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 it—it’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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.