Anime Review: Overlord (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 11.06.2017

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Overlord (UK Rating: 15)

Overlord is based on a popular light novel series in Japan, the premise of which is something that is seen all too often in anime, manga, and light novels - the idea of being stuck in a virtual world. This latest foray establishes a virtual world on its last legs. In 2126, the world of Yggdrasil is a classic fantasy MMO VR game that has been running for 12 years and received massive popularity. Like all good things, though, it's coming to an end. The servers are closing and the game shutting down. The protagonist is a hardcore player who is the last remaining member and leader of his guild. While all the other players from his guild have moved on with their lives in the real world, he is sitting alone as the servers close, but as the timer ticks down to zero and the inevitable off switch is about to be flicked, he finds his virtual home becomes his permanent one. This release comes courtesy of Funimation via Anime Limited and is out on 12th June.

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Momonga is still within the world of Yggdrasil but that world has changed quite drastically. He can no longer contact the GMs or send messages to other players. His access to menus is gone and, instead, his magic spells are cast through incantations. Weirdest of all, the other inhabitants of the world seem to have gained consciousness and personalities. Momonga decides to investigate this world and hopes to find any other players trapped within.

To do this, he decides to take on new personas to investigate the world and have those names spread far and wide in hopes that other players, and in particular his old fellow guild-mates, will be able to find him. He wears a mask over his skeletal face and takes on the name of his guild as his own, travelling as Ainz Ooal Gown through the world, helping the people he finds, and searching out challenges. At the same time, he dons a set of black armour and joins the adventurer guild at the lowest level to work his way up the ranks.

Momonga isn't the typical protagonist here; he's entering this new world with all of his possessions from playing through the game. Massive amounts of special weapons and items built up from all of the members of the guild that have been left to him, not to mention he's insanely overpowered himself. His weakest spells can take out any regular character in the world. Oh, and he has an army of NPC minions to do his bidding and a gargantuan fortress. As such, the series does suffer a little from lacking any real threat for the protagonist, but, thankfully, a challenger steps up by the series' end.

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Overlord is only two years old and was animated by venerable studio Madhouse, so it looks great; crafting a classic fantasy world that is reminiscent of Dungeons and Dragons. There are plenty of magic and monsters, knights and mages, plus goblins and ogres. The best looking characters, though, are the original creatures that serve Momonga. This supporting cast has some great characters within the floor guardians Nazarick, a gothic loli Vampiress, a fallen Angel, a pair of twin dark elves, a devilish demon, and a team of monstrous combat maids. Not to mention Momonga himself is rocking shoulder pads looking like an ultimate level tier of Warlock from World of Warcraft. These cool character designs get chance to look great in combat and there are a number of dynamic battles over the course of the series, all climaxing with a PvP style duel to conclude the story.

This release comes with both English and Japanese dubs, and, as is often the case, the Japanese is superior… but the English has some surprising gems. The usual big names of Western dubs aren't in attendance but some lesser known actors deliver some great performances; in particular, Mikaela Krantz as the psychotic Clementine and Christopher Guerrero as the protagonist Momonga. This series also has one of the best opening themes of 2015: Clattanoia by OxT. The closing theme isn't half bad, either. On the bonus features front, there are the usual trailers and clean opening/closing, but also there are some audio commentaries from the cast and, best of all, Play Play Pleiades, a series of chibi-fied shorts that are filled with funny moments.

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8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
While the premise may be becoming oversaturated, Overlord does something completely new with it and delivers a fantastic series that manages to build a world, set up a cast of likeable characters, and deliver both action and comedy in spades. The only problem with the series is that it feels like the first chapter of a much bigger story and it will leave viewers desperate for more. However, thanks to the recent release of the original novels in English, and the even more recent announcement of a second series, they may not need to wait long!

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