(? - ) Pen-name of a Japanese author, whose works, as by "Puririn Muchimuchi" until 2012, first appeared as online serials before migrating to the semi-pro Shōsetsuka ni Narō website for Light Novels, and ultimately to print in a path to publication mirroring that of other 2010s successes such as Gengen Kusano and Mamare Touno. His ongoing Overlord series, beginning with Fushisha no Ō (2010 ebook; 2012; trans Emily Balistrieri as Overlord: The Undead King 2016), artfully captures the mindset of the generation raised on Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, not merely in its distraction from the everyday, preoccupied with dramatic events in unseen Online Worlds, but the risks and hazards to an individual's moral compass presented by the prospect of power and riches in a realm seemingly devoid of consequences.
Ainz Ooal Gown is the online handle adopted by a businessman from our own world, who chooses to lurk in the Yggdrasil game-milieu long after most of its players have deserted for fresher diversions. He treats the shut-down of the game's last online servers as the End of the World only to discover that he, along with the milieu itself, endures after the final switch is thrown. He reinvents himself as a catalyst towards revolution and renewal, like many a hero of Planetary Romance, finding his new existence as an all-powerful lich-king in a fantasy world vastly preferable to the office commute he has abandoned on Earth. Like the "Parusu" of Yoshiki Tanaka's Arslan Senki (1986-current), the Yggdrasil map seems to have been inspired by the real-world Middle East. The series has also been adapted into Manga form, by Satoshi Ōshio and Hugin Miyama, and an Anime version as Overlord (2015).
Maruyama's work sits within a sub-genre of the Postmodern in Japanese fantasy, luxuriating in the sense of Fabulation inherent in Role Playing Games, tracing a line from the chronicles of game experiences in the works of authors such as Hiroshi Yamamoto, into the multiple responses and reactions of contemporary youth to the presence of a virtual Alternate World that can, to some extent, be entered at will from the comfort of one's own home. [JonC]
Previous versions of this entry