Take a step back for one moment and imagine SAO, but better. One where only one potential player was trapped in a DMMORPG and was instead a (insert expletive of choice here) of a Lich who held control over a vast dominion of pawns. A person who does good disguised as evil, but still rules with an iron fist. That is what the anime Overlord is all about. It is not all sunshine and rainbows this anime. No, it is a cruel one wherein a trapped player struggles to understand his situation whilst also hoping to search for potential others who’ve been trapped in this world with him. Taking the name Ainz Ooal Gown as a way of possibly allowing recognized players of the former game Yggdrasil to know who he is. Through this bold move Momonga or Ainz Ooal Gown hopes to figure out where others of the ailing DMMORPG (Dive Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) went off to.
The anime first season, yes a second season is actually due out in seven days time, covers the aforementioned events. Having been trapped in the game, now Ainz must endeavor to figure out what it means to embody an Elder Lich and the sole ruler of The Great Tomb of Nazarick. His dotting NPC companions now live full lives of their own, although they reserve strong feelings of loyalty towards Ainz as he remains the only one left from the ‘Old Ones or Gods’. As such they devote their lives and time towards serving the greater need of their overlord. It is a time of uncertainty in a foreign land full of exploration and fanciful living. What impresses Ainz is just how similar it is to the former game he played, lending him to hold a considerable foresight into what many of the residents of the world are capable of doing.
Now I do compare this to the popular anime that started the, “Gaming world turned real” craze and that is Sword Art Online. Unlike SAO, Overlord I feel has a substance that is lacking from its predecessor. It’s more gritty, while not more realistic it has a charm that makes it feel more trying. A person alone with nothing but his wits and former NPC allies at his side as he desperately attempts to find other players. While this show puts less of an emphasis on a “Battle Royale” vibe, it puts more of an emphasis on growing ones own power. His slate has been wiped and who he was no longer matters, for he must embody the will and raw power of The Great Tomb of Nazarick as the indomitable Ainz Ooal Gown! God that made me feel powerful just saying that. His story progress each episode as he tries to exude a friendly aura about his lich-self. It is a story of a “bad guy turned good” but let me tell you, Momonga is not afraid to show his true sadistic, lich-self.
The anime itself is a loving creation from the fab studio Madhouse and is a fairly faithful adaption of the manga/light novel series by the same name. It’s art-style has a blend of realism and traditional anime structuring and is deployed in a way that benefits the show. It has a certain grit to it that showcases the overall evil demeanor that emanates from our main character. The concept of an everyday player turned Elder Lich is not something we often see in anime and I quite like the evil direction this anime walks. It isn’t afraid to be different and that is what helps this anime shine more than the other titles around it. Sure it’s no comedic ride like Konosuba but it holds its own comedic charm that aids the darker theme of the show.
The voice direction for this show is some of the best voice work I have heard since Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. While I know that statement is quite bold and not widely shared, I hold FMAB as a crowning jewel of English dubbing marvel. Overlord, dare I say it, meets this with a show of force that I enjoyed more than I should have. Momonga and Ainz Ooal Gown while one in the same, both have such drastically different voice work that I adore the difference we get from time to time. Other characters like Albedo and Sebas have some of the best voice work and they fully suit the characters that they are embodying for this show. Superb and excellence also extends towards the musical treatment of the show. It is rocky, gritty and dire when it has to be and yet it still retains bits of blissful melodies that give the everyday scenes of Momonga disguised as an adventurer a new thematic feel. Not to mention the solid opening of the show, Clattenoia by OxT and the ending of the show, L.L.L by Myth & Roid. This is rock and its deepest and it fully embraces the evil of the show.
Sure this anime is something that may be quite niche. I don’t see many anime YouTubers or Bloggers talking much about this show since others (SAO and Konosuba) have more-or-less dwarfed this in popularity. Still, if you want something different, something diabolically unique you should really give this anime a watch. It can be enjoyed on both Crunchyroll (Subbed), FunimationNow (Dubbed) and on VRV (Bother Subbed and Dubbed) so you have plenty of choice in the matter entirely. I would encourage you to look beyond the standard shows that are blown out of proportion and embrace a show that deserves some more limelight than it has previously received.
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