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Light Novel / Otherside Picnic

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Toriko (left) and Sorawo (right)
It was the third time that Sorawo Kamikoshi crossed the door she found into the Otherside, and the first time she plans to explore beyond just the immediate surrounding...and she's drowning, until a woman named Toriko Nishina found her and saved her. Immediately after they encountered a creature straight out of urban legends. A little bit of persuasion (and a promise of cash for the activity), Sorawo agreed to accompany Toriko for artifact-hunting in the Otherside. However, cash isn't Toriko's primary motivation: she's trying to find her friend and mentor who's missing in the Otherside...
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Otherside Picnic (裏世界ピクニック, Urasekai Picnic) is a Japanese Light Novel written by Iori Miyazawa and illustrated by Shirakaba which can be best described as Roadside Picnic crossed with Japanese Internet Urban Legends/Creepypasta and a side dash of Yuri. The English version is licensed by J-Novel Club. Eita Mizuno is currently adapting the story into a manga, which will be published by Square Enix Manga and Books in English in May 2021. An anime has been announced.


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This work provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Toriko is pretty decent in a fight due to one of her mothers, a JTF2 member, teaching her about firearms and the military. However, in Volume 3 it's revealed that this does not extend to fighting other humans, and she noticeably trembles when having to take a shot at other human beings.
  • Action Survivor: In contrast to Toriko, Sorawo takes a role more like this due to having never had any sort of experience with firearms or combat, although she has experience exploring ruins and such.
  • Alien Geometries: The general location of things in the Otherside is relatively static and thus mappable, but the phenomena in those locations can be subjected to this trope. One example is the copy of Nippori. Sorawo notes that it shouldn't be large, but no matter how much she walks through it, it never ends, until she finally rescues Toriko, and the place disappears.
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  • And I Must Scream: Downplayed: In Chapter 4 of Volume 1, Sorawo and Kozakura become stuck in the Otherside at night. Sorawo elects to keep Kozakura safe by using her right eye to shift perspective and turn Kozakura into a tree while she goes ahead to rescue Toriko from the Doppleganger phenomena. While this does physically keep Kozakura safe, the various voices she hears, the fact that she can't move while being conscious, and various other factors scarred her quite badly before Sorawo and Toriko came back to turn her back to human. The ordeal leaves Kozakura with a fear of dark places, and she demands a good yakiniku meal from the two as compensation.
  • Artifact Collection Agency: DS Labs is a medical company that has been researching the Otherside and gathering artifacts from that world in order to cure members who were mutated due to overexposure to the Otherside. Kozakura is one of their researchers (and thus the source of money she used to buy artifacts from Toriko) while Satsuki is a guest researcher there, though not an employee.
  • Beach Episode: In Chapter 2 of Volume 2 the girls hit the beach when, upon successfully pulling off the rescue of the US Marines stuck in the Otherside, their exit spits them out in Okinawa. Then they once again get sucked into the Otherside, getting deposited at a strange beach, where the two continue their vacation.
  • Bland-Name Product: Averted. All the various sites, brands, or works reference like 2ch, Twitter, YouTube, NicoNico Douga, Dean & DeLuca, and The Hurt Locker are mentioned as-is.
  • Body Horror: Sorawo and Toriko are lucky that the changes they received from the contact with the Otherside are nothing too bad. DS Labs' initial expedition crews are not so lucky, and some suffer quite badly from this.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Toriko is Canadian-born, but given her name she's either born to Japanese expat parents, or she's Japanese-Canadian.
  • Claimed by the Supernatural: After the first successful hunt of the kunekune, both Sorawo and Toriko are marked due to contact with the kunekune. Namely, Sorawo's right eye was changed from brown to lapis lazuli blue, and the fingers of Toriko's left hand (later the whole of her left hand) become transparent. This also gives them some extra abilities to affect the phenomena via the changed body parts.
    • Volume 2 reveals that the two actually got very lucky, given that some others suffer full blown Body Horror from contact.
