Overlord IV – 13 (Fin) – Princess Front-Renner

We open on Mare, perched on a rooftop, surveying the Royal Capital, and suddenly he starts to weep. Is the meekest, gentlest Floor Guardian lamenting having to kill every last man, woman and child in the city? Of course not….he’s anxious about his destructive magic not being up to snuff and a few of those men, women and children surviving and escaping. Lest we forget: our pals from Nazarick are supervillains. Granted, some of them are adorable.

Princess Renner sure didn’t seem concerned about the impending invasion of the Sorcerer Kingdom, did she? Clued in as we the audience are not only to the twisted personality she conceals, as well as her dealings with Albedo, explain her attitude, but not the actual means by which she manages to slither out of this crisis and turn it to her advantage. Climb proves his loyalty by declining an offer from the King both he and Renner wouldn’t mind: approving a marriage of the two.

While Aura dispenses with Old Samurai Dude before he can even introduce himself, then leaves the others to her beasts before strolling into the capital’s repository of magic items, Climb takes a rucksack filled with the Royal Crown, heirloom tomes, and other items that are a part of the royal legacy, and hides them away in the warehouse district.

On his way back, he encounters Mare, who is kind enough to tell him to run away if he wants to live. Remembering Renner’s order for him not to fight, but run—the better to return to her side safely—Climb does just that. But as he turns toward the palace, he finds it’s already been encased in Cocytus’ ice.

The Snow Maidens grant him access to the throne room, where he finds Ainz, Albedo, Demiurge, and Cocytus, along with a frightful sight: Renner kneeling beside her father, who is lying dead in a pool of his own blood, some of which is on Renner’s hands. Demiurge commands Climb to prostrate himself, and Climb figures they used mind control on Renner to make her kill the king.

Ainz tells Demiurge to release Climb, and even allows him the privilege of fighting him one-on-one. Climb’s a tough customer, but it’s safe to say he’s no Gazef, nor is he Brain, and we know how things went for those warriors. So Ainz is just toying with him. That said, Climb manages to pull off a move that impresses Ainz before using “Grasp Heart” to kill him.

…But this is not the end of Climb. He wakes up, to find a relieved Renner leaning over him, but something’s different. The dialated pupils, the sharp black nails, the fangs and little wings. Renner explains that she pledged her allegiance to The Sorcerer King, and was transformed into an immortal demon. She asks Climb if he’ll become a demon and pledge allegiance to Ainz as well, so that they can be together for eternity.

This may be a lot all of a sudden for Climb, who had only just been resurrected from death, but I wasn’t surprised when he assented to Renner’s offer without hesitation. After all, he’s sworn to be her shield, whether she’s a princess or a demoness.

After meeting with and thanking her new superior Albedo, Renner celebrates having gotten everything she wanted for the low low price of betraying and sacrificing her kingdom.

She does so by singing a hauntingly beautiful song while dancing with herself and laughing maniacally in a gorgeous and stunningly animated sequence, which was both a complete surprise and a season highlight. Renner—the real Renner—has never looked more radiant, and will fit right in at Nazarick. I’d be ride-or-die for her too if I was Climb.

Whither Lord Philip Montserrat? Well, his last pleasure in life is getting to gaze upon the loveliness of the Lady Albedo when she deigns to visit his family manse. She then presents him with the heads of his family members before killing him. An inauspicious demise for a character who was never anything but an arrogant but disposable pawn.

In the center of the ruined capital of the fallen Re-Estize Kingdom, Ainz Ooal Gown sits upon a impromptu throne of rubble, flanked by Albedo, as Marquis Raeven and the other great nobles kneeling before him, pledging their allegiance. Raeven assures his new king and overlord that the destruction of Re-Estize will serve as an abject lesson to other nations not to mess with the Sorcerer Kingdom; a lesson that likely won’t be forgotten for millennia.

Citing this as a very good justification for what has been done, Ainz lets himself be satisfied and content. To make the land as sweet as honey, he had to burn part of it down. But there’s much more to be done, which will no doubt be chronicled in the forthcoming third Overlord film, along with a presumed fifth and possibly final season.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Overlord IV – 12 – Song of Ice and…More Ice

As he debriefs Albedo and Pandora’s Actor on their clash with Azuth and Riku, one thing is clear to Ainz: he doesn’t know enough about his adversaries. He praised Pandora improvising by getting on his knees and groveling, even if the real Ainz wouldn’t do that, because it caught Riku off guard.

