Outbreak Company is both remarkable and totally as bland as you might expect. It was such a surprising treat. Full of references to everything. some blatant, some obscure and some (most?) right in your face not bothering to hide at all. But just as much as it was a treat for someone who watches a lot of anime, it also skewered some of the things that make otaku so nasty and I appreciate that.
Truly, Outbreak Company was a million times better than I possibly thought it could ever be when I first watched episode one. So it’s average but I love it.
There were a few things that made Outbreak Company so good. One was a few of the characters. I won’t say all of them because I didn’t like Elbia or Minori that much for awhile but they definitely had their moments and times when they could get a laugh or two from me. Even minor characters like Romilda, Loic, Galius, and Zakhar all had moments that made them endearing.
Specifically, Shinichi and Miusel were great. Shinichi was unexpectedly a really good protagonist. I knew this from the first episode. He’s genre savvy and trades along the fourth wall by getting excited by things like a beach episode or pointing out he has a harem. He’s a pervert but not the extent that makes him unlikable. No, he treats all the girls around him with respect.
That’s why episode one caught me from the start. It was him getting excited by Miusel but then realizing her situation was pretty terrible and deciding to help her. He teaches her to read and write and loves her all the same, regardless of her status. While he’s quick to point out she fits a lot of moe points, he also treats her like a person. He doesn’t take advantage of her when he could and acts like a decent human being should. If Shinichi was a total scumbag, there’s no way I’d be able to watch this. And sure, he does fall into pretty much every trope and scene from harem anime but it’s usually played for laughs because he knows exactly what’s going on.
Not to mention he’s just… nice. His concern during the beach episode telling nobody to die to seeing Miusel get attacked and flail in to try and save her, to learning the truth of Outbreak Company and being more worried about the state of the world he’s infected than his own life.
And Miusel. Miusel is just pure adorableness. While normally such attachment and adoration to the main character would be annoying, here it made sense given that he was probably one of the first people to treat her with respect and kindness and not judge or hate her for being half-elf. Seeing her learn to read and write and speak in fractured japanese also had such a clutch on my heart that I thought it might shatter at any moment. I’m pretty sure she’s the definition of moe because you just want to reach out and protect her and shield her and let her become literate. Though she really doesn’t need protection because she could blow anything up if she felt like it, probably.
While the reason she might have sacrificed herself for early on was silly in theory, it was still heartfelt. He showed her and the rest of the world what equality was (a word Petralka didn’t even know) and it was something she was willing to die for. The result lead to a change in Petralka that made her a likable character and created the adorable friendship between the two girls.
I originally expected this show to glorify the otaku lifestyle when most of it is absolutely gross and disgusting but that wasn’t really the case at all. In fact, spreading otaku culture ended up being a military tactic and ended up meaning it would more or less tear apart the world they had come to invade. It wasn’t the lifestyle or “normies suck all praise 2D” that ended up being the important thing in the end. It was messages in manga or anime that cause people to enjoy it. For good reasons or not. It wasn’t glorified or celebrated but rather explained and shown for the good things like anime or games can do.
(Also the whole shift of “yeah lol we brought all this dumb stuff here to take over them and it totes worked, thanks bra” was pretty well done and the atmosphere shift didn’t seem that strange at all to me)
Also, when Petralka decided to become a hikikomori, Shinichi explained that people didn’t just do it for fun. People didn’t really just up and decide to be this way. That in some cases, a lot of cases, it’s because of tough internal or interpersonal reasons leading to social anxiety and other reasons relating back to mental health. Rather than exalt this lifestyle, it pointed out how hard it is on the person doing it and the people around them. While this might not be true of every hikki, it even made me realize and rethink what I might know. That what I might judge people for, without knowing their whole story, might be something they can’t help and might not want to be. Outbreak Company made me less ignorant. What a goddamn mysterious world we live in.
All that aside, there was something else about this show that made it so much fun and so likable. The parody. From the super obvious refrences that were merely a hair colour change away from copyright infringement, to seeing each characters favourite shows (the thought of Miusel watching Seitokai Yakuindomo is just RIDICULOUS AND AMAZING), things like Shinichi renacting the “it’s been five years” scene from Attack on Titan (and reading that aloud to others, I suppose) to my personal favourite. Something amazing that perhaps no other anime (to my knowledge) will be able to ever do for me again. In the ‘home base’ of the show, it’s lined with books, posters, cardboard cut outs, all kinds of things. But most importantly, it has figures.
Not just any figures, mind you. These figures are real figures. I noticed it just briefly at first and then went to MFC to confirm when I was positive that I saw Alter’s Nanoha StrikerS Vivio figure on a shelf. Looking it up, the two were nearly identical. This became a game to me. There were a few I could not identify though I’m sure they exist.One day, though it perhaps will not be relevant any longer, I’d love to do a post comparing all (most) the figures in that room with their real life counterparts. Since they’re background objects so they’re blurry and not very focused on so it might be difficult to do all but there were a few notable ones and I think it would be really fun to do!
What I had expected to be harem trash ended up being an occasional heartfelt show with interesting and likable characters that skewered the exact type of show it should be. Certainly sure to be full of laughs to anybody who watches enough anime to catch at least a few references but with enough external humour to be funny to even a casual viewer.
This show was an underdog that, while still kind of ridiculous and plain in the end, managed to win my heart through sheer tenacity. And like so many shows before it, it’s a damn shame it had to end at 12 episodes.