    • The antagonist of Volume 3, Runa Urumi, is revealed to have received the gift of Compelling Voice.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Justified: One hypothesis by Kozakura is that the reason why various phenomena are based on Japanese Creepypasta is that the world and its inhabitants created those phenomena using information from humans that entered the Otherside.
  • Compelling Voice: Runa Urumi, the cult leader obsessed with Satsuki Uruma, has this ability and uses it to gather and brainwash loyal cultists. She also uses it to interrogate Kozakura and forcibly put Sorawo to sleep. When Sorawo views it with her Magical Eye, it manifests as some kind of tentacle that attaches to the target, which Toriko can remove to destroy the voice's hold on the victim.
  • Cool Guns: There are quite a few of these used by various characters, with the most notable being an AK-101 that Toriko picked up from Abarato after he disappeared upon his encounter with Hasshaku-sama, which shows up in all novel covers. Both also uses Makarov, and Sorawo ends up "appropriating" an M4 CQBR from the Marines they rescued in Volume 2.
  • Creepypasta: The various phenomena in the Otherside are based on Japanese Creepypasta.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Sorawo's mother died when she was young, and her father and grandfather got involved in cult activities. She ran away since she doesn't want to get involved, but ends up suffering from nearly getting kidnapped by rival cult and a manga cafe she stayed in burned down. Running out of money and food, one night she dreamed of something in the Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane entry, and upon waking up, due to her resource running out, she's forced to go back home. She's prepared to take out her family and the cult by burning them down, but no one came home until the police arrived at her home a few days later saying they all died due to gas accumulation in their mountain retreat. Also, since her family gives out a lot of money to charity, she doesn't have much in terms of inheritance or money, other than the student loan she managed to secure for university, which is why she agrees to work with Toriko, since the money from selling artifacts would help her financially.
  • Degraded Boss: Sorawo lampshades this trope when she and Kozakura face off with four kunekunes, ask if they're trying to swarm her now that she has defeated them before.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The US Marines trapped in the Otherside sent out two expedition platoons along Kisaragi Station's railroad line trying to find a way back. Only one person came back, pleasantly strolling, humming, all the while carving his own face with a Ka-Bar.
  • Expospeak Gag: Kozakura explains why she doesn't like doing field work in the Otherside as: fear tolerance is a physiological issue, namely the length of activation sequence of serotonin transporter gene: the longer they are, the more serotonin is produced, thus the less the fear signal will affect amygdala. She has short serotonin transporter gene, or: she's a scaredy-cat.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Runa Urumi worships Satsuki as god and wishes to summon her to Japan and meet her, which she eventually partially managed by summoning and meeting her in the Otherside (since the instruction required to do so can't be understood on Earth without Sorawo, and Sorawo won't cooperate). The end result, however, is getting her mother killed for her trouble.
  • Eye Scream: During their kunekune hunt, Sorawo and Toriko find the corpse of a man who plunged his hands into his eyes, destroying them. Kozakura speculates that this is because the man realized that the mental assault by the kunekune occurs by sight. Given his death, this ultimately doesn't save him.
    • In Volume 3 this is also the fate of Runa's mother: "Satsuki" drives both her thumbs into her eye sockets, holding them there until she dies.
  • Ghost Train: The train that pass through Kisaragi Station are locked trains with ape-like creatures that brutally kill unresponsive, uncaring passengers. The US Marines taking refugee at the station in the Otherside pray that the train never stops at their station. In Volume 2, the Marines reveal what happened when the train DID stop (due to a soldier failing to stop Sorawo and Toriko from escaping finally snapping and blowing up the rail): the ape-things killed a number of soldiers before being repelled.
  • Has Two Mommies: Given her limited explanation of her family in Volume 3, Toriko seems to have two mothers.
