Outbreak Company – 02

Story time with Shinichi!

This episode was really hard to watch. Shinichi has his stuff brought over from Earth. And of course, the show has to slowly pan over his endless shelves of power levels. So now I have to keep pausing every now and then to identify all the references…

A True Otaku

Welcome to the crib.

Now, I’ve seen a few other shows with displays of otaku power levels, but I have to say that Shinichi tops it all without a doubt. This guy has his own private library/study lined on all sides with posters, figures, manga, and games. Heck, he even has an anime carpet! I bet if Galious took a look at the room, he would no longer doubt Shinichi’s otaku expertise. Anyway, all of this works as an obvious appeal towards the “otaku crowd”. If you’re at all remotely familiar with “otaku culture”, it’s hard to resist stepping up to the challenge of identifying everything in Shinichi’s room. Especially when it’s all waved so tantalizingly in your face. And odds are, if you’re this kind of person, you’ll be able to recognize most, if not all of the items. Which leads to instant gratification. That said, none of this has anything explicitly to do with the plot of Outbreak Company (aside from demonstrating Shinichi’s passion), so it might come across as a bit of a cheap tactic. But I say why not?

Seems legit.

It’s not as if the show is reliant on humorous references like Nyaruko-san; the stuff is just presented almost matter-of-fact-ly. So in that way, it doesn’t come across as condescending or polarizing. The glimpses we get of Shinichi’s “repertoire”, as well as his “field samples”, are only that: a view into how seriously he takes his otaku pride. Whether or not you recognize any of it is irrelevant to the quality of the show. I do want to add, however, that the level to which you identify with Shinichi’s goods does not necessarily translate to how “otaku” you are. As far as I am aware, the label “otaku” does have very real and serious negative connotations in Japanese society, and should not be used so carelessly. With this in mind, Shinichi’s childhood friend rejecting him is slightly more understandable, although no less grating.

Social Hierarchy

A sobering reality.

Moving on, Outbreak Company delivers the first of its darker matters without delay. Granted, we’d already seen hints of social problems in the premiere, but they’re front and center here. From the tour of the child-soldier training camp to Petrarca’s rail at Myuseru, the class stratification and ethnic discrimination is made painfully apparant. What I find most striking, however, is Shinichi’s exchange with Bluk and Myuseru. The show takes what could have been a simple comical moment and masterfully transforms it into an exhibition of Shinichi’s idealism contrasted with the conventions of their world. I thought Bluk’s dismissal of being pummeled was rather striking, as was his offering his master a tool that would actually inflict pain through his tough scales. Think about it: the social hierarchy is so natural to the servants that they would willingly submit themselves to punishment, even going so far as to enable it.

Evangelizing time!

And then when Myuseru walked in, the obvious reaction we were all expecting (Shinichi himself included) was for her to freak out from his appearing to raise his hand against Bluk. But instead she rushes over to tend to her master’s bruises and doesn’t respond to the potentially violent scenario before her. That right there hammered down in my mind the difference between the two worlds more effectively than the widespread illiteracy and discrimination. Shinichi confronting Petrarca was also nice, and an indication of the clearly telegraphed direction this show will head down. But that part, to go back on my word, was held back by a poor choice of reference (really, the only one in the episode). It’s hard to take Shinichi’s inspiring words about social peace and equality seriously when the manga he was just reading with Petrarca happens to be Attack on Titan. That is not a world without class distinctions…

I was already impressed by Outbreak Company’s premiere, and this second episode continues the positive trend. The novelty of a “moe missionary” remains, but the expansion into the realm of thought-provoking social concerns adds a new layer of complexity that meshes surprisingly well with the initial concept. It might be a bit pretentious if the show were to simply throw in social stratification for the heck of it. But when it is formally introduced as a consequence of Shinichi’s decision to observe the people of the land to understand them better, it becomes a believable addition. Most importantly, however, I am impressed with the show’s ability to retain its roots in the spread of “otaku culture” while simultaneously tackling deeper matters.


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15 Responses to “Outbreak Company – 02”

  1. belatkuro says:

    All those references. Had to pause as well to identify most of them. This is just me but I didn’t quite like it as it’s pretty blatant, some more than others. I like my references to not be in my face. I did laugh though at that Mario game and the FamiCom with the game display being broken.
    Is it wise though to recommend Shingeki to those kids and to the queen loli? It’s not quite an appropriate entry-level story given its content but whatever.

