I’m still pretty much right on the fence with Outbreak Company. It’s just a little better than you expect it to be – a little smarter, a little more self-aware, a little funnier. Is it brilliant? No, but it does continue to be an interesting example in how to attempt to exploit an audience commercially while satirizing it – always a delicate balance, and once O.C. has so far maintained pretty effectively.
There were several elements that made me laugh this week, starting with the classroom scene and the “10 years old” arrow continually pointing to the bearded dwarf. That makes the curriculum on Shinichi’s new school all the more inappropriate, as he starts the multi-species class off learning phrases like “zettai ryouki” and “nopan“. A horrified Minori steps in, only to shift the focus to BL phraseology. Again, we see the delicate tightrope this series is walking, making so secret of just how silly these obsessions are – yet asking those who possess them to buy the discs. I’ll be interested to see if it works.
The MacGuffin this week is Hanaiman Elbia (Uesaka Sumire), a werewolf from the neighboring kingdom of Bahailim that Minori catches sketching Shinichi’s manor. Predictable but amusing hijinks ensue – it’s clear she’s a spy yet basically a dupe, but Shinichi takes a shine to her furry ears and tail (the generous oppai are apparently not the major factor – though even less so for Garius, it seems). Petrarca is predictably jealous. Shinichi tries to prove the guilty Elbia (who, by-the-way, speaks in the same relaxed – and annoying – “-ska, -su” accent as Hajime from Gatchaman Crowds) innocent with a wave of winks. In the end, he employs a trope to his advantage – keep the hapless Elbia around but feed her false information to send back to Bahailim. Oh, and Myuseru? Yeah, she’s fine. And Petrarca seems to have done a complete 180 with Myuseru, which I guess is understandable considering what the maid did for her.
Log Horizon – 04
I gave it a run with Log Horizon, but unless it surprises me in a big way in the next episode I’m throwing in the towel. For me, it’s a show I want to like but simply can’t – I see all the problems of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha and SAO rolled into one, and it’s too much to get past.
Tuono Mamare is an interesting writer, but in both his works adapted into anime my impression is exactly the same – that this is a guy who wants to geek out big-time, but can’t resist using every LN cliche in the book. And in this case, that gives us a kawaii heroine submissive towards the male lead, a moeblog to be rescued, and a cartoon villain complete with maniacal laugh that Kawahara Reki would have been proud of. Seriously – could this entire Serara sinkhole have been less inherently interesting? It’s just a bunch of thugs who want to bully a little girl because they can. And that’s three episodes? Was there ever a thread of doubt how the battle was going to end? Of course not – so you can’t fall back on tension as a selling point.
The essence of the situation is that the whole series so far is a pretext for Tuono to demonstrate how much he knows about MMORPGs, but here’s the thing – the way you choose to show it matters. The author’s aims might be different than Kawahara’s but in point of fact, if you’re using the same constructs to tell the story I don’t think it makes as much difference as some others believe. I appreciate the appeal of a depiction of MMORPGs that gets the details right, but for me that fact in and of itself simply isn’t enough. Please don’t think I posted on it for four weeks because I was enjoying critiquing it – it’s simply a matter of my affection for the genre and the large following the series has making me really want to be sure I gave it a fair chance before I decided.