Originally a light novel series written by Iori Miyazawa, Otherside Picnic received both anime and manga adaptations. This post shall be focusing on the manga adaptation by Eita Mizuno, and licensed for an English release by Square Enix Manga & Books.
The story focuses on two girls – Sorawo Kamikoshi and Toriko Nishina – who venture into a strange world known as the Otherside, where urban legends are real.
This first volume contains chapters one through to five.
THE DANGEROUS AND DEADLY REALM OF THE OTHERSIDE – WHERE URBAN LEGENDS ROAM – CALLS TO TWO WOMEN!
In search of escape from her dreary existence, amateur explorer, depressed college student, and all-around loner Sorawo stumbles upon a portal to a curious destination – the Otherside, a mysterious realm just next door to the real world that is haunted by urban legends comes to life and rife with danger. Following a close call with a creature both repulsive and mesmerising in this parallel world, Sorawo is rescued by the beautiful Toriko, and the two girls form a tenuous friendship. As they venture into the unknown time and again for research, money, and to locate a dear friend, what horrors await them in their struggle to navigate and survive the extraordinary and bizarre Otherside?!
The Otherside Picnic manga pretty much starts in the same place as its light novel and anime versions – with Sorawo on the precipice of death. Of course that leads to her fateful meeting with Toriko, and is the start of their exploration of the Otherside together.
What I find interesting about any version of Otherside Picnic is the urban legends being given a form. From the original light novel, I felt like a lot of them were supposed to be vague, or even defy description. Obviously, in both the anime and manga, these things have to be seen in some manner. Seeing different artists’ takes on these phenomena is pretty intriguing – I just hope they weren’t subject to the same effects as Sorawo by looking at them for too long.
We also have some slight differences in translation between light novel and manga – the Kunekune is referred to as the “Wriggler” in the manga. Once again, I still prefer “Kunekune”. It’s not really all that much of a deal, but something I will point out. Slight differences in translations like this would never deter from skipping out one in favour of the other.
Although there may be some small translation differences, the manga does feel closer to the light novel than the anime does – at least for this first volume. It’s still pretty early days, but I’d wager that will probably continue to be the case.
With that being said, the manga offers up some pretty good stuff in a more visual medium than the light novel series. Those urban legends are still just as fascinating to learn about regardless of the version of the story. Being urban legends also generally allows them to be open to interpretation, and that’s something that can be seen across the three versions of Otherside Picnic.
Pretty solid stuff from Eita Mizuno with this manga adaptation. It’s only the first volume, but I do feel it is much more faithful to Iori Miyazawa’s light novels than the anime was. Though with that said, I will mention that I think Otherside Picnic is definitely worth checking out, and having three different ways to do so is nice.