Original Run: July 7, 2015 - September 29, 2015 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Action, Fantasy, Isekai Based on the Series Created By: Kugane Maruyama and so-bin
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Overlord. Reader discretion is advised.***
For years, Yggdrasil has been the most popular DMMORPG (Dive Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) on the market. However, its final day has come at last.
Remembering the many hours playing with his guildmates, player Momonga (voiced by Satoshi Hino) waits in the impenetrable fortress he helped build, The Great Tomb of Nazarick. During his time with Yggdrasil, Momonga fully leveled-up his character, got every piece of rare loot, and put together an unbeatable team of guardian NPCs. It is no stretch to say he is sad to see it all end.
Then, when the clock strikes midnight, Momonga is surprised to see the game still running. However, he can’t access any menus or messaging services. Additionally, all his NPC seem incredibly life-like. And with a bolt of realization, Momonga sees he has become his character from Yggdrasil.
Determined to discover other players who might also be trapped in this new world, Momonga seeks to spread his name far and wide. Thus, he takes a title no seasoned Yggdrasil can mistake. On this day, Momonga becomes the all-powerful overlord, Ainz Ooal Gown.
There were three things I knew about Overlord before I started watching it:
- Thus far (2021), there have been three seasons of the series.
- The show has proven to be quite popular.
- It’s an isekai anime.
Knowing those details, I went into Overlord with expectations. Granted, they were – mainly – neutral expectations since none of those listed points are sure-fire indicators of whether a show will be good or bad. Nevertheless, I was curious. What about this series has warranted its longevity?
And I use the word “warranted” because, having now watched season one, I can say that Overlord was a lot of freaking fun.
I suppose the best place to start would be with the titular overlord himself, Ainz Ooal Gown (Lord Ainz). Isekai protagonists tend to follow one of two paths. They are either way in over their head, or they laughably overpowered. Lord Ainz was the latter, and as such, it brought him face to face with one of the biggest challenges that face any isekai story. More on that momentarily.
Lord Ainz’s inner thoughts were unrestricted to his true personality, his original player, Momonga. This side of our lead character had a veteran gamer mentality. Have you ever played an RPG and spend hours leveling up to level ten before facing an early-stage boss that could have been taken at level four? When I do this, it’s because I want to ensure I am as prepared as possible. After all, there is always a chance that unexpectedly insane might appear. You always want to assume there is something stronger than you out there.
Momonga – and, by extension, Lord Ainz – never assumed he couldn’t be touched and was appropriately cautious.
Be that as it may, Lord Ainz’s outward persona was based on what Momonga designed thanks to the parallel world’s effects. The Lord Ainz avatar was calm, calculating, and strategic, befitting the title of overlord. He could take a life without emotion, and he didn’t form attachments to the “lowly humans.” However, despite his appearance, goals, and brutality, Lord Ainz wasn’t a villain.
Although he didn’t jump in a save everyone he met, Lord Ainz was a protector. He never killed unnecessarily; he was merciful. And most importantly, he was fair with everyone he met. Lord Ainz always allowed people to stand down before taking things to the next level. But if someone blew their shot, there was no turning back.
This aspect allowed Overlord to be incredibly satisfying. Many antagonist characters in this were utterly full of themselves. They talked a big game and thought they were the hotter than s@#$. Seeing these sorts of characters realize how epically outclassed they were was like nectar. This is the reason I can enjoy isekai anime with overpowered heroes. It is so invigorating to see undeserved egos break into a million pieces.
Still, overpowered heroes come with baggage. This is that “big challenge” I mentioned. When you have a character that no one can beat, the truly badass moments are typically reserved for them. For example, when the hero party is without their leader (the protagonist), they must face an enemy. The party does a valent job, but their foe is too much for them. When all seems lost, the protagonist swoops in a handles the situation.
A.k.a., the Goku problem.
When isekai do this, it devalues everyone who is not the lead character. It is hard to care for anyone else since nobody adds to the story beyond being filler content until the hero arrives. Overlord avoided this problem in the best way I’ve ever seen an isekai anime do.
By the start of this series, Momonga had maxed out Lord Ainz. He had all the best status, all the best weapons, and all the best gear. Included in this, Momonga and his former guildmates, who were also fully level-up, had built an unassailable fortress filled with top-tier traps and guardians. Lord Ainz might have been an overpowered isekai protagonist, but his servants were also overpowered isekai protagonists.
This meant that Overlord could have cool, exciting moments with anyone from the main party. Lord Ainz did not need to clean up every single mess. He had people under his command that could more than effortlessly take care of themselves. And the best part is, we didn’t even get to see half Lord Ainz’s subordinates fight.
You better believe I am excited to watch season two.
Overlord’s animation has not aged well in the slightest. I can give this series a little leeway since it is six-years-old (at the time of this review), and CGI wasn’t the most stellar thing back then. Then again, anime CGI is often not that stellar now, but regardless.
Aside from its visuals, it was a good thing this show came out when it did. Had it been released now, I doubt it would have left any impact.
Don’t get me wrong; had Overlord come out in 2021, it would have been a quality isekai anime. It would have hit all the beats and ticked off all the right boxes. This show would have been a textbook example of how to do a series in this genre.
Unfortunately, since isekai anime are everywhere, Overlord’s safeness would have been its biggest hindrance.
Now, is this a nitpick? Yes, one hundred percent.
After all, this series did everything you could ask for from any anime. It had an interesting story, fun characters, exciting action, and room to grow.
I cannot wait to see how Overlord tops itself in season two. And the next chapter better bring things up a notch. This season may have released when the isekai trend was getting started, but its success came out during its height. How can you not hope for something more?
There are several shows you think of when you hear “isekai anime.” I’m going to go on a limb and say this series is one of them.
And why wouldn’t it be?
This show has an interesting plot, a protagonist worth rooting for, side characters you actually care about, insanely fun action, and more than one season.
If you ask me, that’s an all-around win.
Overlord has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Overlord? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
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