Miyu TomitaAi KayanoRina HidakaTakuya Sato
Otherside Picnic
Also known as: Urasekai Picnic
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2021
Writer/director: Takuya Sato
Original creator: Iori Miyazawa
Actor: Ai Kayano, Miyu Tomita, Rina Hidaka, Yumiri Hanamori
Keywords: anime, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=23073
Website category: Anime 2021
Review date: 16 November 2022
Ura sekai Picnic
It's theoretically interesting, but drab. I like the ideas, but I couldn't empathise when Sorawo and Toriko kept returning to this ugly, grey, lethal world of monsters.
Sorawo is a dull person with no real social skills, but she has an unusual ability. She can travel to another world. She calls it the Otherside and it looks as if someone took a train out to the arse end of nowhere and dropped a bomb on it. It has enough relics of civilisation that I was assuming throughout that it was Earth in the distant future. (A less interesting alternative would be a parallel Earth.) It is, though, full of ghosts, monsters, deathtraps and lots of other things that will kill you without warning if you so much as step on the wrong spot.
Toriko is a glamorous blonde who's looking for a friend of hers who went missing in the Otherside. She finds Sorawo and soon they're regularly visiting the Otherside together.
The question is "why". (In fairness, Toriko asks Sorawo that at the end of ep.12.) I could understand if it weren't so scary and lethal. Toriko and Sorawo acquire guns and are unhappy in ep.11 to be denied the opportunity to own a military arms dump. They also quite often shoot the Otherside's not-people.
Occasionally, the show has a sense of humour. Kozakura can be a laugh. (She's a small, grumpy coward who loves buying Otherside artefacts, but will howl and snarl if she accidentally ends up there. I suppose that makes her a bad-tempered equivalent of Scooby and/or Shaggy, alongside Sorawo's Daphne and Toriko's Velma.) I also liked the karate-happy Akari Seto, whom I refuse to call Scrappy Doo because she's far too endearing for that.
I also loved the ninja cats episode. Yes, the show knows how silly that is.
Conversely, though, the show can also be stupid. Ep.6 made me swear. Our heroines meet a bunch of American soldiers who've been lost in the Otherside for months (possibly longer?) and are fraying at the edges psychologically. They've suffered significant casualties. Toriko and Sorawo might be lucky not to have been gang-raped. These soldiers have fought all kinds of insane, horrible things and are stuck in a land of weird. One of them advises our heroines not to use their phones... so they immediately try to use their phones. Oi, idiots. Piss off. Next, they're told that there's about to be a firefight and so they should sit tight. They immediately sneak off. (Yes, they also later save the day, but for me that doesn't excuse their earlier actions.)
This isn't an easy series to categorise. Imagine a lesbian road movie that's also a spooky supernatural horror anthology. (Sorawo and Toriko haven't actually declared their sexual orientation, but it seems likely that that's what the series has in mind.) The tone's delicate and unusual. I wouldn't tell anyone not to watch it. It's quite an interesting series in many ways... but I'm not convinced that I'd watch a second season.