Outbreak Company – Ridiculing Otaku With One Hand, Stroking Their Ego With The Other

Outbreak Company

Outbreak Company delivers an amusing portrayal of otaku fandom. Unfortunately it also caters to otaku, making itself too conservative and less refreshing than it could have otherwise been.

Take a hikikomori otaku, throw him into a fantasy world that looks like it came straight out of some crazy manga, and make him Japan’s cultural ambassador of said world. His job – to entice this world’s populace into loving Japan by introducing them to Japan’s wonderful otaku culture  That, in a nutshell, is Outbreak Company’s plot. And on paper it’s a genius idea – an anime about soft power in which the maids and lolita girls (and furries, and big-breasted military women) become fascinated with a culture that was always fascinated by them. Japan’s decision to send an otaku as their cultural ambassador is an almost too realistic jab at what makes Japan relevant today in our world.

Of course Outbreak Company is also a fairly basic moe show with a loosely-tied plot that just barely manages to keep it on track without derailing straight into otaku-fetish land. In terms of characters or episodic content it has little to offer. The “Japanese boy meets other-world girl” theme has been beaten to the ground already and Outbreak Company will look very familiar to those who have seen one such show before (Zero no Tsukaima comes to mind as a respectful representative). And if you take away the otaku cultural references you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything remotely interesting to see in Outbreak Company. After all, I can see maids and petite girls in basically every other anime nowadays and having a harem of them slowly gather around the main character isn’t exactly quality entertainment.

If there is one thing I can say for sure is that Outbreak Company isn’t trying too very hard to win us over. The show is at its best when it focuses on the romance between the Japanese Shinnich and the half-elf maid myusele. But everything else is too ill-balance to be affective. Whenever Outbreak Company tries to don a serious attire it fails miserably. Episodes three and eight try to establish some political background for the show, but they are so half-backed I would have probably enjoyed the series more without them. And then there is episode six, which has no plot to speak off and consist of some characters playing soccer. Outbreak Company can be ruthless at times: providing great entertainment value at certain episodes while being a messy time-sink in others.
And that is a shame, because Outbreak Company is an interesting take on the otaku and moe cultures. When the show does make fun of itself and its audience(which happens a couple of times each episode) it manages to be really funny, even a bit edgy. Too bad most of the time Outbreak Company puts the satisfaction of its otaku audience first and the criticism of said audience second, because if it were the other way around we may have had the rare pleasure of watching a moe anime that bites back this season.

 


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