Outbreak Company, Vol. 9

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

Honestly, returning to Japan for a visit was an obvious plotline. So obvious, in fact, that the anime (which I haven’t seen) apparently also used it in an original story. This time Shinichi hears that his light novel author dad is hospitalized and worries, so he asks if he can return to Japan, despite the fact that the Japanese government recently tried to kill him. But there’s been a regime change since the series began, and maybe he’s not quite as wanted? So he returns, with Minori as his guard, Myusel and Elvia also has his bodyguards (and disguised), and Petralka hiding in the luggage so she can come too. Fortunately, his dad is fine. Unfortunately, that leaked soccer game footage has led to everyone in it being wanted by most major world governments. As a result, Minori is captured by the Russians, while Shinichi and the others are menaced by Chinese and Americans. And worst of all, his sister has turned into a tsundere!

The first three-quarters of this book is set up for comedy, and it’s decent comedy, with only one of two instances of “dur… boobs!” from our hero. Shinichi’s parents are just as over the top as they were in the first novel, and his dad in particular is amusing and reminds me very much of Shinichi himself. As for the little sister, you can see why she’s frustrated with her entire family, but also why “Shinichi’s gone to India to find himself” did not really fly. Not sure how much more we’ll see of her, but she’s cute. The sections in Akiba are also fun, with Petralkas getting lured in by gatcha games, Myusel maid fangirling, and Elvia really REALLY wanting some expensive artbooks. It’s only as they get surrounded by more and more people who recognize them that you realize how foolish it was to return (and really, Minori should have realized this would happen) and things get very serious very fast.

We are unlikely to see more Outbreak Company animated, which is a shame, as the car chase that is towards the end of the book is top tier, and shows Elvia, Myusel and Shinichi all being pretty damn badass. The book ends on a cliffhanger as, having returned home for lack of other safe havens, they are surrounded by more bad guys. There are also a few other odd hints here and there that Japan and Eldant may be meshing together a bit as, while magic mostly does not seem to work here as it does there, there are moments where that does not seem to be the case – in particular, moments where the girls who can’t speak Japanese are acting like action heroes. Also, how much of an international incident is everyone going to make of this? And is Minori OK? We never saw her after she was captured. It’s a good thing this series is light-heated in nature…

Outbreak Company is a fast-paced comedy that also has some really good character beats. I still enjoy it.

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