Title: Overlord Vol. 1
Author: Kugane Maruyama (Story), Hugin Miyama (Art)
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Shounen, Battle
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Sometimes an MMORPG can hold a special meaning in your heart. You have a guild in which you have made many friends in. The adventures and raids you have gone on have created irreplaceable memories that you believe would never end. Then the grim reality hits and the game’s creators announce that the servers are shutting down for good. Momonga, the guild master for Ainz Ooal Gown, has decided that he will stay online until the last minute when Yggdrasil’s servers shut down. He sees his members log out one by one and he sits there on the guild master’s throne as the last remaining member of his guild. He watches the seconds tick down and when they hit zero he prepares himself for his final logout… except it doesn’t happen!
He begins to wonder if the shutdown was delayed, but something strange happens. All of the NPCs in the guild’s headquarters suddenly start to act on their own. It slowly becomes evident to Momonga that he didn’t logout, but somehow, is now a part of the game he once played.
So we’ve seen these kind of stories before. Everything from .//hack to Sword Art Online to Log Horizon and even most recently, Hai to Gensou no Grimjar. Being trapped inside of a video game is nothing new and typically a series such as this are hit or miss, but Overlord gives us a bit of an interesting twist here in the beginning. All of the NPCs are very human-like and all of them live to serve and obey Momonga. As the guild master, he was a pretty powerful character when Yggdrasil was live and he confirms this through a few tests. He seems to have all the powers he had as a character in the game.
However, outside of his fortress, there should have been a poisonous bog, but instead there is nothing but a grassy plain as far as the eye could see. Momonga uses this as confirmation that he is no longer in Yggdrasil, but rather has been sent to another world all together, but yet, things he could do in Yggdrasil, such as conjuring magic or recognizing weapons and items, still exist. Momonga realizes that he could be the God of this world and that is where the unique spin on this series comes in. Rather than having heroes thrown into a fantasy world in an effort to survive, we have a kind of anti-hero who already has the powers to survive and his desire is world domination. It keeps things refreshing in a genre that is becoming more and more numerous as the years go on and so far this story has my attention!
Momonga gets the most development in the first volume of Overlord and rightfully so. He goes from a player with no friends, no family and nobody to love him to an all-powerful lord of death. His confusion at first is a normal reaction, but the fact that he doesn’t seem paranoid or even scared that he’s trapped in an alternate world may seem unrealistic at first, but he has stated that he has nothing worth going back to and just accepts this as fate.
I like how he also decides to test out his abilities. It shows that he’s slowly gathering information about not only the world he’s in, but what he’s capable of doing. He also realizes that nobody has heard of Yggdrasil which further cements his theory that he’s not in the game world any longer. Because as such, he changes his name to Ainz Ooal Gown as a tribute to his guild, but here is where things get a little weird with his character. In the first volume, he decides that world domination might not be a terrible thing afterall, but at the same time, he saves a village from being slaughtered by imperial soldiers as well as religious faction. It kind of sends a mixed signal as to what he means by world domination, but this is only the first volume so I don’t expect the entire plot to be revealed all at once.
In addition to Momonga, we are introduced a vast cast of characters in the form of the former NPCs. Sadly, the NPCs don’t really have much of a personality themselves, but being former NPCs, I guess that’s the intended meaning behind it. The NPCs can be broken down into two categories based on their genders, though. The male NPCs are devoted to serving him while the female NPCs all seem to be in love with him in some fashion. Regardless of gender, they all live for Momonga and will carry out any order that he gives without question nor hesitation. I hope that in future volumes we’ll see their personalities fleshed out to give them individual voices rather than just being cookie cutter lapdogs. I found myself asking if any of them have minds or opinions of their own. I even ventured to guess that some may turn against him in future volumes. I just can’t see them all staying loyal to him throughout the entire series.
Overlord looks to take a rather oversaturated genre and puts a different spin on it. It has been quite the joy to read thus far and I like the reversed aspect of the main character. Maybe it would work better if the main character wasn’t a human trapped inside of a video game, but rather an actual person in a fantasy setting. The whole “trapped inside of a video game” motif is getting really stale and I actually cringe every time I see a new series in this genre.
The development of the main character thus far has been pretty solid and we have a large enough cast to build our world upon. We have a main character with a goal and we have an opposing force set up to threaten his goals. As far as first volumes go, this did everything it could to establish a world, the cast, the story, and set up various plot points. You can’t really ask for much more from a first volume. Good job!
There is an anime out which received mixed reviews on. I, personally, have not seen it, but if the manga continues to do a good job, I might check it out. So far, from a first volume perspective, I recommend it.
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**This item was provided for review by Yen Press