Sep 27, 2022
After 4 years, two seasons and a movie of Isekai Quartet and watching so many clips of the first three seasons, Overlord is indeed back. Now it goes without saying that I freaking love Overlord. I love how it constructs its world, it makes a story about overpowered characters enjoyable and is fleshed out by a large yet distinct cast of characters that are capable and have a purpose. It also is one of the best villain centric anime and makes them interesting and entertaining. Now sure, it ain’t perfect. Not every arc in the series hits equal highs, not all characters are interesting and the animation seems to get worse with every season. But Overlord gets what it does right so damn well. It makes for a really good anime in my opinion. So much so that it has become a top 5 favourite anime of mine. I even started listening to the Light Novels on Audible; currently on Volume 3 at the time of writing this review. So it’s fair to say that Overlord IV was my most anticipated anime this season. Now, there were some things I wanted to see in this season in particular which I will tell as the review comes goes on, but I also didn’t want it to lose sight at what makes this series enjoyable for me, especially since it has been a long wait.
So let’s bow TO THE GREAT SORCERER KING HIMSELF, AINZ OOAL GOWN as I present my review for Overlord season four. Let’s begin, shall we?
I will keep spoilers to a bare minimum but I imagine those reading this review are along for the ride like I am. But to summarize the setup, the sorcerer kingdom has been established and Ainz is looking to attract adventurers and traders to the kingdom and to patch up things with the Re-Estize kingdom. He also wants to look for the Dwarven kingdom for his curiosity of rune smithing and the resources the trade agreements will bring.
As is tradition when it comes to Overlord, world building takes top priority. Now that Nazerick and its denizens are more well known now, we need to see how the rest of the world reacts and responds. You obviously have the Re-Estize kingdom trying to maintain stability after what happened in season three, the Baramuth Empire and it trying to keep it’s relations between the Sorcerer kingdom and the Slane Theocracy balanced on good terms and the Slane Theocracy watching from the sidelines figuring how to deal with Ainz and his forces. The Slane Theocracy is the one that has gotten the least attention over the past three seasons and little has changed, although we find out more about their leaders, how they deal with things and their relation to the Empire, but I was hoping we could see more, especially with the two characters that were introduced at the beginning of season two and we still know nothing about them. To be fair though, it does sound like the Slane Theocracy will get more focus in the movie so that’s a wait and see. For now though, while it’s nice we got to know more about them, it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough.
As for the arcs, there are three this season. The first arc is a nice continuation from the last arc of season three and seeing how these nations reacted to the might of Nazerick and the establishment of the Sorcerer Kingdom. The second arc is focused on the dwarvern kingdoms and it’s honestly the weakest part of the season for me. Finally, the last arc addresses one of my expectations that I will get into. Starting with the dwarven arc, it does continue to show one of Overlord’s biggest strengths, it’s world building and giving it the time to let us see this world more and giving us good reasons for doing so. But in execution, it’s not done as well as previous arcs in the series. It’s mainly because of how it establishes these new characters. Overlord has a large cast but why that is hardly a problem is because of how they make use of their screentime by picking up things from their personality and thoughts without dragging it on and using them in the right moment to help establish them and giving them their own moment to shine, regardless of it being brief or not, to make them memorable and recognisable when they are on screen. For example, while Zaryusu Shasha has hardly appeared after the Lizardmen arc in season two, he still had his moment to shine when he fought against Cocytus to make him memorable and recognisable in later seasons. This arc lacks that, it lacks that kind of character moment that makes them recognisable. Not to say there aren’t any, probably the closest would be the leader of the Quagoa (a subterrian race at war with the dwarfs), Pe Riyuro and his tough decision he had to make for the sake of his people. But the dwarves don’t have that really, even though the focus is on them. Despite it being paced well and having some nice brief character moments, mainly with the denizens of Nazerick, it is an arc that doesn’t reach the highs of the series best due to it lacking that moment to make the characters stand out. Not to say they aren’t memorable, but given how Overlord operates, they might not get the time they need. That also doesn’t mean I don’t think they can’t get their moment to shine. This season has proved it can happen with Prince Zanac. But for now, you can recognise them but they lack a compelling moment to make them truly stand out.
As for the other two arcs, they both address one of the things I wanted to see this season do and that was give a sense of payoff to all of this world building. This is because this series is focusing on building its world and has nothing really to make use of all this world building The second arc was obviously to continue that world building but the first and third arc this season was more focused on delivering that payoff. We now see how the main three human nations react to a force that is overwhelming and what their best course of action is and does this by using its established characters while giving us some new ones and see what the next course of action is. This is what makes these two arcs work because of those characters and world it developed and uses them to make a big impact on the plot. Even more smaller details like how Ainz (not Momon) uses Clementine’ Stilettos in a gladiatorial fight. It takes its world building, characters and story moments and uses it in exciting ways to make these arcs fun to watch because now you are just seeing this all unfold and because it took its time to show it, it leaves a more lasting impact.
(This is going to be a long review for me to do, isn’t it?)
