Thread: Overlord
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Old 10-08-2017, 10:25 AM   #1
Doppleganger
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Overlord

The year is 1138.

Earth is a polluted wasteland. The sky has been permanently darkened by a layer of thick, unyielding smog. The soil has been acidified, the oceans poisoned. Both are devoid of life. Corporations rule the world and control the government and all factors of production. They drive their workers like cattle, and keep them alive with cocktails of antibiotics, genetic augmentation, and nanomachines. Families are torn apart by the demands of overwhelming work, if these wage slaves are not killed by the toxic air or disease first.

To escape the suffering of this dismaying world, humans seek refuge in the world of fantasy - virtual reality games, authored by the autocratic corporations who made the world like it is. Like The Matrix, these worlds allowed humans to experience the world as it no longer is. The most popular of these games are DMMORPGs, or Dive Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. The most popular of these is YGGDRASIL, a medieval fantasy themed game modeled on Norse mythology.

Overlord begins as YGGDRASIL, after a decade long run, is being shut down due to declining popularity. The story focuses on Momonga, real name Satoru Suzuki, a salaryman who has played the game since the beginning.

Momonga is the guildmaster of a formerly great guild named Ainz Ooal Gown. It was an evil-aligned guild whose members were all monsters. At its peak, the guild was one of the Top 5 guilds in the YGGDRASIL but lost members to real-life concerns until, during the game's twilight, only Momonga remains, to stand vigil over his guild's empty halls in the futile hope that his friends will return.

But when the clock strikes twelve during YGGDRASIL's apocalypse, Momonga discovers that he hasn't been logged out of the game. Quite the contrary, his senses have been enhanced, and he's lost access to his game console.

And for the first time in a long time, he's not alone...

...

There's a lot more basic info I can spill about this series but I would rather direct the dear reader to Wikipedia instead. Let's rather talk about the stuff that goes beyond the page.

What is Ovelord? It's an isekai story, at its most basic. But isekai has a pretty foul name these days so let's delve into that.

Technically speaking it's a Gen 3 isekai story, which I would categorize as launching between 2012-2013. If we were to break "isekai" down:

Gen 1: Sword Art Online, Mushoku Tensei
Gen 2: Re:Monster, Log Horizon
Gen 3: Overlord, Youjo Senki, Re:Zero, Konosuba
Gen 4: Kumo desu ga, nani ka?
Gen 5: Present

Surely you can find isekai stories dating before Sword Art Online (think Digimon, or .hack//sign) but the modern idea was launched by SAO. Though we all hate (to varing degrees) that particular franchise, there is no denying it was hugely influential in launching an entirely new subgenre of fiction.

And that fiction, isekai, was the focus on reincarnation into another world with video game elements. SAO may have been the archetypal isekai, but it wasn't prototypucal because it lacked a lot of the cliches that game to define the genre - particularly, the Dragon Quest mechanics and death of the main character. That, you find in Mushoku Tensei which is cited as being almost as impactful on the genre itself.

Hence, the cliches:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
1. Male loser protagonist dies
2. He's reincarnated by god as the human Hero in a Dragon Quest clone
3. He can use his ideas from the real world to game the game, and his game knowledge lets him get the girls and gain wealth/status.
What makes Overlord special? If Mushoku Tensei is the prototypical isekai, the Gen 3 titles, in a very postmodern way, sought out to subvert some of the ideas set forth by Mushoku Tensei and SAO:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
1. Re:Monster has the protagonist reincarnated as a rapist goblin
2. Konosuba has the protagonist take god with him into the game, and he stays in the beginner town
3. Re:Zero's universe is scary, violent and cutthroat
4. Kumo desu ga has a female protagonist who is reincarnated as a giant spider in the final dungeon
5. Overlord's protagonist doesn't die, but he becomes an evil lich and brings an entire kingdom with him
That is Overlord's pitch - an ordinary worker suddenly finds himself as the CEO, with an entire company of very capable staff looking up to him. At the same time, the co-workers he befriended as he rose through the ranks of the company are long since gone, so he doesn't have anyone left who he can be friends with.

The lemon twist is that since this is an evil organization, the main guy has to act his role - as an evil overlord. And so the die is cast.

...

All of the Gen 3 titles, I feel, made for excellent anime. However, I believe Overlord had the most potential versus the other titles since it's essentially portrayed as D&D 3.5E session, set in the "New World", an original landmass vaguely based on the Middle East. The author, Maruyama, actually based Overlord on his sentiments when his D&D group could no longer meet anymore, similar to the acclaimed Record of Lodoss War almost 30 years ago.

So far, the story has largely delivered. Some volumes haven't been up to par, but for the most part they've gotten better over time, and Overlord's climax is still some ways away. The anime was pretty good too and now it's due for a second season. Things are going pretty smoothly for Nazarick.
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