Overlord II – Premiere First Impression (Evil Anime-tion)
Hoo boy, this was rough…
When a popular MMORPG is scheduled to be shut down permanently, veteran player Momonga refuses to log out. As NPCs begin to develop personalities and minds of their own he decides to put his skills to use as the game’s new overlord. -Crunchyroll
EvilBob: I have a confession to make…
EvilBob: I barely remember the first season at all…
EvilBob: So I guess we’re doing this like we did with Cardcap-
CVoyage: No. God no. Absolutely not. That was a pain to write and it took forever.
EvilBob: Then… how are we-?
CVoyage: It’s fine. This is fine. You don’t really need to remember that much about season one for this, anyway.
EvilBob: Wait, why?
CVoyage: Because 90% of it was just exposition, most of which just reminding us of what went down, last time.
EvilBob: Ooooh! That’s why this was so boring!
CVoyage: Unfortunately. You know how I said that Cardcaptor Sakura basically did this exact thing the right way? This is a pretty good example of how to mess it up. Don’t get me wrong. It’s… fine. But the majority of the episode is just characters standing around, talking about things that have happened or things that are going to happen. And most of it isn’t even the main characters talking.
EvilBob: The scene with Albedo was pretty funny, though. Did I miss something, or did those two actually get married?
CVoyage: No. She’s just delusional.
EvilBob: Just checking. But she’s easily the most entertaining part of the episode. Having her doing “newlywed roleplay” nearly made me lose my drink. She’s still the funniest character in the thing. That’s for sure. It’s just kinda sad how short-lived that whole bit was.
CVoyage: The episode starts with a bunch of cryptic dialogues between side characters, most of which we’ve never seen before. But they’re all just talking about the things that Momonga did before – fighting off people from the enemy nations and all that. Then whatever happened that got Shalltear taken over by an enemy world item. It’s all woefully uninteresting and unengaging.
EvilBob: The bit with the dragon and the old lady was kind of cool, though it didn’t really give us any information. It was just more characters mysteriously talking about things in the dark.
CVoyage: So after political intrigue, characters mysteriously talking in the dark, a war room meeting, and an update on the dummy Guild Hall, what happens? We’re introduced to the first thing of actual interest in the episode – the lizardmen village. There we spend, oh, three minutes? Five? All talking about basically nothing. I’m interested in their culture a little, but most of the time they just spent talking about fish. Then the village is attacked by… uh…
EvilBob: This. It’s attacked by this.
CVoyage: Riiight. Anyway, here’s my point. *Ahem* DO SOMETHING! So much of this episode is just characters talking! Even the little sliver of action we get around the middle is over with in one move. I’m not saying it has to be incredibly high-energy, but at least a little more interest would be nice.
EvilBob: Kinda goes with the first season, though. It was pretty slow, too. Until, what, the last two or three episodes?
CVoyage: Indeed. I’d hoped they’d overcome that hurdle. After all, it was basically the main thing holding it back. The thing is that there are plenty of ways to make things like this engaging. But the most prominent offender of this situation was, ironically, the conversation with Albedo. Here’s the thing, Albedo is a very amusing character. But even she can’t hold down a scene like that on her own. A scene where it’s just the two characters, sitting around and talking. At her core, Albedo is pretty much just a punchline. She’s at her strongest when she can play off of other characters who aren’t Momonga. I would say that’s most prominently Shalltear, but, well… she’s out of sorts, at the moment.
EvilBob: And let’s address that whole thing about characters standing in the dark mysteriously, spouting cryptic exposition. Put plainly… it’s just not as interesting as they think it is. We’ve never seen the characters before, so why should we care? And they’re not really saying anything meaningful, either.
CVoyage: Usually this can be a handy way of showing off characters who are orchestrating things. It’s a way to introduce the chess masters. The people moving the “pawns.” And, to the show’s credit, those are the kinds of enemies Momonga needs. You’re sure as hell not beating him with power, alone. He needs strategic rivals. He’s too OP for anything less. But the scene with the dragon and the old lady, is just out of place. It doesn’t convey anything of import other than allude to some item that may or may not be important in the near future. In other words, that conversation could’ve been a few seconds long. Or, more appropriately, not happened at all. The scene with the vampire woman talking to the generic knight guy? Yeah, it’s setting her up to be a villain or whatever, but… that’s about it. They could’ve just as easy encountered her later where the same information was conveyed.
EvilBob: In case it isn’t clear, the moral of the story is… Show, Don’t Tell.
CVoyage: A good example of how to do this would be Log Horizon.
EvilBob: Here it comes…
CVoyage: By all means, it’s fundamentally the same thing. The main character, while powerful to an extent, is more of a strategic player. But that anime goes the extra mile to convey information by showing us things, not telling us about them. And that’s the main reason why Overlord got so slow in the last season. There were so many breaks taken for the characters to just sit around, talking about things. About Momonga’s plans. About the state of the world. About what’s happening with one particular character or another.
EvilBob: When Overlord is firing on all cylinders, it’s awesome. The fight scene with Shalltear was epic. Seeing his strategies work out is really cool.
CVoyage: Watching him literally crush Clementine to death was brutal… and incredibly satisfying. But this episode just reinforces the series problem with not knowing how to blend its exposition and dialogue with action. And I don’t just mean the action of people hitting each other. I mean the simple act of characters doing literally anything. It pulls you out of the moment entirely and causes the show to drag. I was hoping the issue would be resolved, but this episode proves it’s going to persist, even now, sadly.
EvilBob: Let’s be optimistic. This is only the first episode. Maybe they were just getting it all out of their system.
CVoyage: One can hope…
EvilBob: So for today’s episode you’ll want three cups of Political jargon, one half a cup of tactical exposition, and a gallon of characters mysteriously talking in the dark, and just a dash of humor, courtesy of the funniest character in the show. Sprinkling in a cliffhanger ending and you get an episode that’s about as Evil as… A Politician.
CVoyage: The episode is just… so… boring. The Albedo and Shalltear bits help a little but the rest of it just isn’t engaging at all. Characters just stand around, talking. The things that do happen are short-lived and unengaging. It’s just a slog to get through, really. All of it just sloppy setup for the rest of the season, with far less intrigue than they actually think they have under their belt. That I can recall, there’s just not much essential information in this episode to be bothered with it, so yeah. You can probably just Pass on this one. Here’s hoping subsequent episode won’t be as disappointing. Impressive or not, if you want to see a premiere episode in which the leads actually do something, then check out my review of the Toji no Miko premiere.
EvilBob: And that’s about all the time we’ve got for you today, people.
CVoyage: Thanks for reading, as always, folks. Keep up the awesome.
EvilBob: And keep it classy.
CVoyage: Take care.