Overlord IV – 06 – Runes for Revival

Feo Jera is about to be besieged by the Quagoa, and the Drawves’ scant military contingent prepares for the fight of their lives, but their general is suddenly informed of another visitor: an Undead wanting to discuss the Quagoa. When the general meets Ainz Ooal Gown, he recognizes that time is of the essence. He doesn’t consult with the Regency Council, but asks for Ainz’ aid in this immediate existential battle.

Of course, it’s just a dawdle for Ainz to summon two Death Knights to go out and slaughter the Quagoa. It’s only the fact that they start crossing the bridge across the Great Chasm that the Quagoa’s commander Lord Yohz cuts the ropes and sends them plummeting. With his forces decimated, Yohz and the survivors flee, concerned that the Dwarves have managed to tame Golems.

When Ainz senses his Knights have been eliminated, he assumes someone powerful, perhaps even a fellow Player to be the culprit, not mere gravity. But the Dwarves’ Regency Council (a colorful, hairy bunch) give him an audience, and he states his case: in exchange for reclaiming the Dwarves’ Royal Capital, he not only wants to open trade routes, but also claim all of the Dwarven Runesmiths and bring them to the Sorcerer Kingdom.

As Gondo mentioned, Runesmithing is on the decline even among the Dwarves, so while it’s an unusual request, the Council ultimately decides to agree to Ainz’s terms, even if they don’t think he can drink alcohol and thus can’t entirely be trusted (Ironically, Gondo is the rare Dwarf who doesn’t enjoy alcohol).

Ainz meets the assembled Runesmiths personally (with Shalltear bearing choice hooch), showing them a twenty-rune sword (made by a former Player) and inspiring them to reverse engineer it and revive runesmithing to the time of its heyday.

Gondo volunteers to be Ainz’s guide as he, Shalltear, and Aura head to the Royal Capital. The “three dangerous areas” are crossed with effortless ease thanks to Ainz’s Mass Fly spell, while even the poisonous labyrinth is neutralized when he protects the non-undead Gondo and Aura with magic.

Ainz is operating under the mistaken impression that he’s dealing with an adversary capable of dispatching his Death Knights, when in reality Yohz relied entirely on luck (and a super-deep chasm). But even with an abundance of caution, there’s little doubt he’ll be successful in reclaiming the Royal Capital and even defeating the Frost Dragon.

But as with so many battles Ainz and his Floor Guardians happen to fight in Overlord, knowing the end result is victory isn’t a bad thing, it just makes the process by which they arrive at those victories that much more engrossing and fun.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Overlord IV – 05 – Field Trip

I love it when Ainz isn’t around and the Floor Guardians just shoot the breeze. When Demiurge arrives to find Ainz is away, Albedo asks him why it’s so important he meet with Ainz-sama in person. Demiurge earnestly replies that he wants to be praised, and Albedo gives him a wry, approving look. She gets it.

Different they may be, they’re alike in their undying love and loyalty to their Overlord…as well as their completely overblown opinion of his greatness. Demiurge had his own plans for the Empire stewing, but is in awe when Albedo presents him with its offer to become a vassal state…all after a three-day visit.

That may not have been Ainz’s plan at all, but how others in the world interpret it is what matters. As for where Ainz is, intrigued by his introduction to the Runes of this world he prepares a light procession to bear him to the Dwarven Kingdom to open diplomatic relations.

He enlists the help of the Lizardman Zenberu, and has Aura and Shalltear as bodyguards and lieutenants. Cocytus offers himself as a chair, enraging Shalltear, but Ainz can’t help but be oddly comfortable.

Let me just say how great it is to be in the presence of Shalltear once more after she took the first four episodes off. While she alone could obliterate any country, Ainz’s reason for her coming along on the trip is to expand her horizons and gain some experience in the field. Even the magical equivalent of a strategic nuclear weapon needs to stretch her legs.

There’s a grandeur to the ensuing journey, with the show skimping neither on vast landscapes the party traverses nor the bombastic orchestral score. When Ainz finds a good spot to “make camp”, he basically summons an Isengard in which to spend the night.

