GME! Anime Fun Time Episode #14 – Overlord

Two episodes of GME! Anime Fun Time in a row? Impossible! But it is the month of Halloween, and what better way to celebrate than with an anime filled to the brim with spooky skeletons? Join Ruth and I as we try to explain what kept us going through 13 episodes of Overlord, an anime that combines the worst elements of light-novel narrative structure with the worst elements of the “trapped in an MMORPG” science fiction subgenre. CLICK HERE or on the image above to download our review of the show.

Final Thoughts:

momonga

albedo cocytus

shalltear

demiurge hamusuke

Overlord does have some pretty boss character designs.

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13 Responses

  1. I should make a drinking game as to the amount of times you say ‘piss-ant’ Paul. Love it. 😄 Yeah, this show is definitely NOT made for me.

  2. Can’t wait to hear this one, Paul!

    BTW, what IS a “light novel”?

  3. This podcast is clearly an act of revenge against the world inspired by the soul crushing experience that was watching Overlord. I never can understand why a podcaster/reviewer/blogger would spend so much effort to review a show that they don’t like or recommend. GME Anime Fun Time is a good podcast, don’t waste it on shows that aren’t good.

  4. Bobob101, it’s purgative. Sometimes as a critic, you see something that bothers you in a way that is difficult to express, and the only way to resolve the matter is to write or talk about it. That’s how I felt about Overlord, although I feel like I could still spill some ink writing a few thousand words talking about it. I don’t feel like I entirely captured Overlord‘s complete disregard for narrative structure, for example. Even after watching the entire series, I wouldn’t call it “bad”. Ruth described it as “bland”, and I think that’s an accurate term, which is indeed soul-crushing when you think about the amount of time, money, and talent that was invested into making it.

  5. Tim, a light novel is a format unique to Japanese publishing, constituting a series of short books (usually 150,000 words or fewer) that are published rapidly and sequentially. I suppose the closest thing we have over here are novelettes or novellas, but the markets aren’t exactly comparable. Many light novels eventually inspire anime and / or manga adaptations.

  6. I think it’s nice to hear a discussion about shows that aren’t necessarily the best ever. Not all the time, to be sure, but certainly on a few distinct occasions. Not everything needs to be a masterpiece in order to merit bringing up on a podcast recording.

    While this might not entirely apply to Overlord itself, because it’s just so painfully mediocre and boring according to the hosts, I believe that an anime series can have a lot of flaws yet still contain a number of well-executed or simply appealing aspects that make it worth talking about and which may also justify watching it, in the eyes of a greater or lesser number of people.

    I’m pretty sure that Paul and Tom won’t really like some of my personal favorite shows, for instance, but I’d hope that if they do try to review a few of them they’ll have more to talk about. If nothing else, I already know that their problems aren’t the same as Overlord’s lack of structure and LN pacing.

  7. Paul – I know what novellas are, but do light novels fit into a broader sales plan for a series (like OVAs often support games which support television series which support movies)? Or are they like the Category Men’s Adventure or Romance short novels that got cranked out once a month, usually?

    I understand all the words you’re saying, but I’m still completely at sea, I guess….

  8. If ever you’d like to do a podcast on Unico in the Island of Magic, I’m game. That movie is batshit amazing!

  9. I guess you could say, Paul doesn’t want to spawn more overlords…

  10. Tim: It’s probably best to think of light novels as effectively equivalent to what we call “YA” (Young Adult) in the US market as far as content, length (about 200-300 pages once translated into English), readership, and such. They do tend to get cranked out at a fairly rapid clip; some recent popular series release about 2 or 3 light novel installments annually (to say nothing of spinoffs). For example, Overlord has 9 light novel installments out, and the first came out in mid-2012.

    In the broader sales plan sense of things, a popular “LN” will develop a fanbase conducive to watching an animated or comicbook adaptation, much like how a popular YA novel makes for a vocal contingent of dedicated fans eagerly anticipating the story be retold via motion picture. (The difference being a matter of scale; “popular” LNs average about 75,000-80,000 copies sold per volume) Plus, they’re partially illustrated; the cartoon creators don’t actually need to think up “what would each of these characters actually look like based on their written description?”

