Studio: LIDENFILMS and Felix Films
Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi
Otherside Picnic is an anime that’s holding its cards close to its chest. Rather than spending the first episode setting up the world and letting the viewer learn about it, instead, we jump straight into the action with very little explanation of what is happening. University student, Sarao appears to be in a strange ‘other world’ place, waiting to die – that is until she sees a strange creature and then an odd girl called Toriko shows up and pulls her up, exclaiming she is “Ophelia”. Together the two face off against an odd creature in the world, which they nickname a “wiggle-waggle” and somehow manage to subdue it. The two girls seem very different from one another – Sarao more the subdued type who wants to be left alone, whereas Toriko is a gun-toting extrovert. We learn little about their lives in this first episode but what we do see is their interactions. This is the central focus of this first episode actually and clearly sets up the duo as ‘partners in crime’ for the rest of the series.
Originally this is based on a novel, rather than a manga which suggests that there will be more detail to the story itself to come, but this first episode came across as rather confusing. We’re told very little about why these girls seem so accepting of this other world they go in and out of, despite the dangers of the creatures they seek is very real. The pacing is incredibly fast, and the girls appear to know more about the world than the viewer does, making the watcher feel somewhat left in the dark. The series whiplashes between dark content, right back to comedy in a way that disrupts the tone and it’s hard to tell how it’s trying to come across. We’re briefly told that the creature they initially encountered is based on an urban legend, and it appears there will be more of these to come in the future as the duo explore the world. So far at least though, there seems to be very little to connect the two characters together besides that Toriko rescued Sarao and then proceeded to follow her around. I didn’t sense much of a connection or growing friendship between the two which is a little concerning given this series has been given the shoujo ai tag, suggesting a more romantic relationship will develop between the two.
The animation was a little on the cold-toned side, but the designs were nice enough – not amazing but not dreadful either. There were some jarring uses of CGI in some of the long shots, but this didn’t happen too often throughout the episode. The music was one of the highlights of the anime though, with the background ost during scenes with the creatures coming across as genuinely unearthly. The opening and ending songs were very catchy also. There are some hints at some genuine scares in the future too when the pair travelled up and down an elevator and the door opening to some truly creepy entities. The designs of the monsters were interesting in general, as was what happened to the creature’s body once defeated.
I left the first episode feeling like I knew very little about our two protagonists or their reasons for visiting the Otherworld, which was a little worrying – for me at least, I didn’t feel like the premise was enough to keep me watching and without strong characters, there was very little to keep me invested.
Otherside Picnic Episode 1
A strange disjointed start to this anime focusing on urban legends and two girls who run into them. Needs a few more episodes to really get into it's stride, I feel.