OverLord – 01

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I initially stayed away from OverLord when all I heard was that it was another show about a guy who got trapped in a virtual reality RPG, because, well, that sounded pretty familiar. But in the last couple weeks I’ve heard some good things about itit’s not just a lazy SAO clone; it has great characters and a sense of humor; etc.—and after finally diving in, I have to say I agree.

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OverLord’s setting isn’t all that novel, but its premise is both enticing and refreshing: rather than a hero’s journey about rising from the bottom to the top, our “hero” Momonga starts out on top…on the very top, having done just about everything there is to do in Yggdrasil, just in time for game’s servers are about to shut down for good. He’s basically looking on all his works.

Just look at how lonely Mononga looks at that huge table. The scene is suffused with the lingering energy from all the great battles that were planned and all the great victories celebrated; but like the throne room of a ruined castle,with the grandeur comes melancholy, as “much that once was is lost.”

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Then, just when Momonga thinks the game is about so shut down for good…it doesn’t. Not only does the game keep going, but the console and all connections to the GMs, admins, and outside world are gone. Even more interesting, NPCs suddenly look, sound, smell, and act more realistically, as if they were flesh-and-blood people. Momonga jokingly revises the character profile of his chief guardian Albedo to be deeply in love with him, and now she’s stuck that way. Even in love, this guy is set.

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As he surveys his vast holdings and loyal retainers, Momonga notes that while the controls of the game have changed, he can still do everything he used to, from order everyone around to teleporting wherever he pleases to summoning fire elementals with the game’s Ultimate Weapon, Ainz Ooal Gown.

I think it’s a very cool and effective choice for the show not to even bother getting into how or why this happened, but just lets us share in the bemused (and not panicky at all) Momonga.

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And why should he panic? Look at that diverse group of badass guardians under his command. Heck, look at him. He’s like Skeletor’s credible big brother. This was a relatively laid-back first episode, but it was a lot of fun. So much so that I put out of my mind the fact the animators saved a lot of work making the protagonist speak without moving his mouth, and simply enjoyed the fact that for once we have a protagonist who is not an underdog, but, well, an overlord.

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Ore Monogatari!! – 20

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In a show full of romantic firsts, it’s pretty amazing OreMono!! has kept the Valentine’s Day/Chocolate episode in its back pocket…where one would assume it would melt! But here it finally is, with only four more episodes to go, and I think holding out was a good move, what with Takeo and Rinko so well-established as a loving couple.

I like how once more Takeo’s secondary friends come to him looking for help by having a group Valentines Day with Yamato’s friends. Suna, ever the stalwart best mate, deflects them, saying they had their fun for Christmas (and one of them, Osamu, even ended up dating one of the girls).

Even better, while Takeo appreciates Suna standing up for his right to be alone with Yamato, the truth is he doesn’t mind making it a group thing at all, nor does Yamato, for they are always looking for ways to spread the love they already have in droves for each other. Suna calls him a “do-gooder”, but c’mon now…so is he.

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Yamato is also eager to spread her wide knowledge of baking chocolate-making with her girlfriends (including Nanako, who wants to make something for Osamu) while working on a secret side-project specially for Takeo. It’s great to see both the boys looking so forward to getting chocolate while the girls look forward to giving it.

Valentine’s Day arrives, and we’re reminded how popular Suna is with the ladies when a small avalanche of chocolate pours out of his locker. Takeo asks a question on my mind as well—what does he do with it all—and he simply says he accepts it, gives reciprocating gifts on White Day to those who gave him their names…and that’s it. As much as Takeo may want his buddy to find love, no one has “clicked” for Suna the way Rinko clicked with him. That many of the girls who pursued Suna talked ill of Takeo behind his back surely contributed to that lack of clicking.

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The after-school Valentine’s Day group date goes swimmingly, with the guys convincing the girls to distribute the chocolates they made as if they were giving them to guys they liked. Each successive group event has had the girls gravitating less towards Suna alone and more evenly to the other guys. In a perfect world, each girl would click with each boy like Rinko x Takeo and Nanako x Osamu, but for now they’re content to exchange contact info and hang out sometime even without Takeo or Rinko around. Progress!

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But Takeo is confused—stunned, really—when Rinko suddenly says she’s in a hurry and scurries off. He’s so shocked he can’t quite walk in a straight line and mistakes a vending machine for his front door, because he expected to get chocolate from the girl he liked, for the first time…and didn’t.

Now, I was pretty sure, with so much time left, Rinko was “busy” getting Takeo’s chocolate. Then Takeo remembers two things: she actually did give him cookies at the cafe, and he simply neglected to savor them; and she spoke with great longing for fancy expensive chocolates.

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Takeo then decides to make up for the fact he didn’t properly enjoy Yamato’s chocolate buy buying her the chocolate she said she wanted, a nice subversion of the whole “Girls give on Valentines/Guys give on White Day” system.

But on his way out—and thank GOD Rinko was a safe distance from the outward-swinging door, or she would have been launched off the balcony—she’s standing out there with the biggest, prettiest chocolate dessert she’s ever made for Takeo.

And while they don’t end up locking lips, Takeo does send one hell of an air kiss off his balcony to Rinko, who catches it with giddy elation.

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So all in all, it’s a great Valentine’s for Takeo. The next day, he gets one more surprise (as do we!) when a very pleased-looking Mariya presents both him and Suna with obligation chocolate, a day after Valentines out of respect for Rinko. After she takes her leave Suna says she’s a good person, and that people who fall for Takeo—his sister, Rinko, Mariya—tend to be good people.

That gets Takeo thinking that a good person is what Suna needs, not just some fangirl who thinks it’s cool to talk shit about his friend. And as they shuffle off to class, someone who is potentially another one of those good people watches them go from around the corner…a silver-haired girl who must’ve given Suna chocolates. Could love finally be on the horizon for our boy Suna? I’d be down for that!

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