    The problem of course is that diehard fans of the source material demand fidelity over all, even when some things really ought to be changed for the sake of pacing or to take advantage of a visual medium. You know how the earlier Harry Potter movies were almost word-for-word lifted from the books? That’s generally what the light novel fanbase expects from the anime versions, even if it now means a character on screen is verbally describing something that we can now just look at and see for ourselves. Light novelists also tend to gravitate towards extensive lore/world building info dumps, and people seem to want that information “told” more than they want it “shown.” The result is often either clunky exposition nobody would ever actually say (“as you know, I am your brother”) or omission of some critical detail that the show creators assume everyone watching knows about.

    Just as with YA, quality can vary greatly across LNs, and once one thing is successful, publishers want something just like it. A lot of what we consider “anime stereotypes” are really just following what happens to be the trend in light novels at the time, but we usually only see the anime as only a few light novel series have been released in English.

  11. Daryl pretty much took the words out of my mouth about LN’s and the illness they’ve created. Comparing it to Young Adult books we got over here is a pretty apt comparison, especially Harry Potter.

    “Just as with YA, quality can vary greatly across LNs, and once one thing is successful, publishers want something just like it. A lot of what we consider “anime stereotypes” are really just following what happens to be the trend in light novels at the time, but we usually only see the anime as only a few light novel series have been released in English.”

    That’s usually the problem here, the anime we get lately tends to be on the receiving end of these LN bandwagons, nothing more or less, it’s just there and we either like it or not. I do wonder where Overlord’s story happens to be doing so far in it’s LN series, hopefully a little further than the anime could do. This show already sounds like it ends on a “Go read the books” message like so many others.

    I think I told Ruth these, but Overlord sounds like a good example of the surface/meat problems when it comes to how we see these types of shows. We often want a balance here the meat is just as good or even better than the surface. Overlord is definitely the opposite, the surface taste fine (character designs) but the meat is rancid (the plot). Thinking of what Paul wanted to see coming into this, I suppose had it come another way, this would’ve been a perfect show to criticize/mock the boredom of MMO’s and the sort of things you do it them, through this main character’s rather unusual situation. It’s not his fault the game developers decided to pull the plug before he could get whatever he wanted finished on time, though I suppose it would be more interested had there been other people like him stuck in the same position when midnight struck, simply stuck i this world and wished they knew how to leave it themselves. That alone is an interesting concept, if not, done to death a lot. Making the main guy as smug and passive as he is certainly takes away a lot of that tension that could be build up over the course of the show. But no, we get 13 episodes of killing off other MPC’s and not even coming close to whatever the guy wants simply because he’s biding his time, doing silly fetch quests. I have no reason to care for anybody here or this show, and since I never even heard of it until now, I’ll be sure to miss it as usual!

  12. I have little to add – not even being able to finish the first episode – except that if you’re interested in an anime/light novel that addresses a lot of the issues you had with Overlord and the “trapped in a MMORPG” genre in general you should probably watch (or better yet read) Log Horizon.

  13. Ok, so as someone who did actually enjoy Overlord, I listened to the podcast not quite expecting the evisceration that ensued lol. Nonetheless I listened and enjoyed the podcast. I guess I haven’t really been exposed too that many “trapped in a game world” anime, only Btooom! and the greed island arc of hunter x hunter readily come to mind (and they were variable in their successes also).

    Many of the narrative flaws/decisions you mention in Overlord, I also found to be surprising choices but I reacted more warmly toward some of them. Perhaps with a caveat/hope that with the pace of plotting more episodes/cours were needed/coming to actually fill out the story…. 13 eps later and reading the light novel is the only option for me right now. I might re-watch with the dub on bluray, based on the trailer which had mostly good VO imo…

    MadHouse’s animation quality definitely varied but yup, a pretty unexpectedly gruesome death toward the end for a villain. Plus the giant hamster was also unexpected

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