By Ichiro Sakaki and Yuugen. Released in Japan by Kodansha. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Kevin Steinbach.
Japanese anime and manga cater to their audience, and knows what the audience wants. And since Japan lives sports, that means a lot of sports manga. Over here in North America, we’re finally at the point where sports manga is also very popular, but for years it was the opposite, and titles like Whistle! or Prince of Tennis were the odd ones out. It didn’t have a built-in audience. And that’s the issue that Shinichi is dealing with in this volume, as the elves and dwarves in his class are unable to relate to the various types of sports manga that are being offered, because… there really aren’t any sports in their world. So there’s only one thing for it: it’s time to introduce the Eldant Empire to the glories of soccer. Of course, best-laid plans and all that… if you guessed that this would end with a giant melee battle, you’d be right.
Since we’re presented with that cover at this point, let’s get what I didn’t like about this volume out of the way here. I am not all that fond of when Outbreak Company tries to be a typical harem comedy romance, which means that the whole plotline of Elvia being in heat didn’t do much for me, nor was I bowled over by Petralka sitting on Shinichi’s lap and his reminding us constantly how much like a little girl she looks (and frequently acts). Myusel is a notable exception to this , and the interaction he has with her has a greater depth of feeling than any of the others – I’m not sure if romance will ever be resolved in this title, but I know who Best Girl is in my opinion.
That said, the rest of the book is far stronger. The plotline of the second book is mostly dropped, as the Japanese government deals with yet another prime minister and so has dialed things back. The introduction of soccer, and the inherent disasters that become revealed o0nce you realize that most of the players involved can do magic and there are no explicit rules saying you can’t use it, is fast-paced, funny, and entertaining. The best part of the book, though, was the development of Brooke as a character, giving us a tragic backstory, but also greater insight into how the Lizardmen think and react to things. Outbreak Company’s goal is to show that prejudice against other races is bacd, and in this volume we see that even the seemingly cold and impenetrable Lizardmen can turn out to have similarities to humans deep down. It was really well handled.
I’m not really sure if there is a grand final plan for this series beyond “introduce otaku things and watch the fun stuff that happens”, “continue to show that equality is a good thing”, and the occasional “oh no I’m getting aroused by these gorgeous girls but don’t realize they may actually like me” moment. But I’m content to find out, and regard Outbreak Company as a nice solid series in J-Novel Club’s lineup.