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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 mysterious, unearthly place she dubbed the "Otherside," and the first time she planned to explore beyond just the immediate surroundings. One encounter with an eldritch creature later, and she's facing the humiliating prospect of drowning in a few centimeters of water... until a woman appears. Toriko Nishina is outrageously beautiful, seemingly fearless, and, frankly, a bit of an oddball, but she's able to save Sorawo, both from her "lie-down bath of death" and from an unknowable creature straight out of an urban legend. After a little bit of persuasion (and a promise of cash for her trouble), Sorawo agrees to accompany Toriko on her artifact-hunting expeditions in the Otherside. However, cash isn't actually Toriko's primary motivation: it seems that she's trying to find her friend and mentor who's missing in the Otherside...

Otherside Picnic (裏世界ピクニック, Urasekai Picnic) is a Japanese Light Novel series written by Iori Miyazawa (Side-By-Side Dreamers) and illustrated by Shirakaba which can be best described as Roadside Picnicnote  crossed with Japanese Internet Urban Legends and Creepypasta, with 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 for Winter 2021 as animated by Liden Films, with Funimation picking it up for English distribution. It began airing on January 4th, 2021.


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.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the manga, Abarato had unkept, scraggly hair, a ragged looking cloak, and overall looked very haggard. In the anime, while his hair was still long and scruffy, it looked much more well-kept and his overall appearance was much neater (the fact that he now also had glasses might have added to this impression). Fans joked about Abarato "becoming hot" to the point that Eita Mizuko jokingly apologized on Twitter for focusing on the "unclean" aspect of his character.
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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Black Speech: It's heavily implied that this is what happens when Sorawo tries reading Satsuki's research notes out loud.
  • 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.
  • Brown Note Being: Anyone who looks directly at the Kunekune will eventually go mad, a characteristic brought over from the original Creepypasta. The thing is, the only way to defeat the Kunekune involves "recognizing" it, meaning Sorawo has to stare at it directly for an extended period of time. Doing so makes Sorawo start sputtering gibberish as she nearly loses her mind.
  • 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.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: After Sorawo casually mentions her past to Kozakura— involving her father and grandmother falling into a cult, their attempts to get her to join that might or might not have been connected to Sorawo's near-kidnapping and the arson of a manga café she was staying at, and her encounter with a mysterious "red person" who nearly convinced her to commit mass murder-suicide— she gets embarrassed and apologizes for suddenly talking about something that's "no big deal," earning an incredulous stare from Kozakura.
  • 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 pistols as their sidearms. In addition, during their first encounter with the US Marines in Kisaragi Station, the two also uses an M39 EMR that they secretly borrowed from the Marines' armory to kill the bull monster, while on the second one, Sorawo ends up "appropriating" a Mk.18 CQBR for her own use.
  • Creepypasta: The various phenomena in the Otherside are based on Japanese Creepypasta.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Sorawo has a fang, despite not fitting the usual "mischievous cutie" archetype at all.
  • Cute Monster Girl: In Episode 2 the girls encounter "Lady Hasshaku," a figure from an urban legend who, despite being inhumanly tall, is otherwise a normal-looking woman with long, flowing black hair. At least, she's "normal-looking" until you get a good look at her face...
  • Dark and Troubled Past: In Sorawo's case, her 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 gave most of their money to charity, she doesn't have much in terms of inheritance or funds, 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.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Sorawo describes Toriko as extraordinarily beautiful, and gets lost in thought over her looks several times in the novels.
  • 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.
  • Expy: Kozakura is a female L. Lawliet and possibly just as much of a loony Hikikomori. She is eccentric, has odd mannerisms, has a penchant for going barefoot, a long Messy Hair, even a similar crouch position when she sits on chairs.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: One of the first things Sorawo notices about Toriko is her long, beautiful blonde hair, and as much as she hates to admit it she cares deeply for Toriko. According to Sorawo, Toriko is also breathtakingly gorgeous and often goes on tangents about how pretty she is.
  • 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.
