Otherside Picnic is a yuri science fiction novel series written by Iori Miyazawa and illustrated by shirakaba. The first omnibus contains volumes one and two: “Their Strange Exploration Files” and “Resort Night at the Beach of the End”, respectively.
J-Novel Club licensed the novels for an English release.
Sorawo Kamikoshi’s first encounter with Toriko Nishina was on the Otherside, right after witnessing an otherworldly apparition and almost dying. Ever since that day Sorawo’s life as an exhausted university student changed forever. In the Otherside, a place where internet urban legends become real, dangerous beings like the Kunekune and Hasshaku-sama appear – specters she’d only ever heard whispered of in online ghost stories. Toriko and Sorawo set foot into this abnormal world for research, for profit – and to find a missing person that is near and dear to someone’s heart. A tale of two girls’ bizarre exploration and survival, brought to you by an up-and-coming Sci-fi author!
Otherside Picnic focuses on Sorawo and Toriko’s exploration of the mysterious world they dub as the Otherside. It is a place where internet creeypastas become the real deal; Miyazawa even includes complete references to the stories that inspired each chapter at the end of each volume. They do refer to Japanese sites, though, so that’s something to bear in mind should you want to try looking into these stories yourself.
The main reason that Toriko ventures into the Otherside is a search for someone, and Sorawo finds herself accompanying her. Sorawo is the narrator of the stories, and she mentions on multiple occasions how attractive Toriko is.
Seems Sorawo’s interest in the occult is not the only thing driving her to venture into such a dangerous place. Sometimes, though, they don’t exactly have a choice.
Not every adventure into the Otherside is one that the pair intend to embark upon. Sometimes they just end up in there against their will, and that’s when things tend to get quite difficult for them. Fortunately an early encounter with a denizen of the Otherside gives both Sorawo and Toriko something they need to get by there. Only if they are together though; they need each other.
Using all sorts of internet rumours as the basis for the Otherside encounters is a fascinating idea, and it is something that gives it almost unlimited possibilities. Some of the things Sorawo and Toriko encounter are genuinely chilling, and then sometimes we get things like… ah, no I don’t think I will spoil that one. It’s a fun chapter, though.
Besides the Otherside exploration, something that is key in Otherside Picnic is the relationship between our two lead characters, Sorawo and Toriko. They discover more and more about each other as the plot progresses. I think it’s pretty easy to see what Sorawo thinks of Toriko. Toriko, on the other hand, maybe needs to worry less about her search and focus more on what’s right in front of her.
The only other main recurring character we have is Kozakura, whom Toriko introduces to Sorawo. I’d argue she’s the most fun of the characters, even if she does prefer to keep herself cooped up at home. She just plays so well off of both Sorawo and Toriko. Kozakura makes the fourth chapter a real treat, as she features heavily in it.
I’ve alluded to the relationship between Sorawo and Toriko a few times, though I should probably mention that these couple of volumes don’t go into it super heavily or anything. It’s more of a slow build up, though we do get some notable moments between the two.
Otherside Picnic is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and the use of internet rumours as a basis offers up fantastic possibilities. Definitely one worth looking into if you fancy reading some sci-fi.