Anime: Overlord Limited Edition (Complete Series)
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Retail Price: $84.98
Another gaming anime has come along to entice viewers who appreciate the video game similarities paired with an animated series to create a genre of its own. The animation company MADHOUSE Inc. (who was responsible for Parasyte, No Game No Life and Death Parade) now has the series Overlord to claim as a hopeful hit, given some of the previously mentioned series. The premise of Overlord begins with Momonga, a young man who was spending his evening playing his all-time favorite MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) when it was due to shut down. As the time began to dwindle, Momonga wound up dedicating his time to the game until the very last moment — that changed his life from there on out.
The screen on his computer cuts to black before Momonga quickly realizes he has been locked in the game he had been so immersed in, now entering the world of Yggdrasil (just try pronouncing that one). Momonga becomes equipped with the overtly powerful abilities of his character from the game and has a slew of non-playable characters at his disposal and a new mission to conquer the gaming world because what else is a trapped gamer to do with so much spare time? Under the new guise of a being/mage named Ainz Ooal Gown, he comes to a power position that sends the young man out to seek bigger and better adventures feeling like an unstoppable force in Yggdrasil.
From looking at the concept art and reading the premise of Overlord, I was instantly intrigued to see how they balanced opposing gaming and anime elements, but the series itself was so much different than I could have anticipated. The series feels like it tries to have some seriousness to it, but most less than serious characters tend to draw more campy qualities from the 13 episode anime. There are moments that take darker turns, such as a more wicked character who adds complexity to the perceived direction of Overlord. When the mentioned character meets their untimely demise close to the end of the series, it halted the growth but closed the story with a surprising act by another individual. Despite having a non-committal tone that hadn’t developed many thought-provoking pieces of the Overlord puzzle, the gothic atmosphere with some light storytelling and humor makes me think the series will be perfect for those who like that later episodes of One Piece that bounce between various genres.
As far as characters go, there is certainly no shortage in Overlord. There is a massive range of characters they introduce from the world of Yggdrasil to correctly replicate the open world concept of an MMORPG, which can also have some negatives to that choice. By giving us so many different figures almost immediately, it can still have an overwhelming sense of cramming too much into the series’ short run. I understand that it may feel needed because of the novels that existed before the anime, but it can sometimes feel unwelcoming to newcomers of the franchise. By the end of the series, the plot feels to have different ideas of what way to head, with no official decision on a second season — but, if they were to, it would be best suited replicating the source material even more for the sake of the existing fanbase who is the most likely to enjoy Overlord.
Overlord varies in terms of animation quality compared to the other Madhouse-produced animes. The character of Shalltear and Albedo probably took the most unique forms without any jarring attributes, where most anime characters in the series were over-exaggerated. The English voice cast was a saving grace, giving them a subdued sound that I came to enjoy by the time the series reached Episode 13. The animation may not be a revelation and the plot may not be the most complex, but Overlord certainly is a niche series that will resonate with specific audiences who appreciate the overlapping of gaming with anime. Overlord is available now through FUNimation!
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
– If you are looking specifically for characters that could attract you to the series, Momonga and Clementine have more to offer than some of the others.
– The ending that jump-starts potential for more confused me given how much time they could have embraced before amping up the final arc.
– I was happy for Shalltear’s ending after a possibly grim turn seemed to be coming.