  • Giant Woman: On their second trip together to the Otherside Sorawo and Toriko encounter "Hasshaku-sama" from the urban legend of the same name, and fittingly ("hasshaku" means "eight shaku," "shaku" being a somewhat obscure unit of measurement close to one foot) is a inhumanly tall woman. With her long flowing black hair and white dress, she looks like she could pass for a Cute Monster Girl until one gets a good look at her face.
  • 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.
  • Hollywood Tactics: The American military unit attempts to deal with an Otherside being that's moving fast and erratically by firing mortars at it. Unsurprisingly, it's completely ineffective. Possibly justified given that the they had limited weapons to choose from and were under heavy psychological trauma from having been trapped in the Otherside for so long.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Interstitial space is a space between the normal world and the Otherside that, depending on the entrance used, the user will pass through for some time before arriving at their destination, and it can be a pretty unpleasant place. The abnormal floors in the elevator Sorawo and Toriko used to cross over are an example. Another time, the two ended up being sent there while dealing with the Ninja Cats.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Sorawo really, really, really thinks Toriko is pretty. The novel dedicates a lot of time to Sorawo's inner thoughts about Toriko's looks.
  • 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.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Sorawo's and Toriko's encounter with the kunekune leaves their bodies permanently altered. After Sorawo looks at the kunekune long enough to percieve its true form (and almost loses her mind in the process), her right eye turns a vivid shade of blue and gains the ability to perceive the true form of all Otherside phenomenon. Toriko, who pulled off the strange growths that appeared on Sorawo's face, ends up having her left hand gradually turn completely transparent, gaining the ability to physically interact with Otherside phenomenon. Combining their abilities gives them a fighting chance against all the strange threats from the Otherside.
  • 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.
  • Messy Hair: Kozakura has long unkept hair that fits her nature as a social recluse who focuses more on her work than her appearence.
  • 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 Toriko obtains from defeating the kunekune turns out to reflect everything like a normal mirror except humans. Toriko jokingly suggests that the cube works like this because Sorawo, who perceived the kunekune and allowed Toriko to kill it, is a misanthrope. Sorawo isn't amused.
  • 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.
  • Powers in the First Episode: Sorawo and Toriko get their powers in the first volume/episode when the encounter with the kunekune leaves Sorawo's eye and Toriko's hand altered.
  • 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.
    • The Elevator they use to get to the Otherside could be considered the spiritual cousin of the Elevator in the Research Institute for Magic and Wizardry of the Academy of Sciences, which is the springboard for Tale of the Troika, another Strugastky Brothers novelette often found anthologized with Roadside Picnic.
    • 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.
  • Sleeps in the Nude: After their wild night in Okinawa, Sorawo tries getting Toriko out of bed only to discover she's naked. It turns out Toriko sleeps in the buff "when she feels like it." Sorawo, who's already a bit shy to begin with, is immensely flustered by the fact that she shared a bed with her naked friend.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Due to her short height, Kozakura wielding a Remington M870 does give this impression.
  • Suggestive Collision: After Sorawo and Toriko tumble out of the elevator in Episode 3, they land with Sorawo on top of Toriko— and if you look closely, Sorawo's head is level with Toriko's chest. This is a downplayed example though, because the shot happens at a distance and because Sorawo gets up pretty quick and is more focused on chewing out Toriko for messing with the "Elevator Lady."
  • 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.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Sorawo's eye and Toriko's hand end up changed by their encounter with the kunekune, but it happens to also give them powers— Sorawo's eye (which is now a vivid shade of blue) can see the true form of Otherside phenomenon, while Toriko's hand (which eventually turns completely transparent) can interact with them. Combining their abilities gives them a fighting chance against all the strange threats from the Otherside.
    • The title is a metaphor. The Others are compared to human picnickers who came to Earth, did...something temporary (to them) and left, but their garbage had long-term effects on the animals (humans).
  • Trapped in Another World: Generally this is downplayed since there's entrances that allow people to go between worlds, but sometimes people can enter the Otherside without warning and with 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 mountains. 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 Beautiful Eyes!: After her encounter with the Kunekune, Sorawo's right eye turns a vivid shade of blue, described as being like "the deep azure of Ryukyu glass." Toriko mentions more than once that it's very pretty. It also happens to be extremely handy when dealing with the horrific inhabitants of the Otherside.
  • 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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