Overlord – 03

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Apparently time manipulation is among Overlord‘s powers.

And so we turn to the third in this season’s triumvirate of bubble series. Overlord.  It’s already the group’s odd duck in that it’s not a comedy, but happily this show stands out as well because unlike Jitsu wa Watashi wa and Joukamachi no Dandelion, it came through with its best episode so far.  There’s a serious tortoise effect going on with it, because this is not a series that blows you away so much as sneaks up on you.

This was a curious episode in that when it ended, I was stunned to see that 22 minutes had passed.  I wasn’t conscious of any feeling that I was watching something exceptional, but I was so wrapped in the matter-of-fact narrative that I totally lost track of the passage of time.  It takes a pretty good show to do that for me, so my respect for Overlord has gone up quite a bit.  There’s always been interesting stuff going on here, but this episode really kicked it up in terms of pure entertainment.

The pre-open actually made me wonder if I’d accidentally queued up Gate, because it was a complete left turn, introducing us to Gazeff Stronoff (Shirokuma Hiroshi) and his band of knights.  Are these NPCs are not?  Presumably yes (it’s confirmed later), because they speak of growing up peasants and having their villages attacked by monsters.  They’re more evidence that to the game characters, this world is very real – and the presence of human “players” is not necessary for them to have consciousness (these trees makes a noise when they fall, clearly).  And Gazeff’s idealism marks a sharp contrast to the way Momonga is approaching this world.

There’s a lot out there beyond the walls of Nazarick, clearly, and Momonga is slowly learning about at least some of it.  Nazarick apparently exists as part of the Re-Estize Kingdom, and some things here are very different from Yggdrasil – though Ainz Ooal Gown’s spells seem to work.  He puts them to use saving a village he spies being razed by knights, but only after Sebas Tian’s manner reminds him of the butler’s creator “Touch Me”, who was apparently quite the altruist himself.

This is really fascinating and well-executed stuff here, though the animation remains the series’ weak point.  The sacking of the village is shown in starkly graphic terms, as is the massacring of the attacking knights by the zombie warrior Momonga creates from the first knight he kills – the latter depicted beneath a low-key voice over by Momonga to great effect.  And then there’s Momonga himself, who’s aware that he seems to be slowly losing connection to his human emotions (it struck me that it would be pretty spectacular if we were headed towards a role-reversal between players and NPCs, though I don’t expect that).  Momonga is no white knight – he’s a pretty cold bastard, in fact, and his acts of good will towards the village seem almost entirely to be selfishly motivated.

We’re definitely in tip-of-the-iceberg territory here, and that’s a pretty powerful place for a series to take you.  There’s an awful lot going on in this world that both the protagonist and the audience know so little about – complex politics and militarism, corruption, recognizably human love and grief.  As long as Overlord can keep me interested in what’s going on it’s in pretty good shape, but when it does so in as compelling a fashion as it did this week it’s reaching into the realms of genuine excellence.

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10 comments

  1. H

    Oh wow.. Glad you interested in this anime, Enzo..
    Really.. I dont expect they'll do 4 Eps just to cover Vol.1, while they got only 1 cour for 6 volume of the LN's..
    Uhmm.. Why not post your review on RC, though..? Reading RC's fans' comments is fun too, i think..
    and maybe you can give Gate some regular review, too.. haha~ 😀

  2. Z

    I don't think Enzo is watching GATE, let alone reviewing it. Even me who usually have little to no problem with pandering have issues with it.

    I'm wondering if Enzo is watching Rokka, though. It has enjoyable plot, quite unique setting and no serious issues so far. They are my two picks for fantasy LN this season and has same strength: They are pacing it slow enough to appreciate the original content without making the show boring.

  3. I didn't make it through the second episode of either Rokka or Gate (it was the politics ad much as the pandering with the latter), though I did First Impressions on both. Maybe I'll give Rokka one more shot.

  4. H

    Yeah.. you might be prefer Rokka.. it got better doses of mystery than Ranpo Kitan, i think.. ww

  5. K

    I'll throw in another vote for Rokka since I've been enjoying it quite a bit (aside from the gun-girl's ridiculous outfit). Not sure if Enzo will want to stick with it though since I don't think the third episode really brought anything new to the table.

    Honestly, the basic premise and impending mystery don't really grab me but I'm getting a kick out of the main character. He calls himself "the Strongest Man in the World" but, while he is competent in battle, he primarily relies on dirty tricks and gizmos to overcome foes who would probably beat him in an honest fight. Also, he goes to great lengths to project a lot more confidence/competence that he actually feels (thinking of him using the mirror as he "confidently" turns his back on Flamie). Is he hiding something or just delusional? Either way, he's a fun character to watch in combat and my curiosity about his motivations will keep me coming back.

  6. l

    Enzo, if you don't mind me asking, what service are you using to host so many images per episode every week?

  7. e

    Lol the potion also healed the cloths.
    Im amaze they manage to fit all the exposition in less than 24 mins without following the manga route(less detail). And even though they manage to capture all the details about the death knight's rampage, the graphic/animation kind of ruined it imo. I hope they improve the animation later.

  8. S

    Yeah, this is one low-budget show for sure. But Enzo is right, this was the best episode to date and is setting up an interesting mechanic. Clearly we have a villain protagonist in the making in Momonga, and the kind of scheming and plotting this sets us up for has the potential to be very interesting.

  9. K

    Maybe it's because I read some of the manga a few days before this episode but I found it to be terribly slow. I'm also wondering if they are confident Overlord will get a second season because it seems to me that they are really taking their time with everything. We are already a fourth of the way through and it feels to me like the show is just getting started.

  10. S

    thanks for the review! I enjoy this series a lot. I seem to be a sucker for these, although I did come to regret and drop both Log Horizon and SAO after the first season. This one doesn't walk easiest path, so it's quite refreshing and interesting.

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