  • Hellevator: One of the Otherside entrances that Toriko discovered is via a specific floor combination of a particular elevator. The floors that they visit in between aren't normal floors (later revealed as being in interstitial space), and some contains monstrous beings.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Interstitial space is a space between normal world and the Otherside that, depending on entrance used, the user will pass through for some time before crossing the world, and it can be a pretty upleasantplace. The abnormal floors in the elevator the two used to cross over are an example. Another time, the two ends up being sent there while dealing with the Ninja Cats.
  • The Lonely Door: The access points to the Otherside are free-standing gates, such as the door Sorawo found initially or the shrine gate in Chichibu.
  • Magical Eye: Sorawo's right eye is turned into this after her first battle with the kunekune. As noted in True Sight, it grants her the ability to perceive the various aspects of Otherside phenomena. If used on humans it has the chance to affect their mental state, which is why she's reluctant to use her abilities on other people... until Volume 3, where she uses that aspect deliberately when she has to escape from Runa's cult. Sorawo uses her eye to drive one captor insane, and upon getting into an extended firefight with the cultists, her eye once again proves useful in distracting a few of them long enough for Migawa to shoot them.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Sorawo's dream of a red person embracing her and asking if she needs her current family might or might not directly led to the deathes of her father, grandfather, and the cult due to gas accumulation in their mountain retreat.
  • Mind Rape: Phenomena that interface with human brains tends to cause this in anyone unfortunate enough to witness them.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Sorawo's Magical Eye turns a vivid and unnatural shade of blue after her encounter with the kunekune, while her other eye remains brown.
  • Missing Reflection: The mirror cube from kunekune reflects everything like a normal mirror except humans.
  • Muggles Do It Better: DS Labs' original method of accessing the Otherside (or UltraBlue Landscape as they called it) initially involves things like yoga, meditation, and more esoteric occult methods until Satsuki showed up and showed them that finding a portal in the real world is much more practical.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: Satsuki explicitly warns Toriko and Kozakura not to go into the Otherside at night due to dangers involved. Then Sorawo and Toriko end up stranded in the Otherside at nightime without their usual armaments...
  • Older Than They Look: As noted in Token Mini-Moe, Kozakura is much older than her appearance would suggest, given that she's a university graduate cognitive scientist.
  • Ramming Always Works: After the Kankandara proved to be resistant to the gunfire of Sorawo and the Marines, Toriko commandeers the modified MRAP that was part of the convoy and simply rams the creature until it stops moving.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The leader of the US Marines at Kisaragi Station is a lot more reasonable to Sorawo and Toriko compared to the men under his command. This is justified by the fact that they've been stuck there for a month and lost a lot of personnel trying to survive.
  • Ship Tease: Sorawo and Toriko's relationship builds up slowly, but there's quite a bit of ship tease between them from the very beginning.
    • During their very first meeting, Sorawo is struck speechless by how beautiful Toriko is. Indeed, Sorawo is constantly describing Toriko as extraordinarily beautiful and is sometimes is literally distracted by the sight of her face.
    • Volume 1, Chapter 2 starts off with Toriko seemingly performing a Wallpin Of Love on Sorawo, to her utter confusion. As it turns out, she just noticed that one of Sorawo's has turned blue and was trying to get a better look. It's worth noting that she murmurs that the color is "pretty," causing Sorawo to become deeply flustered.
    • Volume 1, Chapter 2 also has Sorawo becoming extremely jealous and petty about Toriko's fixation on Satsuki, jumping to the conclusion that Toriko doesn't care about her and is only bringing her along because she needs some sort of partner. When Abarato is lost to the blue light after believing Hasshaku-sama was his lost wife, Toriko starts acting strange and claiming Satsuki's there, leading Sorawo to realize Hasshaku-sama must lure people in with a hallucination of someone dear to them. Desperately trying to stop Toriko from Abarato's fate, Sorawo finally breaks and cries out to Toriko begging her not to leave her alone— only to hear Toriko calling for her from behind her. As it turns out, the "Toriko" supposedly under Hasshaku-sama's spell was Hassaku-sama herself— causing Sorawo to squirm as she realizes that means Toriko is Sorawo's "dear someone." The kicker? Later, Toriko reveals she did believe Satsuki was there, and desperately wanted to follow "her"... but resisted because she was worried about Sorawo.
