I sometimes wonder why anime isn’t more popular with mainstream audiences. Shows like Outbreak Company pretty much satisfy any kinky fetish a prospective viewer could have. This twelve-episode anime series (based on Ichiro Sakaki’s light novels) features elves, maids, bespectacled babes with big hooters and adorable lolis for those of you who prefer washboard chests. The author has even tossed the furry demographic a bone by including a canine gal. Perhaps the modest sales of anime can be attributed to western viewers not finding sleazy entertainment to be palatable. That could explain why films based on BDSM or shirtless werewolves perform so poorly at the box office (woo Team Jacob – tosses panties at the screen.)
Shinichi Kano is a character whose origins mirror my own. The protagonist of Outbreak Company has led a solitary life after being rejected by a girl. Heartbroken he retreated to his bedroom seeking comfort in video games, manga and anime. Unlike myself, the lucky tosser ended his hermit existence by snagging a sweet government job, whilst I waste away my years doing customer service. To be precise, Shinichi has been appointed an ambassador and sent to a fantasy kingdom accessible via a recently discovered inter-dimensional portal. The nation of Japan wishes to establish trade relations with the medieval Eldant Empire and have asked Shinichi to use his geeky expertise to peddle otaku culture. Really Japan? You prioritize selling cartoons over something useful like electronics? No wonder your economy is in the doldrums.
To help propagate the joys of anime a school is established where Shinichi teaches the locals Japanese, in addition to regaling them with examples of his favourite manga and games. Assisting with the tutoring duties is Shinichi’s well-endowed bodyguard Minori Koganuma – a fellow geek whose passion lies in comics depicting tales of all boy love. Shinichi is also provided with servants in the form of a draconic gardener and a half elf maid. Said maid (who answers to the name Myucel Foaran) becomes enamoured with her master, as he is the first person not to look down on her mixed race roots. Myucel isn’t the only girl to get smitten with Shinichi however. Bratty crown princess Petralka Anne Eldant falls for the Japanese ambassador too. She admires Shinichi’s lack of tact and uses the excuse of attending his classes to escape her humdrum royal duties.
My rating for Outbreak Company is three stars. It’s not the deepest show MVM have released this year, but I still had a lot of fun watching the humorous episodic tales contained in this two-disc DVD set. Whether it’s the tale of a dog girl in heat or a soccer match between magic users and halflings there is seldom a dull moment. The series delivers lashings of gags and thanks to the curriculum taught at Shinichi’s academy there are anime/manga references aplenty. Spotting all the nods to other animated shows was almost as enjoyable as observing the wacky adventures Shinichi and chums get embroiled in. If you don’t catch all the niche references fear not as the localisation team have done a swell job of peppering the screen with handy captions identifying the jokes inspired by lesser known shows.
Despite being a light-hearted series, I applaud Outbreak Company for tackling some serious issues in its narrative. The two-part finale in particular highlights the seedier side of international diplomacy and capitalism. Author Ichiro Sakaki is also fair in presenting the impact of otaku culture on society. On one hand we see how a mutual passion for dating sims can bring rival dwarves and elves together. On the flip side the dangers of anime addiction are highlighted in an episode that sees princess Petralka become a shut in. Beware of doing anything to excess or it will affect your life and work. Speaking of work, I am off to update my CV. I have had enough of dealing with disgruntled customers. If the UK government advertises a vacancy for Narnia ambassador I am so applying!