He’ll still have to “take a loss” to learn more about the strength of his foes, but not so large a loss it might cost him his life…he’s not sure he’d resurrect! It’s not often the overlord ponders his demise. Meanwhile, as Aura and Cocytus’ forces advance on the capital, Blue Roses’ Lakyus enjoys some tea and an audience with Princess Renner.

Lakyus’ comrades start acting very odd and deliberate about how does and doesn’t leave the room, and about making more tea so everyone can have some. This culminates in Tia serving her poison tea, then stabbing her with poison needles, followed by Gagarin raining blows upon her.

But…why? Isn’t Lakyus the Blue Roses’ leader? Well, yes, but Evileye and the others knew she wouldn’t leave the capital with them. Because they value their friend more than the kingdom, they resorted to these extreme measures, including mind control, to get her out of there by force. She’ll surely be cross at them by the time she’s herself again…but by then there probably won’t be a kingdom anymore.

It’s with that fierce devotion to keeping their friend and leader alive that Blue Roses prepares to teleport out, but not of course before asking if Renner, Climb, or Brain wish to join them in retreat. While Climb would obviously follow her anywhere, she politely declines (probably because she knows she won’t necessarily be killed in the imminent invasion).

Brain also declines, preferring to either win glory or meet his end gloriously fighting the invading forces. Heck, maybe punching the bully in the nose will make him think twice about annihilating the capital? He leaves Renner and Climb, giving them Gazef’s magic sword to return to the king. Renner actually briefly wields it—and shows no small amount of skill doing so—but just as quickly sheaths it, lamenting that it doesn’t suit her (though Climb disagrees).

Aura arrives at the walls with a colorful collection of vicious monsters, including Iri, an adorably self-conscious Tyrannosaurus. Aura gives Iri the task of walking around the palace and “squishing all the people”, while she and the other monsters spread out to unleash some mayhem. The guards atop the walls can only stand in awe and terror, and Aura brightly warns them to stay out of her way. They’d be wise to do so!

Far more solemn is Cocytus’ brooding advance into the city with his procession of yuki-onnas, destroying the gates with ice and freezing streets and buildings within their radius. Brain is looking for an enemy to fight when he encounters Cocytus, and…well folks, we knew it wouldn’t be a long fight, didn’t we!

Even with Brain taking three potions and enhancing his abilities to the absolute hilt, the introductions last longer than the duel, in which Cocytus simply breaks out a bigger katana and slashes him. Despite the ease of his win, Cocytus is impressed someone of Brain’s level was in the capital, and orders him frozen, perhaps for later revival.

With the Blue Roses gone, Brain was probably the strongest human left in the capital. When Ainz returns to the capital to finish things, how far will he take things? Will those orphans Renner visited be slaughtered? What about Renner herself, who seemed at least partially allied with Albedo?

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Overlord IV – 11 – Knocked Back

After a solemn scene of King Ramposa mourning Zanac’s sure demise and excusing the palace staff in hopes some might get away under cover of night, Ampetif Cocco Doll joins his fellow Eight Fingers, and notes that all of them look all gaunt like “they’re on some fad diet” or “demons wearing the skins” of his former colleagues.

Turns out they’re that way because of what they’ve endured. Shalltear arrives, matter-of-factly gathers the Fingers and their 1,000 men and stows them someplace for the time being, and then it’s Cocco Doll’s turn to undergo the “baptism” Hilma and the others have already been through. But hey, at least now they’re under the protect of His Majesty the Sorcerer King.

As the twins and Cocytus lead his armies to certain victory, Ainz and Albedo (looking menacingly hot in her full black armor) await the ones who defeated the Death Knights. Our old-boy Azuth of Drop of Red is first to arrive. Aiz orders Albedo to take him on but not kill him; this is about information-gathering first and foremost.

Azuth flies off but Albedo stays with him, fully aware he’s leading her away from Ainz-sama on purpose. When he finally unleashes both physical and magical attacks, they bounce off Albedo like nothing, and when she strikes him, she notes that he’s “like tofu.” So, decidedly not the biggest challenge for the good Prime Minister.

Azuth’s chum (?) turns out to be far more formidable. A knight in platinum armor surrounded by four spinning weapons, he introduces himself as Riku Aganeia. He’s able to actually strike Ainz with his axe, and while it does no damage, Ainz is impressed enough to propose a deal. If this Riku Aganeia fellow becomes his subordinate, he’d be inclined to cease the destruction of the Re-Estize Kingdom.

