The culmination of every defining feature of the trapped in the game genre has led to Overlord. Albeit, every defining feature of the trapped in the game genre is beginning to become stale. There’s only so many times I can watch an awkward harem form, without fail, around a socially inept geek. Not to mention how it’s almost a guarantee that the most powerful player will, unsurprisingly, beat the odds in every situation presented to them. Overlord makes the most of these aspects, but doesn’t build upon them at all. In saying that, there’s isn’t any need to. As one of many in a wildly popular genre, Overlord accentuates what it needs to remain relevant.
Following its twelve years of uptime, DMMO-RPG (Dive Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) Yggdrasil is shutting down its servers. While most people have made peace with this fact, seasoned player Momonga wants to see this game through to the absolute end. Resolved to wait in-game until midnight, he reminisces on his guild’s legacy, alone. After venting his frustrations of being the only one willing to wait up all night, Momonga settles in for his final experience within Yggdrasil, only for it to never end. Instead of being kicked off the server, he found himself placed in an unknown medieval fantasy world! Now trapped alongside the numerous NPCs that his guild owned, Momonga plans to use his god-like RPG abilities to make the most of his unique situation.
There isn’t much that sets Overlord apart from similar anime. However, the lack of someone that the main character can relate his situation to opens up intriguing paths for the story to take. The fact that he isn’t exactly human, which is brought up consistently throughout the show, brings something fresh to the table as well. Early on, the story goes beyond the protagonist’s need to get back to the real world, or simple acceptance that this is now life when Momonga decides to attempt to take over the world he finds himself in. Though, he clings to the hope that there are others that share his fate. Without anyone else from Yggdrasil, there’s a constant air of mystery surrounding the circumstances of what occured. Aside from this, enough complications are introduced with meaningful consequences to keep things entertaining, but the outcome is never in question.
Maybe I’m just a sucker for medieval fantasy settings, especially when a little magic is thrown in, but I absolutely loved everything about the world in Overlord. Similar to Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Overlord‘s world borrows a lot of RPG elements and uses them in realistic scenarios, somehow managing to create a feasible setting. With Momonga allegedly being the only Yggdrasil player, the native residents are given ample time to showcase what living in a world like theirs is entails. This is explored in greater depth by the fact that Momonga and his NPCs all brought their end-game powers with them, creating stark contrast against what is considered normal.
As expected from a show of this calibre, the characters in Overlord are ridiculous to a fault. Although the show exhibits a great array, too much attention is put on certain characters who are completely one-dimensional. In particular, Albedo, an NPC Momonga tweaked to fall in love with him, does nothing but talk about how desperate she is to sleep with him. Though obviously comic relief, it’s disappointing how little she contributes overall. Of course, most important characters were originally lifeless NPCs, so it at least makes sense for them to be flat. I’m hopeful that the next season will give more opportunities for these characters to develop.
With a decent amount of oddly calm action scenes and a mystery that’s teased the entire way, Overlord is a solid addition into the game genre of anime. It’s easy to forget that the main character is trapped, which makes the premise seem irrelevant, aside from giving reason to the scale of his power. However, the show raises important questions, such as the benefits of cross-dressing as a magic user. For what it is, Overlord is entertaining. While not at all revolutionary, it utilises everything that makes this genre what it is to the fullest extent. Most importantly, it’s fun to switch off and watch as things unfold, even when trying to explicitly ignore one of the thirstiest anime characters I have ever bore witness to.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.