by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 3 of
The first two episodes of Overlord took place entirely within the confines of the Tomb of Nazarick (or directly above it). With episode 3, the series expands outward in terms of both setting and introducing a fantasy action component. That does not necessarily mean that it is abandoning the methodical approach that it took with the first two episodes, however; on the contrary, the action scenes are very much a part of the approach the series has established so far.
The end of last episode indicated that warriors were raiding villages in the vague vicinity of the tomb. In this episode Momonga learns of one such attack via a scrying mirror (whose method for manipulation suspiciously resembles a hand motion-sensitive smart phone or tablet), and after reflecting on a fellow guild member who once magnanimously saved him upon their first meeting in Yggdrasil, he decides to get involved. Besides, it also gives him an ideal opportunity to test his magic in the field – which he does, in quite potent fashion. (The screen shot shows the Death Knight he created.) Reasoning that the villagers might be thrown by his skeletal visage, he hides his face behind a mask that was commonly-available in Yggdrasil and demands knowledge of the land as payment for saving the villagers. While getting the lay of the land, he discovers that adventurers are a known quantity in this setting, and he comes to suspect that intrigue may be afoot in the nature of the attacks. The second to Chief Warrior Gazef of the Re-Estize Kingdom, who was sent to investigate the attacks but with an undermanned force, is also of that opinion, but that doesn't stop Gazef, who meets “Ains Ooal Gown” (the name Momonga has decided to go by, in hopes of catching the attention of anyone else from Yggdrasil) at the village, only to discover that they have been surrounded.
Gazef looks like a character who will be around for the long term and a probable future ally of Momonga, but more important here is the laying out of the setting, which furthers the impression that the tomb has, indeed, been transported to an actual fantasy world rather than just continuing to run as a game. The way the writing smoothly integrates in the characterizations – Albedo's disdain for humans, Momonga's ongoing concern about how he does not seem to be bothered by killing people, the way he sees the creators of his subordinates represented in those same subordinates – continues to be one of the strengths of the series, as is Momonga's ongoing deliberations about the world and his systematic way of examining it. “Thoughtful” is an element too often missing in fantasy anime (for that matter, fantasy media in general), so this approach, while it might slow down the pace to a level uncomfortable to some, is still welcome.
The addition of the action element does liven things up a bit, though. The second episode established with some of its dialogue that this series wasn't going to be kiddie fare, and the very graphic level of the violence introduced here – to the point that a flash of censoring was even used – furthers that impression. (The perspective shot from the eyes of the severed head was interesting, too.) The music ramps up dramatically for that scene, and the CG animation on the Death Knight, while still distinctly CG, is not bad. The only downside visually is that Albedo's highly expressive face is completely concealed.
The stopping point for the episode feels a little awkward, but beyond that this is a solid production effort which progresses the story out of its introduction and more down its long-term path.
Overlord is currently streaming on Funimation.
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