Three generic fantasy shows have aired so far this season. Scamp already covered Totally Not Sword Art Online, and Yuushibu is somehow more generic despite hollow attempts at appearing otherwise, so I’m left with Outbreak Company to completely disregard as trashy moeshit. Unfortunately, that’s the exact way that Outbreak Company describes itself, so that takes the fun out of lobbing insults at it.
I actually kind of enjoy the forthrightness with which it presents itself. Outbreak Company knows that the concept of a bumbling numbfuck furthering cultural understanding through anime and manga is an interestingly ludicrous sell, and it has no reason to expound on itself past that. It’s so stupidly obvious, and obviously stupid, that it’s quite a draw. It’s the kind of self confidence that I can get behind, even if half of the characters have heads like potatoes.
But therein also lays the biggest problem with the show. There are elf maids. There are dragons. There are armies encased in plate-mail astride horses that defend glistening white cities ruled by a young Cersei Lannister. There’s not one thing that we haven’t seen at least a million times before, even in the same medium. The show’s chances of being interesting hinge almost entirely on Bumbling Numbfuck’s ability to taint a pseudo-medieval fantasy universe with anime in new, interesting ways. It has to amount to more than him showing them Mars of Destruction, then their collective society gasping in wonder at how advanced the Japanese entertainment industry is. Winking multiple times in the same episode at how generic it is doesn’t do the trick.
That’s not to say that he can’t spice things up, of course. It’s entirely possible to pander, and have a modicum of intelligence in the process, even if it is being completely straight-faced. I can think of a hundred ways that anime could be used to taint a population that still live in hovels made of smallpox victims; a thousand if we’re allowed to factor in elf maids. I’m sure Outbreak Company will touch on at least a few, and be competently strung together in the process. The attempt to bridge the divide in culture may even provide pointed commentary, if the series is feeling particularly edgy. But until the queen dies in a tragic school festival accident and a Cardcaptor Sakura cosplay contest is used to determine the successor (an elf maid), the prospects for actually being memorable and unique are dubious at best.
Since I doubt that’ll happen, and it’ll opt instead for having Bumbling Numbfuck teach Elf Maid how to love and/or end elf racism, I don’t think this’ll be my cup of tea. Nonetheless, I’ll keep watching; after all, it may surprise me. I’m not brimming with excitement at the idea of more, but I’m not glazed over with boredom either.