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[Review] Outbreak Company

After a portal to a new world is discovered, Shinichi Kano – a reclusive otaku – is employed to show the new world the greatness of Japanese culture, and of course – what more appropriate than otaku merchandise? Perfect, as this world is similar to Earth’s medieval age, and doesn’t have much of an entertainment industry. The anime follows Shinichi as he tries to bring anime and manga to this new land and the trials that face him in doing so.

On the surface, Outbreak Company appears to be like any other moe-filled show. However, the main charm of the show comes from its own awareness of this. Beneath the cutesy exterior, there are realistic consequences and laws in the world – The world welcomes the new mysterious medium of manga, but who can read it when most citizens need to plough the fields or work all day?

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The world also contains fantasy races, which comes with it own political tensions

The character design is vibrant and pleasant, even with minor characters feeling very polished. While most of the design is simple enough, there are lots of complex lighting scenes and movements, which have been impressively drawn.

The plot is tight, but plays second fiddle to the real point of the show – the characters – each one having a distinctive personality without relying too heavily on recycled tropes. They make full use of the fantasy setting both in variety of design and in relationship dynamics – something that causes a lot of fights in Shinichi’s lessons.

Because the plot revolves around otaku culture so much, the show has a lot of references that newer viewers may not catch. There’s plenty to enjoy if you have watched several of the well known anime hits, but re-watching may reveal several subtleties you might miss. However, all is not lost if you don’t – the MVM edition has excellent subtitles for pointing out particular references, some of which I wouldn’t have realised without them. I’m a bit of a sucker for cross-referencing shows, so this was a big plus when watching the show.

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an Attack of Titan reference, one of hundreds of references.

One problem with this type of show is that there is a fine line between homage and overfilling, as there is with fanservice and making a viewer uncomfortable. For the most part, Outbreak Company handles this quite well and even in the most borderline of cases it plays it off with a bout of humour and smiles.

Final Result

3 and a half starsAlthough entertaining, Outbreak Company is by no means groundbreaking in terms of storytelling. Focused on the moe otaku market, it succeeds in providing that market with exactly what they like – cute character design, cross-references to other shows and moe maids.

Outside of this market, the show looses a significant part of its appeal, but I think most people will avoid it upon first impressions. Which is a shame as, while a moe show – doesn’t necessarily rely on that to continue watcher’s interest. I’m guilty of this myself, presuming it would be a show I wouldn’t enjoy from reading the synopsis.

Even if at first it seems a definite non-watch, I suggest watching the first two episodes before writing it off completely.

 

Outbreak Company is available on disc from MVM Film from today or in selected regions for streaming from CrunchyRoll

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Labels: Anime/Manga

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