Overlord is a recent anime of the currently trendy 'isekai' genre, which involves a protagonist from the real world who visits or is trapped in a fantasy world. A popular sub-category of this genre involves the protagonist going to a video game world. In Overlord, a video game our main character had been playing for years suddenly became real.
The problem? It became real at midnight, but all his guild member friends had left. The members of the guild had been playing together for years, but adult life had gotten in the way, and the last holdout had finally left the guild that night. At midnight, the protagonist was supposed to delete everything and leave as well. But he found himself unable to do that, as instead he was transported into a fantasy world very similar to the game.
In this world, since he was such a high-level player in the game, that translates to having god-like powers. He adopts the guild's name as his own, Ains Ool Gown. Perhaps out of a longing for his lost friends, he sets himself to the task of making that name renowned and feared throughout the land. Different NPCs created by various guild members aid him. Among these are two women, a demoness named Albedo and a female vampire named Shalltear, who fight each other for the affection of 'Lord Ains'. Ains' goal is to use his many magical items and spells to take over the world. But at first, to learn more about the world, he goes in disguise as a low-level adventurer. It's not long, however, before his true abilities are seen.[Image: Shalltear]
The good thing about this anime is that the beginning is powerful and hooks you in. Right away, you will become emotionally invested with the main character's struggle. However, the problem with this anime is that while it's exciting and interesting at first, this quality diminishes over time, at least by the disappointing finale of the first season. The first season shows Shalltear under some kind of spell, attacking her former master and object of devotion. And while Ains is able to defeat her powerful magic and bring her back from being brainwashed, we really don't learn anything new as a result of that fight. We never learn (not in the first season anyway) who put that spell on her, and why.
Conclusions are difficult to write in any type of fiction. But the ending of a season of anime should probably answer the main questions raised by the beginning of it. Without seeing, or confronting, whoever is responsible for what happened to Shalltear, it feels like only half of an ending.
As the show continues, another weakness to the show is that there are many characters who are not very important, and several who serve a role to the plot but are uninteresting and bland. There is this feeling like they're waiting in the wings, and may be more important and more interesting as the show goes on. But by the ending of the first season of Overlord, I doubt most viewers will care very much about roughly half of the characters introduced. There's also the problem that Ains Ool Gown is overpowered, and as with other overpowered protagonists, that makes it feel like he's rarely in true danger in a fight. I was hoping he would be challenged more by the differences between the game and this fantasy world resembling that game, because when he found himself in this new reality, he immediately discovered many such differences. But, these mostly proved inconsequential, which is disappointing, because there was more potential conflict of interest here, that was simply not used. And overall that's what watching Overlord feels like - unused potential. It's a fun little series, but you're likely to be disappointed if you expect too much from the beginning.
Rating for 'Overlord': 7/10.