The cover art of "Overlord Vol. 1 The Undead King"
Overlord light novel series, authored by Kugane Maruyama and illustrated by So-Bin. Publisher: Yen Press

Features / April 19, 2023

Novel Review: Overlord

By: Logan Boyle

A series which I’ve been enamored with for quite some time is the Overlord novel serialization.

Overlord is a Japanese light novel written by Kugane Maruyama, with illustrations done by So-Bin, a South Korean illustrator. This series falls under the fantasy-isekai/“other-world” genre, unlike other novels in the isekai genre, the setting of this world has three degrees of separation from the standard isekai genre.

The series follows Suzuki Satoru, a Japanese businessman living on Earth in the year 2138, a post-climate collapse corporate dystopia. Satoru spends most of his free time socializing with his friends in a DMMO, short for Dive-Massively Multiplayer Online (game), titled Yggdrasil. He is known as Momonga, the guild leader of “Ainz Ooal Gown”.

From here on out the standard isekai setting starts to take place, Suzuki Satoru, (now going by his in-game name “Momonga”) at the end of the game’s lifespan, is transported into a new world, as his game character, which happens to be an undead skeleton.

Our protagonist is left panicked and confused by this, he was suddenly placed into the role of his in-game character, a guild leader, but he himself is not a strong leader. His subordinates in this setting are the old NPCs that resided in his guild base, created by and serving as mirrors into his old friends’ personalities.

Afraid of disappointing them, he takes it upon himself to play the role of “Ainz Ooal Gown” in order to honor the memories of his friends, which he desperately hopes are still out there somewhere, in this unfamiliar new world.

A big reason as to why I enjoy this series so much comes from the fact that the thought process of the main character is heavily driven from his environment, instead of the protagonist simply being an empty shell for the reader like most other isekai. Momonga as a character has his morality and decision-making heavily influenced by both the old dystopia that he used to live in and the new position he is placed into. This has the side effect of making him an evil character, viewed as a villain by the new world, but as a god by his subordinates.

Stories with villainous protagonists typically struggle because of the disconnect the reader feels with the main character, but Overlord pushes through this by always explaining Momonga’s thought process from the context of his background, allowing readers to more easily empathize with him, making Momonga a much more relatable character.

© PantherPress. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Logan Crutchfield