Synopsis: The “Otherworld” is a vast and dangerous realm hidden from the knowledge of the common folk. It is also home to many creatures that threaten any human who dare visit it. To witness its desolate yet oddly absorbing environment, one must search for portals that could reside anywhere, from secret elevators to shrine entrances.
After a fateful encounter with a horrendous Otherworld denizen, Sorao Kamikoshi ponders whether to keep going or give up in life. Meanwhile, Toriko Nishina scours the Otherworld in hopes of finding her friend Satsuki, who she believes is lost somewhere within the realm.
When the two cross paths, friendship blossoms. In order to acquire as much information about this obscure dimension, the two travel back and forth from the real world to the other. Sorao and Toriko’s bodies are soon influenced by the Otherworld, preparing them for the many horrors to come as both of them try to fulfill their goals.
As you can see above, the best way for me to express my displeasure with this anime is to mention some spoilers, so don’t say you weren’t warned… 😛
Anyway, as is always the case, I haven’t read the Otherside Picnic light novels/manga, so I can’t speak about how faithful this adaptation is or how it differs from the source material. I’ve heard the light novels are much better, and I hope so, because the anime was really disappointing.
Aside from reading the synopsis, I didn’t really know much of anything about Otherside Picnic before it started airing, and while I think the anime got off to a decent start early on, it was around midseason that it became evident that this wasn’t going to be what I was hoping for. What I was hoping for was a supernatural anime that wasn’t too ridiculous, while at the same time being an anime with plenty of yuri subtext. The obligatory beach episode and the ninja cat episode hammered home that this was going to be a lot campier than I was hoping for. I’ll talk about the yuri later on, but there aren’t a lot of mostly serious supernatural-themed anime starring female characters, and I was hoping this could be one. It wasn’t.
Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an anime that I would call scary, and I wasn’t expecting OP to be the first. I’m okay with that, and some of the urban legends the girls investigated did seem sort of interesting, yet too often these supernatural shenanigans came off as bland. And then there’s the fact that the most interesting storyline in the entire show, what happened to Satsuki, goes completely unanswered in favor of an extremely anticlimactic rescue mission involving U.S. soldiers that no one cared about. I imagine that Satsuki’s fate would get resolved in a hypothetical second season, but there wasn’t even a teaser, final appearance, or anything to make you look forward to that. It’s like they totally forgot about her.
Long story short, I’d say that the story in Otherside Picnic was pretty generic. The Otherworld and the urban legends/creepypasta involved didn’t appear interesting or mysterious enough to keep my attention, and then totally abandoning Satsuki’s storyline seemed like a really bad idea. I honestly expected a lot better.
Moving on to the characters, I was underwhelmed by both Sorao and Toriko. Both Sorao and Toriko seem to be loners who have their reasons to venture to the Otherworld, but their personalities were all too familiar, and no amount of outgoing girl x aloof girl hijinks could help them be as charismatic as I’d like. For my tastes, we don’t learn enough of Toriko’s relationship with Satsuki (besides a mention of Satsuki being her “special someone”), and Sorao’s backstory is really generic and far less interesting than Toriko’s.
Instead of Sorao or Toriko, it was Kozakura that I found to be the most entertaining. She was the girls’ discheveled Otherworld researcher, though she always seemed less than happy to be involved. From a comedic standpoint, I thought she brought more to the table than Sorao and Toriko, so I felt like she was more likable.
Finally, perhaps more than anything else, I was disappointed by the lack of yuri in this show. On MAL, Otherside Picnic sports the “shoujo ai” genre tag, but you could’ve fooled me, because it seemed like the most blatant yuri moments only involved a few vague compliments from Toriko to Sorao, and then Sorao blushes and that’s that. Oh yeah, there was that moment where it was insinuated that, while drunk, Sorao slept in the same bed as a naked Toriko. That’s as blatant as it gets. Especially because of Toriko’s desire to find Satsuki, I never really viewed Sorao x Toriko as anything more than paranormal partners, and not partners in that way. There were another couple of supporting characters that I thought gave off more yuri vibes than the two leads, with one stating her disappointment that she wouldn’t be able to compete with Toriko for the other character’s affection. That may not sound like much, but at least it seems there are some unrequited feelings there, which is more than what I got from Sorao and Toriko (that fake kabedon moment in episode two comes to mind). So yeah, I expected a heavy dose of yuri, and it just didn’t happen.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was going to be visually subpar anime series. I should mention that the director of Otherside Picnic also directed Kase-san., yet you can tell that this show had a modest animation budget. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the art and animation bad, though it’s a lot closer to bad than good. The action scenes were very forgettable, and there was one moment early on that had some really bad CG implementation, though it certainly wasn’t helped by the mediocre character designs of those monsters. On a slightly better note, I thought the music was a tad better than the visuals, even though I would’ve liked if the music were more subtle and ambient than it was.
Overall, this anime sounded good on paper, but in practice, it fell far short of my expectations. The biggest offense was making it seem like this was going to be a yuri anime, only for some very mild subtext to make some rare appearances. As it stands, the non-yuri elements of Otherside Picnic weren’t good enough to make me think of this show as anything more than just another generic supernatural anime. If I had known of the lack of yuri, I would’ve dropped this without hesitation, but it’s not the worst thing in the world, it’s just not what it was made out to be.
+ The vibe is sometimes creepy enough
+ Kozakura is amusing
+ Not the worst anime I saw last season
– Huge letdown in the yuri department
– Some questionable story decisions
– Art and animation is not good
Total Enjoyment: 5/10