Outbreak Company, Vol. 6

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

It can sometimes be a bit striking how blase this series is about the government of Japan wanting Shinichi to be murdered because he ruined their grand plans. The Japanese side of things are simply one of the villainous factions in the books, and this time around they put into place a new plan: give Shinichi an assistant who turns out to be better than him at everything and watch him slowly lose confidence and break. Or at least, that would be an excellent plan if that was their actual intent. Because in that respect it works out quite well, and it’s only the heartfelt feelings of Myucel that manage to win him back from depressed land. No, instead Japan and the new character seem to be dedicated to destroying the country through commerce one way or another, and while they don’t succeed, things do get a bit dicey. Fortunately, as always, Shinichi is here to win the day with a really irritating otaku speech that grates on my nerves.

On the cover is Hikaru, who is the new Japanese “assistant” to Shinichi who is there to shake things up. Honestly, she should share the cover with Shinichi, but I know a lot of light novels refuse to have the main character on the covers, possibly as they still tend to think in terms of “faceless unseen protagonist” from ero games. Speaking of ero games, Hikaru is willing to do anything to get profits for the Japanese side, even if that means importing trading cards (the rare ones immediately get traded for massive amounts of money) and, yes, erotic games, which is causing the kids of Shinichi’s school to turn into, well, puberty-infested boys who refuse to leave their game. (The fact that the ultimate solution for this issue is to give them body pillows instead of games shows us where the issue ultimately lies.) Unfortunately, turning a bunch of the nobles’ kids into addicts is not what Shinichi had in mind. What’s worse, in the games you can create your own girl to moon over… and some are creating girls that look a lot like the Queen.

There’s a lot of discussion in this volume about the ‘otaku’, and how they’re viewed in Japan. Hikaru seemingly hates them with a passion, and regards them as the root of all evil. Some of this is related to Hikaru’s past, but there is a certain amount of truth to the idea of “let’s find a game/anime we can blame this tragedy on” to both Japan and North America. That said, ‘gaming addiction’ is clearly the motif here, and I really liked the fact that Shinichi accepted that it was ultimately his responsibility for what happened, and he thus sets out to correct things. A kidnapping helps to add a bit of excitement to things (the kidnapping, it turns out, is unrelated to the game issue), but for the most part this volume turns on Shinichi vs. Hikaru, and how they both view this world and the people in it. Shinichi is an empathic guy, as we’ve seen time and time again, and this is why he’s trusted by the Eldian people, despite his goody @D speeches.

Next volume we take a break for short stories, but I’m sure that there’s more political machinations to come. In the meantime, this was a pretty good volume of Outbreak Company. Plus this is past where the anime ended, I believe.

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