Overlord Vol. 2: The Dark Warrior - Light Novel Review

A week after the last moments of the game Yggdrasil became real, Momonga travels to the city of E-Rantel to gain information and begin his conquest of his new world.

The Lowdown

A week has passed since Momonga logged into the game Yggdrasil to watch the final seconds of the game tick down only to become stranded as the game came to life. Now, with his powerful minions from the Great Tomb of Nazarick, Momonga has taken on his guild’s name, Ainz Ooal Gown, as his own and seeks to make his name known across this new world. After repelling an attack on a small surrounding town, Momonga sends his minions forth and travels to the city of E-Rantel as a powerful armoured warrior to gain more information and make his name known.

How Was It?

The second half of Overlord’s first volume was primarily concerned Momonga’s cautious process of exploring his new world and attempting to work out what actions he should take to secure Ainz Ooal Gown’s survival, and this volume is largely devoted to continuing this as he arrives in E-Rantel. Here, we see Momonga single-mindedly attempting to establish his reputation in a very thoughtful manner, and in the process gets swept up in a bit of an adventure as he rides out with a group of adventurers on a gathering-quest. This ends up reading as a bit of a power-fantasy in some respects as Momonga absolutely shreds through any and all resistance that the world has to offer, but the interesting thing here is that it really is a power fantasy being lived by Momonga. We see him attempting to get a handle on just how powerful he is and adapt accordingly before trying to leverage it to his advantage by flexing his muscle in ways that will spread word of his exploits. This conscious effort made his overwhelming power quite interesting to watch in that sense, and I enjoyed the layer that this added compared to the usual power-fantasy played completely straight.

While watching Momonga use his strength in the context of trying to accomplish his farther reaching goal of building his reputation in this world was an interesting twist on a player trying to navigate a game-world, the side effect of this is the way that it robs all of the action scenes of any real tension. An early battle scene showing Momonga and the adventurers taking on some trolls in the forest is interesting because of the way it clearly shows Momonga’s reputation building being accomplished, but the climactic battle at the end of the volume which sees Momonga and his servant Naberal take on some powerful villains does not fare nearly as well. Although the villains are built up as strong in the context of this world, it became meaningless because it was obvious based on the premise of Momonga’s power that he would wipe the floor with them. That said, we do see some attempts to credibly have them put up a fight against Momonga, but it just isn’t enough to make the battle feel like any more than a foregone conclusion. Although it was well-written and easy to follow like the other action scenes in this series, without anything else to complicate the battle it was a little bit of a down note to finish the volume on.

One of the most interesting things that this volume does is continue the exploration of Momonga’s inner thoughts and personality, providing an interesting character-study on what might happen if a player were given virtually limitless power and dropped into a game. Momonga’s thoughts in the first volume were primarily anchored around his nostalgic attachment to his guild and his former guild mates before examining his pragmatic approach to proceeding in his new reality, and this process continues here as he rides out with new companions while attempting to explain his actions to both himself as well as his NPC followers as noted above. However, one interesting thing that I picked up on is that Momonga’s self-narration for some of his actions is not entirely honest – we frequently see him reference his disregard for the humans of this world as well as the cold utility of his actions, but on the other hand we also see him unwittingly display a softer side before rationalizing it on more logical terms. This betrayed an interesting tension in his character as we see him fancying himself as a cold pragmatist despite his actions suggesting he can’t resist being the hero in some places. This added a lot of layer to Momonga’s character and was one of the most fascinating aspects of this volume.

Momonga’s experience in Overlord’s first volume was defined by him being a real person reacting to an adoring throng of colorful minions, and I was sad that they did not get nearly as much of an active role in this story. It was awesome Momonga attempting to manage all of their wild and quirky personalities before seeing their own reactions and asides later on, and this was one of the things that set Overlord apart from other adventure series in terms of cementing his unique position as a leader. In comparison, Momonga is surrounded in this volume by a pack of adventurers who largely lack the sheer character that his actual followers had, and this did little to spice up their little trip into the woods. Although Momonga continues to work to try to manipulate them, I found this to be much less interesting than watching all of his followers bounce off of him in the first volume, and I also found that this volume engaged with much less of the “gamey” aspects of Momonga’s experience in the same winking sort of way as before. A sequence in this volume which defied this was Momonga’s absurd encounter with the Wise King of the Forest that genuinely had me laughing at how odd it all was, and this was a weird but endearing counterpoint to the gravitas that Momonga attempts to display in his internal monologue. This played into Momonga’s self-narration as noted above in a funny way because we continue to see the seriousnessness that he tries to conduct himself with contrasted to the utter weirdness of his surroundings.

Final Thoughts

Overlord Vol. 2 is a satisfying exploration of Momonga’s careful process of adjusting to his new world, but it has a little bit less of what made the first volume such a compelling read. I would have liked to have seen more of Momonga’s endearing and wacky cast of followers to spice up his journey in this volume especially given the lowered stakes and the emphasis on Momonga learning about his new world. Although the action scenes are well-written, there isn’t a whole lot of tension and they largely feel like a bit of a power trip, albeit one that is self-knowing enough to still be interesting. Despite all of this, I wouldn’t say that this volume is a step back from the first – it definitely pleased me in pushes pushing Momonga’s quest for domination by exploring this world in an interesting way and in also continuing a truly interesting character-study of him as he finds out that being all-powerful isn’t quite as simple as it might seem. 


Overlord Vol. 2: The Dark Warrior was translated by Emily Balistrieri and published by Yen Press on September 27th, 2016. Authored by Kugane Maruyama and illustrated by so-bin, the series is currently ongoing and published by Enterbrain. The series received an anime adaption by Madhouse in Summer 2015 lasting for 13 episodes. 

Verdict:

B+

Date of Publication: September 27th, 2016

Translator: Emily Balistrieri

Author: Kugane Maruyama

Publisher: Yen Press




Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka