Series Recap: Outbreak Company

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As with most shows, I go in blind. I do little research about manga or light novels for various adaptations.  I do this because….my first exposure to Inuyasha was through the anime. The same goes for Fullmetal Alchemist and Death Note. So while I did eventually go back to fully experience these works in their original forms, it was the anime that convinced me to do so. They were able to stand their ground, and I don’t think it’s a big expectation to demand other shows can do the same.  Sometimes it doesn’t work out so well (see: Unbreakable Machine Doll).  But others, like Outbreak Company, it left the surprises strong and there was enough talent on display that everything came together in a beautiful way that took my breath away. It was a very mature, advanced critical thinking series that took nothing for granted.  It challenged me as a viewer and critic to contemplate the actions taken.

Sometimes.

Yes, Outbreak Company is, on the whole, looking back on second viewing, mixed.  I sing its praises, but really? This accounts for maybe 30% of the total running time…the rest…ehhhh?

Okay, so it was not obnoxious to sit through.  A few uncomfortable moments where either, the humor gets lost in translation or you get frustrated that it won’t hurry the hell up.

So, what are the unintended themes that I noticed in this series?  Well let’s start with the sources of unending vexation. Continue reading

Outbreak Company: Episode 12

New Entry on Christmas List: Six elf maids who are also a small army…

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I guess appropriate for the finale, Outbreak Company’s dramatic cycle was reversed this week, our last episode. It was the first half of the show that held the truly intense drama, while the second half was more or less the land of sunshine where all the pilots have parachutes.  Which is to be expected in a finale, after all.

In fact the very first scene is three special forces trying to (kidnap? assassinate?) Shinichi.  A pretty damn good fight sequence erupts when Petrarca’s maid reveal themselves. Only they aren’t just maids, they are Petrarca’s secret service.

And of course this is where my theories about the ineffectiveness of Eldant magic against Japanese military power is thrown out the window when one of the maids literally Neo’s the bullets shot at her from machine guns at point blank range.

But whatever. It’s elves in maid outfits kicking ass and taking names.

Matoba is dragged before Petrarca.  She lays out in no uncertain terms: If Shinichi vanishes for any reason, Japan will be expelled from Eldant.

So it would seem the Japanese government chose to offer arms to that resistance group from Episode 3, and they attack the capitol.  While these guys divert the Eldantan army, the school is attacked by more Japanese special ops. Naturally, it’s a trap. Continue reading

Outbreak Comapny: Episode 11

Shit just got real.

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This week started with Matoba praising Shinichi’s good work.

..Excuse me.

Huehuehuehuehuehuehue.

Yes. This week…I have been waiting for it. Mind, it wasn’t exactly the world shattering plan I hoped for.  The simple version is: Japan wants to culturally assimilate Eldant. This…this doesn’t really work well as we’ve observed. What, is this the Manchurian candidate? Look at Africa, look at Asia.  Just because they adopt the culture of another place doesn’t mean they will fall into line.  There are so many more reasons that this plan isn’t exactly nefarious. It is doomed to fail.

Now mind, this isn’t exactly a conquest of a sort. It is more, Japan will exert a sphere of influence on Eldant, much in the same way China is doing with Africa and Southern Asia right now.  By investing, by providing help at the top, and letting the peons of Eldant do the hard work.

While I am loathe to wave off child labor and slave wages that they are almost certainly planning in exchange for the rare metals and oil that are completely untapped in this medieval world, I also want to point out that this is a society that has magic and advanced hygiene technology that keeps their world spotless. The only real evil here is that Japan will have a monopoly on this world, and if this world ever gets to the point of advancing to an industrial era, they can’t use Human technologies to do so because the Japanese government will have almost undoubtedly strip mined the nation bare. Still, as I said, magic. There are elements here that we can’t possibly account in variables for the development of this society.  So, while I can sort of wrap my brain around it, I think that there are simply too many blank points for us to truly say “This is wrong”.  Which isn’t a weakness, mind you. Grey morality is the hallmark of the thinking mans story.  But the show is trying to sell this as absolutely wrong, and the evidence is still somewhat lacking.  It is certainly underhanded, it is certainly sure to repeat the history of colonialism on Earth in the near future. But the long term effects are unknown.

However, the reveal I WILL buy, is that Shinichi was chosen, not because of knowledge, but because no one would miss him if he died. That’s rather blunt and cold. It was a good moment, even if Shinichi’s reaction was a bit melodramatic. Continue reading

Outbreak Comapny: Episode 10

The sheer power of that chest would have blinded you anyway, Shinichi.

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Another light comedy episode.  Curse you Outbreak Comapny for raising my hopes and dashing them just as instantly.

There were consequences from the soccer game to be discussed.  Really? HONTOUNI?!?!?

Nope. Just that some soldier made a cam recording of the soccer match…and the video was leaked online. Now the public is learning about Eldant.

But Shinichi has a plan. And it is brilliant. They will use the cover of filming a movie to conceal the fantasy world. Standard fare.

The brilliance of his plan is that it will be SO full of copyright infringement that when they leak more footage the project will be “forced” to cancel. With Petrarca basically playing the role of every magical girl ever, with heavy influence from Madoka. Continue reading

Outbreak Company: Episode 9

Hey, I’d spy on that chest, too.

