Otherside Picnic (Manga) 01 review – a sci-fi classic gets a new manga interpretation.

Based on a hit series of light novels that inspired a recent anime series, Otherside Picnic is a new sci-fi manga series that explores the unusual places love can develop. While on the trail of alleged paranormal activity, amateur urban explorer, depressed college student, and all-around loner Sorawo discovers a door to a curious destination – the Otherside. There, she has a near-miss with a creature both repulsive and mesmerizing… but before she can fall prey to the strange beast, the beautiful Toriko comes to her rescue! What horrors await the pair as they continue to explore this parallel world and its bizarre and dangerous denizens?!

Otherside Picnic takes much of its inspiration from the classic Russian sci-fi novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, which is also based around aliens from another visiting from another world. But the manga also goes beyond the sci-field by bringing together two subgenres in manga that have seen massive growth in popularity in recent years. First and foremost being the Isekai (other world) genre which has become one of the dominant genres when it comes to popular new manga series from all publishers. The second being yuri which has seen a big rise in popularity amongst manga fans given the higher prevalence of LGBTQ titles amongst mainstream releases. Combined, this is a fresh experience that brings together the best tropes from all these genres.

Sorawo and Toriko have a strong and classic dynamic that helps carry the opening volume. Sorawo is the introverted type who has more than her fair share of emotional baggage, whilst Toriko is the more adventurous extroverted type. The chemistry is already pretty evident and Sorawo’s growing attraction to Toriko is nicely handled. But the main appeal definitely has to be the Otherside – the mysterious other world where creatures like the monstrous Wiggle-Waggle lurk. These creatures are the main purpose of Toriko’s hunt who hide in a world which can only be accessed from certain spots. Not only does it open creative storytelling avenues, but also creates the opportunity to showcase some fantastic monster designs and terrific action sequences from artist Mizuno Eita.

Otherside Picnic has a broad appeal that will attract various categories of manga fans. This is definitely more than your average sci-fi manga.

Otherside Picnic (Manga) 01 is out 2 September from Square Enix Manga (9781646091065, p/b, £9.99)

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