What They Say:
When it is announced that the virtual reality game Yggdrasil will soon be taken offline, one person decides to stay and spend the very last moments of the game as their dark wizard avatar, Momonga (voice of Satoshi Hino). But when the time of deactivation passes and Momonga finds himself still active in the game world, with the non-player characters exhibiting personalities of their own, his true quest begins. Now he must travel this world looking for answers about what happened, and whether anyone else from the real world is still there, all the while using his magic guild to rule the world.
The audio has a 5.1 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese – I watched the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese to compare – and with the Japanese release I did have to raise the volume a little from my default settings, however, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall. The dub sometimes verges on too loud at times but the combination of music and foley (considering the amount of action and magic scenes it needs to be spot on) works well and is transferred perfectly.
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL format with the show combining animation and colour in a more traditional sense but with a rather unique look with some of the designs (Ains in particular but pretty much most of the cast are pretty unique) making the animation stand out (especially considering the prison setting with a lot of gritty and dark colours), with no real problems with the subtitles, the sound synching in either language, no pause lag or in general, it is a quality release, combining CGI with animation as well as a lot of effects for the RPG terms (the magic clouds for a characters MP for example), the colour scheme’s uniqueness makes it almost too good for what the show eventually is about…
There was no packing for this test release, but the collector’s edition has super packaging and 9 art cards.
On each of the discs, the menu is very similar – lots of clips from the show with a catchy tune in the background– like most Blu-Rays it has popup menus during the show (bar extras) – on the main menu, the choices are on the bottom half of Play All, Episodes, Set-Up, and Extras on both discs. Very simple but eye-catching, some good extra little things in pop-up and audio, almost instant like most Blu-Ray releases, it is very well-rounded.
We have some dub commentaries for this release as well as a few other things – on disc 1, we have a commentary for episode 2 featuring Kyle Phillips (director), Jeff Johnson (Demiurge), Jill Harris (Aura Bella) and Megan Shipman (Mare Bello) – they talk about the different time wise of talent used on here as most of the cast have mostly being secondary characters or are fairly new to the company (Jill, for example, mentions her starting role was as a background character in Fairy Tail), their favourite moments, the fact the series is based on a light novel (mentioning the series covers the first 3 out of 10), how the episode is a good introduction to the guardians and a few fun recording stories.
Episode 9 has a commentary with Kyle returning, fan favourite Josh Grelle (head writer), Anastasia Munoz (Narberal), and Michelle Knotz (Clementine) – there are some fun moments with this one, with Michelle mentioning that the voice of Ains Chris Guerrero was a student of Anastasias’ and he asked her about the difference in preparing and training for voice acting compared to other forms of acting and how difficult the transition can be, with of course compliment over how gorgeous Anastasia’s character is and yet can be badass in a maid outfit. What I really enjoyed is near the end of the commentary they discuss the fact that the Overlord crew are in fact the villains, and is one of the key interests of this series that I enjoyed as they seem heroic, but everything they do can turn out to be villainous (especially with the Shalltear arc).
And speaking of Shalltear, her voice actress Felicia Angelle joins Kyle in a video commentary (where you see the cast alongside the show) along with the lead Chris Guerrero (both Ains and his ‘human’ voice Momonga – yes, he is able to do goofy to deep in 0.5 seconds) and Elizabeth Maxwell (Albedo) – they mention because of the RPG/MMO terminology when casting they did mention that experience and knowledge of this may definitely help out with the casting…so basically Overlord has a group of super-nerds involved with everything in it ^^. They do talk about real life playing online games and what roles/characters they are, how the heck the two female leads could ever have a relationship with the undead Ains, and how Shalltear’s character came full circle…though her screaming was something that had to be perfected…
The other fun extra is the Play Play Pleiades series – which are based comic chibified shorts of the maid characters and due to Ains causing a spell which forces him to react to stupid things, he asks all his maids to be informal to him so he doesn’t reveal his weakness. This leads to dancing with the maids, Solution getting fat due to eating too many humans, Entoma’s true face, Lupis’ adorable werewolf character, Delta getting upgraded and then realizing there are even more spells at the end to screw them all over. Very fun and rather unlike the show (though it does have its comic moments)…
The special preview collection is fun as it is the previews from the episodes but with a more comic introduction from the characters announcing it (a fair bit of fourth wall breaking) as well as a preview for Episode 1 as well. The rest is your standard promo videos, TV Spots, Blu-Ray/DVD promos and the textless opening/ending, as well as trailers for the live action Attack, Summer Wars, Psychic School Wars, Escaflowne, Harmony and Psycho Pass: The Movie.