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Well, Outbreak Company’s beach episode was more effective than BlazBlue’s.  But that isn’t exactly high praise?  Also, I am adopting Shinichi’s habit. The next time my girlfriend and I end up on the ocean I am referring to it as “the beach episode”.

We had another of the “light” episodes this week.  And I am STILL perplexed as to how these literacy classes are even working, still.

The set up for the beach episode was…typically silly. The agency was contractually obligated to spend its vacation days. What a very Japanese concept.

Our primary source of drama came from the council of wise men trying to design a swimsuit for Petrarca.  Everything else was…meh.  The great part about the wise men scenes was that no one outright said it. They didn’t need to, so they didn’t bother.  And that makes it ten times funnier. No one wants to USE any variation on the term “loli”, in referring to Petrarca and her….body type…but it’s there. Every scene. And it’s amazing.

It was a cute surprise when Petrarca herself seems to have forgotten about it all on her own, simply calling it the most comfortable swimsuit ever.

The only other thing to take away from this one was that almost never is the reality as fun as the fantasy construct.  As someone with a…deviant romantic life I can tell you that that is definitely true the first time.

The BRIEF moment when it looked like shit got real, and Minori showed her professionalism was wonderful.  It added a new layer to her. We saw her punch the crap out of the bad guys way back in episode 3, but it hasn’t been on display since. She always acts more like a military secretary, but this week, functioning as bodyguard and security agent, she was in top form.  It only makes her death eyes at the hapless soldiers all the more terrifying…

But overall, this was a simple, jovial week.  Almost like an obligation of the series.  Which, hey, maybe is true.

Outbreak Company: Episode 8

Breathless.

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I once called Petrarca the weakest link in Outbreak Company. I officially rescind my statement, much later than I should have, but there you have it. Every instance thus far of the fantastic has revolved around her, and with good reason.

Miusel isn’t bad, per se.  But she is “the maid”. The simple servant girl who is educated and shown Shinichi’s world of wonder.  Her story of growth is mostly fun-oriented, with a bit of emotional disappointment thrown in just to keep it interesting.  But that, also, mostly stems from her own innocence.  Petrarca, on the other hand, is intelligent, powerful, and has a host of isolating personality issues.  Her story is far more complicated, and by extension in this case, interesting.

Admittedly, her development has lacked a certain….logical direction.  But I think, certainly by this point, Petrarca has settled into her character.

My favorite scenes, Outbreak Comapny’s little triumphs of “moments of perfect beauty” that make me genuinely hold affection for this show, was the very beginning.  First, the bath scene, where Petrarca tries to engage her servants in friendly chatter.  But they’re so beaten down by the culture, that they can’t bring themselves to chit-chat with the Human Queen.  Giving up, she sends them all (all elves, from the looks of things), off to attend whatever business maids get up to late at night. The image of Petrarca at the edge of her bath, looking over the bathwater in lonely contemplation, was very striking, and an excellent set up for this episode. Continue reading

Outbreak Company: Episode 7

I’m not…I’m not sure how to interpret this image…

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This will be a short entry, as this week’s Outbreak Company was sorely light and fluffy.

In an effort to thwart my carefully laid plans, the most interesting moment this week came in the opening minutes.  Shinichi is upset that his lesson plans are being delayed because of mis-identification of his orders for stuff. Anyone who has tried to buy someone a present for a show you personally do not watch will share the pain.

But that’s not the interesting part. The curious moment was Matoba going out of his way to discourage Shinichi from bringing Miusel along for the ride back to Japan.  He even went out of his way to lie that doing so would kill her. Imagine that.  No hints as to what Matoba is trying to do yet, this cockteasing is a little tired now. We need some movement from Matoba for us to care what he’s up to. Continue reading

Outbreak Company: Episode 6

Damn you, Outbreak Company…

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Over the past month and a half, Outbreak Company has continued to baffle me.  It’s surprising, refreshing even, that someone who’s as jaded as I am can be unsure how a show will handle minute to minute.  Which is a strength and a weakness of Outbreak Company.

Sometimes, you just want to hit whoever got paid to write this dialogue. Like whoever was in charge had the job of not only making people look foolish, but probably also dresses in a rubber suit while his wife kicks him between the legs.

Other times, you peek into an almost philosophical work about human nature and hope and all those beautiful aspects of humanity.  Almost paradoxical in the way it can make you re-evaluate the worth of a character, and by extension human beings, you had given up on.

Which, I guess, makes this series an oddly appropriate metaphor for anime as a medium. Continue reading

Outbreak Company: Episode 5

So if werewolves don’t have fun they just murder people? Cute.

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I know, I apologize, Outbreak Company has fallen behind the other reviews.  This isn’t by design, I just found myself dreading having to sit through the awful first halves of the episodes.  I didn’t expect to be disappointed by the second halves so much, but the horribleness of the opening minutes is never a way to work on a good mood.

NaNoWriMo distracted me, as well, for what that’s worth.

Also, LOVING the elf girls in class.  Though I fear Shinichi starting a war with otaku (only half kidding about that)

But, in actuality…this week’s opening half wasn’t as bad as previous weeks.  It actually reinforced the theme of time passing.  Otaku culture has spread in Eldant, and in a big way.  It still feels like it lies on the outskirts, or perhaps just as a new fad, but Shinichi has definitely been making headway. Continue reading