harem

Outbreak Company

Outbreak Company

Outbreak Company

  • Trailer: Opening animation
  • What it’s about: Filling in an online “Otaku Quiz” is an odd way for your life to be turned upside-down, but that’s exactly what’s happened to Shinichi. It turns out that the Japanese government has made contact with another world, one filled with magical races and fantastical creatures. The ruler of this strange land has expressed an interest in learning about Japanese culture, and it’s down to Shinichi to act as a “cultural ambassador”, exporting anime, manga, and otaku culture to a new frontier.
  • Why you should watch it: It’s a fairly light-hearted comedy mixed with a fantasy adventure. Outbreak Company is otaku culture poking fun at itself, with constant references to existing anime, manga, or media tropes. On top of the referential jokes and self-parody are a lot of slapstick and some relationship humour between Shinichi and the expanding cast of characters that he meets as part of his new job. And while there’s plenty to laugh at, the show actually does do a good job of conveying some deeper messages about cultural imperialism, discrimination, and commercialism. It also has a half-elf maid, animal-girls, and a tsundere princess. What’s not to love?
  • Caveats: The show doesn’t make many mistakes, as such, but it never really tries to be *great*. While I had a lot of fun while watching it, I don’t really expect to remember all that much about the characters or plot a year from now. In short, it’s a fun but ultimately disposable show.
  • Themes: It has a little to say about a lot of things. Commercialism, materialism, objectification, cultural imperialism, the negatives and positives of “otaku culture”. But at its core, it’s about spreading the ideas that you love and support to another person, while desperately hoping that they’ll like it too. Overall, the thematic development plays second or third fiddle to the comedy and fan-service elements of the show, which is just fine in a fun, light-hearted show like this.
  • Similar works: No Game No Life. For a more serious take on “Modern Japan meets fantasy world”, Gate.

Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance

Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance

bladedance

  • Trailer: Anime opening/intro
  • What it’s about: Areisha Academy has long been the place to go to train in handling elemental spirits, for those with the talent and the social rank to qualify. Of course, only women are capable of forming a contract with these spirits in the first place. At least until word comes down that a new student will be arriving shortly, a male student named Kamito. Why is he here, and does it have something to do with the upcoming inter-school Blade Dance tournament?
  • Why you should watch it: It’s a harem romcom with a heavy action focus, similar to Infinite Stratos or Familiar of Zero. The protagonist is refreshingly competent and willing to flirt with the many girls he ends up running into, on and off of the battlefield. He’s neither dense, nor a pervert, nor incompetent, unlike so many harem male leads. The whole story is leavened by a strong dose of slapstick humour and ecchi fanservice – oh so much fanservice. The action scenes are brightly animated and have some nice choreography to them, and the show does well at spinning out the mystery of Kamito’s past. It’s a fun, lighthearted romp.
  • Caveats: The show doesn’t really venture very far out of the established tropes of the genre. Which is perfectly fine if you’re a fan of shows like this and want to see more of the same. But it is just that – more of the same.
  • Similar works: Infinite Stratos, Familiar of Zero.

Is This a Zombie?

Is This a Zombie?

korewazombie

  • Trailer: English dubbed version
  • What it’s about: Aikawa Ayumu was your everyday garden-variety high school student until he made the mistake of trying to save someone from a serial killer. Now he’s a zombie, trying to figure out who killed him. But that’s only the start of his troubles, as he encounters a series of increasingly bizarre characters and ends up gaining the ability to transform into a “Magical Garment Girl”, complete with cute girly outfit, disturbingly fetishised transformation sequence and magical chainsaw.
  • Why you should watch it: It’s tropey, silly, and its premise is out and out ridiculous, but it’s utterly unashamed about it and the result is surprisingly charming. This is not a complex story, but it’s funny and over the top, and it’s easy entertainment for those days when you don’t want to put too much thought into anything.
  • Caveats: See the “why watch it” segment above – this kind of show doesn’t appeal to everyone, but if you like the sound of it, you’ll probably enjoy it.
  • Similar works: Angel Beats! and Hataraku Maou-sama, to some degree.