- File Size: 26733 KB
- Publisher: J-Novel Club (November 17, 2017)
- Publication Date: November 17, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0762F9272
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,124 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Outbreak Company: Volume 1 Kindle Edition
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The story begins with a flashback to the main character, Shinichi Kanou, confessing his feelings to a lifelong friend whom he has fallen for... and being rejected immediately. The reason? Because he is an "otaku". An otaku is someone who has a passionate (at times, but rarely, obsessive) interest for any topic or such. Usually this is manga, anime, light novels, so on, but it can be anything. Though it has begun to get better in recent years, there has been a bit of a prejudice against otaku in Japan.
Anyways, this leads to Shinichi becoming a depressed shut-in for a few years, until his parents break down his door and give him an ultimatum: either go back to school or get a job, otherwise, MOVE OUT. Due to the fear he has of being bullied due to his shut-in life of recent, he decides to attempt to get a job and join the workforce. It should be noted that in Japan one is not actually required to go to high school, though I imagine most do so due to a desire to have a good career, social norms, so on.
All of this background is important to understand for the plot for this and future novels. Moving on, Shinichi gets an interview through a fishy-looking ad for a *very* well-paying job for someone with his low qualifications (above all else a vast knowledge of otakuism). It should be noted that Shinichi *realizes* how fishy this place he's interviewing at seems, but he assumes it has to be legit, since it is located right next to a police station. I mean, who would do something not above-board right next to a police station? Well, *one* type of entity would...
Once he gets to the job interview site, he is drugged and then wakes up to find himself in an alternate universe, the stuff of Light Novels, manga, anime, so forth. He has a beautiful female JSDF (Japanese military) bodyguard, a half-elf girl maid, a lizard man guy for a manservant and groundskeeper. Moreover, his new job is, as head of a government-created company on a secret mission to this other world: to introduce the Japanese otaku goods of which he is such an expert to this untapped market as a way to open up relations and make money to help solve national budgetary issues.
Moreover, he was chosen for several reasons, one of which being he won't be missed because a former shut-in with low job prospects like him disappearing isn't uncommon. No on will really, it is believed, make a fuss. So now he is *stuck* in this new world with no concern for his being missing. Of course, this raises some scary implications of the way things are done in Japan, but it's not like this isn't something that happens elsewhere with similar assumptions and lack of fuss.
But this is only one half of the story. The other part is that while Shinichi is, at first, stoked about this whole situation, and does remain optimistic, there are some issues that bring him down to earth and show him that this is not the fun, fantasy situation he thinks it should be. This has to do with the research and thought I said the author put into things.
You see, if a world has a caste system as this alternate one does, and rigid rules for society with those in power expecting to be so, and those not in power being abused and conditioned to accept it, how would someone like Shinichi and the Japanese company he works for be viewed? Strangely, though hopefully, by the ruled, and with either perplexity, or even outright hatred, by the ruling class. Though - fortunately for Shinichi - with the top echelons it is more perplexity and exasperation, there are all too many who are filled with hatred.
Moreover, how does one break through to a population (most of the population are the ruled) that interprets anything other than overzealous cheerfulness as a prelude to a beating of their commoner servants? It's hard.
Also, Shinichi begins to uncomfortably wonder, is this whole effort really just for the sake of earning money and to begin diplomatic relations with the kingdom of Eldant (the one first and primarily encountered by Japan in this new world)? Or are those who hate Shinichi correct in their fears of some type of cultural or other invasion?
Yes, believe it or not, despite the silly premise of the main character sent to another world to propagate the love of "moe" (cute fictional characters you want to protect) and other Japanese culture, the story does take itself seriously and put forth these and other questions. Even with some of the silly answers and further plot developments that come up eventually this is still the case, as they a) make sense in context, and b) are well-thought out with some (if the reader thinks carefully) real world comparisons.
What makes this work, though, are the characters, even if many we don't see all of them for much of the time. Thus, the at-times serious and at-times silly plot is tied together them. Shinichi is someone who at first appears to be a pervert, but that is really just his lack of a filter for what he thinks and such, probably in part due to his time as a shut-in. He is a good boy with a good heart, and while he may seem useless, he is actually fairly intelligent and empathetic, as well as quick on his feet. Minori, his bodyguard, is patient, beautiful, and has her own hidden hobbies that both perplex and amuse Shinichi. She is also a badass fighter in the way that a military member is expected to be. Good at fighting to an extent, but not ninja girl. Myusel, the maid, is a kind, intelligent, sweet, and really badass girl. Once Shinichi gets past her outer shell of conditioned fear, their friendship is really heart-warming.
Brooke the lizard man is a cool, huge guy who is just as conditioned as Myusel, but is perhaps easier to get to due in part to his body being impervious to most blows other than with a blunt enough object (which Shinichi would *never* do, but Brooke doesn't know that at first). Matoba is the shady, maybe good or maybe evil - or hell, maybe somewhere in between - boss of the whole thing back in Japan. The empress Petralka is a royal brat who still has a good heart, once she gets past her own conditioned prejudices, and her cousin Galius is her patient protector who is hinted at being bisexual.
Indeed, without the characters' interactions making the story what it is, it would have been either kinda depressing, or kinda *overly* silly to read. Instead, it was funny, cute, and filled with folks you either wanted to strangle or hug at any moment. The author was masterful with using these folks to convey the right balance of serious and humorous, and to show the stakes of what is happening. Instead of actually saying things, some of what happens is "read between the lines" of the characters' words, actions, so on.
The art was actually really good and among the better examples I've seen in a Light Novel. Perhaps in part because it isn't trying to be "artsy", but just was straight-forward. It reminds me of some of the art in a traditional manga, but better than most.
This was a series with a silly premise, but one where the author took the premise seriously, and created an adventure that is engaging and well-worth a read.
Rating: 5/5 Stars.
Not only did I enjoy the anime in-jokes, but also the level of depth to the story. It wasn’t just about smashing monsters or doing cool things. Rather it was about the people who live in the world. Why they do the things they do, even when they are not what we expect.
Well worth a read, and I will be buying the rest in the series as soon as they are translated. Pre-orders for the win!
I recognize the irony in saying that last statement considering the story has Shinichi Kanou enter a fantasy world.