Quite a good number of notable OP isekai protagonist shows today are a product of the current era. As such, the formatting is quite simpler, and the number of episodes quite fewer. Still, if it is popular enough, the seasons peppered throughout the years would create a sort of a watch order that eventually needs to be followed.
For the obligatory Overlord watch order, you simply have to tune in one, two, three (and very soon four). These are three separate cour that are about one episode extra each. The spin-off episodes kind of count, but because no distinct timeline is given (hints only point to the appearance of certain characters), they’re not really considered canon.
Just follow the seasons. That’s it. Any other material should be considered extra, and therefore not truly canon to the main storyline. The movies are simply recaps of the first season (movie 1 = episodes 1-7, movie 2 = episodes 8-13), but should not be used as substitute viewing material. These were simply recompilations (even using footage from the original episodes) originally made to hype up the upcoming second season.
1. Chronological watch order
Follows the episodic format of a standard single-cour anime season. Incidentally, this is also pretty much the release date order as well.
Overlord Season 1 (All 13 episodes)
Overlord Season 2 (All 13 episodes)
Overlord Season 3 (All 13 episodes)
Overlord Season 4 (Started July 5, 2022)
2. Release date order
Combines all four seasons under year release labels, plus the rest of the digestible materials that are technically just supplementary stuff only. Most notably, the chibi-drawn Ple Ple Pleiades specials don’t really count towards any story or plot. But since they are a reoccurring mini-series, they will be listed here as well. (unlike Oukoku no Kan-tachi, which is completely excluded from this list.)
Overlord Season 1 (2015)
Overlord: Ple Ple Pleiades – Nazarick Saidai no Kiki (2016)
Momonga, a well-known high-level, high-end player in the Full-Dive MMORPG YGGDRASIL, keeps himself logged in as he enjoys the final hours of his favorite game, already fated to close its servers very, very shortly after a long, fruitful, twelve-year run.
He reminisces on the past, reviews his achievements, his character “Overlord”, and his guild Ainz Ooal Gown, one of the strongest guilds in the game with 41 total members. With only minutes until the game disappears forever, he accepts his fate, and accepts the fact that the rest of the guild already have other responsibilities in the real world, and count not reassemble one final time for this farewell.
Suddenly, without any warning, the game didn’t shut down at its appointed schedule. Rather, Momonga was actually transported into an alternate reality representing YGGDRASIL, with the NPCs around their base Nazarick suddenly appearing sentient. Wanting to know what exactly happened, he sets out to explore this new world, taking on the name of his guild.
And unbeknownst to him at that time, the road to his legend in this world, is about to begin…
The Great Planner without a Plan
The beauty of Overlord as an OP protagonist series is the way it has already set up its audience to accept just how powerful its main character actually is. Coupled with direct MMORPG elements from the lore of its fictional game, and you immediately have a recipe of relatability to a huge part of the current modern anime audience. This isn’t the suddenly-good-at-everything black swordsman; this is a guy who knows the very heart and soul of the game’s mechanics before he was even transported permanently as an actual person inside it.
This is also part of the series’ comic relief. Because he indeed understands his new world as a gamer, his inner thoughts don’t exactly always reflect the masterful, cold, and calculating demeanor that his exterior would typically exude. This results in equal parts unintended hilarity and cunning genius that is also very well-loved by the series’ fans.