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Viridius rated it
Overlord (LN)
September 21, 2018
Status: v13 afterword
So Overlord is one of those novels that feels so vastly different from others that many people force their ideas of what a "good novel" is onto what was never supposed to be compared in the first place. Many of the lower ratings are due to this, not fully appreciating the charm of the story.

Overlord is a transmigration story about Momonga, who was the head supervisor of Ainz Ooal Gown, a guild composed entirely out of high-level non-humans and considered one of the strongest guilds in the game Yggdrasil. They... more>> killed countless attackers, a seemingly last-boss type organisation. After transmigrating, he himself adopts the name of the guild.

Right there. See that? That means Ainz is a villain. The story seems to center around the side characters, meticulously fleshing them out but sometimes just killing them off for "fun". Many reviews bash this style of storytelling, complaining about how much these dead characters were focused on. But this is intentional. Ainz is an antagonist to the many "protagonists" we see. The various characters on the side each can be considered a main character with their own story in their own right. We start to find the overarching plot within these. Many people appear to think that novels should work on developing the main character, and the main character only. Overlord does not do that. This makes the plot seem to trudge along slowly, but if you look at it from the perspective of each "side character", it starts to speed up. We read various short, fast-pace anecdotes of people each with their own unique personalities and circumstances, developing and furthering Nazarick's (Ainz and his companions') goals. This creates complex characters and world-building. The appeal of the story, like a premium wine, is enhanced and enriched by its slow pace. We savor every bitter, cruel, insidious moment for what they are, instead of thinking, "Oh, another side character died" like we would in countless other stories. Our sympathy and love of them makes Ainz the villain he is. The climaxes are accentuated by the gradual buildup; the structure of each volume generates rising tensions, furthering our excitement. The whole story reads like a fluid symphony, with different movements, different feelings, all coming together through one focal point: Nazarick.

This alone makes Overlord a story worthy of five stars.

However, many people seem to dislike the main character, and it's a reasonable thing to do. He gives the impression of a terrible leader to his capable subordinates: weak-willed, indecisive, and unintelligent. Yet, in my eyes, while it's not executed as well as it could have been, his apparent incompetence is what makes Ainz human. The story itself focuses on the various horrible things he does, building up each character just to be crushed or oppressed under his hand. However, most of the time we see him, he seems to not be the malignant evil he is in the eyes of others, but rather reminiscent of a child playing with goldfish. The goldfish may do various things to escape its grasp, but with minimal planning he easily squashes those plans with overwhelming power. And why would he not? It's clear he has absolutely no sympathy towards humans, as he himself is a different race. However, he can still grow close with them, like an owner grows close with his dogs. The author clearly wants us to realize that he is not deranged nor insane, but only slightly psychopathic. He does this through the various flaws that Ainz portrays while the focus is on him. While the recurring "As expected from Ainz" gag of his subordinates overestimating his capabilities is not something I particularly like, the rest of his antics are something I see the need for. If not for these, we would push him away as a terrible person and a despicable main character.

If you enjoy fast-paced, protagonist-centric novels, this is not for you. Reading this novel brainlessly is enjoyable, but at best makes it a mediocre tale. I believe this is what many of the lower-rated reviewers are doing. Overlord is outstanding: its world-building, character development, and plot perhaps makes it one of the best novels I have read to date. Therefore, do not be discouraged by the negative reviews. Overlord deserves the attention it gets. <<less
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Viridius rated it
FFF-Class Trashero
January 20, 2019
Status: c40
This story is a total power fantasy, but I seriously love it.

The main character is an isekai protagonist who was summoned to a world to kill the demon king. He's not the usual isekai protag; he's a normal, well-off person who deals with the otherworldly transportation like a real person. As a result of his homesickness, constant abuse, as well as his experiences with a party whose characters are fatally flawed, he kills everyone around him, and then the demon king. Due to an unforeseen "grading system" his character, reputation,... more>> and achievements earn him a failing grade. He ends up having to redo the whole thing.

