Story: Kugane Maruyama
What They Say:
An army of death approaches a peaceful lizardman village an army of undead deployed by Nazarick. Its commander is the Sovereign of the Frozen River Cocytus. The lizardman coalition shall face the Great Tomb of Nazarick. The weak are meat the strong shall eat in the merciless world that awaits in Volume 4.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Many series take either a one-off approach or a longer extended series approach. Light novels tend to take the latter by wanting to create multiple arcs letting characters and ideas flourish. Kugane Maruyama seems to be an exception by opting to have a mix between arcs and independent stories. This volume of Overlord opts for a self-contained story with lizard men being the heroes of the story. It’s not that easy to shelve main characters in novels especially in relatively early installments. Maruyama takes a well-rewarded risk with a different style of character development in this volume of Overlord.
One of the major aspects that stands out is the lack of Ainz. In this volume, he seems to take a back seat with him intervening for characterization purposes. This effect shows up in little places with Cocytus learning tactical strategy but makes a pervasive statement in the volume. For many fans, this deviation has an abruption feeling to the series. Not allowing us to find out more about Ainz and not giving us more about the back plot developing, save one sliver, feels negative. However, this one-off volume does the trick with a flip of the A/B story mechanism.
Unlike in previous volumes, the lizard men, normally a set relegated to a B plot stature, take a front stage. A fighting traveler lizard named Zaryusu comes back to his village after traveling the world. Suddenly, he and the village find out that an evil force will come to destroy the clan and their clan will be the second one in line. Knowing, the impending doom he rallies to unite the lizard men clan together. Through his leadership, he then fights to destroy the evil harbinger of death. Once defeated, the clan rejoices and he wins the heart of the maiden, Crusch, that enchanted his heart. Until Ainz puts an abrupt end to this scenario by bringing the village to its knees with his power and a newly formulated plan by said evil harbinger, Cocytus.
This disheartening story creates a conflict of feelings for readers and necessarily so. Zaryusu and Crusch fated lover story feel like seeing a pure adventure’s story unfold. At the same time seeing it ripped and twisted for Ainz purposes makes for a sense of sadness as characters like these normally either survive together, or one dies fatefully with a sense of justice. However, for those who like Ainz, this comes off as a “business is business” maneuver. Readers know he wanted to learn more about the world and what makes it tick. He wanted minions to own and experiment and have control of the lizardmen and thus uses the emotions of Crusch and Zaryusu to do so. For the reader, they find out that again, characters are exercising will as if they are alive, Ainz’s powers extend further than known. Maruyama wanted these feelings of happiness and despair, of fated knowing and of sadness to come into the story to show the complicated matter of Overlord’s world and life. It creates a strong compelling volume, sans the intermission.
The weak place in this volume was the intermission. Understandably, Maruyama wanted to advance background development. However, the placement feels in the context of the story unnecessary. It doesn’t advance the plot for the book in the time being, and it doesn’t shift the narrative at all. However, this placement can be faulted on Maruyama and the editor for not shifting it to an epilogue. If written there, the setup and world building would have a larger purpose and act as a better foreshadowing technique.
so-Bin’s art again amazes again, per norm. Beautiful detail and aesthetics in the art, fans and even curious onlookers will admire the work done in this volume. My bigger pet peeve though comes from the lack of art. It feels as if, because of the one-off nature, they did not commission so-bin to do more insert art. It felt missed in this volume as various aspects from the frozen ground Ainz made, to the battles, could make an appearance in art form.
This volume makes risks and they do pay off well literature-wise. Having a hero’s love story play out from both hero and villain side makes this volume pop as compared to other series. Getting to know the one-off characters and their progression feels great as you gain a sense of connection. It also gives off a sense of morbid dread knowing their sealed fate, which Maruyama plays off well. Volumes like these will definitely make for great diversity mix as readers can prep up for a new arch, but as an entity by itself, it stands well on its own.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date:May 23rd, 2017