Otherside Picnic, Vol. 5

By Iori Miyazawa and shirakaba. Released in Japan as “Urasekai Picnic” by Hayakawa Bunko JA. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

This may be the least horror-themed volume to date, with the stories in this book, with the exception of the final one, more focused on either a) the relationship between Sorawo and Toriko, or b) the nature of the Otherside as a world in which it is possible to stay, be it animal or person, and manage to avoid too much weird creepiness. The Otherside does not necessarily have to turn anything and everything into an urban legend or creeping horror… it’s just that is what it seems to do when Sorawo is around. A lot of the Otherside that we’ve seen to date seems to be very focused on her in particular, so it’s interesting to see it when it’s either literally reflecting on the relationship between her and Toriko or just showing a happy old woman and her dog staying at a swank Otherside estate. That said, there are still some scary moments in this book, particularly the final story, where, as the subtitle suggests, our heroines run into an old foe.

We get four stories this time around. In the first, Sorawo is desperately trying to recall what happened the night of a love hotel girls’ party that she and Toriko (and Kozakura, Akari and Natsumi, because Sorawo is a big chicken) were at. Was it really just “I got too drunk and did something stupid?” Or did she put the whammy on her friends with her Eye of Power? The second story, and my favorite, has Sorawo hunt down Toriko, who has been avoiding her after the party, at Toriko’s college. She finds her, but shortly afterwards becomes trapped in interstitial space, and gets a good look at how Toriko sees Sorawo. Then it’s back to the Otherside, where they spot the most terrifying Otherside denizen yet… Sorawo’s self-confidence. Oh yes, and a borzoi. Finally, the two are hired by the wife of the first man they met in the Otherside to find him… never mind the fact that he was there to find her, or that they saw him killed. Who’s the child they’re seeing hiding in a pile of garbage? And why is Hasshaku-sama behind this?

Not to spoil too much, but in the fourth volume we finally had Toriko make it as explicit as possible that she loves Sorawo, and in this 5th volume Sorawo is finally able to say it back, after literally seeing herself through Toriko’s eyes, and also realizing that Toriko is actually a normal, fallible human being and not a flawless goddess of beauty. There’s little of Sorawo’s descriptive Toriko prose here, and she seems to be (well, leaving aside the first story) more accepting of their relationship. She still has a tendency to hate herself as much as humanly possible, and I suspect the relationship is not going to get much further unless she can clear that hurdle, but hey, baby steps. We also get a good look at what the Otherside is like when it’s simply… accepted. Not leaving one spot too much, avoiding dangerous areas, etc. Turns out… it’s pretty nice. The third story was my second favorite, and I wonder if we’ll see the woman and her dog again.

That said, my big question, and the book ends with it being very much up in the air, is what’s up with that kid? (For a while I thought she was literally Sorawo as a child in some sort of time breaking shenanigans, but apparently not?) In any case, there hopefully will be less wait for the 6th volume. If the anime didn’t impress you, try the novels, they’re much better.

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  1. Erica Friedman says

    Yeah, that ending was really abrupt. I agree entirely that the second story was the strongest, but I have a lot of questions about it – I’ll be talking about them in my review tomorrow. I think the Otherside is not just focused on Sorawo…I think she’s, to some extent, manifesting it.

    Clearly the UBL is changing Sorawo and Toriko and they are changing it. But this volume left me with a lot of questions.

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