Overlord’s other main strength has always been its characters. Overlord has never always focused on Ainz and likes to showcase the other characters of this world as well to help establish what this world is like and it has always been for the better. It helps change perspective on things from a different pair of eyes as to how they would react to a force that is beyond them and wonder if they will make out of this unscathed and wish the bad people get f**ked up for something we know they shouldn’t have. Following overpowered characters everywhere will eventually get boring so how about we look at it from another perspective, get to know them better and pray for their lives or wish they were killed if they deserved it What also helps is that they don’t throw everything at you, so you know they still have tricks up their sleeves. It what keeps Overlord’s overpowered characters refreshing and doesn’t fall into the traps of other power fantasy Isekai. Season four is no different. It still follows other perspectives as you will see but now the situation is on thin ice as anything could happen to provoke the Sorcerer Kingdom. One spark could set up a bomb that would annihilate everyone and now you see some characters trying to think their way around this, while others are just f**king things up for themselves and the people around them.
The three main characters that stood out this season was also the standout character from each arc. Like I didn’t do it on purpose, it just kind of went that way. So the first standout character from the first arc is easily Emperor Jircniv mainly because of his growing paranoia. It was very funny seeing him losing his mind due to him being downright terrified of the might of Ainz and the rest of the Socerer Kingdom. It was also a good continuation point after season three as to how he would react to what happened at the end of last season. Seeing a man who was prideful and smartly aware now has been reduced to the opposite of that was very entertaining as you now see how the power of Ainz Ooal Gown is affecting people who have lived to tell the tale. It addresses another thing I wanted to see this season is how will the people of this world who don’t bow down to Ainz react to a force that is seemingly way stronger than them and seeing Jircniv losing his mind to fear and paranoia is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. Even if the truth would be muttered, he would still doubt it to be true and it’s nice to see one of my favourite characters from season three continue to be one of my favourites.
The second arc’s standout to me was Shalltear. After her blunder in season one that turned her into a glorified chair in season two, seeing her trying to redeem herself was really the main selling point of this arc for me. You could tell that she really is trying to take note of everything Ainz does to make up for her mistakes but also do what Ainz wants his subordinates to do and that’s think freely for themselves, which Shalltear also takes to heart. It just goes to show that its not just the characters outside of Nazerick that makes this cast feel lively but also the residents of Nazerick as well that help round out this cast and actually gives them excuse to have reasonable character development to monsters who don’t need to get any stronger and need other ways to give them growth.
The third arc’s standout is Zanac, prince of the Re-Estize kingdom and is probably the most distinct character this season because my word, there has been a complete 180 turnaround of his character. In season two, we were introduced to him as a snobby, greedy, fat b**terd of a Prince that you wouldn’t mind seeing perishing. This season though, a completely different perspective of his character, showcasing that he is a dauntless man that when push comes to shove, he will do what is right. It shows why the show’s focus on its supporting cast is just as important because without, you wouldn’t really care what happened to him and he would just be another name for Ainz and co. to roll over. But the fact we are given the time this season; we see his resolve, it changes your outlook on not just him, but all characters like Brain Unglass starting out as a thief in season one to a fearless warrior by the end of this season. Zanac is a prime example of this season however and is one of the highlights of this season as one of its standout characters.
That’s not to say the rest of the cast wasn’t enjoyable. Hell, for the criticism I had for the second arc, I still liked the characters that were introduced with the standout being Hejinmal, a bloated frost dragon who was smart enough to know that he didn’t stand a chance against Ainz and co. And then there is Philip, a poor noble and a complete delusional and cocky b**terd who thinks he can eventually get what he wants, even trying to win the favour of Albedo when we all know that he essentially planting his own death flag. Characters that have already been established get good moments. Albedo seems to get thirstier with each season and it’s very cool to see her and princess Renner hit it off. Ainz still seems to be winging it and it seems to get funnier with each passing moment when the situation gets bigger and more complex with the usual, “SASUGA, AINZ-SAMA,” to top it off. I could go on and on about other characters like the members of the Blue Roses, the Dwarfs, the other floor guardians of Nazerick, Pandora’s actor, but I think you get my point. All characters, no matter how relevant to the plot, can leave a lasting impression that will make them recognisable later down the line. While Ainz is the central character in all this and still easily stands out as one of, if not, the best Isekai protagonist in anime, it’s the cast around them that helps make this truly special. But like I said a couple of sentences ago, what makes Ainz just as good in this season as in previous seasons is that now that the situation is escalating, him basically going along with it is causing him more trouble than its worth and actually gives him a new different kind of challenge, rather than a straight up fight because we will know who would win.
