DVD Review: Outbreak Company – The Complete Collection
22/10/2015 Leave a comment
What do you get when you mix the Japanese Otaku Culture with a relatively mysterious world; i’ve no idea but judging from Outbreak Company a whole lot of laughs and some lewd suggestions. Plot possibilities aside what did we think from MVM Entertainment’s latest DVD release? Find out in our review.
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?
All ideas must start somewhere; and while Outbreak Company started off as a light novel series by Ichirō Sakaki, and then later turned into this anime series by Studio FEEL; it somehow brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “what exactly am i watching?”. The plot is completely insane, it’s characters are extremely likable and the progression of the storyline is questionable yet entertaining. There’s everything to like about this show and yet it doesn’t provide any real merit, purpose or sense of danger – It’s just pure fun with a heavy mix of Japanese otaku culture thrown in.
It all starts with Shinichi Kanou, a self-proclaimed expert on the Japanese otkau culture, who after taking part in an online questionnaire and job interview finds himself whisked away into the magical world of Erudanto Kingdom. The premise here is that Shinichi has been recruited by the Japanese Government, also known as the JSDF, to share his expertise of the Japanese culture to this strange new land. Exactly how Shinichi and the JSDF arrived in this world is irrelevant, but it is later explained, and with the approval of the Princess, known as Petralka Anne Eldant III, the Erudanto Kingdom allow Shinichi to present the Japanese culture to the public; be it in the form of anime, manga or cosplay and as such this is where the amusing factors of Outbreak Company start to surface.
Every type of anime, manga or lewd remark depicted in Outbreak Company is some type of reference to a real piece of material and if you look ‘close enough’ you will also see cameo appearances from Steins Gate and Super Mario characters; albeit in slightly altered or pixelated form (such as this example early on). The references don’t just stop there either; as even the Japanese voice actors find themselves being referenced to other voice works they did in other shows, such as Girls und Panzer and so forth. Thankfully ‘notations’ have been provided; so if you aren’t clever enough to work out the references or quotes then the notes provided by Sentai Filmworks translation team will spell it out for you on screen.
Ironically though there’s more to Outbreak Company than a simple ‘acknowledgement’ to other anime and manga series; as Shinichi’s job is to teach this new world about the Japanese Culture – and that’s exactly what he does. Throughout the twelve episodes we see Shinichi push forward in teaching this new world about the Japanese culture, including the more obscure and exotic areas of the culture, and in time everyone seems to enjoy it. Ironically though while the topic of this story is the culture of Japan its actually the untold love interest between the main characters which subconsciously steals the show.
Ever since Shinichi arrived in the kingdom his personal maid, who goes by the name of Myucel Foaran has peaked his interest and begins to teach her Japanese; when Petralka receives word of this she demands that Shinichi teach her as well – which results in a mini-harem being created in the process. It’s obvious that Petralka has feelings for Shinichi but due to her characteristic nature she never admits it; Myucel on the otherhand is open about her feelings but, as you would expect, Shinichi is either too nervous or dense to notice it.
Of course this mini-harem, which later expands when new characters are entered into the fray – such as the half-dog, half-human Elbia Hanaiman – is only part of the enjoyment had with Outbreak Company; as there is yet another, more sinster, storyline yet to be explored and it’s one that involves the JSDF and even this comes as a welcome addition to this rather comical, but highly entertaining, storyline.
Another barebones release is on offer by MVM Entertainment and while i may offer high praise for the ‘entertaining’ merits of the series the bonus supplementary contents are nothing but stale and disappointing.
As you would have come to expect the only bonus content are the textless opening and closing songs, which actually feature clues as to what will transpire throughout the series, and a selection of trailers. It’s obvious that MVM Entertainment have had the DVD encoded for the UK audience as all of the trailers included are for products that they release in the UK; the trailers in question are for Sankarea: Undying Love, Battle Girls: Time Paradox and Kamisama Dolls – each of which are currently available in the UK on DVD by MVM Entertainment.
Media: DVD 9 x2
Running Time: 2:19:48
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
Outbreak Company is the comical animated story that sees Shinichi Kanou transported into the magical kingdom of Erudanto by the Japanese government in order to teach the locals the wonders of Japanese media; be it anime, manga and cosplay. At first it’s a simple story of meeting the characters and becoming accustomed to their lifestyle but as the story progresses we see the characters come out of their shelves and deliver their individual personalities, especially Petralka and Myucel, and as a result the barrier between nobles and commoners slowly breaks down where the people of Erudanto can respect each other’s ideals. Of course with the Japanese government involved there is a more sinister story to be told; but this timely storyline isn’t one that bears fruit until the right moment – which is right at the very end.
Of course theres more to the story than teaching another culture the wonders of Japanese media; as throughout the series the bond between Shinchi, Petralka and Myucel grow from princess and servant to close friends; with the hint of ‘something more’ on the table. The combination of an entertaining story, a shady subplot and a harem makes Outbreak Company one of the most unexpected and enjoyable shows i’ve watched in a long time and even though theres no ‘real’ story to be had – its all good fun from start to finish; and thats before you mention the insane amount of references and cameo appearances.
Interestingly enough the positives don’t just stop at the quality of the series as even the quality of this DVD release is far better than expected. For starters the English Dub, which has been produced by Sentai Filmworks, is of a higher standard than most of their releases. Of course it still may not be to everyones liking, and its still not as good as the Japanese Audio track, but compared to past Sentai releases its far better and easier to watch. A moment of praise also has to be given for the amount of ‘notations’ given throughout the series as even when watching subtitled notes will appear at the top of the screen informing viewers about the reference that a character made. My only gripe is that some of these notes do not appear long enough to read on screen; and as such you have to pause if you want to read it fully. For the most part however its easy to see (and understand) the show they are talking about; but it all depends on how much of an anime fan you are as the more you have seen the more you can appreciate and understand the reference.
All in all this DVD release of Outbreak Company by MVM Entertainment is pure anime entertainment with only real gripe being the basic menu layout, with episodes individually listed on the main screen, and it’s lack of any worthwhile extras. With so many referencing and so forth im surprised that not more bonus materials were made or supplied; but nevertheless this is what you can expect from the product. A simple dvd menu structure with basic bonus materials but a high quality dub and subtitle track for an anime series that is not only informative (so to speak) but entertaining from start to watch. If you are looking for something different to the norm and something thats more about fun than story than this anime series is worth checking out.
Outbreak Company – The Complete Collection will be available on DVD from the 26th October 2015.