If there was a job where one would be the ambassador of a country and introduce to a fantasy world the culture of the gaming world, it would be worth applying for. After all, that is what Outbreak Company is about. The TBS produced anime focuses on Shinichi, a typical shut in otaku teenager hired to become an emissary to the Japanese government in the land of Eldant. His mission is to spread the otaku culture in the Holy Eldant Empire by introducing various manga, anime and video games. It’s quite silly, but it does have it serious moments. The characters are well developed and the art style is majestic but the sound design is left to be desired.
The plot focuses on Shinichi Kano. He spends his life as a shut in, buried in the recess of otaku culture. While surfing the internet, he finds a job application calling for an otaku master. After a preliminary quiz of 200 questions (which Shinichi gets a perfect score), he meets his employee. However, one drugged up coffee later, he finds himself in the land of Eldant. The man who interviewed him turns out to be a Japanese government official. He wants to develop ties between Japan and Eldant and hires Shinichi to introduce otaku culture throughout the land.
The series just follows Shinichi’s attempts to introduce the otaku culture throughout the land. They all lead to some funny scenarios and references to various anime. It’s humour comes from the obscurity of otaku culture. There’s an obsession with boys love manga, magical girls and sports to build teamwork. Each of these scenarios lead to a funny situation, further expressing the silliness of the whole anime. This is the focus of the anime, watching the attempts on introducing otaku culture with hilarious results. In fact, the whole anime is very silly; it fits the whole premise.
With all of it’s jokes, there is a serious side to the anime. Because of its fantasy setting, the society is reflective of society during the Middle Ages, where there was a class divide, high illiteracy and social discrimination, problems which can be seen in some aspects of modern society. It’s interesting to see the clash between modern and medieval society. There are times where Shinichi defies the Empress as she is about to hit Myucel early on in the anime. It highlighted the differences between the two societies. The notion of equality begins to take place within Eldant as Petralka starts to accept Myucel as an equal, despite Myucel’s status as a half-elf. With that said, it takes a back seat to the fun of the premise, which benefits the anime.
While the characters are all interesting, they do exert some stereotypical behaviour throughout the series. Shinichi, for example, is defined by his status as an otaku within Japanese culture. Of course, this is where the anime’s humour comes from, but it would have been nice to make him a little bit more human. He’s still a likeable character, though. There’s also his assistant/maid, Myucel Foaran, loyal to Shinichi. Shinichi repays in kind by treating her as his equal, opposing the norm of the world. The relationship between Shinichi and Myucel is a focus in the anime and it evolves over time. Then there’s Petralka Anne Eldant III, the Empress of the Hold Eldant Empire. She’s quite stubborn and selfish at first but she eventually warms up to Shinichi. In fact, there’s a rivalry between Petralka and Myucel for the affection of Shinichi, which plays up during the series.
Because there isn’t a lot of action, don’t expect the animation to be fast paced. In fact, motions are rarely pushed to the limits, so the characters don’t have a great range of motion. With that said, the character design is nice to look at. The fantasy characters all have distinguished looks about them, including the elves and dwarves. The setting steals the spotlight, however. The excellent building designs and colourful landscapes all make Outbreak Company pretty to look at. The soundtrack, though, leaves a lot to be desired. The tracks aren’t bad themselves, but the way they are used could have been better. At least the Japanese voices are good. Just don’t switch to the English voices, unless you want to hear an adult’s voice coming out of a teenager.
Overall, Outbreak Company turns out to be a great anime for fans of the otaku culture. The plot, despite being a series of random events, do link up in an overall arc of silliness and fun with a hint of some serious issues. The art style is excellent, which well drawn characters and majestic landscapes and buildings. With all that said, the sound design could have used more work by playing the right kind of music when need. Despite all that, Outbreak Company is definitely worth checking out if the whole premise does interest you just that little bit.
Outbreak Company was provided to Attack On Gaming by Madman Entertainment for the purpose of this review. Outbreak Company is now available only on DVD on Madman’s website for $59.95.
This post has been edited with new images since publishing.