Outbreak Company, Vol. 4

By Ichiro Sakaki and Yuugen. Released in Japan by Kodansha. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Kevin Steinbach.

This is quite a short volume of Outbreak Company, and as such it doesn’t really do a heck of a lot to advance the forward plot. Its main thrust can be divided into three: 1) Due to the soccer game from last book being filmed and then leaked onto Youtube, Shinichi and company have to figure out how to cover up something that’s already gone viral; 2) Petralka is starting to burn out a bit, and her advisors aren’t really sure how to deal with a teenage empress; and 3) the author has realized that Minori hasn’t really had much of a backstory, and thus has Shinichi actually notice she’s uncomfortable when he calls her feminine and asks her about her past and background. In the afterword, the author says this was supposed to be Minori’s book but Petralka sort of shoved herself in; I think that may have been a good idea, as while Minori’s past is suitably sad, it doesn’t really tie into anything else. It’s there just for development.

Minori doesn’t even get the cover (she was the logical choice), as instead we have Magical Girl Petralka. Shinichi’s idea to stop the Youtube rumors is to put out a few more video clips that make it clear that this is a movie, and that it’s just CGI people saw. This dovetails nicely with Petralka needing a bit of distraction from the heavy weight of power, and so she ends up being the star. Unfortunately, as you’d expect from a girl who’s done nothing but rule the country or be prepared to rule the country, Petralka decides she likes life on the other side a bit TOO much, and needs to be smacked back with some harsh reality. These are probably the best scenes in the book, and show off the main reason why Outbreak Company is still a good read – Shinichi is very good at reading people, and figuring out what they need.

As for Minori, despite telling Shinichi about her past, and saying that she understands why the other girls have all fallen for him, there’s no indication that she has done the same, which is fine with me. She gre up as the Heir to the Dojo, but as iwth a lot of Heirs to the Dojo who are female, her dad wanted a boy and she can’t help but always be inadequate. Puberty also didn’t help, which is probably why Shinichi’s obsession wi8th her large breasts is not all that welcome (though I would not expect it to end either – this is still a Japanese light novel). That said, she gets to save the day when a large dragon attacks the film site (which is the one part of the book hinting at future plotlines, as the dragon seems to have been mind controlled by another nation), and hopefully she’ll feel more comfortable with herself as the series goes on.

This wasn’t the best volume of Outbreak Company, and it felt more like filling time than anything else. But there were still lots of good scenes and funny character bits, and it’s enough to tide us over till the next book, which I hope is more plot-heavy.

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