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The final episode of Outbreak Company deals with the aftermath of Shinichi’s defiance of the Japanese government’s plans for Eldant.
The episode starts off with some JSDF soldiers infiltrating Shinichi’s bedroom intending to take him out. Fortunately, Shinichi and the others anticipated this, so the soldiers are met by a group of half-elf maids who incapacitate them easily enough using magic. Later, at the castle, Matoba plays it off as radicals in the JSDF who are anxious that Shinichi is a threat to national interests. It’s clear that none of them really believe him, though.
After quite a few peaceful days, all hell seems to break loose as Eldant is attacked by Bahailm. They attack the gates of the castle as well as the otaku school. The implication, of course, is that the JSDF is either helping Bahailm with this attack or the JSDF is actually behind it and simply framing Bahailm. These assumptions are solidified when Shinichi goes to the school to try to save a rare magazine like the otaku he is, and he winds up being ambushed by a pair of JSDF soldiers who drug him and leave him to die in the burning building.
Fortunately, Shinichi’s friends come to his aid. Miusel, Elbia, Blük, and Minori all show up to fight off a few of the JSDF soldiers and then get Shinichi out of the school. I’d like to take a moment here to mention that it’s nice to see Blük again, as he hasn’t really been around in a while, and most often when he has been pictured he’s just been hanging around or not doing a whole lot. It’s nice to see him actively participating in events going on, and to see how much he, too, cares about Shinichi.
After all of this, Shinichi gets Matoba to let him talk to their superior, a top Japanese official. While he speaks via Internet video with the superior, one of Petrarca’s owl spies is in his backpack relaying information. She hears the superior say that the Japanese government will eliminate him if he steps out of bounds with means similar to what just happened, and then she shows up in person to tell the official that if they try to kill Shinichi again she’ll kick the Japanese out of Eldant for good. This seems to me a little bit anti-climactic, but I suppose with a mainly happy-go-lucky sort of show, you can’t expect too much in the way of dramatic endings.
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In one of my early episodic reviews of Outbreak Company, I mentioned half-jokingly that I hoped politics would at some point be involved in the series, rather than it simply being a fish-out-of-water type of show where an otaku goes to another realm to teach otaku culture. I didn’t really expect anything like that to happen, based on the tone of the anime up to that point. However, I’m pleasantly surprised that it did end up involving politics, especially such a poignant topic as cultural imperialism.
The fact that an anime is willing to acknowledge Japan’s history of imperialism and bring such a history into the 21st century with discussion of cultural imperialism is incredibly bold and fresh. Similarly, it’s rare to see a piece of Japanese popular culture so eager to vilify the Japanese government. Plenty of anime and manga vilify other world governments, but few so openly criticize their own. There were plenty of similar surprises and unique aspects of Outbreak Company’s plot to make it stand out from other similar plots in anime and manga.
The art style is definitely different, but in a refreshing sort of way. It’s the first series animated by Feel that I’ve seen, and I’m impressed thus far. The color scheme was at first somewhat jarring, almost exclusively pastel and understated as opposed to the typical bright rich colors of most anime. That doesn’t mean the art is bad, though; quite the opposite, actually. The understated nature of the animation allows the characters to draw you in more, rather than simply the art style being the only draw.
The OST is similarly different yet fitting. Again understated, the music fits each scene, each different occurrence, very well. When a solemn tone is needed, the music reflects that; likewise, when comedy is in store, the music reflect that, as well. The OP and ED songs do an excellent job of drawing the real Japan and fantasy Eldant realms together with tones and melodies fitting of both a fantasy realm and a real-world Japan.
What really makes Outbreak Company a great watch, though, is the referential tone of the series. New and old anime fans alike can pick out various references to other series throughout the show. And even a newer anime fan can recognize when something is meant to be a reference, even if they aren’t familiar with the reference themselves. Aside from that, many of the references are related to very recent anime and manga (for example, Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan, Free!, Diamond no Ace, and others), which is quite a feat given that most of these series are only a season or two old.
However, the referential nature of this series can make it somewhat hard to follow for some newer anime fans. Often times, the references in Shinichi’s otaku classes aren’t explained very well, the assumption being that we’re at least somewhat familiar with them. This can be off-putting for new fans who aren’t as familiar with these concepts as veteran fans are.
What really surprises me about Outbreak Company is that it somehow managed to become one of my favorite anime this season. I was expecting to get a laugh every now and then, but I really didn’t expect to find this series both comedic and intriguing. My early discussion of the want of politics in the series was little more than a pipe dream, I had thought, but I’m quite happy it was included in the plot. It definitely helped to make this anime one of the best of the season, in my opinion.