    • During Chapter 3 Toriko helps support Sorawo as she shoots the "bull" at Kisaragi Station. The manga adaption highlights the Hands-On Approach subtext to it.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Kozakura's Remington M870 is equipped with a GATOR shotgun spreader which changes the shot pattern to a horizontal fan. This allows her to try to at least hit something even when she goes into full panic and start shooting things with her eyes closed. This is used for good effect in an encounter against four kunekunes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The series itself is one to Roadside Picnic, down to the name, but the 2nd chapter of Volume 1 has an extended Shout-Out with Abarato, who acts a lot like a typical "stalker" and even has scenes of him showing Sorawo and Toriko how to test glitches (anomalies in Roadside Picnic) with metal bolts. He also refers to the Otherside as The Zone. The glitch being tested is also similar to the novel's Burner anomaly. The only difference from the book is that he's not there to hunt for artifacts, the two protagonists are.
    • Toriko's first meeting with Sorawo has her comparing Sorawo to Ophelia.
    • One scene has Sorawo directly quoting and namedropping Dutch's "If it bleeds, we can kill it." as self-motivation against the Otherside denizens.
    • Toriko compares Sowaro's attempt to disarm the Kotoribako to The Hurt Locker.
  • Shown Their Work: The author, instead of usual afterwords, shows various citations of each Creepypasta used and citations of scientific theories used in the novel.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Due to her short height, Kozakura wielding a Remington M870 does give this impression.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Kozakura is this due to her short height (Sorawo think she's around 140cm), despite being the oldest of the three main characters.
  • Trapped in Another World: Generally this is downplayed since there's entrance that allows people to go between worlds, but sometimes people can enter the Otherside without warning and has no idea where the exit would be. An example is a group of US Marines stationed in Okinawa that was transported to the Otherside while training in the mountain, and in the same chapter the marines are introduced, the tavern that Sorawo and Toriko were eating at suddenly sent them over without any warning.
  • True Sight: Initially it seems that Sorawo's lapis lazuli eye seems to allow her to do this to the Otherside's phenomena, although later she speculates that it instead allows her to see through multiple aspects of a phenomenon.
  • Wallpin Of Love: Volume 1, Chapter 2 opens with Toriko seemingly performing this on Sorawo, to her complete bemusement. As it turns out, she noticed that one of Sorawo's eyes had turned bright blue after their close call with the Kunekune, and she just wanted a better look. There is definitely a Ship Tease angle to it, particularly when Toriko murmurs that the color is "so pretty," causing Sorawo to become flustered.
  • Wham Line: At the very end of File 9, just as Sorawo and Toriko leave the Otherside, Sorawo casually notes that closing the door cuts off the sight of Satsuki standing on the building. As it turns out, she had been there watching them whole time, and Sorawo had been very much aware of it.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: After they came out of the Otherside into Okinawa after rescuing the Palehorse Battalion soldiers, both of the girls proceed to go party, and Sorawo ends up getting so drunk that the next day she wakes up at the side of a naked Toriko with no idea of what she did the previous night. Sorawo gets really embarrassed when Toriko reminds her of the various things she did.
  • Yuri Genre: There isn't much romance yet in volume 1, but there are various hints that Toriko and Satsuki's relationship might have been a bit more than just friends. Kozakura notes that Satsuki's quite a charmer. There's also quite a big hint between Sorawo and Toriko, with the first big clue being that both of them are quite comfortable talking to each other since their first meeting, even though both of them generally have some problems talking to strangers. There's also things like Sorawo unknowingly sleeps with naked Toriko in Okinawa in Volume 2. The subtext goes out of the window when Toriko confesses to Sorawo at the end of Volume 3.

Alternative Title(s): Urasekai Picnic

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