As he contemplates whether another player of Yggdrasil taught the Dwarves rune tech, and expresses his confidence in Albedo and Demiurge handling the empire’s request, Aura notices that Shalltear is taking notes … of everything. She tries to get Shalltear to realize that her role isn’t simply to observe and report. After they part ways, Aura fears she’s gained a “dumb little sister”.

The next day, the procession stops at the entrance to the cave that leads to the Dwarven Kingdom, according to Zenberu. Ainz deploys his ninja-like Hanzo to investigate why there are no guards to be found, and they determine that the entire city has been abandoned.

Aura goes in and takes a look around, and meets the latest in a long line of Overlord characters who almost immediately feel fully-realized and dimensional: Gondo Firebeard. With some efficient yet natural exposition, he explains how he is one of a dying breed of Dwarves who still appreciate and treasure Rune carving, the older (and cheaper) way of infusing things with magic.

Despite being descended from a great Runesmith, Gondo considers his smithing abilities to be lacking at best. That modesty is a big part of his instant appeal, as is the fact he’s basically a big old rune nerd, which is right up Ainz’s alley.

He vows to give Gondo all the assistance he needs to revive the old ways…provided of course he pledges his undying loyalty to Ainz Ooal Gown. Gondo is fine with that if it means his father’s legacy will endure, and he’ll be able to pass what he learned to his children.

But a more immediate problem than cultural erasure is upon them once they exit the cave: Shalltear reports a horde of violent Quagoa are all over the place. With fur hard as metal armor and animal ruthlessness, the Quagoa are the reason the Dwarves abandoned this city for a different one.

Ainz gives Shalltear a simple mission: capture the Quagoa and gain information on them. After all, if Ainz plays his cards right this could be a valuable gesture of goodwill to his future Dwarvish allies. With a nod of her head, Shalltear is off, and we get to see her in her impossibly cool grand red battle armor…only not brainwashed this time!

As you’d expect, she makes quick work of the Quagoa, capturing them while her support troops prevent anyone from escaping to expose Ainz’s presence. I particularly likes when Shalltear was surrounded but not one of the dozens of the Quagoas’ blows hit her; the difference in level precludes them from causing her any damage at all.

That said, once detained, the Quagoa leader is in no mood to spill any information … until Shalltear uses a charm spell, and then he’s her best bud. He happily tells them that they work for the Clan Lord Riyuro, tasked with killing any dwarves who escaped in their direction. He says the dwarf city is probably already being attacked and its inhabitants slaughtered.

Once Ainz gets a location, I have no doubt he’ll put a stop to that, making for a heroic introduction to the Dwarven Kingdom. After last week’s stripped down arena fight (which was nevertheless packed with world-building), this episode proves Overlord is just as deft at rendering grand adventures into new lands.

Overlord IV – 04 – Away Game

As soon as Albedo departs from E-Rantel for her special envoy mission, Ainz takes a trip of his own, using Gate to slip into the Imperial capital of Arwintar with his new pal Ainzach. He’s there to begin enacting his plan to recruit adventurers who actually go on adventures, and also checks in on his old pal Flugel, giving him The Book of the Dead from Earth and just a tiny taste of the secrets it holds.

Ainzach is actually the one to suggest Ainz himself fight in the coliseum in order to advertise his recruiting plan, but you also get the feeling Ainz has been itching for a good old-fashioned fight. He meets with the Warrior King’s tiny-eyed promoter Osk, who has not only thoroughly researched Ainz, but uses a Bunny Person Maid’s heightened senses to gauge his power.

As you’d expect, fighting one-on-one with any other individual would be too short a fight, so Ainz not only agrees not to use magic, but also commits to not using magical items (other than his own body and its built-in attributes). Also, if Albedo knew her beloved Ainz-sama would be fighting in an arena while dressed so cool, she’d probably teleport right over there.

Overlord is great at quickly building up grizzled, noble characters, and the Warrior King, a War Troll named Go Gin, is as grizzled and noble as they get. He and Ainz actually exchange some banter and laughter before getting down to it, when we see that the very best warrior an empire can offer is absolutely no match for even an Ainz Superleggera.

