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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Why Overlord?

The success of Overlord seems to contradict all possible reviews one can find on dedicated webs. Curiously enough, the shockingly negative criticism does not correspond with positive ratings of the show.

Why is that?

Allow me to offer my personal reasons why I found the Overlord so appealing, explaining at the same time why one can observe such difference between reviewers and the rest of the community.

Being a fan of anime for more than 10 years I always appreciated its
  •     originality,
  •     unique style,
  •     Japanese voice actors and actresses,
  •     and the courage to dismiss or neglect all rules of Western story building.

  Unfortunately, the more I consumed them, the more I got tired by some elements that became way too repetitive. And no, I am not referring to infamous nose bleeding as I removed ecchi from my list a long time ago.

Rather than that, I started to notice how anime episodes got filled with stereotypes and uniform dialogs that feel like poor replacement for good old inventions. When having no better idea, just let kids deal blows, shout techniques, and brag about never surrounding. Cover them in blood. Then, let the brats win.

For instance, let's focus on popular three: 

  •     Fairy tail,
  •     Attack on titan,
  •     and Sword art online.

Before you read the next lines consisting of pure bashing, please do understand that your mileage and taste may vary. I am offering my humble opinion, influenced by long exposition to the wonderful world of anime. I apologize in advance if you are a fan of the mentioned series.

Bashing or I am so sorry

Just compare Fairy tail to Hunters vs Hunters. The predictability of former of how the power of friendship triumphs over the Evil (whatever it might be) effectively made me stop following the show. Hunter vs hunter actually had the story while Lucy's bikini won't hide the fact that Fairy tail is permanently exploiting Caesar's maximum: vene, vidi, vici. But Iulius Caesar said it only once!  No circumstances are dire enough to be not overcome with cheezy nakama attitude, over and over again. To lose is not an option, apparently.

When speaking about Attack on titans I realized that the visual superiority cannot cover the emptiness of its story-telling which actually comprises obnoxious outbursts of loosened nerves and traumatic flashbacks. One may call it art, but you know, I saw many of these sooner and better. Elven lied or Claymore comes to mind if you need few examples.

What about Sword art online, then? Just explain to me why has the main character to be a good guy who gets embarrassed when dealing with girls? I am forty now and I actually don't give a damn if one incidentally sees panties or revealed boobies. Just read Aiki manga to get a different hero or NHK if you crave anime.

In my opinion, Sword art online was destroyed by generic characters. The main hero aside, at the moment when the first lolita with a problem to express her mind (without 5 minutes blushing and abuse of "Eto, eto...") cross my way I swear  I will skin her alive to teach that annoying emo being fluent. If not in love, then in pain. 

OK, I let myself carried away. No lolitas were harmed so far,  but you got my point and perhaps you may understand the state of my mind bringing me on verge of dismissing all new anime shows as unwatchable and irritating.

Then comes the Overlord

In the first episode, when Momonga struggled to touch Albedo's breasts I thought: "And here we go again!" Then, clumsy and adorable Mare jumped from heights and almost collapsed. Oh no, kawaii my- er, bottom. Finally, Momonga was indifferently watching a massacre in Carne village.

"Wait, " I shout. "Are you not going to rescue the innocents?"

Sadly enough, he departed. But not he, but certain Touch me was to blame. Thrilled while being served with the protagonist, who seemingly denies all traits of heroism and humanity, I continued enjoying the show without further doubts.

And the rest is history...

Overlord decisively breaks the stereotypes. It is not visually appealing, the story sometimes gets wonky, some episodes serve no purpose, but you know, even though it brought fresh air. Momonga, Demiurge, Stronoff, Cocytus, lizardmen - all of them lack the typical teenage attitude of Japanese anime boy or girl. They are all mature  and I love it.

Here I may contradict myself as I wrote a rant against maturity a week ago, but there is a subtle difference in being mature and pretending to be mature. I would pick up Attack on titan as a great example of such pretentious show: blood, gore, stress, trauma everywhere; thus, maturity guaranteed.

Meanwhile, the cult was born

Some art possesses a disposition of being labeled as a cult. It has nothing common with its superb quality, or popularity for that matter. The cult is formed because people feel there is something profound or worthy under the shell. The tasty core perhaps.

In my case, the delicious core appeared in the moment when I finished the last episode and felt I need more of Ainz, Albedo, and the others. I began a search for manga but something more exquisite showed instead: Light novels.

You may laugh at me but to that moment I really thought that anime is solely based on manga. The concept of light and web novels was unfamiliar to me, even though I had already read spectacular 1/2 prince and The legend of Sun knight from Yu Wo before.

What a joy it was when I realized that manga was not a synonym for the light novel. I am a vivid reader and if I have a choice I prefer written text with no further ado. Generally, comics do not suit my taste.

At first, I was afraid that Overlord novel would be just a telegraphic description of what is supposed to happen in anime, rather a screenplay than anything else, but elaborated Maruyame's style calmed me down quickly.


Despite being flawed, anime Overlord merely introduces the world of Maruyama Kugane and So-bin. Nobody can fully understand its true worth by only watching it; this is perhaps why so many reviewers misunderstood its value.

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