Weekly Digest 10/27/13 – Outbreak Company, Log Horizon

Outbreak Company - 04 -6 Outbreak Company - 04 -15 LH - 04 -8 LH - 04 -14

Now that’s lycanthropy with a capital “like”.

Outbreak Company – 04

Outbreak Company - 04 -1 Outbreak Company - 04 -2 Outbreak Company - 04 -3
Outbreak Company - 04 -4 Outbreak Company - 04 -5 Outbreak Company - 04 -7
Outbreak Company - 04 -8 Outbreak Company - 04 -9 Outbreak Company - 04 -10
Outbreak Company - 04 -11 Outbreak Company - 04 -12 Outbreak Company - 04 -13
Outbreak Company - 04 -14 Outbreak Company - 04 -16 Outbreak Company - 04 -17
Outbreak Company - 04 -18 Outbreak Company - 04 -19 Outbreak Company - 04 -20

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

LH - 04 -1 LH - 04 -2 LH - 04 -3
LH - 04 -4 LH - 04 -5 LH - 04 -6
LH - 04 -7 LH - 04 -9 LH - 04 -10
LH - 04 -11 LH - 04 -12 LH - 04 -13

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. 



  1. A

    I got a good laugh out of Outbreak Company this week.

    I think what makes it work are the reaction shots from the cast. Both Shinichi and Minori took turns gazing in horror at each other's idea of cultural exchange. Shinichi's unbreaking smile at the werewolf's complete incompetence as a spy was all you needed to get the joke during the interrogations, and Garius' reaction at being casually addressed as an uke was probably the hardest I've laughed this season since that air resistance joke from Meganebu.

    Those could've easily been awkward smiles or uncomfortable silence, but they get it. They understand the stupidity of it all, but instead of complaining about it, they think they can do it /better/.

    Oh yeah. I'm watching.

  2. R

    >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.

    Not only the details, he's getting the big picture right (so far).

    Still, you should stop blogging it now. I don't want to get into the details but this episode showed the best anime portrayal of high performance low scale mass PvP that happens every day in an open world-open pvp MMO. If that didn't appeal you as entertainment material, there's no way it will for blogging material. I don't blame you at all, because I'm not watching the show for its narrative either.

    Next week, I'm expecting to see Nyanta reveal a way to add taste to the food, a thing that will change everything as it was discussed in your previous Log Horizon post.

  3. R

    >because I'm not watching the show for its narrative either.
    In other words…
    To me, Log Horizon feels more like the telling of an in-game experience than a conventional story of characters and drama, etc. It's more like a story that comes from the mouth of a MMO player, not the pen of an author.

  4. J

    Its the type of tales you hear from your gamer buddies about the mini spontaneous adventures they had last night while playing a game together. Something thats completely unscripted yet flows so nicely as it progressed.

  5. i

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

    I definitely don't see any of Reki Kawahara's writing in LH, because if I did I certainly would have dropped it. May be because of how much I hated SAO I want to like LH as much and thus ignores comparisons but I do feel that objectively they are quite different and LH is to my preferences. To me this is what no-brain entertainment should be – laid back, simple, fun and genial. It's a beer mug show (though it airs here at Saturday morning hangover, unfortunately). If you don't like it, I can't blame you but I think you might be too conscious of precedents to enjoy it fully.

  6. G

    Some anime series are award winners with deep storylines/characters and some are just popcorn anime. They are just fun to watch. Not every series can be a Shinseki Yori, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, or Wolf Children. Sometimes I think overly critical anime reviewers have forgoten the joy of just watching a fun anime series for what it is.

  7. And what if a series isn't fun to watch? Is it overly critical to say so?

  8. i

    @Gary Valvrave and OC are fun for GE while not so for me. Fun is subjective and GE enjoys his own tastes while I do mine. No need to call him out for not liking LH.

    @GE maybe you should start each post with IMO so people don't think you're being absolute in you're analyses, though you do put variations of IMO that people might not have read.

  9. If there's ever a medium where the IMO should be implied , it's this one.

  10. K

    It's obvious what the Japanese government is trying to do in OC. They are raising an entire nation of hardcore otakus, who in turn will revitalize the declining industry and economy with a massive influx of BD and DVD sales.

    The premise of OC is silly and ridiculous, but the execution is pretty decent. Corrupting young and innocent minds is worth a good laugh.

    One could argue that the uninspired tone of LH reflects the very nature of what it is. Quest dialogue is often a mundane feature of MMOs. Most people don't really care about the circumstances of the girl they're saving, they just want the loot/ quest reward. Watching LH is kinda like watching someone else play an MMO.

  11. R

    >Watching LH is kinda like watching someone else play an MMO.

    I feel the same.

    But I hope we get to see an MMO anime in the style that Enzo is looking for.

  12. Heh – I tweeted that comment, Kentai. Well-put.

  13. E

    "Watching LH is kinda like watching someone else play an MMO."

    That's exactly the reason why I dropped it. I was a Ragnarok Online, RF Online player in the past, and I don't have a speck of reason why I should watch somebody else plays; when I can play them again if I feel like.

  14. K

    I'm honoured ;). It's interesting because I was recently watching someone stream an MMO (FF14). It was obvious that not too many people were as interested compared the game he usually streams (LoL). He had much less viewers when streaming the MMO. The amount of audience interaction with an MMO is substantially less than other games, and this is reflected with LH.

  15. R

    Hope that it's okay for me to hijack this thread. Hey Enzo, I will wait for your check-in post, but I'm just thinking of our most hardworking blogger here. I just did a count, and you're covering 19 shows every week, on top of any industry news, OVAs, Tokyo Diaries, and others — this is more than the joint-effort at RC. As highly productive and dedicated as you're — which many of us appreciate — I hope that you are cutting down on volume or thinking of a way that will give some time back to yourself. There's no drop in quality in any of your posts, and, of course, it's absolutely your decision. I'm just concerned, and that's all.

  16. e

    Thank you sistah. Now I can avoid posting the very same comment :,D.

  17. R

    What I've noticed is that some posts are getting a bit too "summary-e" lately for shows that are kinda hard to talk about.

    If the episode is hard to blog, I would prefer shorter posts with less re-telling.

  18. R

    @elianthos80: love that we all care :-).

  19. R

    @Richard: I have cut down on the number of shows that I watch this season, so I can't say I know it all, but I do read every post. Yes, some episodic posts are shorter than others, but Enzo does offer his view on every one of them — including the Weekly Digest posts.

  20. I have no defense to Ronbb's charges, really. It's all true. And Tonari/Chihayafuru OVA posts in the hopper, too.

  21. F

    Well, to be honest I have mixed feelings about this one too. I really feel like (hope?) the series is still ramping up to the main "conflict" which will make or break it for me. In other words, world building of a sort is taking place, and it's fairly well done as far as that goes (mostly "lite" in its nature with a few serious things mixed in), but the… err… "boom" has yet to fall, which will be the main context for whether or no the world building was "worth it" for me.

    I'm kinda curious as to what that will be. Part of me kinda wonders if it will tackle the intrinsic objective internal equality of human beings (in this case I guess it would include elves, dwarves, etc.) as its main subject, using the half elf, the queen, and others as the practical examples in which the ramifications thereof could be worked out.

    Regarding the maid, though. There is something about her that feels very sad, somehow.

  22. p

    first episode of log horizon were seriously bad, but after the serara arc, the story become so good: i was like WTF is that anime. Its a waste you stop watching it.

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