OverLord – 11

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Last week demonstrated just how dark and nasty Shalltear can be, but she was also neutralized by a mysterious force in a forest clearing, and the true nature of her condition was not elaborated on with great detail. In effect, we were as in the dark as Ains. This week, he works to shed some light on what exactly is going on.

He uses a God-level item to locate Shalltear, and then he’s summoned by the Adventurer’s Guild. He tells them the vampiress is someone he’s been hunting for years, and if he nabs her—and he’s pretty confident he will—he wants Orichalcum, none of this Mythril mess.

When other adventurers accompany Ains on the hunt, even though he warned them they’d definitely die if they did, he makes good on that warning by having Mare kill them. That’s some Ice Cold Ains.

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The expected confrontation with Shalltear comes surprisingly quick, and is surprisingly brief. The episode subverts expectations that Ains can undo what’s been done to Shalltear with an ultra-rare item which enables its wielder to make a wish, by having the ring reject his wish. Shalltear remains still and silent. It’s then, when Ain’s rare “super tier” magic item fails to work, that he decides to beat a hasty retreat to reassess his tactics. I like how the show doesn’t always make things laughably easy for the big lug.

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I also like how he was holding back, even with that wishing ring; he’s got loads more trump cards locked up in his fancy treasury, minded by a guard of his own creation: Pandora’s Actor. The shapeshifting sentinel initially appears as a supreme being like Ains: Albedo’s creator; which is a pretty great shock when it happens, for it momentarily confirms he’s not alone on this world, nor is he unchallengable in power.

However, it’s just Pandora’s Actor, whom Ains hasn’t seen in a while and, now that he’s older, realizes how goshdarn lame the fellow is, what with his saluting and German (though I agree his threads are pretty sweet). I appreciated this scene of relative levity despite the solemnity of the task before Ains; he’s been at this game so long, he’s literally no longer the young man he once was: a guy who made goofy characters like Pandora thinking they’re cool, or who saved up all summer for the Shooting Star ring.

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Things return to seriousness when Ains and Albedo travel deeper into the depths of the treasury, into a mausoleum where he raised statues for each of his former comrades before they retired from Yggdrasil. Albedo remarks on the fact he calls it a mausoleum, and wonders out loud if Ain’s Supreme bretheren are dead and gone. He says that’s not quite the case, but wonders to himself if it actually is. This isn’t a game anymore, after all.

Finally, after showing Albedo the sconce where he plans to raise a statue of himself, Albedo can’t take it anymore, and begs her great lord to stay in this world and rule over everyone—over her—forever. He then tells her, he’s come to collect enough world-level items to face off against Shalltear, knowing he’s probably the only one who can stand against her (a revision of my understanding that Albedo was the second-toughest of the Guardians, or maybe Ains is talking about Shalltear in her current state).

With her tears and determination, she eventually gets him to promise to come back from the fight, no matter what ends up happening. But the truth is, Ains is using this Shalltear dilemma as an opportunity to prove to himself he’s worthy of being the Overlord of Nazarick, or if he’s in over his bony little head.

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OverLord – 10

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News from Albedo that “Shalltear has revolted” was definitely a nice stab to end last week’s battle with Clementine and Khajit, and left me with a complex response. On the one hand, if it’s true that Shalltear revolted, it means this world is a lot more dangerous than had been apparent thus far.

But if Albedo was simply overreacting based on her latent dislike of and rivalry with the vampiress, it still speaks to a trend of internal court strife that started out playful and harmless but could spell big trouble, even for the Supreme Lord.

I’m pleased, then, that the actually answer to the question of what happened with Shalltear fell somewhere between those two possibilities, with qualities of both.

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I’m also pleased that OverLord’s quality of storytelling did not falter greatly just because Momonga was out of the picture for the vast majority of the episode. He’s a powerful, dominant presence both in the world and show, so his absence, while felt, was mitigated by giving us a closer look at Shalltear, including her downright frightening “attack” form.

Like Albedo and Narbarel, she looks about as far down as humans as one can, but goes further, looking upon them as food, or, at best, an entertaining “playmate.” But someone who considers humans even more as mere food and toys is the accompanying maid Solution, who is beautiful and seductive, but in reality is a shape-shifting slime monster whose boobs turn into a mouth that swallows a hapless dolt whole.

