Original Run: Jul 7, 2015 to Sep 29, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Action, Adventure
The long-running popular virtual reality game Yggdrasil is finally shutting down its servers. Seized by melancholy and nostalgia, longtime player Momonga decides to stay in the guild he built with his friends until the very last moment. But even after midnight has come and gone, Momonga remains in the game world. What’s more surprising is that the non-player characters also seem to have come to life with full-fledged personalities that also includes undying loyalty to Momonga, the last of the ‘Supreme Beings’ who created them.
Confused at this turn of events but also determined to figure out his new existence, Momonga sets out to learn as much as he can about the world he has found himself in and also to seek out other players who may be trapped in it. His plan may or may not involve world domination.
Overlord is my first character-trapped-in-video-game-or-otherwise-taken-to-another-world anime. I have yet to watch Sword Art Online and I only checked out Log Horizon after finishing Overlord. To put it crudely, Overlord popped my game isekai cherry. And as far as first times go, this one’s pretty good.
At just thirteen episodes, this show doesn’t get to explore the world it presents to its full potential or answer the slew of questions that inevitably pop up. In fact, the majority of the story is taken up by the protagonist’s attempts to figure out the details of the world he’s trapped in. So no it’s hardly the most intellectually stimulating anime out there. Instead, it’s around six hours of pure, unadulterated fun.
The central figure is Momonga or Ainz Ooal Gown, a guy who stays behind in his favorite game while its servers are shut down and finds that he’s become his avatar and has lost his humanity in the process. In addition to that, all of the NPCs in his guild come to life and swear absolute loyalty to him so now he’s basically an overpowered, oversized skeleton with a small army of overpowered minions. So he does what any sensible person would do in his position and decides to take over the world, not just for the hell of it but in a rather desperate attempt to see if there are other players like him in this new, strange world. A bit of an extreme measure but these things happen.
All joking aside, Ainz and his underlings are the major source of entertainment in this show. They’re all a bunch on non-humans trying to figure out what to do in a world dominated by humans whom they see as inferior. None of them are particularly good people, not even Ainz, so most of their actions are driven by self-interest or rather, Ainz’s self-interest since the others are happy to follow his wishes. And since this interest involves diplomatic world domination, it mostly involves exploration and adventuring along with the occasional serious conflict. That brings us to the fights which are few in number but well worth the time. They’re fanservice of the best kind, loud and wonderfully flashy. They do get dark at times but not excessively so.
There’s a notable emotional element to the story as well, once again based on Ainz. The connections one forms with people and their eventual dissolution plays a subtle but important part. Equally significant is the message that new bonds can be cultivated. They’ll be different from what it was in the past but will be nonetheless special in their own way. This is entirely shown rather than told and adds a nice layer to the otherwise straightforward storyline.
Listed like this, Overlord doesn’t seem to be much and honestly, it’s nothing too special but it is solid entertainment that rarely has a dull moment. The only complaint I have is about an inconsistency regarding Ainz’s humanity. His predicament is stated to have removed his humanity – he’s a giant, magical skeleton now – and that seems accurate enough as he’s not even fazed by all kinds of carnage. However, his entire character is based around his attachments from when he was just a player so that gives rise to some confusion.
The ending leaves quite a few questions unanswered and is pretty much a set up for a second season that has yet to pop up.
They’re a bunch of strange and clashing personalities gathered together so naturally, their interactions end up being amusing.
Ainz is the resident straight man. He’s a human turned into a dark magic wielding undead skeleton but his personality is that of a normal guy, as are his reactions. Since he’s surrounded by a legion of enthusiastic servants with eccentric personalities, his reactions to their behavior is usually very humorous. However, while he does seem like a human man trapped in another world at first, his new body also seems to have affected his mind so his personality doesn’t quite remain unscathed. When it comes to blood and gore, he’s eerily chill. That aside, he’s shown to be caring towards his companions and willing to risk even his life for them. This is partly because of his loyalty to his absent guild members, which in general is a defining part of his character. To be honest, Ainz confuses me a little but he’s an adequate character.
The star of the show though is Albedo, the leader of the NPC Floor Guardians. Right before the NPCs come to life, Ainz jokingly alters her code to make it so that she’s in love with him. Thus the end result is a very charming yandere who’s equal parts passionate and disturbing in her affections. She is a powerful warrior as well but the most notable of her scenes are the ones where she’s fawning over a very regretful Ainz. Her reactions whenever he shows her favor are very enthusiastic and even endearing, provided that you can look past how each and every one them is completely over the top insane. Albedo is pretty, petty, deadly and deranged, and the end result is rather perfect.
Other important characters are also comprised of the now live NPC’s. There’s Shalltear, a sadistic vampire who’s as also quite taken with Ainz – to be fair, they’re all obsessed with him in different ways – and has an unfortunate tendency to play with her food. Aura and Mare are tiny cross-dressing twins who’re the opposite of each other in more than just attire. Demiurge is another Floor Guardian who’s loyal but has an odd preoccupation with ensuring that Ainz produces an heir. Finally, there’s Narberal, one of Ainz’s battle maids who has a significant presence for a few episodes in the middle. She’s serious and reserved but also quite snarky when the situation calls for it.
There are a number of other minor characters who show up during Ainz’s adventures, some of them friends and others foes, and they all liven up the story in many ways.
Art and Music:
Overlord’s art is amazing. The characters are exquisitely detailed and very memorable while the landscapes and backgrounds are rendered with great quality. The animation is brilliant as well and this is best observed in the fight scenes of both physical and magical nature.
This is yet another case of the opening theme drawing my attention to a show. Clattanoia by O×T, a very loud mix of English and Japanese, is fun and full of energy, much like the show itself. The ending theme is L.L.L. by MYTH&ROID and while the song didn’t appeal much to me at first, it later grew on me like a fungus. Plus I really love how the lyrics accurately capture Albedo’s character in all its unsettling glory.
A very fun anime that’s hardly unique in concept but makes the best of what it has in entertaining ways.