Probably one of the best, if not the best, series of the decade.
Overlord is originally a light novel series which has yet to end in 2022 but very close to its conclusion. It is easy to turn down Overload at first few glances simply because you see some skeleton dude one-shoting everyone.
But, if you are sick of the general anime trend and wish to bring doom to naive heroes, this is the series for you because, in Overlord, being naive means either being used or straight up get killed. This also means, if you are a snowflake, you won’t be able to watch this series simply because this series stands against everything a snowflake lives for.
There are the light novel, manga, and finally anime that has gone to season 4. I am going to say that you shouldn’t even consider manga. Choose either light novel or anime. If you want to reach out for both, I am going to say anime first and then the novel. Because, if you read the novel first, there is a good chance that you will be disappointed.
Now, I wasn’t going to originally review this anime because of two reasons.
One, this anime is quite controversial in more ways than one.
Two, I wasn’t expecting Madhouse to completely serialize this series.
But as of now, season 4 is almost complete, and season 5 is confirmed. Season 5 will be the last which will get the story very close to the ending of its source material. Therefore, I’ve decided to do the review of Overlord.
This piece is going to be long. Be warned.
Overlord begins with a character in a dying MMORPG, Yggdrassil. The character, Momonga, has an undead avatar because one of the rules for this guild is to have a monster avatar. Another rule is that members must be basically salarymen (old enough). Basically, his guild is a mature guild.
The MMORPG has announced that it is shutting down its sever at 1AM. Because he has so much memories of the game, he chooses to remain logged in as its server gets shut down.
He is the guild master of a very high level guild known as “Ainz Ooal Gown”. It’s got its own guild hall which is Great Tomb of Nazarick which itself is a player-created dungeon of the highest difficulty. During its prime, it used to have 41 members. Fast forward time, Momonga chats with one last member before he logs out and stands alone by 1AM hits.
When the time goes past 1AM though, his game doesn’t crush or end. He is puzzled for a moment before realizing that he can no longer do things, like contacting a GM or use text chat. Then he realizes NPCs appear to have become sentient.
Most importantly, he can’t log out.
The NPCs of Nazarick are extremely, stupidly, powerful NPCs created by his former guildmembers. Rightfully so because they used to be bosses NPCs of the dungeon Nazarick which had to battle against actual player characters.
While Momonga pounders what he is going to do, he eases into the new found world very quickly. The main issue is that he doesn’t have a goal to look forward to.
As he looks over the NPCs that now have become sentient, he feels that it is his divine duty to make them prosper. After all, his former guild members created them. To him, they are like his children. He is very attached to them and vice versa. The NPCs themselves show absolute loyalty toward Momonga as well.
Thus begins the ambition of World domination through absolute sheer force. This is how Overlord begins.
Brutality aka reality
This anime can bring you a mild culture shock if you’ve been watching only soft anime. Momonga who renames himself Ainz in season 1 is brutal. Characters who have hero qualities will be vanquished in one click.
Basically, if they are weak, they will die regardless who they are. There is absolutely no exception to this in the anime. As the story progresses, you will see many characters get killed. Most of them will die within a second simply because Ainz is that strong.
There are those who I feel don’t deserve to die but they die anyway because, well, Ainz can kill them. And there are those who I really wish Ainz would spare. But nope. They die, too. Of course, those who deserve to die do die as well in the most gruesome, yet satisfying way.
Then you may wonder: What the fuck is the point of watching or reading this shit when a MC one-shots pretty much everyone?
Well? it’s worth watching especially because of Ainz’s supreme ability. The focus of this story is on either his subordinates or his direct enemies once season 1 (basic world building) is over.
It’s quite refreshing to watch his enemies pulling every trick in their sleeves only to fall by a single spell by Ainz. It is also very refreshing to watch his enemies basically destroy themselves even before facing Ainz due to infighting.
In the end, you will see various types of responses by Ainz’s world domination attempt: Submission, trickery, outright resistance, etc.
Whatever their responses may be, Ainz stands above them in the end. We are simply watching the progress.
This series borrows D&D elements heavily. Character attributes, skills, items, and how battle works, it borrows elements from D&D. Therefore, if you are used to D&D, understanding spells, skills, etc from this series is quite easy.
Think of D&D 3.5 instead of the modern 5e. If you know a decent amount of D&D, you will understand me here once you watch the series at least two times.
CG sucks in this anime.
Yeah, really, CG work is really bad in this anime. I am speaking this as someone who can do some CG via Blender. The level of CG in this anime is just about intermediate amatuer level. This anime deserves better CG than what are currently present.
I am going to say that I’ve seen worse, but this is almost bottom barrel quality. The studio is either not paying enough or not giving enough time for CG animators. I am thinking both actually. Too many CG animators nowadays to a point that companies can underpay them and put them on a harsh schedule.
Ending themes worth watching for, repeatedly.
I don’t usually watch opening and ending for an anime series. Even if it’s the first time I am watching it, I usually just skim through or do something else while playing it faster.
For Overlord, it has been a rare occasion that I’ve re-watched its ending themes more than a few times because they tend to enhance the overall experience.
Its ending themes have always displayed Overlord artworks by So-bin who has pretty much exclusively created tons of artworks for the series.
And the artworks are … fucking awesome. What’s even better is that the ending songs feel tailored exactly for the series.
I mean, just take a look at some of them. They are …
Bad adaptation? Nah.
Some people, actually the vast majority of people who’ve read the light novel will say that the anime is a bad adaptation.
Personally I will agree since I, too, have read the light novel. At the same time, there is no such a thing as bad adaptation for one simple reason: Different audiences.
Those who watch anime mostly are those who will rarely read a full paragraph on their own accord. It doesn’t mean bad. It just means they are people who enjoy visual representations. In fact, majority of people fall into this category.
Reading a novel requires a certain level of a creative mind because you need to understand & digest words and then recreate what the words tell you into what you think they mean in your own head. In other words, understanding a novel requires several extra steps which a film (a visual representation) does not require.
Basically, anime is doing the extra steps; it defines what characters & story world look like for you to digest easier.
To help with that, LN, Light novels, exist where these include some illustrations to help with imaginations. I am kinda sad that they do that though. I feel that it means the newer generations don’t have enough imagination powers. I hope that I am wrong though because that’s really sad.
Anyway, in the eyes of those who’ve read the novel, there can never be a good adaptation because anime has constraints in budget, time, as well as morality (R18 stuff).
Budget & time means animation quality, how many episodes, and what to omit from the novel.
Morality means they can’t show the gore, sex, etc although I am going to say that this anime hugs the line very closely. I think Overload anime is the only one that mentions anal sex in a serious sense.
Finally, anime targets a totally different audience, the general populace. If you’ve read the books, you no longer belong to the general populace due to a simple fact that you’ve read books on your own accord. Aye, you are a different kind of human. For better or worse, I don’t ducking know. You are just different. That’s it.
All these means that there can never be a good adaptation. Is that bad? No? A story has to be recreated for a different audience. Anime studio exists to create profit first and foremost. They know their audience and has to carter for them even if it means butchering a written story.
I can certainly see the desire to watch Overlord anime even if you’ve read the LN (Light Novel). At the same time, expecting a good adaptation is being really naive for reasons I’ve listed above.
The bottom line? Be glad that Overlord anime exists. Be even more glad that it has been given 5 seasons. Thank a God even since the anime studio in charge of Overlord has rarely done anything more than a season.
It is a miracle.
Or Overlord is just too fucking good.
I am leaning toward the latter. Cya.