Overlord is a Japanese light novel series which was done from 2012 by Kugane Maruyama, and has since become a manga and of course an anime series. The 13 episode series is pretty much based on the first 3 light novels (of which there are 11 of) so this barely scratches the surface, which is both a problem and also a real cliffhanger when you get to the end, because by now, the whole game in real life genre has been used a fair bit thanks to shows like .hack, Sword Art Online and Log Horizon just to name a few, but this one takes quite a different approach…because here, the guy trapped in the game is actually the villain of sorts and his humanity slowly gets diminished throughout the series, and gives us quite the new take on the character he controls instead of the handsome hero and the beautiful damsel/warrior princess, we get an undead skeleton, a succubus, a vampire/litch, a demon lord and others as your comrades and/or love interests.
So yeah, a different kettle of fish.
The story is actually well set up as well – it is the end of a life for a one time popular online RPG called Yggdrasil and after 12 years, our lead Momonga is talking with the only comrade who came to say goodbye, which Momonga isn’t happy about but understands real life issues. He heads to leave with his staff and his NPC battle maids including the beautiful Albedo – he jokingly changes one of her stats to ‘deeply in love’ with his character and waits to be logged out.
But then he realises he hasn’t logged out. And that the NPCs are now their own characters and can be talked to. Momonga, a little perplexed and shocked begins testing things out, including touching Albedo’s chest which with the new stat he jokingly played in, making her quite sex mad (to a hilarious running joke that as a skeleton, Momonga can’t actually have sex with anyone ^^). So he decides to call all the guardians and we get to see the diverse characters they have, from the vampire rival Shalltear, to the well dressed demon Demiurge, the ice golem Cocytus, the elven twins Aura Bella & Mare Bello, the head butler Sebas, and his many maids ranging from ninja to werewolves to lichens to mecha.
Yeah, it’s quite the cast we have which is sad that only get a few of them in terms of seeing what they can do, which is pretty much the main problem of the series as you’ll get to it.
So Momonga renames himself after the guild he created back in Yggradsil, now known as Ains Ooal Gown and with his level to a level unheard of as he was a master in Yggradsil, he is pretty much as the title alluded to, an overpowered Overlord. The anime pretty much brings the story of using the guild’s name, he is going to showcase his power across this new land to see if any of his friends are still trapped in the game as well. We do get some funny clashes with the new characters (Shalltear and Albedo in particular due to their apparent lust for Ains) but the crux of the story begins after episode 3 as Ains uses a magic mirror to discover that a siege is being done on a village by some unknown knights. This is where you are reminded that he is a villain and also that his humanity is slipping because you hear both his human voice and his demon voice conflicting at various points, here we get his demon voice thinking not to care for them, but then his human side remembers in the past that he was saved by someone who he later became guild mates with, so he does decide to help them…albeit with the motive of spreading his name across the land. This leads to meeting a warrior named Gazef and the fact that a team rivalling him named Nigun Grid Luin is specifically targeting him, so Gazef tries to convince Ains to defend the village. It seems to fail, but Ains does assist the villagers in escaping and it is revealed that Ains gave him an artefact which allowed him to swap with Gazef…
…and this is where we get to see Ainz’ power at work as the magic users giving Gazef a hard time he effortlessly bats away whilst Albedo is ready to kill anyone who even looks at him wrong. With Ainz easily winning, his plan is now in motion (though humorously his comrades think that Ains is trying to take over the world…) so the next journey is to basically accept missions to beat monsters and spread his name. He is joined this time by one of the maids Narbeal, a shapeshifter who has sacrificed that ability to inherit extreme high level magic…and her hatred for humans which unlike most of the others doesn’t even try to hide. It doesn’t help that she is extremely beautiful either so the attention isn’t something she wants…
So they get involved with some adventurers, as Ains (under the name Momon) and Narbeal (under the name Nabe) begin dealing with high level monsters despite their bronze low rank they are easily far more powerful than anyone has ever met – and it also bites him in the butt a little as the person they are protecting Nifirea is friends with a girl named Enri who Ains healed in the previous skirmish, which leads to Nifirea realising Momon and Ains are the same but fortunately they make a compromise of secrecy. They tackle the ‘Wise King of the Forest’ which turns out hilariously to be a giant hamster (which was a species in Yggradsil to boot) and he doesn’t kill it, instead makes it his pet, but as they return to base, a hidden group suddenly attacks the adventurers, specifically a woman named Clementine…
Clementine is one of those villains who is basically for the evils – very sadistic but overly powerful, she kidnaps Nifrea and when Momon discovers this and the adventurers now dead and zombified – from this Momon realises what was up, so Nifrea’s grandmother Lizzie hires him to save Nifrea…but at the cost of everything she has, again playing up the reminder that technically, Ains is a villain of the show. It leads to him using several tracking spells to finds Nifrea, and them destroying the guards as he deals with Clementine whilst Nabe deals with the older wizard Khajit who was pulling the strings.