(Yep, it’s going to be a long review)
Animation was going to be interesting to watch because Overlord was slowly dipping in that aspect due to the increase use of CG that looked like ass. It was one of things I wanted to see this season was were they going to improve the CG? I can say though they have improved in some aspects in the CG department but in other ways, it looks like they’ve gone back to things we hated about it. Some of the CG problems last season had reared its ugly head here as well, with same face soldier syndrome that plagued last season has also appeared this season as well, although less egregious than last time thankfully. But there are some notable scenes in this show where the CG has improved when its less focused on massive blobs and more individual characters. The big fight in episode twelve is the big standout here where it has noticeably improved so it is actually a fun fight to watch. In terms of traditional animation, Overlord as always been solid in that department with the character designs as well helping them be more distinct from one another, although drawing them at a distance has not yielded best results. In summery there have been some improvements in the animation department but some things still hold them back.
Soundtrack pretty much remains the same, being a grandiose feeling ost that can really sell a scene but also stand out in its own way. Here, it’s no different, it’s still used well and it still does well to enhance the scene its being used. It just sells the might of Nazerick by having something loud to tell you who is the real power here. But also have more light hearted soundtrack when it wants to step back and relax for a bit. One of my criticisms in season three though was the lack of standout new tracks. Here, it’s no different because the ones I remember being used this season, were the ones that were being used in previous seasons. Well, besides the one that played in the final episode. It’s still a great OST, don’t get me wrong, but it is still a gripe.
In terms of OP and ED, unfortunately, MYTH & ROID are absent this season which feels like a crime if you ask me. Their EDs were good while the opening from last season, “Voracity” was the best Overlord OP out of the three. Thankfully though, OxT makes their return with their best OP for Overlord to date. Titled “HOLLOW HUNGER,” this is probably the best I’ve heard from Oxt and I like it over the other two they’ve done because they don’t over rely on using vocaloid when singing the lyrics to the point you don’t know what they are saying like in OP 1. Listen, I like “Clattanoia” but that OP is starting to age quite badly in my opinion. And I think it’s used at the right tone, unlike OP 2, “Go Cry Go.” It strikes a nice balance if you ask me. I also love the instrumentals here because it’s pumping you up but also sound like something you would not usually hear from OxT. It’s smooth, it’s cool, it’s something that you want to learn how to tango under. This is something I can listen to again and again and not be fed up with. In fact, I have. Visuals as well are solid, showcasing its cast in fun ways and provides some brief but good action. If Yofukashi no Uta’s OP didn’t exist, this would be my OP of the season. Is it better than season three’s, “Voracity”? That’s up to debate really because it’s damn close.
Okay, so technically MYTH & ROID are not doing the ED but we do have a consolation prize with Mayu Maeshima, the original singer of MYTH & ROID and did the first ED for Overlord. Now she has done the performance for this this ED, titled "No Man's Dawn". Honestly though, I think It’s the weakest ED in the series. I’m not saying it’s bad but compared to the other EDs, I enjoyed this one the least. The artwork is still gorgeous to look at but that is a given at this point. I just feel like they ain’t creative with this one, showcasing the members of Nazerick in expressions that we already know what they are like, but does it in a way that feels plain. It lacks a bit of chaotic energy, or in the case of season three’s ED, a foreboding feeling (God that ED was so good). Maeshima puts in a good performance but the lack of creativity in the visuals hurts the performance more than it helps honestly. But it is paced and timed well to help make it better. Like I said, it isn’t a bad ED, far from it, but compared to the others, it feels like the weakest. I didn’t think they were going to top season three anyway. To me, they peaked there.
Season four of Overlord provided me with what I was looking for this season. Some needed payoff, the continued world building filled with interesting characters and some improvement over the CG. The only thing I would say is a miss is probably new pieces for the OST. It did stumble in the second arc but was still solid and the other two arcs were really enjoyable and reminded me why I loved Overlord, it’s world and the characters in it. They really are the main selling points and there are few shows that will take their time to get to know their large cast of characters and give them some depth and character development. It makes what happens to them more meaningful and provides a bigger impact than it normally would.
It just makes me happy as a big fan that Overlord is back and also maintains the quality of enjoyment that was also provided in previous seasons. It really puts a smile on my face that we got more when it seemed like it wouldn’t happen, considering it was a rarity for Madhouse to do more than one season. The question is now is where do we go from here? Well there is a movie scheduled to be coming later down the line that will cover volumes 12 & 13, whereas this season covered volumes 10, 11 and 14. Side note, they better up the animation again for the movie. They can’t expect to get away with that quality. Then we may get an announcement of a possible season five two or three years down the line, since there are more volumes to cover but only two haven’t been covered yet. They might just wait until the light novel is finished to wrap it all up. Honestly, I’m not going to say where this one ranks among the rest of them, because it’s right to treat them one collective package that is needed to understand the whole picture that this series provides. One aspect briefly touched on one season could be expanded in another.
Overlord still remains one of my favourite anime of all time and I fully believe in saying that this season is worth a watch for people who like this show. Sure, it won’t change people’s minds that already down on this series but to each their own. I liked it and that is what matters to me.
My Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Overall Score: 8.1/10 Recommendation: Watch It
(Jesus Christ that took a while to do. This is actually my longest review now. Editing going to be a pain in the ass isn’t it?)
(Update: Not as bad as I thought it would be.)
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