Riku ain’t having it, and a wonderful little duel ensues, with Ainz never looking like he’s in trouble but nevertheless enjoying the bemusement and novelty of an opponent who won’t just die by, ya know, standing too close to him or something. Heck, Ainz can’t even break through the World Isolating Barrier Riku puts up.

While Ainz is keeping the proverbial kid gloves on, he decides to test the limits of this opponent’s power by first summoning a Doom Lord, who trades slashes and strkes with Riku’s four weapons and gives Ainz time to think. He then unleashes an “Elemental Skull”, which we unfortunately never get to see in action but is exquisite in its simple yet dread-inspiring design.

When Riku raises his giant sword to strike Ainz down, Ainz suddenly acts more like the human narrating his thoughts, even getting down on the ground as if groveling. He tries words with Riku, asking if it’s really so wrong for a nation to respond when its food supplies meant for the Holy Kingdom were stolen; Riku simply says he’s gone too far, and must now perish as punishment.

Naturally, that ain’t happening, and Albedo comes crashing through the barrier like it’s made out of stunt glass and starts whaling on Riku, enraged by how he spoke to Ainz-sama. Ainz orders her to stop, and then once more asks Riku to become his subordinate. Instead, Riku teleports away.

He later meets up with a thoroughly defeated Azuth, who laments that the kingdom will surely fall now that they know the strength of their enemies. Ainz’s hunch that Riku was controlling the armor remotely is proven correct; the one pulling the strings was Tsa, a powerful Dragon Lord.

Tsa uses terms like player and NPC, and while he may have lost this round, he believes there is a way to defeat the Sorcerer King, and is going to give it some serious thought. As for the “Ainz” his puppet fought, it wasn’t Ainz at all, but Pandora’s Actor posing as Ainz (with Albedo doing a bang-up job acting like he’s Ainz-sama).

Pando certainly gave up the game when he acted all goofy for that one moment, but it was still a nice surprise. I love how the battle we saw was between two proxies of the two far more powerful entities sitting back and collecting the data. In this case, neither know their counterpart’s true power, only that of the proxies they fought. We’ll see how their next encounter shapes up.

Overlord IV – 10 – The Pursuit of Happiness

When the Floor Guardians note how easily the man in the red powered suit defeated two Death Knights, Ainz breaks out his patented “Just as expected”, awing his underlings by revealing the true reason he sent a lesser force to a lesser town: to bait the Kingdom’s most powerful protectors: Drop of Red.

Renner meets with her brother Prince Zanac, for perhaps the last time, as Ainz is sending his army to their royal capital and intend to raze it to the ground. Both seem resigned to that fate, with Zanac volunteering to lead the troops while Renner escapes “when the time is right.”

Evileye and Blue Rose end up meeting with Drop of Red’s leader, Azuth, in a brothel, only for their character designs to be somehow outdone by a third Adamantite adventurer party: The Black Scripture, from the Holy Kingdom. They wish to recruit Drop of Red and Blue Rose as allies in the fight to “secure the future of mankind,” i.e. defeat the Sorcerer King. Blue Rose refuses, at least for now, while Azuth is certain attempting to defeat the Sorcerer King is a fool’s errand.

Prince Zanac leads what’s left of Re-Estize’s forces out to the field outside the capital wearing Gazef’s armor, then rides further out on his own to request an audience with Ainz. It is granted, and Ainz makes things proper with a table, chairs, and water goblets. Zanac’s main question to Ainz is why he’s going about this in such a cruel fashion. Ainz states simply that Zanac’s kingdom is to be made an example of, so no one will dare oppose his Sorcerous Kingdom ever again.

When Zanac asks further what Ainz’s goal is, he simply states “happiness”—for himself and those he cares about (the Floor Guardians and other underlings). Zanac can’t really argue with that, and withdraws from the discussion with just one final request: that whatever magic Ainz uses to kill him and his people, it at least be done quickly and relatively painlessly.

Zanac is surprised by how human Ainz is, and how he’s a far more worthy king than he could ever be. However, Ainz thinks the same way: that someone so outwardly unflappable and dignified as Zanac represents true royalty. Contrast that with his nobles, who rebel against him before the battle begins, beheading Zanac and taking his head before Ainz as a tribute, as well as pledging their allegiance to the Sorcerous Kingdom.

Until his last moments, Zanac Varleon Igana Ryle Vaiself stood tall with sword in hand, while these nobles kneel and simper. Frankly, it disgusts Ainz and turns him off personally overseeing the entire invasion operation. He tells the nobles they’ll get a “suitable reward”—the sparing of their families’ lives—then sends them away, but tells Albedo to send them to the Neuronist, and only to let them die (albeit not slowly) if they beg for death.