Long story short, the two obliterate them – which shows that despite the villains being villains, the idea is a rarity in these type of shows as Ains is ridiculously overpowered – so instead of levelling up, he’s already like level 100 and just walks through anything. It is a weird change of pace but that combined with the villain protagonist idea, it does make it more fun and more unique in this style of show.
The big arc however is at the end with Shalltear – she’s on a mission with Sebas and one of the other maids Solution (who can absorb humans) to find Martial Arts users, but whilst encountering one of the bandits leaders, she gets insulted by how weak they are that she goes into a blood frenzy, showcasing her true form and killing all of them and also doesn’t recognise the adventurers also after the bandits. She kills all except a girl named Brita who was another person Ains met in the first skirmish because she also had a potion Ains gave her so she thinks to keep her alive. From the frenzy, she is attacked and apparently brainwashed to fight Ains…
Shalltear is a different fighter to the others as Ains knows she is on a level close to him and he prepares meticulously to fight her but also to try and snap her out of it as it shows that Ains does care for his new guild mates as he did for his old. It leads to a very good battle with Ains managing to trick her thinking of his weaknesses (holy/fire) was in fact a ruse and whilst he is weak to fire, he cast a holy protection spell and faked it like it was the one hurting more. His strategy (using info from his old guild mate who created her) was to switch from a magic user to a warrior user with world class armour, combined with items he got in the past and the highest level magic, he kills her but then sacrifices all his money to resurrect her – which shows that Shalltear has no memory of her time under mind control – though it is revealed it was the group, the Slane Theocracy (who attacked Ains and Albeido in the first battle) behind it – it ends with Ains returning to look for jobs (already promoted to the highest class) and some backdoor mischief with some of the other groups learning of him…
This is a show that screams ‘you need more’ and sadly not in the best way. The big problem is basically is that it ends too soon, and you only get to scratch the surface of the story. It does feel that the idea is more of Ains guild members are out there, and there is a greater evil pulling the shadows with this new superpower that has come out, but in the end, we get 13 episodes which leads to introductions, some battles which do lead to a potential bigger picture, and a treachery that leads into the best fight of the series. However in terms of furthering a story, it falls rather weak, which is a shame because everything that is in the show is actually incredibly fun to watch.
It is rare for these RPG style series to basically go for not just a villain as the lead, but also an incredibly overpowered villain (and friends) – Ains slowly turns into this bad guy as his good real life persona speaks less and less as the show goes on, and there is very little angst about it – one of the negatives outside of the ‘it just ends’ comments is the fact that Ains never really gets mopey or even discusses the fact that he is now stuck in an RPG world and whilst he is looking for comrades in this new world, he never talks about his real life – you wonder if that is something being saved if/when a sequel comes out but it feels a bit odd. The uniqueness of the gimmick does kind of make it less of a problem (as being a villain style character he won’t care as much) but it is still there.
The multi-cast also suffers because no-one really gets a good share of the spotlight bar Shalltear. Yes, both Narbeal and Albeido get to be by their masters’ side for a couple of arcs and do stuff, both action wise and comic wise, but even then the focus is always on Ains. He has a host of other minions and maids that sadly whilst unique, don’t really get to do much (Demiurge for example is a very unique looking character and had a few quips but we never get to see him in action, and the maids you only see in the extras of how unique they are) which again gives you the feeling of you wanting more episodes.
Which in another side is a good thing – the show definitely leaves an impact with the unique designs, the protagonist not being on the good side and the idea that there may be other people like him out there. Add that with a good dose of comedy, action scenes, and a good final boss fight (though it felt rushed for Shalltear to get brainwashed and immediately turn), it’s one of those series that is a lot of fun and wants you craving for more, only because the problems it has is obvious and more of it could help out…
Overlord really has a fun take on the ‘RPG as an anime’ format. The lead Ains is overpowered but still interesting, has a quirky group of followers but also can be ruthless and overall badass. The show engages you throughout and is very entertaining…but sadly that is also it’s weakness as it ends abruptly and there are too many questions that it doesn’t answer to make it a top tier series. I hope there are sequels or OVAs or at worst the light novels turned into English, because I want to know more….
Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD Language, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD Language, English Subtitles, Episode 2 Commentary, Episode 9 Commentary, Episode 13 Video Commentary, Play Play Pleiades, Special Preview Collection, Episode 1 Preview, Promotional Videos, TV Spots, DVD/BD Spots, Textless Opening Song ”Clattanoia”, Textless Closing Song ”L.L.L.”, U.S. Trailer, Trailers
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A-
Released By: Anime Ltd via Funimation
Release Date: June 12th, 2017
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
PlayStation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.