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Goin’ Japanesque!

“Overlord”: Unique Anime from the Perspective of a Villain, the Undead King

In Japan stories involving incarnation/reincarnation have been on trend these days.

Alien worlds often become stages for fantasies with sword plays and sorcery.

Stories follow a basic storyline with the main character, an ordinary person in the real world, somehow turning into an invincible hero when he incarnates in an alien world.

This time I am introducing the anime “Overlord”, a forerunner that fueled popularity of such stories involving incarnation into alien worlds.

 

Synopsis

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The story starts in a scene where service of a virtual reality game “Yggdrasil” is about to be shut down for good.

Nobody is playing this game anymore and the main character with a player name of Momonga (flying squirrel) is alone in the game waiting for the game’s final moment, recalling memories of fun times with his fellow players in the past.

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When the ending time passes, he is not booted out of the game yet. And he witnesses NPCs (non-player characters) start moving as if they have their own wills.

Then he realizes he has turned into his character within the game, too.

Momonga’s character in the game of Yggdrasil was a powerful sorcerer turned into an undead monster by his own magic.

Incarnated into an alien world, Momonga changes his name to Ainz, and starts taking actions in order to look for other people who have also incarnated into this alien world like himself.

 

Analysis

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The original work of this story is a novel with the same title written by Kugane Maruyama.

TV airing in Japan occurred between July and September of 2015, and a total of 13 episodes were broadcasted.  Then “Pure Pure Pleiades”, a comedic spinoff and not a part of this story was aired for a total of 8 episodes.

The animated series cover the beginning part of the original novel from incarnation of the main character into an alien world to establishing a base camp of his group for later activities.

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What is interesting is the setting of players incarnating into a game world like the ones we are familiar with in video games.

Because of this setting, items appear in the latter half of the anime that players need to pay money to get.

Also non-glamorous but indispensable magic in games appear in addition to flamboyant attack magic, including defensive magic which reduces effect of enemy attacks.

There are many elements in the story that viewers can empathize with if they have played video games before.

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I would say the charm of this work is no doubt in the hero’s strength that is nearly invincible.

Having obtained unrivaled magical power by gaining experience in the game world, Momonga (Ainz) and characters under him blow away enemies without losing their strength in the alien world, and these actions are the most exciting highlight of this story.

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An even more interesting point is that the main character sometimes shows ruthless behaviors to human beings as an anti-hero because he is a monster.

Subordinate NPCs under him are monsters to begin with and they harbor hostility and discrimination against humans.

Yet such anti-heroic actions and descriptions are rather subdued, maybe because it is anime.

But this setting of a fantasy story from a demon king’s perspective is one of the most attractive points of this story, which I have never seen in other fantasies.

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Publication of a sequel has not been scheduled, but an omnibus edition of a two-piece movies will be screened in 2017 by adding new scenes and re-editing the story.

These movies are a collection of previous works and it covers only an early part of the original novel similarly as the TV series did.

I would definitely like to watch the continuation of this anime.

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon
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