When Ainz indicates he’s about to go in for the kill, the Warrior King removes all of his armor. He knows Ainz has been holding back, and asks him if he’s really so weak. Ainz assures him that it’s more a matter of him being so strong. But he acquiesces to the King’s demand that he show him at least a “fraction” of his full strength.

Once he does, Ainz’s defense is so strong, a flurry of blows from the great Warrior King’s massive club bounces harmlessly off him, allowing him to get within point blank range and casually plunge his blade into the Warrior King’s chest, killing him. Ainz then flips on his magic mic and announces his adventurer recruitment plan.

To do so before a stone-silent crowd who just saw their beloved champion so comically bested shows Ainz’s lack of showmanship. It turns out he also didn’t come just to mess with El-Nix, though he is irked that the emperor rooted loudly for the Warrior King throughout the match.

Ainz’s intent hardly matters, however. By so easily killing the empire’s greatest warrior—then bringing him back to life during his speech—El-Nix is convinced right then and there that surrender is the only way to save his empire and its people. When Ainz visits his box after the bout, El-Nix offers his empire to Ainz as a vassal state.

Hilariously, Inner Ainz has no idea what that means, so makes up an excuse to skedaddle with haste. But El-Nix even interprets that as some kind of shrewed 5D-Chess move. At least one of his generals suggests that maybe Ainz wasn’t really thinking of anything…which was the truth!

Overlord IV – 03 – Muddy Waters

I’m glad the show rewound a bit to show us Albedo setting off on her envoy mission, because it shows us how much Momonga cares about her, fussing over her until she asks him for a kiss to stave off illness. When he actually does kiss her—not on the lips but the cheek—she’s so shocked she bursts into tears of joy, such that he has to embrace her to clam her down.

Compare this tender, adorable scene to the obligatory Old Dudes (and one Old Dudette) Sitting Around A Table Talking About Stuff that follows. Frankly, I love the contrast. Ainz and Albedo may be old friends to us, and we even know Ainz is actually just a human from our world. But to these elemental Cardinals of the Slane Theocracy, he is the single greatest threat they have ever faced. They’re not sure they can defeat him, but they’re going to try.

The Cardinals also make all manner of references to “God-kin”, “Black Scripture”, and the “Thousand Leagues Astrologer”, the latter of whom we see cowering under her pillow. She knows what Emperor El-Nix already knows: he and his empire are on borrowed time, and that time belongs to Lord Ains. He allows himself a moment of vulnerability in front of his two most trusted men, voicing his panic and despair at the situation he’s facing; his hair literally falling out in clumps.

He arranges an ultra-secret meeting between himself and representatives of Slane in his imperial box at the coliseum. His guests are so suspicious they do not say anything of note to him, only hand him inquiries on paper which he is to respond to in writing.

But even though he is protect by the empire’s most powerful team of adventures (Silver Thread Bird), the meeting is undone by the “coincidence” that the main event is a bout between the empire’s long-reigning Warrior King…and Ainz Ooal Gown himself.

Ainz drops in on his “old pal” El-Nix, making the priests that much more suspicious that either the young emperor has fallen under the undead Sorcerer King’s thrall, or simply planned to sell him out. The tragic thing is, El-Nix is neither; he is terrified of Ainz, but he wants an alliance with Slane in the slight chance Ainz can be beaten. Hopes of such an alliance were dashed for now by Ainz…or Demiurge in disguise.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Overlord IV – 02 – If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…

Ainz wants to create a kingdom he can be proud to show his colleagues, regardless of whether they’ll ever return to this world (or if they are here, come out of hiding). It’s a noble desire, and one that will possibly require more than Albedo’s iron fist or Demiurge’s diamond-sharp mind. He seems to know that even if he personally isn’t up to snuff, it might just ultimately take other humans—i.e. lower life forms his subordinates despise.

Re-Estize took a lickin’ when it lost E-Rantel, but it keeps on tickin’, with Renner even opening a huge and elaborate orphanage for the children of those lost in the war. Tina and known Momon Fangrl Evil Eye accompany Renner and her beloved dog-knight Climb as she returns to the palace, where Prince Zanac is about to meet the Sorcerer Kingdom’s envoy.

