Otherside Picnic is one of many novel series coming to digital big spring in Winter 2021. A blend of Yuri, Science Fiction, and Horror, Otherside Picnic angles to tantalize viewers with the adventures of two in a world full of creepypasta monsters born from the internet itself. For many viewers, this series might sound brand new. However, Otherside Picnic had a decent amount of fame prior to its anime adaptation.
Otherside Picnic actually started as a novel, which viewers can enjoy through J-Novel Club’s on-going release of the series. Additionally, the manga is slated to release later on in 2021 through Square Enix’s manga imprint. Heading up this project is director Takuya Sato, who anime fans might know from Kase-san and Morning Glories. Sato will also handle series composition for Otherside as well. Music will be done by Takeshi Watanabe of Saki and To Love Ru fame, with character design by Ayumi Nishibata. Nishibata might be a familiar name, especially for fans of The Ancient Magus’ Bride and If My Favorite Pop Idol Made it to the Budokan, I Would Die.
Additionally, Hiroki Matsumoto (Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood) is serving as the art director, with creature design by Kazutaka Ema (Eromanga Sensei), color design by You Iwaida (Hinamatsuri), and editing by Masahiro Goto (B Gata H Kei/Yamada’s First Time). All of this is helmed by Felix Film (I Want to Eat Your Pancreas) and LIDEN FILMS (Cells at Work! Code Black, Boarding School Juliet).
The story goes like this: Sorao (originally Sorawo in the novels) Kamikoshi spends her days exploring “doors”, all of which lead into a strange, dream-like world she calls the Otherside. Most of her urban exploring has been fairly uneventful until she meets Toriko Nishina, a blonde-haired, strange young woman. Unlike Sorao, Toriko’s come to the Otherside to search for her missing friend. When Toriko gives Sorawo a helping hand, she finds herself helping out Toriko with her mission. Yet each journey into the Otherside is full of strange dangers, unease, and even stranger effects. All of this is backset by the girls growing increasingly more affected -and attracted- to one another.
Otherside Picnic episode 1, “Wiggle Waggle Hunting” takes the viewers directly into the Otherside, a place that might remind folks of things like SCP or creepypasta-inspired projects. It’s properly haunting, and thanks to the sound direction, quite accurately uneasy. This episode opens with Sorao laying in a shallow pool of water. Quietly, she ponders what would happen if she died in the Otherside. She questions who would care, or if anyone would notice she was missing -or dead- before her loan payments were due. Only then, she realizes, would her college start to care, specifically because she’d be late on a payment.
Quickly, her uneasy time in the Otherside is interrupted when a woman in denim jeans calls out to her and asks if she’s a human. Our glasses-wearing heroine shifts and sits up from the pond, declaring herself to be a human and very much so still alive. Of course, all this happens right as the Kunekune -or the Wiggle Waggle, as the English Funimation subs have chosen- decides to make its first appearance in the series.
Otherside Picnic episode 1’s is pretty effective as tablesetting for the series. You instantly get the sense that something is quite off about this world: suitable for such an eldritch horror like the Wiggle Waggle, even if its name doesn’t inspire fear. Still, the Wiggle Waggle opening is enough of a taste that viewers will probably be left uneasy until this otherworldly beasty appears again. It quickly cuts to the girls returning to real-world Japan.
Thankfully, the monsters here are more human instead of closer to SCPs and urban legends. Things slow down, and Sorao and Toriko -our two leads- catch their breath in Sorawo’s apartment. But of course, in a series ladden with real monsters and horrors lingering in the corner, things can’t stay peaceful for too long, and soon, the Otherside creeps into reality, knocking at Sorao’s door.
Yet the draw of the Otherside and its secrets are too much. Plus, Toriko still has a friend to find in that mysterious realm. It’s not long before the girls are finding their way through another “door” into the Otherside. Only this time, they’re packing heat, rock salt, and are more than ready to take out that darn Wiggle Waggle. It’s another foray into where I imagine we’ll spend a good amount of our time during this course. That’s actually the most fascinating aspect of this series. Otherside Picnic has a truly unique relationship to urban legends and netlore. It’s a really unique way to engage with horror. Rather than going with things like werewolves or vampires or more “traditional” beasts that haunt the night, Otherside Picnic has chosen to entangle itself with user-generated stories come to life.
In fact, Otherside Picnic episode 1 tangles with quite a few bits of internet horror. Most notably, the Wiggle Waggle, but also elevator myths and loads of creepypasta that’ll haunt you into the night. It’s a really engaging hook, especially for a first episode. Hopefully, it’ll pay off as the cour continues into the meat of the story.
The animation style is honestly…quite generic, and perhaps the weakest part of this series. In fact, I think this might remain the weakest aspect, even by the end. The style de-ages Sorawo and Toriko, who are supposed to be college students. Honestly, because of it’s kind of simplistic design, it makes them resemble high schoolers. It’s a bit of a letdown, especially since this is an adult-focused Yuri anime. I expect both of the girls to settle into the shows’ artstyle as the series finds its footing. Still, that’s ultimately a small complaint about such a solid first episode, though I think I’ll always lament the art direction just a little.
What really stands out to me as a viewer is a sound direction.. It’s really, really solid, and adds that perfect bit of ugh to the atmosphere, especially when the girls head to the Otherside. There are lots of little warped, electronic sounds alongside minor chords plucked out on strings when the series really sinks its teeth into the horror aspects. It’s satisfying and hopefully, should provide a few shivers during your watch.
In fact, Otherside Picnic episode 1 really comes out very strong in this aspect. I felt absolutely grossed out when I saw the Wiggle Waggle. This was in part because of the sound and music that makes the scene work so well. I felt this multiple times during my inaugural watch. I truly really hope that the sound direction continues to follow this very positive trend. It’s nice to hear the series play with making the viewer uneasy!
In the end, Otherside Picnic episode 1 is a solid start to a pretty interesting series about creepypasta come to life, as well as a story of two young women finding their way into adulthood. This might be because I’m working with prior knowledge from the novels. Still, I think this is a great jumping-off point for getting into the series. Otherside Picnic episode 1 is full of creepy-crawliness and budding female friendship, all backset by the uncanny unreality of the Otherside.
In truth, I’m not sure how the adaptation will handle the novels overall. I’d say it’s looking like a pretty sure start. I truly am excited to see where this series will go over the next eleven episodes. I’m almost certain that this adaptation will take its viewers to all sorts of interesting places.
Otherside Picnic is streaming now on Funimation.
Otherside Picnic Episode 1 “Wiggle Waggle Hunting”
- Rating - 9/109/10