Now, this would be a classic "badass antihero evil ruthless edgelord" scenario, except it's not. The main character is a total badass, but in such a nonchalant, humorous way that it seems totally natural. He everything with a sarcastic flair, treating the world with utter detachment, almost like a comedian playing a game. The MC doesn't seem like a teenager going through puberty, as so many regression protagonists do. He acts with total confidence, staying true to his goals. Unlike too many others, the MC feels like the experienced veteran he is. He is logical, cool-headed, and a bit of a troll.

If you want a badass story with a ruthless protagonists that's actually executed well, then this is the novel for you. We see it fall into none of the classic pitfalls antihero stories do, while keeping the story moving. There's no intricate world-building, dramatic characterization, nor many other of the characteristics that constitute a good book, but it's just so goddamn enjoyable that I have to give it 5 stars. <<less
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Viridius rated it
The Novel’s Extra
November 1, 2018
Status: c152
The Novel's Extra is, at a first glance, a typical 'real life person gets reincarnated as a side character in a novel but wow whats this its a cheat that puts life on easy mode', and at second it is too. However, upon closer inspection, it develops into a story not far off from works of authors such as Brandon Sanderson or Neil Gaiman (Though, I would claim, nowhere near exceeding). As the story progresses, a flat and stereotypical novel cast (as written by the main character) starts to demonstrate... more>> remarkable development and show realistic personalities while a generic world is charted out to be much more than it seems.

Unlike far too many other novels with game elements (including this author's previous work), The Novel's Extra does not mistake character development for "strengthening". While there may be a good amount of attention put on the "system", the main focal point is the characters. This novel has phenomenal characters who all seem like real people. They laugh, they cry, they have moments of valor and moments of weakness. As the novel goes on, each character is further fleshed out. They change at a pace so fast and realistically that I can liken it to watching infants grow up. Before one realizes, the characters become more than just lines of text but rather real personas (I actually had this experience myself. I was subconsciously lumping this in with other novels of similar plot, until in one particularly tense scene that was heavily built up. I realized my palms were sweating and my heart was beating at an elevated rate, somewhat comically).

The world-building for The Novel's Extra is, while not particularly outstanding, still good. The first 100 chapters or so mainly occur within the academy, so there's not much to say there. During the (mis?) adventures they have while doing school activities, a bits of information are gleaned about the outside world, so when the focus is shifted away from the academy it's not too bad. However, while the information about the world may be relatively abundant, it's still seems very incomplete. The main problem is that Kim Hajin (the MC) is the author of the book, but we are given relatively little information about so many things. This makes things that pop up seem somewhat random. The story is well enough premeditated that all information fits relatively well, but it's still not executed as well as it could have been.

Finally, the plot. Kim Hajin's goal is, not uniquely, "keep the story on track", but various complications (Such as the person who sent him into the book changing the details in minute but relevant ways) shift a large amount of the attention off of the "real" main character and onto him. At some point, rather realistically, he stops trying to keep the story on track but instead expediting the growth of the characters with potential. His unusual amount of attention devoted to the original dramatis personae leads to various comedic misunderstandings, making the early chapters lighthearted. However, this does not continue for long, as the threat of the devils forces Hajin into the underworld. The story quickly takes a turn for the darker (though still incorporating some jocular elements) as he grapples with the psychological implications of killing novel characters who seem all too real for the sake of the greater good. The plot is riveting, immersive, and extremely interesting, making me anticipate each chapter with great eagerness. However, it is not without its flaws. The most obvious perhaps are the inherent fallacies of game elements in general. His "system" offers various options that seem too much like a Deus Ex Machina. The lack of a skills system is a step up from others, but his ability to create "Gifts" practically replaces it. He also has some plot armor. This novel attributes it to his insane luck statistic, which he raised using his points before that was banned (Apparently there's some guy who watches over Kim Hajin to make sure he's not stupidly powerful). This allows him to cheese his way into making ridiculous powers and items for himself. Though these do not cause an imbalance within the story, it's not ideal either.

Overall, The Novel's Extra is a breath of fresh air compared to the all-too-common 'reincarnated into a novel' books. Though it really only starts to pick up in the hundreds, the relatively jovial early chapters are extremely enjoyable. As the novel progresses, superb characters along with a great plot and good world-building spin a well-made tale of epic proportions. <<less
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