The Summer 2022 Preview Guide
How would you rate episode 1 of
Overlord IV ?
Community score: 4.2
What is this?
With his foundations now set in this new world, the first steps of Ains Ooal Gown's master plan apparent begin to come to fruition. The value of Carne village and especially the political value of his alter ego Momon are reaffirmed; the “hidden” genius of his actions is continuously met with shock and awe by Demiurge, Albedo, the rest of his guardians, and even Ains himself at his “great wisdom.” His attempts to act in a way befitting the ruler of Nazarick, continuing to further cement his guardian's loyalty, push him ever further down the path of not-so-intentional world domination. Without human conscience due to being undead, he is motivated only to continue searching for other players from Yggdrasil and to gain power to better protect the children and home of him and his forty former companions. Lord Ains Ooal Gown maintains his mantle of Overlord and leads the Great Tomb of Nazarick unto the world stage, directly into a vicious power struggle between two great empires.
How was the first episode?
It's odd—despite having zero action, this episode may be my favorite Overlord episode in a long while. More than anything, this premiere is about character building for Ainz and the people of Nazarick. We get comedic scenes with Albedo, Aura, Mare, and Pandora's Actor, but beneath it all is a major sense of danger. After all, despite his appearance and three seasons' worth of practice, Ainz still has no idea what he's doing. Letting Albedo off the leash to do her own thing unsupervised and telling Pandora's Actor to “surpass him” sound like things destined to come back and bite him in the ass.
But far beyond just keeping his closest minions under control, Ainz now has to deal with being a king. As of the end of last season, Ainz and his people are fully out in the open. The world knows about their existence and power, meaning they can no longer act exclusively within the safety of the shadows. Adding to that, Ainz now finds himself the ruler of a sizable human population—a population who is largely terrified about their looming fate.
This presents a major problem, made worse by the fact that most of Nazarick's inhabitants see humans as little more than pests. Meanwhile, Ainz is torn on the issue. On one hand, he is an ex-human from our world. He sees all intelligent life in general—be they goblins, humans, elves, or lizard men—as equals. On the other hand, he personally values the lives of those in Nazarick—created by the friends that were so dear to him back in the MMORPG—far more than anyone in the fantasy world. Somehow, he has to not only find a way to keep the human population safe and happy, but also to do so in a way that the monsters of Nazarick will wholeheartedly support.
While not exactly a setup brimming with potential for massive battles and climatic fights, it's a great dramatic conflict to build a season upon. We'll see if it is possible for Ainz to restore normalcy for all his people as he takes his place on the world stage as the leader of a powerful kingdom. Though I'm sure he'll just end up dumb-lucking into being the greatest king who ever lived.
The great Bone Lord is back, and this time he's no mere overlord – he's now the Sorcerer King and he's got a country to run. So that means it's time to thrill to politics, paperwork, and Ainz's attempts to introduce some elements of his former life in modern Japan to his fantasy realm, and that's…kind of boring, honestly. Not without merit, but also not precisely a rip-roaring start to Overlord's long-awaited fourth season.
What makes it work better than it otherwise might have is the fact that we're treated to a return to form in the narrative's dependence on Ainz's internal monologue. One of the best parts of the first season was the disconnect between Ainz's vocalized words and his interior thoughts, and that's back in force here. Mostly that seems to be because he's so very out of his depth as a king. Previously he could fool himself that he was playing the game just like he always had, and if he found himself relating a bit too much to his character rather than his “real” self, well, he could write it off as really immersive play. (Not that he necessarily did, but the excuse was there.) But now that he's coming to terms with how the once-NPCs view the human denizens of the world and that he's now fully in charge of everyone's lives as their ruler, he can't just sit back and play the game anymore. He instead has to strike a balance between Ainz and himself, and that may be much more difficult than being strictly one or the other.
We get a good sense of that here as he flails his way through paperwork he in no way understands and tries to figure out what to do about Albedo being Albedo, while also adorably embracing his role as dad to the twins. His mild freak-out when Fith insists on dressing him in red robes rather than his usual grim black also showcases his dilemma nicely, and the contrast of him loafing on his stomach reading what looks like a cheap paperback rather than debating the difficult questions of ruling the kingdom is another excellent detail. Since his stated goal is to create a world like his old guild in case his guildies are, in fact, out there somewhere, we can see how much this entire endeavor means to him, and I have every confidence that the plot's going to pick up from here. So while this isn't a particularly thrilling start to the new season, it is one that should bear fruit.
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