He then puts Cocytus and Mare in charge of the impending battle, having “lost interest” due to the cowardly actions of the nobles. They should have let their prince lead an army into a dignified, honorable battle; now they’ve signed their own death warrants for certain. As for Renner, she’s now de facto Queen…of a soon-to-be ruined Kingdom.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Overlord IV – 09 – Baking a Softer Biscuit

After chastising a courtier for interrupting her, Albedo cuts to the chase: The Sorcerer Kingdom is declaring war on the Re-Estize Kingdom, but they won’t deploy their forces for a whole month, and Ainz promises not to use any “large spells” like the one that killed 200,000 on the Katze Plains. Brain knows Ainz is planning something (duh).

A month later, and Ainz has already taken steps to ensure a swift invasion of Re-Estize, focusing on destroying the villages near the borders in order to prevent outside forces from interfering. But he’s loath to reveal to his always-gung-ho generals the fact that he’s holding back on purpose, resulting in some humans surviving and escaping.

While not wholly his idea, since Ainz is, deep down, just a regular human gamer, he’s both more empathetic and respectful of the opinions of fellow “lowly” humans, or in this case, slightly-less powerful underlings, like Albedo’s older sister Nigredo (who is missing her face skin…if she ever had it) and the dog maid-themed Pestonya. They urge their overlord not to snuff out a race as innovative as humanity too rashly.

The Sorcerer Kingdom’s latest target is the seaside town of E-Naeul, who have contracted the mithril adventurer group Four Armaments, led by a cool beauty and including a slightly perverted mage. Like many new Overlord introductions, this four-person party brings an immediate lived-in quality with their easy banter and subtle swagger. At the end of the day, they’re professionals, and if their job is to hold E-Naeul as long as they can, they will hold.

The zombie rabble that constitutes the main Sorcerer Kingdom force isn’t particularly intimidating; the onna kishi who leads the Four Armaments is far more concerned about the two giant Death Knights, wondering if only two were sent because that’s all it was assumed would be needed to cause the town to fall.

After provoking the Death Knight to charge the front gates, The onna kishi has her partymates buff her up with attribute enhancements, and she conjures a doppelganger of her hand axe so every strike counts twice. More than anything, she doesn’t flinch even a little bit in the face of a massive undead warrior getting all up in her space.

While she’s not taking any damage thanks to her superior speed and agility, she’s not really causing any to the Death Knight, and when the dual-wielding Death Warrior catches up with its companion, it starts to look like even one of the more renowned adventurer groups in the kingdom is going to start experiencing what the “stick” in Ainzs’ carrot-and-stick plan entails.

But then, suddenly, the Death Knight’s head is blasted off, and the knight crumbles into a pile of ash. The shots came from high in the sky, where a figure in a high-tech red metal mech suit is brandishing an equally anachronistic machine gun. The Death Warrior does its best to deflect the red one’s shots, but eventually falls as well, and the red one simply gives a friendly gesture and flies off into the wild blue yonder.

With the biggest enemy threats removed, it’s highly likely the Armaments and town forces will be able to repel the remaining zombies and prevent E-Naeul from falling. But when reports come back of the Death Knights’ defeat, Ainz shocks his Guardians by remarking that he expected this. So who is the one in red, who is identified by the Armaments as an adamantite adventurer…and will Ainz eventually have to fight them?

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Overlord IV – 08 – The Dumbest Noble

The Dwarven arc is…done, I guess? Moving on, we return to the Re-Estize Kingdom, where royal siblings Zanac and Renner discuss what to do about the Sorcerer Kingdom. Renner wants Zanac to be installed as king ASAP, but also suggests that declaring themselves a vassal state like the Empire might not be the worst idea.

Meanwhile, much further down the line, Baron Phillip Montserrat is already half in the bag at a maid bar while chatting with a couple of his baron bros. Despite being cordial with Albedo, when he learns how the Sorcerer Kingdom is making bank with its agricultural exports, he proposes that something be done about it.

That something happens, a report is filed that finds itself on Albedo’s desk, and before you know it, Ainz and his Floor Guardians are all back in Nazarick. I guess with teleportation it’s not that crazy; it’s just been a while. Hilma Cygnaeus is brought before Ainz, and she does a pretty good Albedo impression.

Ainz dominates her mind and determines she wasn’t directly responsible for the attack on his merchant convoy, but learns that Montserrat was. This is when Ainz sits back and lets Albedo, Demiurge, and the others explain the situation to him (under the guise of explaining it to the other Guardians). The byproduct of his passivity is all the Guardians agree that the Kingdom should face severe punishment.

