Series Review – Overlord
Written by Bananaowns
All images courtesy of Madhouse and Funimation
The defining characteristic of anime is its versatility. Anime is not limited to any one genre. One show might involve spirits of heroes battling for a mythical object that grants wishes, while another follows high school girls as they form a band. The point is, anime can be tailored to anyone. With that said, certain topics seem to be more common than others. High schools seem to be a perennial anime favorite. However, this review involves another common anime subject, role-playing games supplemented by a sort of virtual reality. In this type of anime, the characters are typically trapped in what basically amounts to a video game. The overall goal involves the survival and eventual escape of the characters in question. Frankly, this is a not a revolutionary story concept, which can make it difficult for some shows to stand out. The show I am reviewing today does not really stand out, but within the confines of the genre manages to be excellent. I am talking about Overlord.
The story of Overlord involves the shutdown of Yggdrasil, a VR MMORPG. The main character, Momonga, is one of the last members of his guild that still plays the game. Momonga decides to stay logged in until the servers finally shutdown. However, at the time of the shutdown, he finds that he is still logged in. Unable to log out, or access any of the menus, Momonga quickly realizes that he is trapped. To add on to the complexity of the issue, the various users created NPC’s located in his base begin to develop personalities, but maintaining a fierce loyalty to Momonga. Wanting to see if any other fellow players were trapped, Momonga begins to spread the name of his guild, Ainz Ooal Gown, to catch the attention of fellow trapped users. In order to explore this new world, Momonga poses as an adventurer named Momon and joins a local adventurer’s guild to build money and fame.
That is the basic setup for the plot of Overlord. It really is nothing out of the ordinary for this type of show. The main character is trapped and seeks to find other users. The means by which he is going to accomplish this put a spin on the story, but it still ends up not being anything too revolutionary. It is typical, but that does not mean that it is not good. The overall story is entertaining. It’s not breaking new ground, but what it tells is great. The world is interesting, with the various factions scheming to take each other out. Overlord can be surprisingly grim at some points, mostly involving some of the more brutal fight scenes. However, there are just as many comedic moments present as well. This can be a bit jarring at first, but these two tones quickly mesh together as the series progresses. Overall, the story is not revolutionary, but is good enough to keep the viewer entertained.
Overlord has no shortage of characters. Between Momonga’s servants and the various denizens of the world, there are too many to cover in a simple review. However, I will discuss a few of these characters. The lead, Momonga, is the typical gamer. He was a typical man with a job, who also enjoyed playing video games. As a member of the fantasy world, this side of his personality is fairly limited. Being part of the undead class, his emotions are heavily suppressed in the fantasy world. He lacks empathy when it comes to anyone except his servants. This is a fairly unique trait, which sadly does not get too much of a focus. The loss of humanity could be a major plot point, but it’s hardly addressed. Instead the series places more time with his battle prowess. Having an overpowered main character is fairly typical for this genre of anime as well. It really is a missed opportunity.
Momonga’s servant overseer is the NPC Albedo. Albedo was reprogrammed with the desire to love Momonga. So as a result, she mainly serves as waifu material, with a significant amount of pretty risqué fan service. A lot of comedy involves her interactions with Momonga and another servant named Shalltear. My favorite of the NPC’s is Narberal. She acts as the companion to Momonga as he poses as an adventurer. She holds an intense disdains for humans, which is mostly used for comedy’s sake as well. This is mostly a result of when a human male tries to make an advance on her. Narberal is also a badass. She is given a lot of screen time and this really sets her apart from most of the other NPC’s. Narberal has plenty of time to showcase her combat ability and it really helps elevate her character. She is loyal, but not to the ridiculous extent that Albedo exhibits. Overlord has a large amount of characters, some of which are interesting. No one character really manages to stand out and Momonga is somewhat undeveloped. A second season would hopefully delve into more of those issues, but it’s unlikely as of this time.
The 2D animation is great. It’s not the most beautiful show in existence, but it is animated very well. I have one problem with the overall animation on this show. It is the large presence of 3D animation. So many fight scenes use 3D models and for the most part, it does not look that great. One fight scene features 3D animated horses that look very awkward. It is especially jarring when the shots switch from a well-drawn 2D animated horse to the ugly and bulky 3D model. If you do not like CG in anime, this is probably not going to be your favorite show. Almost all the monsters are 3D models. While some can look fine, it overall is a huge detriment to the series as a whole. I am not completely against 3D models in anime, but that depends on how it is used. A stylized show like God Eater can get away with it because it matches the aesthetic. Overlord is not stylized in this respect and as a result, the CG looks out of place.
I do not have a lot to say about the sound of Overlord. It fits the show in a way where there is no stand out track, but at the same time, is not detrimental to the show in any way. It simply is there and it fits with the mood of whatever is happening at the time. I have one special thing to say about sound in this show. I absolutely love the opening and the closing songs. The opening song is one of the catchiest anime opening songs that I have heard. It has a pop punk vibe/screamo vibe going on there, and I am a big fan of that. The ending has more of an electronic vibe, but maintains the pop punk/screamo aesthetic as well. These two tracks really begin and end each episode very well.
I suppose I should explain my rating system somewhat. Shows that I believe are must-watches will receive my stamp of approval. These consist of my absolute favorites. Shows that are entertaining, but I am not raving about will typically receive a “Watch Rating.” This signifies that the show is worth watching, but I am not foaming at the mouth to convince people to check it out. Now this last category is probably not going to be in one of my videos. I typically will review anime that at least interested me enough to finish the current run of episodes. I probably will not finish anime that I give a “Don’t Watch” rating to and likely not review said anime. It is a bit of a personal selection bias.
With that explained, Overlord receives a “Watch Rating.” It’s good but not my favorite. Overlord is not groundbreaking. The story is not atypical, but overall is good for what it does. It can be extremely dark, but also extremely comedic. There is a wide cast of characters, although some of which could be developed more. The 2D animation is great, while the 3D animation is very out of place. The sound fits the show, with a strong opening and ending. Overlord is not the best show, but is a very entertaining watch. . See you guys next week for another anime review.