Outbreak Company | Worth Watching?
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Outbreak Company is an animated series based on the light novel of the same name written by Ichiro Sakaki. The full title of the series is actually Outbreak Company: The Moe Invader that emphasizes the spread of Japanese culture as an allusion to “invasion”. Shinichi plays the role of the main character and otaku life becomes a pivotal role in shaping such a fantasy world. It almost feels like a dream for Shinichi but that might not seem to be as easy as he thinks. Shinichi quickly realizes that he gets more than what he bargained. It’s an otaku’s wet dream coming true.
The story of Outbreak Company is quite simple. Shinichi is your average high school boy who has a crush on a girl. After rejection, he tries to find a way to replace that deep hole in his life. Becoming an otaku isn’t exactly the best way to get over a rejection but he chooses anyways. After he does manage to get a job, it’s here where we find out his in-depth knowledge about various anime, manga, and Japanese culture. In many ways, the show takes this idea and twists it around in a way that is fun and entertaining. The fact that Shinichi plays the role of otaku can be stereotyped as a boy who spent a lot of time in front of the TV. And in fact, he does but not only in front of a television but also on the web with his knowledge of various anime/manga and even eroge.
As this series play fun with the otaku culture, there should be unsuspectingly a lot of references to various anime and manga. Almost every episode has posters or merchandise from other popular animated series with modified artwork. It also makes fun of the otaku culture by having the main male protagonist become a type of instructor to his students. His way of teaching can seem absurd but he has fun with it. His students also seem to enjoy his teaching methods despite its obscenity on several occasions as the product he tries to present tends to be an otaku’s wet dream.
Part of that dreams comes with a package including an adorable maid named Myucel Foaran. She plays the role of a typical maid with the addition of elf ears and overly politeness. As one of the most innocent characters in the series, she always puts others above herself. This is proven later on when her friends’ lives are in danger. Her action speaks louder than words as she faces on danger straight ahead rather than looking back. But besides her gentleness, Myucel is able to make friends and her relationship with Shinichi is one of the more dynamic pairs of this show. For starters, Shinichi originally sees her as a fantasy fulfillment come true. After all, Myucel refers to Shinichi as her master. Surprisingly enough, Shinichi doesn’t abuse or treat her indiscriminately but instead befriends her as if she is a human being. He even goes as far as to teach her about the otaku culture as well as the Japanese language. It’s an odd relationship as Myucel is constantly trying to please him and apologizes for any behaviour she interprets as a misdeed. Surprisingly she is a girl not to be underestimated. Mycuel has astonishing skills in magic and fighting capabilities that can accomplish superhuman feats. Like an old saying goes, “dynamites comes in little packages”.
Throughout his time there, Shinichi also gets involved with other affairs. This includes his encounter with the monarch of the Eldant Empire, Petralka Anne Eldant III. Unlike Mycuel, she represents more of a brat that is initially seen as selfish, stubborn, and only wants things to go her way. She is the perfect example of how an immature child would behave like despite her similar age to Shinichi. But because Shinichi seems to the first person to stand up against her status, she takes an interest him. This lands a “rivalry” with Mycuel as she sees her as competition. This competition often comes as a backlash and jealousy against Mycuel because Petralka sees her getting in the way. At first, it might seem harmless but there are various times when the tension gets heated and Shinichi has to step in to settle the bounds. Later on, though, she learns a bit more from her mistakes and starts treating Mycuel with more respect due to certain reasons.
The trio of these characters makes up the main course of the series but to other characters do come into play with their parts. Most of these characters are direct parodies to the culture of anime such as Minori, a woman with a fujoshi fetish. She is also an otaku and often formulates absurd fantasies in her head with BL tones. Bulk, a lizard man, is designed to fit the role of a fantasy beast but with surprisingly gentle nature. Then, there are also the half-elves, wolf girl species, and even dwarves who doesn’t match their age.
Despite the fun that Outbreak Company throughout each episode, there are various problems with the show that can turn viewers away. The initial premise itself might cause some heads to turn. After all, the theme of a human being sent to another fantasy world to help others isn’t exactly a new idea. Series such as Dog Days, Problem Children, Familiar of Zero, and Ixion DT also plays on these tropes. Shinichi’s initial introduction can be viewed as a clichéd and stereotypical character as comparable to harem leads. Although he doesn’t technically have a harem, Shinichi is oblivious to the female characters around him. Shinichi does have the behaviour of a typical harem lead though with the typical nosebleed upon witnessing any beautiful character of the opposite sex and getting excited about a loli (Petralka) during their first initial meeting. The story itself jumps around a bit. Shinichi might be the main focus of the show but some episodes’ ideas become larger than himself. There’s no any ongoing plot or arcs but mainly focuses on its main theme of otaku culture spreading. If you get bored of this type of theme then this show will likely not be for you.
Outbreak Company brings out the fantasy to its greatness with its character designs. Shinichi is probably the only main character designed with human characteristics. Almost every other recurring character has bits of a fantasy touch added to them like Myucel’s elf years, Petralka’s overly made dress, Galious’ knight armour, or Elvia’s wolf-like ears/tail. The castle that Shinichi is bought upon also gives a feeling of fantasy with its internal design. The landscape outside is absent of technology but instead is replaced with fantastical architecture and nature.
The comedic scenes have an odd theme played most times when there are awkward moments. Because this show isn’t about magical sword fighting, there’s a minimal amount of intense OSTs. Instead, they are replaced with a lighthearted soundtrack that tends to bring out a more fun side of Outbreak Company; namely the tone of the ‘Da, da, da’. The OP song “Univer Page” by Suzuko Mimori matches its style quite well with its fantasy elements. The same applies to the ED song that brings out fantasy to a level of credibility. Shinichi’s voice also is performed well that ranges from his otaku craziness to his occasional maturity during appropriate moments. Regrettably, I find Petralka’s voice to be a sting to my ears that symbolizes the tsundere that she is. As a girl with a bratty voice, I find it not just annoying but also the fact that she herself seems to not even notice it.
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