Brain, on the other hand, simply trains, resigned to the long game of training some of the orphans into becoming the next Gazef; when his teacher asks why he doesn’t take on the mantle of Top Warrior, Brain intimates that he’s just not up to it. Having watched what Ainz did to Gazef, that’s no surprise.

When the envoy—our girl Lady Albedo—does arrive at Re-Estize, she carries herself with all the weight and stature such a position entails (her carriage is also pulled by a shimmering golden demon horse, which can’t hurt). Zanac doesn’t need Renner to tell him he needs to be on his best behavior.

On slightly less than his best behavior is one Philip Dayton L’Eyre Monterrat, the surviving son of a poor barony with only one village that also happens to be positioned neatly between the two kingdoms. Philip breaks etiquette and protocol by being the first of the nobles at the ball to welcome Albedo and introduce himself.

Phil later tells his dad that this is what their domain needs: to build ties with the Sorcerer Kingdom for favorable treatment when an invasion inevitably comes. To this end, he’s invited Albedo to another ball at the stately home of the rich commoner Hilma Cygnaeus.

Hilma, who has a very distinctive face, sees “potential” in Philip, and looks forward to benefiting from the power he gains in the future as a result of her financial and logistical support in the present. She even lets the brat co-host an event being held in her home. As he escorts and even puts his arm around Albedo, it’s clear how out of his league Phil is, but you can’t help but admire his ambition. At least he’s trying to do something to stem the tide of ruin for his domain!

As we learn when Albedo retires to her chambers, Hilma is in league with Albedo to secure a “puppet”, and Albedo is happy with one as stupid as Philip, despite his impropriety and stupid smirk. Perhaps a little more juicy is the fact that either behind Zanac’s back or with his tacit support, Princess Renner herself is bending the knee to Albedo, helping to smuggle goods into E-Rantel in exchange for a blue magical box Renner is confident she’ll be able to open.

While stubborn mules like Brain simply slow down what they see as an eventual turnaround in fortune somewhere far down a road he won’t be alive to see, operators like Renner and Philip are getting in early while the getting’s good. If Ainz and his ilk can’t be defeated by other individual or force in this world, they might as well make nice.

Overlord IV – 01 – A Land as Sweet as Honey

Overlord’s fourth season—and the first episode of Overlord I’ve seen in 1,373 days—announces it’s going to be the same old Overlord by starting off with Albedo rolling around in bed pretending a pillow is her beloved Ainz-sama. Ainz has to contend with maids constantly fussing over him (and sitting beside his bed at night and not sleeping). The household staff is led by Fith, who has him dress in robes of red and gold rather than his usual sinister black.

It’s a casual easing back into this quirky world of overpowered monsters-as-workplace protagonists. Ainz sifts through a lot of carefully-prepared paperwork that he admits (only to himself and the audience) he doesn’t know a whole lot about—he is just a salaryman back home—but such are his subordinates absolute trust in and love of him that he can BS his way through pretty much any situation.

After some lap time with Aura, Mare, and Albedo (the red makes him look like a regal, skeletal Santa) Ainz meets with the always extra Pandora’s Actor, who will be taking over Albedo’s duties while she’s off in the Re-Estize Kingdom. As Pandora’s “father”, he expresses his wish for his “son” to surpass his original settings.

Pandora also gets Ainz thinking about the bigger picture of what kind of leader he wants to be in this new Sorcerer Kingdom. Right now there’s almost no commerce, the city is short on supplies, and the adventurer’s guild is all but abandoned. But in this world, the adventurers are essentially security or exterminators.

Ainz wants to change that, by absorbing the guild into his kingdom and giving them a new directive: actually, ah, adventuring. Exploring new places and gathering information, in ways his subordinates would have more difficulty both due to how powerful they are and how much they detest lower forms of life.

Ainz wants to build a kingdom and a guild he’d be proud to show his old friends, whom he believes may still be out there somewhere. But he knows he can’t do it alone. He’s going to be leaning on Demiurge (all too happy to serve), Albedo (who is all too happy for him to lean on her), and the rest of his colorful crew of cretins.

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