    Speaking of the queen loli, we can all agree that she was annoying. She did soften up in the end but she was still irritating. It’s nice though that the story will also include addressing issues with the social standings and such.
    They also need to work on educating them on Japanese.
    This is going to be a long mission for this guy. With that collection though, plus a maid in tow(mape the raid already), it’s worth it.

    • Sumairii says:

      I wouldn’t fault Petrarca for being obnoxious and derisive. As the supreme ruler, she has every right to be that way. That said, I agree she’ll definitely soften up eventually. With the way she so conspicuously sticks to Shinichi, the guy can definitely capitalize on her lenience to indoctrinate her in his ideals.

  2. Di Gi Kazune says:

    “Evangelisation Time” is called turning all of them into his loli bitches!

  3. Highway says:

    I didn’t bother to try identifying all the stuff, just took it as given that he’s got cred. And even with your point about Titan, there’s still a lot more equality in that world than there is in Eldant. I think that it’s a good message to try to spread, but it’s one of those that is more difficult (actually impossible) to make progress on. When everyone buys into the idea that some people are better than others, it’s hard to change any minds.

    Shinichi is good enough at pulling his fat out of the fire, but he is lucky that Petralka takes a liking to him.

  4. PrimeHector says:

    The poster on the far left is hataraku maou-sama and the one next to it is Toaru Kagaku no Railgun. What are the other two posters?

  5. BlackBriar says:

    Nice second episode. Not only is a good story progressing but you also get scope out some parodies. Now I have to sharpen my skills again that have gotten dull since Haiyore! Nyaruko-san ended. I already caught the ones for Railgun and Hataraku Maou-sama but who in their right mind would read a story frighteningly similar to Shingeki no Kyojin to a kid?

    Petrarca was being a brat and got off easier than she should have. It was obvious she was jealous of Miusel but that’s still no excuse.

    The social hierarchy seriously defeats Shinichi’s purpose for being in that realm. It’s sad that the kids are forced to grow up before their time. As long as things remain as they are, there’s no way he start delivering on what he’s promised to do. Maybe with a little more time, he’ll get Petrarca to make some changes.

    • Highway says:

      It makes a huge difference here that the references are the dessert, rather than the staple. Where in Nyarlko-san you missed out on almost 100% of the humor if you didn’t get a reference, here it’s just a frisson of recognition but doesn’t get in the way of the story at all.

      Here I am trying to think of ways that Shinichi can actually get the manga across to people. Learning Japanese is probably pretty much out of the question for 99% of the people, and with the translation rings it has both a positive and negative effect. I was wondering if Shinichi and others could tell natives of Eldant what to say, and they could do dubs that way. But there’s not really a lot of electricity around, is there.

      • Sumairii says:

        This. Outbreak Company isn’t reliant on references as Nyaruko was. Here, they’re just there as a part of Shinichi’s character. Even if you didn’t recognize anything, they still express that he is no stranger to anime and manga.

        I also considered the possibility of dubs in their language, but as you say, they don’t quite have the technology for that.

  6. skylion says:

    I’m starting to think that this show is a Take That to any and all that are derisive to the Moe concept. We’ve all seen the Moeblob thing before.
    But we forget what the aesthetic is. That which is weaker, but engages feelings of protection and warmth, rather than that of manipulation and subjugation.
    And if any world needs that (well, ours does) it is this one.

    And props to the otaku references…I see Strike Witches. And yes, an OVA and a third series is coming out….

  7. lifesongsoa says:

    The social concerns have made this anime far more interesting than I expected from the premise, or maybe it’s more that I expected this show to focus more on comedy and be light on story/drama.

    I do like how the focus isn’t on the references or on trying to make us laugh with how goofy it is to be reading manga in a fantasy world. The bit with Myucel crying at the end really hammered out the mood in my opinion. They could have made a cheep -so moe- joke, but took it seriously instead. I’m glad to see that this anime knows how transition to drama easily and naturally.

  8. Di Gi Kazune says:

    He is reading an ero-light novel to/with two girls… How… ero.

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