Outbreak Company

outbreakcompany

Kanou Shinichi is a complete Otaku, but he still wants a job. He luckily stumbles upon a job ad looking for someone exactly like him, an Otaku, and he passes the online exam for it with flying colors. He goes to the interview and is interviewed by a dull looking man named Matoba, and surprisingly enough, Shinichi seems to be exactly who he’s been looking for. And then everything goes black. He wakes up in an unfamiliar bed having no idea how he got there. Suddenly a maid with elf ears walks in. Wait, what? He at first can’t understand what’s she’s saying, but she gives him a ring that allows them to communicate with each other, and he discovers that he is the new master of the mansion he is currently in, and she, Myucel, is to be his maid. He is even more confused than before but thankfully, a girl named Minori walks in and explains that she is his guard, and that he had been taken to a parallel world that Japan recently discovered. Matoba also appears and explains to him that he is to be head of the AnuTec corporation, a company created by the Japanese government to export Japanese culture to the magical world of Eldante.

Shinichi has so far just been an Otaku, so this is well beyond his pay grade, but he tries his best, and though the quirks of being an Otaku in a magical world definitely manifest, he still makes a lot of progress. He becomes good friends with the incredibly young and arrogant Empress Petralka, who despite being young is still doing her absolute best to be a good Empress. He also gets closer to a number of other people such as the head of the royal guard Galious, his lizard person manservant Brooke, and the accidental spy Elbia. He decides the best way to go about exporting culture would be to build a school where he teaches students Japanese and about Otaku culture. However, things get complicated because it is a parallel fantasy world after all where things such as social structures work very differently, leading to a number of issues including the tension between elves, dwarfs, humans and other races. Furthermore, Japan’s interests in Eldante seem to be more complex than they appear, ultimately leading Shinichi down a path he doesn’t wish to go down.

***

Outbreak Company greatest strength is that it has a very unique premise and setting. It resembles slice of life comedies more so than most fantasy anime. Not in that it’s completely light hearted, because while it certainly is for the most part it also has a pretty involved plot and a good amount of depth. A considerable amount of the anime focuses on interpersonal relationships, primarily between Shinichi, Myucel, and Petralka, all of whom are well developed characters. Each of them have their own circumstances that are unique that lead them to where they are and there are points where the differences between them lead to conflict but they overcome that and overall become very close. Other characters, though they are considerably more flat, do get to play a major part at points and fit into the same themes. In general, developing the relationship between various people and races so that they can set aside their differences and get along, is the core focus of the anime and something it does well. The various races have in general not gotten along with each other for one reason or another. In Eldante these conflicts eventually become based on what Anime or games they prefer, and rather than solved through combat are primarily solved through games, though some of the games such as soccer can get overtly intense, but for the most part remain light hearted. However, much more serious events worthy of a plot set in a fantasy world do manifest, and there is definite plot progression in that regard, primarily in the beginning and the end of the anime. There is also some major shifts in tone during the rest of the anime, shifting between comedic to serious, which is somewhat jarring at points, but works fine for the majority. The pacing of the anime was done very well, and it ends in a good spot without feeling rushed anywhere. Overall the anime does a good of conveying what it wants to convey while wrapping it up in a decent story.

The art and animation were solid. The OP grew on me and I liked it more than I would expect to. The ED was decent. The soundtrack was decent. The style was also very interesting, in that it was entirely focused on Otaku content, which was in a way incredibly meta, especially in terms of some of the humor.

A very interesting premise about the value of Otaku culture in a fantasy world wrapped up in a decent story.

8/10

One a much broader note, the concept of culture as a key asset of a nation is something that everyone understands, though not to the extent that I saw it was being used in Outbreak Company. While the Civilization games have had the concept of a cultural victory as long as I’ve played them, the concept of a nation utilizing culture as an asset in the same way as their economy or military to dominate another is an interesting thought.Japan does try to export culture through programs like Cool Japan, though other countries such as South Korea are easily keeping up. This primarily seems to be purely economic reasons however. The US is easily the biggest exporter of culture in the world, and it also represents a key portion of it’s economy, though the government doesn’t seem to try to actually use that as an asset for progressing American interests. It may well be a better strategy to do as it’s ability to project force military and dominate economically seems to be waning, especially in underdeveloped regions. It’s certainly not a force to be underestimated. Furthermore, such a utilitarian view of culture brings up significant issues with concepts such as the melting pot, salad bowl, and multiculturalism. If culture can be such a powerful force, both at home and abroad, there is definitely an argument to be made that it is something that should be actively controlled and developed, and along those lines protectionism and a rejection of globalism may be warranted.

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