「侵略者を撃て！」 (Shinryaku-sha o Ute!)
“Shoot the Invader!”
A finale full of assassination, arson, political intrigue, and one lowly otaku being more badass than he has any right.
Serious, Keep It Serious
Predominately comedic shows can have problems when they try to go serious, when the jokes and gags that got them this far no longer work. Kyoukai no Kanata ran afoul of this, when jokes during the serious scenes totally poisoned the mood for me. (Except for with Akki’s mother, but there are exceptions to every rule.) Here they did pretty well, with most of the serious scenes staying serious throughout…except when Shinichi went running towards a burning building for his precious rare edition of Comptiq. Shinichi, whyyy!!
I’ll admit that I facepalmed at that. I wish they could have done it a better way, because anticipating that Shinichi would do something so stupid is…well, not as farfetched as I’d prefer, but no one likes to see their main character make things so much worse for themselves like that. I like to think that they had another plan in mind in case Shinichi didn’t fall for that. Probably not though.
Backing up, I liked that the political intrigue was in full force this week. That they would actually start off the episode with an assassination attempt wasn’t unexpected but was still in some ways surprising; it’s a risk, throwing an assassination attempt into such a generally light-hearted show, but they’ve managed to keep the diplomatic subplots just present enough throughout the series to make it work.
I want six battle meido too!! Seriously, one of the best parts of the episode was seeing the combat meido foil the assassination attempt, see them go everywhere with Shinichi, making him feel uncomfortable, until…zam! Ladykiller Shinichi strikes again, hah! If I were Petrarca I’da sent some burly men to guard Shinichi at that point (or, let’s be honest, from the very beginning), but I’m not complaining when battle meido are on the table. Seriously, magic-wielding, bullet-blocking, ass kicking meido are just about the Top 5 things on my Badass-Hot List. All of the Top 5. And most of the Top 50. I like meidos a lot.
The Frightened Main Character – Shinichi’s Victory
So Shinichi gets marks off for running into a burning building for a stupid reason, but his ploy at the end wins back quite a lot. Going into a meeting with the Prime Minister, calling him on all of his bullshit, and then getting him to admit what he was up to where Petrarca could hear? That was ballsy stuff, real ballsy, and I loved to see it.
Most of all, I liked that Shinichi admitted he was scared. No surprise, but it reiterated that Shinichi is a more realistic character than most protagonists. He has his beliefs and he comes through when it counts, but he’s not about to pretend he’s a great fighter or a brave hero. He is who he is, and that’s been enough to earn his harem and keep Japan from making some of the mistakes they seem so determined to make.
Jinzaburou – Not Really A Villain After All
Bonus points go to Shinichi for guessing that Jinzaburou would have a backup plan, and that he wasn’t as evil as some were saying. Jinzaburou always struck me as the consummate bureaucrat, someone who was trying to do the best he could for his frequently erratic bosses while covering his own ass in the process. That doesn’t make him a good guy, not necessarily – he was certainly an antagonist for the last two episodes – but he’s more complex than some cookie-cutter villain. The Prime Minister, he was a pretty textbook villain, and that’s okay because they didn’t bother to flesh him out and he served his purpose. Jinzaburou wasn’t. He was a more interesting character, even if he wasn’t always on Shinichi’s side.
Minori was though! That rescue at the end sent me a-cheerin’. Good on you for sticking by the people who need you, Minori-san!
Looking Ahead – The End
This is the finale, so more in the final impressions below.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – A finale full of assassination, arson, political intrigue, & one lowly otaku being more badass than he has any right #ob_c 12 END
- I still wonder whether Jinzaburou meant his apology to Shinichi after the assassination attempt, or whether it was a ploy to gain sympathy in case he lost. Probably both, to be honest. Jinzaburou is clever enough to know how his honest feelings can benefit him. But that “radicals within our side” stuff? Bullshit!
- Shinichi with a killer weapon of scissors? I’m going to miss these seiyuu jokes.
- For once, the girl saves the boy. Myuseru is truly the best.
- Shinichi did it for the love of…anime, manga, and games. Damn! Just cut the crap and–oh, oh here it is. He’s going to confess to Myuseru! Here it com–DAMMIT ELBIA NOT NOW!! Whyyyy must everyone interrupt the confession scene!
- Intensive manga reading, Shinichi? Congratulations, you just asked the Supreme Ruler on a private date. It’s not over yet!
Outbreak Company was a show I came into with uncertain expectations, as well as confident assurances from Zanibas that it was my kind of show. He was right. From the first episode I knew I wanted to cover it, even if I – or rather, my schedule – didn’t want to admit it, and I enjoyed writing about every single episode. Between the comedy, the politics, and the harem lead who actually deserved his harem, this was one of the pleasant surprises in a season where expectations got just about everything wrong.
Comedy was undoubtedly this series’ strongest point, both in parody and in deft comedic execution. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a show use silence so well, where a long beat (trope!) was used to calmly punctuate an already funny gag. They mixed things up admirably, giving us everything from an Akiba daito to the soccer game from hell to a movie that shouldn’t have made and more. And the swimsuit episode, and keikaku doori lolicon and blushing Garius, and, and…
The parody was also strong in this one. There were far too many to mention, but far and away my favorite were the seiyuu jokes and the glorious staff in-joke in Episode 04 when the director told a hilarious joke at his own expense. I respect a guy who can laugh at himself, and I damn sure hope he was because I was laughing hard!
But it’s the characters who really made this series shine. In Shinichi we had a loser protagonist who nonetheless did his best, came through when it counted, and earned the harem he’s not entirely sure he has acquired. Myuseru and Petrarca were both great leading ladies, but Myuseru totally stole the show in how she grew from a meek, cowardly servant to a self-assured woman confident enough in herself to chase after the man she loves…well, mostly. She’s getting there, but it’s that character growth that makes her such a treat to watch. Then there’s full-fujoshi Minori, wild artist Elbia, probably yaoi Garius, complex “villain” Jinzaburou, and many, many more. You know you have a great cast when someone like Minori doesn’t get first mention.
If Outbreak Company had a failing, it’s that I wanted more of the politics and diplomacy towards the middle. What they gave us was great and I spent the whole time laughing, but I did feel the lack, and when they tried to catch up with everything here at the end, they had to pull a few funny little plot moves to make it all work (like Shinichi running into the burning building here). I have no idea if those were in the source material, and for some I expect they were, but there are so many things they put out on the table that haven’t been sufficiently explored – racism, class warfare, how the culture will change after contamination with Japan’s otaku culture, what that will do to Petrarca’s power, etc. – that I find myself clamoring for more.
But most of all, this series was adapted really, really well. Usually with adaptations there’s a sense of awkwardness as the staff tries to cram a story designed for another medium into however many episodes they have, but there was little of that here. Oh, there was some, but only a few, and many of the “mistakes” where the character’s rather than the studio’s, which is exactly where you want them.
Overall I consider this series a smashing success, and it will likely go down as one of my favorite series of 2013. I know this is cliché to say after a series I enjoyed has ended, but screw it, here I go: Season 2! Season 2! We want a Season 2!
Check out my blog about storytelling and the fantasy novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: Look for execution, Why I don’t write fanfiction, Don’t reject feedback rashly, and Hard fantasy vs soft fantasy.