Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Outbreak Company (Autobureiku Kanpanī)

It's an odd genre, but it's one of my favorites. There's just about nothing I enjoy more than an anime about anime and hardcore anime fans. Although the topic does make me feel a bit at odds with myself. I'm not sure if I would qualify as a hardcore otaku or not. For one, I have a job and that often causes me to leave the house and to watch less anime. However, I do understand the attraction of the hikikomori lifestyle.

During the years 2009 and 2012 I did not have a job and wasn't in any type of schooling. I was nineteen when I got my driver's permit and twenty-one when I got my license. I didn't quite have the confidence in my driving skills to go anywhere and if I did go anywhere I wouldn't have money for anything. So I didn't go anywhere. For four years.

Yeah, I looked for a job, but I didn't really try as hard as I probably should have because I hated the idea of actually working and associating with people. Honestly, I still do hate working and it is still tough for me to really associate with people. It just doesn't come naturally to me and it's always going to be something I have to work at. 

But after four years of sitting in my room reading and watching television I decided to get serious and get my license and get a job. Now I have a job and I do kind of hate it (just kidding, boss... not!), but I remind myself what it was like to be jobless and without any anime. Although if I had had a large quantity of anime during that time then I might have been jobless a bit longer. 

What does all of this have to do with the anime Outbreak Company? Well, a lot. 

Kanō Shin'ichi is a hikikomori that has decided to get a job and end his shut-in lifestyle. During a job interview Shin'ichi passes out and wakes up in a room he doesn't recognize. His first words upon waking were "I don't recognize this ceiling" and upon hearing that phrase I knew immediately that I was going to enjoy the hell out of this series. Those of us in the know know that this phrase comes straight from the second episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Yup, the dude is an otaku. 

It turns out that Shin'ichi is in the Holy Eldant Empire, a land that resides in another dimension that only Japan knows about so far. The two dimensions are joined together by a wormhole and Shin'ichi basically got dragged there after being drugged during his interview. Once there he is told that he is the General Manager of the Amu Tech, a company that wishes to introduce certain products to the people of the Eldant Empire. The products that Amu Tech wishes to introduce are anime, manga, and games. 
I'd give my left nut for that job. Seriously. I'd chop that bad boy off, place it in a jar of formaldehyde, and ship it. So if you're hiring for that position just give me a shout out. 

Of course, there's a catch for Shin'ichi. Although he gets to live in a giant mansion with his own personal maid and giant lizard gardener and gets paid for teaching people what "zettai ryouiki" means, Shin'ichi is not free to come and go as he pleases. Only the JSDF (Japanese Self-Defense Forces) knows the location of the wormhole and they won't take him back home unless absolutely necessary.

For those of us that love references then this is a show to watch. Attack on Titan is mentioned quite heavily. There're also posters of The Devil is a Part-Timer and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion to be found. Those were the first ones I caught anyway.

There's so many references it's tough to keep track. Hell, just trying to identify all of the action figures in the show would take some time. For me, at least. Your mileage may vary. 

Basically, if you have a trained eye and know your anime, games, and manga well then you'll have a field day with this show. Make a drinking game out of it with your buddies (assuming you have any, bless your otaku heart) and take a shot each time you catch a reference. Five minutes later you'll nose will be numb. 

I thought it was funny as hell when the Empress of the Eldant Empire (a tsundere type if ever there was one) summoned Shin'ichi so she could try out her tsundere impression on him. 

The Empress is Petralka Ann Eldant III and she is a loli character. Of course, she is. The loli character is just about as big of an anime trope as the maid and the furry girl (both of which are heavily featured in this show) and it was no surprise to find out that she is a tsundere. There's always got to be at least one of them. 

And yes, there is a beach/bikini episode, too. 

Playing on anime tropes isn't what Outbreak Company is all about, though. A large part, yes, but not everything. 

Two important sub-plots throughout this anime are the idea of invasion by culture and the prejudice between different peoples. Dwarfs and elves don't get along at all and yet they are sitting beside each other in Shin'ichi's class. When he tries to get them to get along by having them participate in a soccer game he learns just how deep the rifts are.

Shin'ichi is getting all chummy with his maid and gardener when it is a common practice in Eldant to treat servants like less than human and beat them into submission when they don't obey. Half humans like Shin'ichi's maid are especially subject to scorn. 

Shin'ichi wants everyone to get along, but if he's not careful he could start a full-blown revolution. That might not be a bad thing for Eldant if it means creating equality among peoples, but Japan doesn't want to lose any diplomatic ties or their influence. If Shin'ichi pushes things too far Japan might do something far worse than fire him. 

I like anime that has a message, but I wasn't expecting this one to get quite so deep at the end. It's one thing to help a country to find its own culture, but it's another to force a developing country to accept a different culture. 

In general, I'm not a big fan of forcing people to think a certain way. People and countries must grow and develop their own identities as independently as possible. Otherwise they'll never truly be independent. That's not saying I'm against the sharing of ideas and culture from an established country to an establishing country, but I am against the controlling of ideas and culture 100%.

I'd still take the job, though. 

No comments:

Post a Comment