What started as a casual read turned into an obsession — a craving. I’ve been meaning to post about Overlord last week but I just can’t find myself to stop flipping the pages and remind myself, “Hey, you’ve been reading for 2 days straight. Git sum lyf”. Welp, I think I just set a new personal record! Overlord‘s light novel is just that good.
First of all, the introduction to Overlord may lead you to believe that this is just another “trapped in a video game” story. It is, and it is not. It’s different from Sword Art Online and Log Horizon in which both technical aspects of an MMO is deeply structured in its story and presentation. Don’t get me wrong. It’s also not like Grimgar whose characters “forgot” that they’re supposed to be playing a video game and ended up believing that their virtual world is reality. Overlord still does stick to the video game formula, but the only person grounded in it is our protagonist, Momonga. Momonga is fully aware that he’s trapped, with no means to know if there are other players in YGGDRASYL who’s in the same state as him. From this, he decided to inherit the name of his once famous guild, Ainz Ooal Gown, and spread his presence hoping that a player will recognize him.
One of the things that makes Overlord unique is our protagonists — Ainz and his overpowered undead legion. It’s very rare that we see the villains as the protagonist of the story, yet I still can’t really put them in the same group as evil even though murder is short of an entertainment for them. Ainz is basically just staying true to his status of a ruler in order to gain the loyalty of his minions. They revel him as a god, and surely he will lose credibility if he show the merest sign of incompetency. He have to act as a real evil overlord, otherwise, he’ll risk his subordinates’ trust and in turn they can possibly, even, kill him. It’s basically because of this that everything is getting out of control starting from the 6th, to the 9th volume. Their plan of using the Hero Momon to spread their existence (and do some reconnaissance) suddenly became a plan to conquer and establish a nation. This probably resulted in Ainz not knowing what he and his subordinates’ “real” plan is. It’s kinda like feigning knowledge about something and letting the smarter person explain it for you. He acts like everything is calculated and is all part of his grand scheme, but then Demiurge and Albedo (Nazarick’s brightest minds) will piggy back as if saying “It’s more than that. We’re sure the wise Ainz-sama has something else in mind”, and then Ainz will reply “As expected of the two of you, you’ve seen right through me” without knowing what the hell they are talking about. Sure, this will save him the risk of exposing his weakness as a ruler, but I feel like this is something that will backfire really really bad. I just can’t help but think that Demiurge and Albedo are just letting Ainz dance to their tune. Probably some secret plot to overthrow and betray him? It’s unlikely, but there have been a couple of small, or rather, suspicious hints from the way both of them act. Maybe they’re sarcastically praising Ainz’ unmatched brain just to keep him agreeing to whatever scheme they think of.
Volume 10 has been released, and I just finished the 9th volume. It ended in a massacre; more like an overkill. The Tomb of Nazarick is home to NCPs created by the guild’s former players. If we are to compare the strength of Nazarick to the combined power of all the nations/factions introduced so far, I’d say it’s 100000:1 in favor of Nazarick. One spell from Ainz was enough to annihilate almost all of the Kingdom’s army — what more if Ainz mobilized all of his troops? War and death is one part of Nazarick’s plan, but I think a massacre on the national level is just over the top. Aren’t there other ways of displaying their power? He could’ve just flattened a mountain, or turn day into night, or boil the sea. Any of these should be enough to strike fear and label them as someone not to be trifled with. This is one of those moments that I can’t help but feel bad about the humans. I really do want to side with them, but it’s an overstatement that they can do something against Nazarick against a battle of force. Gazef Stronoff, one of the strongest warrior to graze the field, was slain within a second. I was rooting for him that he’ll live long enough to be able to find some super magical item that can beat Ainz but nope — we’re getting some GoT vibes here. Well, if they can’t be beaten through brawns, then how about using brains? The Golden Princess Renner and the Blood Emperor Zircniv are probably the closest we can think of who can match the minds of Nazarick on a pure verbal battle. Yet, even Zircniv’s supposedly ingenious counter-attack has already been seen through by Demiurge and Albedo. Volume 10 is probably going to be the closure for Zircniv’s Empire arc. That’s 1 for the undead, 0 for humanity. I guess the only hope they have to bank on are the legendary dragons or the Draconic Empire. I doubt they still can match up to Nazarick given that Aura has the ability to tame and control dragons.
Overlord‘s world building is something to praise. There are a dozen of nations and factions that we haven’t seen more of, but I’m sure they’ll be covered in the following volumes along with their own fitting backstory. The author did a great job encompassing the world and story and connecting them together in a way that’s very realistic — something that you will normally skip from a game’s NPC dialogue. Aside from the badassery of our protagonists, a lot of chapters are also dedicated to the story of other important side characters which ripens their personality and their involvement with the plot and makes the series a bigger and livelier world. In any case, I’ve really enjoyed reading Overlord. I did watch the anime at first and I heard a lot of good things about the light novel. If you’ve seen the anime adaptation and liked it, I strongly recommend picking up the light novel, too. I would love a second season for the anime, but let’s not be hopeful on this one.