Saturday, 20 January 2018

Overlord or How I Became A Lich Necromancer - An Overlord Anime Review

The Inhabitants of the Great Tomb of Nazarick in all their glory
Imagine that you've been playing an MMORPG, one that allows you to play as the Villains if you so desire.  (In D&D we call it the Evil Campaign, while Video Gamers call it the Renegade Path).  Right down to constructing your very own dungeon for other players to try their hand at clearing.  Which you can populate with monsters and NPCs (Non-player Characters to the un-initiated) of your own design.  Things are good, you possess an entire treasury full of extremely rare items.  Have a Guildhall that is so well defended that another party/guild has never been able to make it past the lower floors.  On top of that you're the top guild in the entire game.  There's just one problem, today's the last day before the game goes offline forever.  Your guild is breaking up and it's unlikely you'll ever play together again, since the sea of the internet is vast.  You've resigned yourself to this fate, deciding to wait until the servers shut down.  Much the same way that people await till Midnight on New Years Eve for the New Year to begin.  As the fateful hour strikes something strange happens.  You're still in your Guildhall surrounded by your trusty NPC bodyguards.  The various controls that you used to play the game are gone and you find yourself inhabiting the body of your avatar.  What do you do?  That is the exact situation and question that the protagonist of Overlord Ainz Oon Gown (formerly Momonga) finds himself dealing with.

Now I'm going to be honest with you, I'd been avoiding this Anime for a long time.  It'd been all over the Internet and everyone had been recommending it.  Which honestly made me want to see it even less.  I thought I'd seen this sort of anime before and I wasn't in for anything new.  Part of the reason is because when I think about it we're living in a sort of renaissance of "Transported to another World" anime.  (In Light Novels a genre known as Insekai).  Much like the Moeblob boom that occurred in the early to mid 2000s, Insekai seems to be the cash-cow that all the Anime studios are latching onto. I call it a renaissance because this isn't the first time that there've been stories like this.  Back in the mid 90s there was El Hazard and you probably make the argument that Inuyasha counts.  (If with a twist of the character being able to return to their world quite regularly).  Now don't get me wrong I'm as guilty as anyone else for having enjoyed the Genre.  Three of my favourite anime to come out of it include Drifters, Youjo Senki and Konosuba (which is really more of parody of the genre than an actual example of it).  Though in my defence Drifters and Youjo Senki also fall into a very specific sub-genre of Insekai Anime.  That being the "Villain Protagonist Transported to Another World" sub-genre.  Depending on who you ask the inhabitants of the worlds in those series are in as much trouble, as they were before the protagonists came along.  It's also a sub-genre that Overlord can be counted as part of.  As I said before the protagonist Ainz Oon Gown was leading an Evil guild before he was transported to this world.  Also take into account that in the MMORPG he was playing he chose to play a Lich.  A powerful undead that excels in necromancy.  Right down to the lack of emotions that comes with being undead. 

In terms of quality the show is pretty first rate in terms of quality.  The story as I mentioned is interesting enough to make it stand out from the rest in the genre.  The characters are also very fascinating when given the chance to be fleshed out.  (Which I will admit is very rare as of all the Tomb's inhabitants we only manage to focus on a mere handful).  I will admit that I can see these NPCs being created by a bunch of gamers who watch too much Anime.  There are some cliches present in their concept but obviously they've been lovingly crafted to explore new angles of old archetypes.  The English Dub is also top-notch (everyone has that one non-Anime friend they want show their favourite but won't watch with subtitles), the only real complaint being Clementine's voice.  Though in my opinion it ends up being a strength as one of the series' main villains.  She is supposed to be hated so her having an annoying voice only enhances that hatred.  At least in my eyes anyway.  Overall I enjoyed Overlord even going so far as to buy the first two Light Novels.  (During a recent trip to my nearest large bookstore, the only place I can buy Manga in the area).  Which I believe is the most stunning endorsement I could ever give the series.  I rate it an 8/10, it's good not my absolute favourite but good nonetheless.