Hello readers and welcome back to another installment of Lost’s character evaluations and today we are taking a look at a character who has become a staple of light novels in the past few years. This month we are examining Suzuki Satoru, aka Momonga, aka Ains Ooal Gown, aka Momon, aka the Supreme One, aka the Sorcerer King, aka… you get the picture. He’s a character so big he cannot be contained in just one name or title. The series Overlord has become, along with Sword Art Online, the quintessential example of Japanese light novels in the west and is the number one selling series in the medium. Suzuki Satoru is the face of Overlord, and one would hope that the main character of the number one selling light novel series is as interesting and impactful as any we could find. Without further ado, let’s find out.
Synopsis: The story begins when Yggdrasil, a popular online game is quietly shut down one day. However, the protagonist Momonga decides to not log out until the end. Momonga is then transformed into the image of a skeleton as “the most powerful wizard.” The world continues to change, with non-player characters (NPCs) beginning to have personalities. Having no parents, friends, or place in society, this ordinary young man Momonga then strives to take over the new world the game has become.
Suzuki Satoru’s Motivation as a character is a bit hard to pin down since, as part of the story, his emotions are slightly stunted. When he was first trapped in Yggdrasil it was because he wanted to remain logged in to the game in which he met his friends, riding out the final shutdown of the servers in the halls of the guild they had built together, the guild called Ains Ooal Gown which he later takes as his own name. After the shutdown he found he remained in the game world and all of the NPCs gained sentience. Since then he has taken up the role as head of Ains Ooal Gown with vigor, declaring he would make the guild known throughout the familiar world he had found himself trapped in. After that declaration his servants, the NPC floor guardians who worship him and who he views as family, have done all in their power to carry out that dream. One, Shalltear Bloodfallen, was harmed in the process. Though she was saved the experience planted fear in Satoru’s mind since she was affected by a World Class Item, a Player Item. That fear that there could be another Player in the world of Yggdrasil was the first major emotion he exhibited since the start of the series, fear that one of precious friend’s creations could be taken from him. The second time was when adventurers ventured into the guild halls and dared to claim they were invited by one of his friends. This sparked an anger in him that left the entire adventuring party dead or wishing they were. Nowhere else in the books so far, and there a lot of books, do we see a reaction as powerful as those two moments. It’s there that we find the answer to Satoru’s Motivation. Familial pride. That’s what his friends in the guild were to him, and what the NPCs they left behind are now. Family.
When dealing with a character as powerful as the Sorcerer King Ains Ooal Gown, finding instances of profound Impact are difficult. We already covered those two events that roused his emotions, but when he can revive his NPCs and is orders of magnitude more powerful than any opposition he could face, those moments lose their significance. They don’t provide real, lasting consequences, and until it becomes known who actually used the World Class Item or if it was just a one time occurrence, that will continue to be the case. The real Impacts in Overlord are vicarious in nature. When he sends emissaries to the Baharuth Empire and they annihilate the first responders with ease. When he, with a single spell, massacres an entire army over 100,000 strong. When he sends two of his servants into a society Quagoa and gives the leader the choice to surrender peacefully and be culled from 60,000 to 10,000, or not surrender and be culled anyway. These brutal displays of the power gap in this world contain the Impact of the series, but none of these actually affect the life of Satoru aside from making him feared. While that may generate a few plot points in the narrative, it weakens him as a character.
Growth is another area where Satoru falls flat. The story has progressed and other characters in the series have developed and grown and are filled with nuance. Ains Ooal Gown however remains largely unchanged. He exists in the series as the embodiment of absolute power, driven by pride to enact his grand plan. That is who he is in book 1, and it’s still who he is in book 13. The only things that changed were the things around him. His butler NPC, Sebastian, developed an emotional attachment to a human he saved from being beaten, even though the entirety of the guild Ains Ooal Gown is comprised of non-humans and indeed look down on humans. The young woman Ains saved in book 1 has grown to become the head of her village, a reliable figure who leads the way in bridging human-monster relationships. The head of the Baharuth Empire, Jircniv Rune Farlord El Nix, has gone from being known as the “Bloody Emperor” to being the head of a human alliance banding together to defeat Ains and his armies. Satoru is the character that inspired these changes in the world, the fulcrum upon which the world moves, though he himself is unchanging. While this makes for a fun story it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to his personality.
Overlord is an incredibly fun read with lots of genuinely interesting and terrifying moments. It explores the resolve of humanity when faced with an overwhelming enemy, and the despair that can be felt when coming into conflict with such a foe. It has nods to gender roles, race relations, and power dynamics. All of these factors have contributed to making Overlord the success it is today. The only thing that didn’t was the strength of Suzuki Satoru’s character. His Motivation is one dimensional and does not adapt to new circumstances, there are no threats significant enough to Impact him, and his Growth is nonexistent. Satoru is a plot device, not a character, and though I still really enjoy the series and it does contain some interesting figures, he is not one of them.
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