But interestingly, it’s not a total cakewalk for Shalltear & Co., at least not as much as it was for other Nazarickians thus far. Shalltear not only comes across the redhead to whom Momon gave a red potion (which she uses to save herself), but a well-coordinated force of NPCs manages to hold off a few of Shalltear’s attacks, and may or may not have taken temporary control of her mind.

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It’s that event, and its registry on the master screen, that causes Albedo to suspect a revolt. We can be reasonably clear she’s mistaken, however, and that the reality is more complicated; another mystery Momonga has to figure out with that big bony head of his. I appreciate the nuance of the situation, which is far more interesting than if Shalltear had suddenly decided to rebel against the lord she’s always loved (long before Momonga altered Albedo’s personality to love him), which would be way out of character.

And that’s also something the show keeps present in our own heads: the (anti-)heroes of Nazarick who serve Lord Ains Ooal Gown are the product and offspring of their creators, “supreme beings” like Ains who just happened to also be his friends (at least friends within the game, if not outside of it in the “real world”). As such, aside from his love hack of Albedo which was his doing, everyone who serves Momonga is acting in accordance with the parameters set by their creators, i.e. those friends of his.

So if it was Shalltear’s creator’s will that she revolt against Ains, so be it…but neither I nor Momonga are willing to concede that absent further information. For now, he simply has to find Shalltear…and hope whatever she has doesn’t spread to his other generals.

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OverLord – 02

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Without being too direct about it, this second outing confirms that OverLord means to ask the question, “If a game were about to end and you were the last one logged in, would the NPCs make you their god?” It also answers that question with a fairly unequivocal “yes”, although those two floor guardians not present and the army at the end of the episode may be cause for concern.

But not that much concern, as the people he does have on his side pledge to gladly “perish as his shield” if need be. Their skills are apparent and their loyalty appears unswerving. Momonga is someone different to each of them—beautiful, strong, kind, merciful—the recurring theme is that of ebullient praise in every possible aspect of ol’ Skullface, which seems to trigger his insecurities: what did he do to deserve all this?

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Well, it would seem he deserves it because he was the last human player left. If you’re an NPC of the game, the human players are supreme beings, and without them, you don’t exist. So it’s a big deal that he stayed, even if he didn’t even mean to be the last one there.

It would seem that in his careless state near the time he believed the Yggdrasil servers would shut down, Momonga’s seemingly innocuous decision to make Albedo fall in love with him caused an unintended imbalance in the dynamic of his “court” of guardians. To whit: a character he didn’t modify already has romantic feelings for him, making Albedo a threat.

The two smitten ladies bicker at length until deciding Momonga should have at least two wives—the two of them—making it just a matter of who’s the first wife. The other guardians seem to rally around Demiurge’s idea of Momonga producing an heir, so that the NPCs would have someone to follow should he leave or die.

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Meanwhile, after issuing general orders to conceal the suddenly exposed Tomb of Nazarick, Momonga continues to test the limits (or lack thereof) of his powers and survey what has apparently become his kingdom by default. Looking at the bright starry sky and glowing full moon, he is filled with a desire to possess everything his beady red eyes see, a goal his guardians can certainly set their watches to.

Keeping this ridiculous-looking character grounded is the fact that beneath his scary and imposing facade, there’s a guy inside with no friends or family in the real world, and his frequent little jumps of fear and surprise really humanize him. Hino Satoshi’s multifaceted performance really makes up for the lack of facial expressions. Plus Momonga tends to slump, decreasing his sinister aura somewhat.

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To that end, Momonga starts to make it easier for his guardians to move around, issuing Ainz Ooal Gown teleportation rings like the one he wears. He may have made a slight slip-up in awarding the first one to Mare (who is a boy btw), because for a moment Albedo seems slighted; but she seems appeased when she gets hers.

Meanwhile, as the work to hide Nazarick continues, a stern-looking general orders the destruction of another village. Are these more NPCs given sentience like Momonga’s guardians, only not loyal to him? It looks like the honeymoon may be over, but the true threat level of these guys, if any, remains to be seen. Maybe they’ll be pushovers, or swear fealty in the fact of Ainz Ooal Gown’s awesome power.

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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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