffin member would inject the players in the real world with succinylcholine, a drug capable of stopping the heart. They had obtained the address by hiding under a «Metamaterial Optical Camouflage Mantle» while they watched the other players type their real addresses during the BoB registration process. His plans were foiled by Kirito and Sinon, and he eventually went to prison after the incident had passed.