What They Say:
Shinichi Kanou’s father writes novels and his mother illustrates erotic video games, so it’s not unsurprising that he’d turn out a fan of comics and science fiction. However, rather than channeling his efforts into creating like his parents, he has instead become one of the world’s foremost experts on “moe,” with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things cute and adorable in every conceivable form of animation and media. This sort of explains Shinichi’s recruitment as an ambassador for moe to the Holy Erudanto Kingdom, a parallel world where things that previously only existed in anime actually exist!
How will a hot blooded young otaku react when dropped into a world with actual cute and adorable elf maids and dragons? More importantly, how will they react to this drooling devotee with diplomatic credentials? And even more to the point, exactly why does the Japanese government feel that sending someone to represent Japan’s moe interests is a good idea in the first place?
Contains episodes 1-12.
THe audio presentation for this release is pretty straightforward and standard as we get the original Japanese language track and the new English language adaptation, both of which are in stereo and encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. While the show has a couple of big action moments here and there, the majority of it is dialogue based with some silliness, which means we have a pretty simple mix design overall. There’s some very fun sequences throughout with the nature of the cast and the number of characters talking sometimes, and with the visual aides that come along from time to time in the classroom sections, but for the most part there’s no surprises here with either track. It works the forward soundstage in a straightforward way with a bit of directionality at times, but not much beyond that. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in the fall of 2013, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1,78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second, where the couple of extras are also located. Animated by studio Feel, the show has a very detailed approach to it in general when it comes to the backgrounds but also with all the homages paid to the various anime, manga and game properties that show up throughout it. This gives it a welcome richness which works well with the character designs that have some solid detail as well. The color design for the show is very good as it works a slightly soft approach but with some really great hues that are well represented here. The transfer has a very good look to it overall and it really comes across in a solid, clean and appealing way.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with the two discs held against the interior walls. The front cover has a very cute cover that features the two female lead characters with Myucel and Petralka together in their standard outfits with a great illustration style that shows some great detail and sexuality as well. There’s a kind of classic feeling to the design here with the purple striped background that gives it a bit of a royal feeling, which is pretty appropriate, and overall it’s pretty eye-catching even while using softer colors that don’t pop in a big way. The back cover keeps to the royal styling a bit with some of its border work and the continuation of the same color scheme and it rounds it out with a few bits of color from shots from the show above and below the summary of the premise. That’s done with a far too small font unfortunately, but it covers the bases well enough. We also get a pretty cute image of Myucel along the right that plays up the fanservice and maid aspect right. The bottom of the cover is the standard Sentai layout with a good breakdown of production credits and the technical information for the Blu-ray aspect of it as well. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is simple but it uses some great material with it as it works a standard static design. The right side features the character artwork, which is done with illustration pieces such as the first one that has a very sey image of Myucel. It uses a kind of sparse background image overall but with the color and design of the illustration work, it makes it worthwhile. The left third is given over to the navigation and it has a similar simple design with the brown hued background while providing the navigation on top of it in purple and yellow which does manage to work rather well overall, though the font makes it a little harder to read from certain distances. The layout is straightforward and navigation is a breeze with only the language selection being the area you need to navigate into outside of the extras.
The only extras with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Ichiro Sakaki, Outbreak Company is a twelve episode anime series animated by studio Feel. It originally aired in the fall 2013 season and felt like it was part of the whole video game as fantasy series that has been working a decent run of shows the last few years. Interestingly enough though, it doesn’t really play that route and is more of an otaku in wonderland kind of approach with a love of anime, manga, light novels and video games being the real thrust here. With a sense that the show is similar to other titles like Log Horizon and Sword Art Online, it’s easy to overlook it because of that. But when you get into it and realize the trick of it all, it’s a very appealing show for what it does and how it composes itself.
The series takes place in the present day as we’re introduced to Shinichi Kano, a hikikomori who is still in high school but has abandoned family and friends due to his inability to handle rejection by a girl. He’s managed to eke out an existence in his tiny apartment, but a job of sorts has sort of fallen into his lap with the government that’s right up his alley. Since he’s a pure kind of otaku with a love of anime, manga and more, he has the skills and knowledge that they’re looking for. While he can’t believe he’s hired for this mystery job, it fits in with him wanting to get out of the lifestyle he’s in. As a hikikomori, he’s not that bad off overall because he can actively leave his place and interact with others, something that we’ve seen being a lot more problematic in other shows. The trick of all of this though is what the government wants out of him because it involves him being knocked out and whisked away.
What’s been discovered, quite accidentally, is that there’s a portal hidden away in Japan that leads to another world and more specifically into the Holy Empire of Eldant, one of the bigger nations of the land. With a little trick of magic to allow communication between both sides, Shinichi has been brought in to be a cultural ambassador to Eldant by introducing the best thing they have with anime, manga and more. He gets assigned a maid with the cute half-elf Myucel, and has to interact properly with the sixteen year old ruler, Petralka, who is struggling with her position and her age in the way some treat her, but also some of the losses that came in gaining this position. There’s a little bit of politics and and the like that comes into play with the story from time to time, but it’s mostly kept as some set dressing as opposed to anything with meaningful impact. It simply serves to explain away certain character motivations.
While Shinichi gets his needs taken care of thanks to Myucel, he works his time in Eldant with the help of Minori, a JSDF woman with a real affection for boys-love material. What Shinichi gets to do, after he struggles to really understand it, is to have the JSDF bring over through the portal everything he needs to introduce his culture to them. The government has its own deep, dark agenda here that comes through in the last couple of episodes, but the bulk of the show is about the light fun and real affection for these various properties that are sprinkled throughout in a very good way. We get lots of parodies to be sure since they don’t want to call things outright, but sharp-eyed fans will figure a lot of it out and some of the on screen subtitles provide nods and casting quirks that helps to clear up some of them, especially when dealing with directors and actors that worked together in previous shows or are making fun of themselves. But even while it does that, there’s still a lot of fun to be had with the show overall.
Over the course of it, we get a lot of silliness in general with what it does even as it plays to some of the cultural differences that exist. There’s a class/caste system in Eldant that gets touched on through the students that Shinichi teaches, since there are humans, elves, dwarves and the lowest of the low with half elves, but Minori points out that such things exist in Japan as well and their goal is not to turn Eldant into a place of chaos by rewriting their social structure. This has some potential for decent exploration, but it’s given a light touch because it’s not trying to be a deep series. Thankfully, they do wait until the ninth episode before we get a swimsuit episode, but with the series being aware of things due to Shinichi, they have fun with it overall while mixing the serious into it. With soccer matches, beach time, class time and even a trip back to Japan for a bit with Myucel, it ticks all the right boxes and just has an enjoyable time with it all.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Outbreak Company outside of it having a fantasy angle to it. And with so many shows playing the video game fantasy angle, it’s one that you can have plenty of preconceptions about. Thankfully, the show goes in its own direction with what it wants to do and plays more to otaku culture and the bridges it can create. There’s not a mean bone in its body with what it wants to do and that helps a lot because it feels more like a cute love letter that just wants to have fun with its characters, touching on tropes and acknowledging them but also showing some fun smarts along the way. There’s a really enjoyable fanservice angle that gets played from time to time without being obnoxious and the series as a whole simply delights, though it is also just a bit too superficial in some ways.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.