|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Your typical "trapped in another world" anime title, Overlord's gimmick is that an avid MMORPG player finds himself whisked into an alternate world with his guild's non-playable characters (NPCs) with rules and conditions in this world similar to the game he played in his reality and the player stuck in the form of the character he took on in the form of an elder lich. As our lead character is already at max stats from his regular play of the game and knowing all the ins and outs of playing it, it kills any kind of tension or suspense that viewers can get out of seeing his responses to enemy threats. Also, the majority of characters in this series are either too archetypal or get little fleshing out to give a hoot about them. The only praise I could give this series is for its good quality presentation with clean details on character designs and scenery, along with some fluid movements during action scenes with the final battle that Momonga finds himself in near the end of the series. Unfortunately, the series ends inconclusively as Momonga is still trapped in this alternate world and the enemy group that seems to be opposing him is still at large. Overall, I'm mostly indifferent to this series and don't really understand why it got so much hype from fans last year when it aired.
Last updated Thursday, December 29 2016. Created Thursday, December 29 2016.
(All episodes watched--three times):|
The 'trapped in an MMORPG' genre of anime, which was pioneered by SAO, has opened up a new sort of science fiction which has tremendous potential. But, like every genre, additional anime which hope to exploit that potential need to have something different from the one that started it all off, otherwise they become little more than copycats. Whoever wrote Overlord seems to have understood this, because this show does indeed have a number of novel touches. For one thing, the protagonist looks like about the last person you would expect in this role, namely a hideous skeleton Lord, Ails Ooan Gown. For another, this person, Momonga, seems to be the only human in a fantasy world where Non-Player Characters (NPCs) have somehow developed artificial intelligence on par with humans. Yet another interesting touch is that Momonga sort of likes being trapped in the game--he may not be 'trapped' at all, since he has never seriously tried to exit. He has played it for years, was sorry to see it nearing it's supposed end, and has no family or friends in the real world, apparently. I quickly became interested and confident that this would be my favorite anime of the Summer 2015 season. I was sorry to see that it would be a mere 13 episodes long.
As I rewatched Overlord a second time in the space of three days, I realized that it is much better organized and easier to follow than I originally gave it credit for. I usually watch episodes around a week apart, with many episodes of other anime inbetween, in which case I tend to forget a good deal of what had happened in the previous episodes and have a hard time keeping track of what's going on. The problem is that many anime aren't really good enough that I would want to watch numerous episodes binge style, but Overlord definitely was. There's basically the two episode 'what's going on?' arc, the Carne village arc, the Swords of Darkness arc, and the Shalteer-goes-missing one. Momonga starts engineering a new relationship with all the characters that he and his friends once created, and which did nothing but what the computer software told them to previously. An interesting point was the revelation that Momonga's people seem to see their creators (human RPG players) as some sort of Godlike creatures. He notices that his own real-world emotions have somehow been largely stripped away somehow. I thought at first that surely this would basically be a mystery--why didn't the game shut down like it was supposed to, what has happened since, and how will Momonga adapt? To a certain degree, he does try to figure out what's going on. But for the most part he just continues to play a much more realistic game, not escape from it or make sense of it. You get to know and like him. What, exactly, is at risk? What's the best and the worst thing that could happen to Momonga? The show seems to be balanced on a line between 'guy trapped in MMORPG trying to figure out what's going on' and 'political scheming in a sword and sorcery world'. If I had been writing this I would have focused on the former as the priority plot and the second as a secondary one, but this show takes the opposite approach, and it works (which shows you how much I know).
This was an intriguing show which I was enjoying, even the first time around. Apparently Momonga decides that he'll make an ambitious attempt to take control of this virtual world--why not? In some ways this show seemed more like Log Horizon than Sword Art Online, i.e, with a premise of 'might as well have fun since we're trapped' rather than 'our lives are at risk and we must escape'. He devises what must be an elaborate and systematic plan, but most of it is kept from us. Momonga/Ails tries to figure out how the old game rules operate in this much more realistic world. The scene in episode four where Momonga trashed a bunch of haughty magic-using warriors was fun (it's my favorite of the entire Overlord franchise and I have rewatched it countless times). I got a good laugh out of Albedo's comment afterwards, too. The discovery of a cute animal when a terrifying one had been expected in episode seven rubbed me the wrong way during my first watch but didn't bother me the second time around. In episode five Momonga and a bodyguard go undercover to learn more about just what's going on. I wish I understood it better myself; I have never played a MMORPG, and am left scratching my head by some of the conclusions Momonga draws. But the plot was good enough to keep me entertained and intrigued, and during its initial run this remained the one show I most looked forward to watching each week.
Momonga becomes a sort of middle earth 'Superman'. As he experiments, he finds that the magical and fighting skills he acquired before the game went haywire are on an awesome level and nobody that remains seems to come close to him. As a result, arrogant villains who think they are pretty special confidently take him on and promptly get their asses kicked. It's fun to watch the bad guys get their comeuppance. One difference is that Superman wouldn't kill these people, but Momonga does, since they clearly deserve it. He's sort of a vigilante. A new arc takes off in episode ten, which raises the disturbing possibility that maybe Momonga/Ails isn't the toughest character in this world after all. It was becoming increasingly clear that there was no way this story could wrap up in a mere 13 episodes, since Momonga's scheme is clearly still in an early stage. The climax—even though it was obviously just the climax of an arc rather than the story as a whole—was exciting and fun. And yet at the end I couldn't help wondering, what was it all about? Where is it going? But rather than feeling frustrated and fed-up with Overlord, I wished it would continue. The show is novel in a way, with a cast of characters who would normally be villains serving here as the heroes. It was based on an incomplete light novel, which would sort of explain why it seemed so far from a climax. I hoped that a second season (or more) was in the works, but the hopes faded as several years passed. Then, three years later, they were finally answered with Overlord II in 2018. Rewatching this original Overlord gave me a new appreciation of what a fun show it was, and left me with a much better sense of where things stand as we go into season two.
Last updated Thursday, May 27 2021. Created Friday, July 10 2015.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site||http://overlord-anime.com/|