Overlord Vol. 2 - Manga Review

Ainz Ooal Gown has left his fortress disguised as a warrior to join a local town’s adventurer’s guild. He may be only on a reconnaissance mission, but can he keep his cover when he far outclasses everyone around him?

The Lowdown

In order to achieve his goal of world conquest and fame, Ainz is starting small scale by getting to understand the human civilizations surrounding his now hidden fortress. He’s taken up a job as an adventurer, having to start at the lowest rank and prove his might. However, even as Ainz tries to keep a low profile, dark forces that may require some overwhelming power to quell are at work behind the scenes.

How Was It?

Out of the many light novel adaptations I have had the pleasure of reviewing, Overlord has been so far my favorite to read and review. So often manga adaptations like this seem to get short shrift when it comes to making these volumes, with mediocre art that just doesn’t sell the story the originals are telling. That is not the case with Overlord, which through its first two volumes has produced two very nicely executed adaptations of the story. The largest proponent of that is the artwork. Hugin Miyama-Sensei manages to capture a level of expressiveness uncommon to other adaptive manga, one that really draws out the personalities of every character on the page.

I love how this manga actually uses its graphical nature to expand upon the written dialogue through its characters’ expressions. Even when there’s only a random shopkeep or some new minor character on the page, you still understand everything passing through their mind simply by their face. The rest of the art is well done too. The world is well detailed and varied, giving it a great sense of place, lore, and history, while the action scenes are clear and direct, giving a good sense of kinetic motion and power that makes sure the swords feel powerful, the magic explosive, and the giant gerbil (yes, I said “giant gerbil”) round, bouncy and fluffy.

The story of this volume works fairly well, though it is and feels very short. The main bulk of the book covers only 3 main story chapters, which are about Ainz as he joins an adventuring party out to help escort a local herbalist. As a small mini arc, it actually works pretty well, though it feels like there is a fairly major climax which has been shifted over to a third volume that will finish the current arc. In a strange way, this volume feels both somewhat satisfying and also like half of a two-parter, making it seem both whole and incomplete at the same time. The writing in the volume works fine, but the exposition can feel a bit stilted at times with characters relating acquaintances’ backstories in interjected descriptors that are functional, but don’t always flow.  There is also one early joke that relies very heavily on knowing the intricacies of Japanese honorifics that isn’t explained by context or footnotes that I found to be jarring. However, the writing nitpicks are but small issues and don’t really hinder the overall story, which I find both interesting and funny. Watching Ainz deal with the often absurd new trials of his adventuring life, like not being able to read the new world’s language or being forced to ride a giant gerbil into town, is really amusing as it pits his real persona against the vastly different expectations of his fantasy neighbors.

Of course, if there is one strength to Overlord’s manga that is unquestionably great in my eyes, it is the “extras” that are part of the volume. Once again, the chapter breaks feature a great deal of extra lore. This is both fascinating and insightful, and helps flesh out some of the world building present but not explained in detail in the actual chapters. The descriptions are well written and insightful, showing many further dimensions of the world’s politics and magic systems for those who care to read them. This volume contains two extra sections, including a very amusing mini -chapter involving Ainz’s underlings reacting to the announcement of their anime adaptation, as well as two interviews (one between the original author and manga script writer, and another between the light novel illustrator and the manga artist) are also included. I found both interviews to be engaging and interesting, and they really show off the passion and love all four of these creative minds have for the work that they are doing on this series. I really hope that these types of extras continue to be a part of these volumes as they are some of my favorite parts of the manga.

Final Thoughts

Overlord Vol. 2 is a very good continuation of the Overlord story with more of a comedic fish-out-of-water journey as Ains begins his first steps into this strange new world. While the volume is short, it more than makes up for that fact with expressive art and interesting extras that are just as much fun to read as the main story. Overlord is an excellent pick up for fantasy fans, series fans, or people interested in manga adaptations in general.


Overlord, Vol. 2 - manga (Overlord Manga)
By Kugane Maruyama, Satoshi Oshio

Overlord Vol. 2 was published in English by Yen Press, on September 27th, 2016, translated by Emily Balistrieri. The manga was written by Satoshi Ōshio with art by Hugin Miyama, based on Kagane Maruyama’s original Light Novels. Volume 3 releases in English on December 13th 2016.

Verdict:

B+

Date of Publication: September 27th, 2016

Author: Satoshi Oshio (Story) + Hugin Miyama (Art)

Translator: Emily Balistrieri

Publisher: Yen Press