Normally I’d be writing about an anime, but since this one isn’t out in our country on DVD yet, I will instead look at what is:- the light novels that it was adapted from.
But what is a light novel?
Light Novels are Japanese small novels that are often an ongoing series and with a few pages of illustrations. In the last decade (probably longer) they have produced quite a few anime adaptations. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that some light novel series had now begun to be officially released in English so with Overlord’s UK release not yet here – a few months back I picked up the first volume.
My surprises continued upon the package arriving. I expected it to be a paperback with the cover in colour and the illustrations in black and white. But no, this arrived hard back, with full colour illustrations in the book, both for chapter covers and the character stats at the end (which is a nice little bonus… you may be confused by I said stats and not bios, you will understand soon)
So on to the book:-
How to describe the genre.. hmm.. in recent years a new genre in anime has emerged, a sort of trapped in a MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) genre (I think one of the earliest examples would be the .hack franchise). This story takes that in a new direction.
What if the body you ended up with, wasn’t human? Momonga is a fully grown man with a job. He was part of one of the strongest guilds in Yggdrasil one of the most popular MMOs. His character was an Elder Lich, basically a big super powerful skeleton wizard. But time passed and interest in the game diminished, his guild mates who all had jobs, gradually for their own reasons drifted away.
It was the day of Yggdrasil’s servers going down and Momonga waited for his old friends to show up. One did but had to go. Momonga decided that in his final moments in the game he would sit on the throne in the dungeon he and his guild made until the clock ran out (something I’ve pondered doing if one of my MMOs ended). He did alter one line of data on one of the NPCs (Non Player Characters) that his guild made.
And then the clock hit midnight.
Expecting to find himself back in his room, he found he was still on the throne, only now the NPCs were acting as if they were real people, but not just that, his undead body was now his body.
Since this is a novel you get to understand the character thanks to his inner dialogue. He comes across as a rather calm reasonable person, working out what had happened, coming to logical conclusions after a few tests and accepts whats happened very quickly. Which is refreshing after seeing so many stories where the bleeding obvious isn’t accepted till late on (though its partially since he’s now undead and racial effects keeps his emotions in check)
The first volume gives you a good introduction to a number of core characters and a short introduction into the world (not too in depth, there’s plenty more volumes for that). And we see just how powerful Momonga, or Ainz Ooal Gown as he renames himself, is in this new world, because it’s not the video game world he’s in, but rather both he and his guild’s dungeon has been transported to a brand new one.
I enjoyed the character interactions and just how organically they felt talking to one another, why they chose to do things,Ainz getting used to how things worked in this new world and the humour . How different his inner dialogue was compared to the powerful god like overlord figure he portrayed himself as to the NPCs (who actually do view and describe him like he’s a god).
As someone who has a job and plays MMOs this series did seem to speak to me and as mentioned I enjoy the characters and Ainz especially with him working things out (though scenes of him being OP as all hell are also sweet, for those that play World of Warcraft, a person in end game legion gear, showing up in Vanilla WOW and you’re getting an idea).
I have already purchased more volumes and will definitely get more and the anime when it finally gets released over here. I will also watch the second series that was announced.
Overlord Light Novel by Maruyama Kugane (丸山くがね) and illustrated by so-bin