If there was ever a moment for Overlord to split opinions hard, this would be it. Tales of an OP skeleton and his increasingly assertive
wife harem? Who needs that, have some anthropological lizardmen studies and a bit of penguin chicanery for brevity instead. Albedo tomfoolery, Shalltear sorrow, hell even giant hamster riding? That can assuredly wait, right now we’re talking about the important stuff.
All playful joking aside, however, Overlord’s choice of adaptation right now is certainly a divisive one. The lizardmen arc is one of the series’ notably weaker stories, focused heavily on material largely isolated from the main cast whose main benefactor is one of the more unlikely candidates. It’s the sort of thing one would expect an adaptation to quickly gloss over in favour of the good stuff (i.e. the big climactic fights), letting any interested viewer pick up the source material if interested in the nitty gritty. Such a strategy isn’t even hard to implicitly understand (i.e. avoids potential viewer boredom), but sometimes expansive secondary development can still prove effective. The Chimera Ants from HxH—particularly the King and Komugi—for example show how impactful side stories can become with proper fleshing out, attention to detail, and tie in with more main characters. These narrative off-tangents may be unimportant to the central premise, but offer as much (if not more) payoff.
The question therefore for Overlord at the moment is how narratively effective its side story is/will be. Light novel readers (and those who read all the spoilers) obviously know what’s coming in the next episode or two and how all this disparate material ties in with Ainz and crew, but what about anime only viewers? Will the payoff for them be enough to make up for all the buildup? Personally I’m not so sure yet. While it may be hilarious watching reptile courtship—and that dubstep video destined tail pounding—cranked up to 11 alongside some bloody pragmatic and realistic discussions on inter-tribal survival, it’s not the sort of story Overlord the adaptation is known to tell. Considering the focus on Ainz and his floor guardians prior, suddenly telling the lizardman perspective story of a lizard hero’s quest to save his people is strange when many viewers are already accustomed to getting things from the viewpoint of the spookiest of scary skeletons. It’s certainly debatable that these developments would have been better off adapted differently given the format, but until we see how Overlord handles what comes next, it’s a preemptive argument. Given the series’ penchant for showing how various groups come to meet and interact with our glorious pile of magical bones, seeing how Ainz and his chosen executor choose to deal with the lizardmen is half the fun, and all the development this week will factor into that response one way or another. No way of knowing yet if the payoff will make up for the buildup, but I’m optimistic it will easily do so.
After all Overlord may be a little too slow burning in spots, but when it promises a fight we always get one, and one way or another it never lacks for entertainment. Don’t give up hope here yet boys and girls, this show—and all the albino lizard love—is just getting started.