Is Overlord an Underrated or Overrated Isekai Anime Series?

For all the faults and criticisms of the isekai genre, it still has a few gems when it comes to critical reception. One of these is Overlord, a series whose popularity and renown has seen it crowned as the veritable king of isekai. Still, even with this reception, it hasn’t quite made the same mainstream waves as franchises like Sword Art Online. At the same time, it could be argued whether this is deserved.

After all, for as well as it does them, Overlord definitely falls into some of the worst excesses of isekai, especially in its anime form. It’s still certainly better than the overrated Sword Art Online, but the show still might not be in the “overrated” category itself. Here’s why Overlord‘s current popularity status is probably the right kind of “rated” for the anime.

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Overlord Is Quite Well-Received for an Isekai Anime

In recent years, isekai has begun to draw the ire of anime fans, with many despising how ubiquitous the genre has become. Any new isekai anime is immediately seen with skepticism, especially if it’s based on a light novel or manga that’s already failed to impress its detractors. Despite this, Overlord continues to be a well-regarded isekai series, with the anime adaptation now getting a fourth season. Even those who dislike the trite genre tend to admit that Overlord is “isekai done right,” with the show failing to receive the vitriol that others of its kind do.

After all, Sword Art Online, which is seen by many as being the king of modern isekai, is now relatively hated by many anime fans. It’s criticized for being a bad version of what many of its imitators have done, as well as being emblematic of the much-derided isekai craze. Overlord isn’t treated in such a way, instead being seen as an example that the genre can produce something good. It does make its more modest discussion and popularity compared to SAO kind of disappointing, but given some of the sins that Overlord does commit, it’s somewhat fair and balanced.

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The Overlord Anime Still Makes the Same Mistakes as Other Isekai

As much as it’s praised as being an “actually good” isekai, Overlord still repeats some of the genre’s most notable issues. The biggest of these is having a drastically overpowered protagonist, to the point where nothing can logically threaten him or those around him. Isekai is seen as a predominately male power fantasy genre, with the heroes quickly acclimating themselves to their new world and ravaging anything that stands in their way. Be it through magic or other means, once these heroes get to a certain level, they can’t be stopped or even challenged.

The same goes for Overlord, even if this is arguably the point. Ainz Ool Gown is meant to be an unstoppable force that’s essentially the villain of the story, with everyone else just helpless victims in his wake. The problem is that the anime doesn’t really do this concept justice, especially compared to the source material. The original light novels and even the manga did a much better job at world-building and making everything around Ainz Ool Gown interesting, thus making his eventual rampages more interesting as well. Without these elements, the Overlord anime simply feels like an even more exaggerated version of isekai’s biggest trope. Sure, it might do it well, but it still does it.

The worst part is that the show is rarely if ever criticized for this like other isekai anime are. Even fans who have read the Overlord light novels have failed to mention how they handled these story elements better than the vastly acclaimed anime. This would seemingly make the show overrated, but when juxtaposed with its relative lack of popularity compared to anime like Sword Art Online, it simply leaves Overlord as being “rated.” For all its faults and issues, the series is still a very enjoyable anime, whether viewers like isekai or not.

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