This results in Prime Minister Albedo arriving in the Kingdom to have an audience with the King, Zanac, and Renner. The King asks what she’s there for, but he already knows. Rather than give the Sorcerer Kingdom Montserrat’s head, however, he offers his own, surprising kids, court, and Albedo alike.

There’s been a lively pace to geopolitical developments throughout Overlord IV, and this episode is no different, checking in on players we hadn’t seen in a bit while giving us an always-welcome Guardian reunion at Nazarick. Through it all, Ainz is going with the flow, trusting his people to offer him sage council and continuing to let them think he’s five steps ahead when he’s actually catching up.

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 – 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.

Isekai Quartet 2 – 12 (Fin) – Breaking a (Giant Metal Spider) Leg

IQ’s second (but by no means the last) season wraps up with two parallel performances: first, that of the school play Cinderella, to which Rem contributes a…shall we say unique version of Cinderella, who exploits the masochism of one of her stepsisters, derides the homebrew pumpkin carriage as “pathetic” (probably because Subaru is part of it), can’t help but ruefully laugh during her glow-up, and kisses her sister.

As that farce unfolds, the “Battle of Maidens” plays out in the schoolyard, with the all-female defense force all contributing their unique talents to keep Destroyer from ruining the play (and likely the school buildings as well). Raphtalia and Filo only need to hear the first few words of Reinhard van Astrea’s motivational speech (which he also gave during the giant whale battle in Re:Zero) to join in.

Aqua actually ends up scoring the coup-de-grace with a God Blow, echoing a similar battle in KonoSuba. As the episode flips from the battle to the play, it employs clever transitions that tie the two performances together. With a strong finale, Isekai Quartet remains a fun lightweight, pocket-size diversion. I honestly wouldn’t mind if they kept it up indefinitely, continually adding characters from popular isekai anime.

Isekai Quartet 2 – 07 – Let’s Get Physicals

It’s a scary time for a lot of people across the world with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, so it’s somewhat inauspiciously coincidental for IQ2 to come out with an episode in which everyone gets a physical. This physical only seems to consist of taking the students’ height and weight, with no injections or other health tests taken.

What this episode does test is my patience with Pandora’s Actor. In the shadow of fellow Miyano Mamoru-voiced character Betelgeuse, PA’s quirkiness seems forced. He’s random and crazy enough to be annoying, but not enough to be fun to watch. Ram seems to agree.

As for the parties who strive to see members of the opposite sex in their skivvies, Rem prevents Shalltear and Albedo from glimpsing too many of Ainz’s bones, while the normally super-lucky Kazuma is a hair too late in initiating his peeping mission.

Speaking of hair, the prominent ahoge of both Tanya and Filo prevent Wiz from taking accurate height measurements, while Darkness is the only girl disappointed that neither Kazuma nor any other men decided to peep on them. The excessive Pandora’s Actor marred some otherwise funny moments in an unfocused outing.

Isekai Quartet 2 – 05 – GIVE ME CHOCO…DEATH!!!

As Valentine’s Day arrives (or to paraphrase Tanya, “the triumph of capitalism over religion”), the concept of giving chocolate to the one you like spreads across the school. Albedo plans to infuse her chocolate with her love, and meets a kindred spirit in Betelgeuse Romanee-Conti.

Initially presented as the Home-Ec teacher, Betel is later booted out as a trespasser. I loved how these two demented weirdos fed off one another’s crazy. This version of Betel is also far more tolerable than his Re:Zero self, mostly because he doesn’t torture Rem!

Capt. Weiss wants chocolate, so he asks Kazuma the proper way to ask, and Kazuma messes with him by instructing him to hold his hands out and yell “GIVE ME CHOCO!”. This results in Weiss getting AL HUMA’d by Rem, shielding Darkness from potential harm Darkness was actually excited about, as Darkness tends to be!

It’s a pleasant enough exploration of to whom all these disparate characters from fantasy worlds would go about giving chocolate. Kazuma is happy to receive chocolate from all three girls in his party (even if its obligatory), while Subaru is happier to get a modest chocolate from Emilia than a huge heart-shaped box from Rem.

Finally, Beatrice is popular with Tanya’s underlings, the battle maids his up a sweets shop, while Yunyun either distributes or receives perhaps the most chocolate. Finally, for all the love Ainz got, he’s unable to eat chocolate.

…DEATH!

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