How can one show be so hilarious yet so depressing?
For those who didn’t see it, I made a post about Isekai anime (which you can check out here) where I broke down why I don’t like the genre. In that post, I mentioned a few shows among the genre that I genuinely did like. Among them was the show Overlord.
To catch you up quickly, Overlord stars salary man Momonga, leader of the guild Ainz Ooal Gown in the Virtual Reality MMORPG game Yggdrasil Online. When the game servers finally shut down, Momonga waits it out to the end only to find himself trapped in his skeletal body, unable to contact any of the admins. He is surrounded by the former NPCs created by the guild members, who have suddenly come to life, and he finds himself in a brand new world.
Shortly after his arrival, Momonga establishes himself as the Sorceror Ainz Ooal Gown, naming himself after his now deformed guild, with a simple goal: find other Yggdrasil Online players in order to help them.
And then he accidentally starts conquering the world.
What makes this show so much better than other Isekai (well, there are many reasons, but this is the primary one) is the protagonist. Momonga/ Ainz Ooal Gown isn’t just unique because he’s playing the role of ‘Evil Overlord’. He does two things that no other protagonist in an Isekai show does: pursue a goal and roleplay.
Let’s start with role playing. Since he’s surrounded by creatures who are incredibly powerful and dangerous, perhaps more so than he is (which is saying a fucking lot) he has to continue to pretend to be something above them. Something smarter, stronger and more divine, because if he doesn’t he may lose control over them, which could be catastrophic. It’s incredibly interesting, watching this every day salary man pretend to be a literal God. It helps to make him feel like a real person and a more interesting character.
This is furthered by how all the characters around him treat him. All the inhabitants of Nazarick genuinely believe him to be a God in every regard. Demiurges, an incredibly brilliant demon, believes him to be far smarter than he is, even though Ainz himself doesn’t really know what he’s doing. He simply stumbles on genius by accident. This is the best source of comedy in the show: Ainz is stupidly lucky, but all of the people around him, both servants and strangers, think that he’s doing it all intentionally. It’s amazing to watch him struggle to sell the fact that he did it all intentionally.
Then there’s his goal, which we already established. He wants to find another Yggdrasil player in order to try figuring out how they’ve ended up here. At the same time, he wants to protect Nazarick, the Tomb in which he and his friends built their Guild together, and all the people (or monsters I guess) who live there. The legacy they left behind are precious to him, and he aims to keep it safe in this dangerous new world. Both of these goals are interesting, and it’s clear that both of them drive all of his actions.
As well as his unknown third goal: take over the world.
This show is also very capable of being depressing through all the hilarity. Even though most of the show is very funny, it will occasionally take a moment to rip your heart out. It’s hard to talk about these without getting into spoilers, which I’m trying to avoid. It’s especially true in Season 3, which just came to an end yesterday. It was easily the darkest season of the show, without a fucking doubt.
It was also one of the funniest at the same time.
I could go on and on about this show. Every side character is layered and interesting, each story line is engaging from start to end, the animation is solid (excluding the CGI armies, though those have a certain charm to them), and the music is great. Especially each OP and ED; hell, I’m listening to those right now as I’m writing this.
This show is, at least in my opinion, is the best Isekai show ever made. It does everything it aims to do very well, and it fully deserves the success that it’s gotten. I can’t wait for Season 4 to come out.
This story has got me by the balls after that last finale.
I also may go back and review the previous three seasons before that comes out. We’ll see.