Otherside Picnic isn’t exactly a horror anime, nor is it strictly a portal fantasy. It’s got clear horror elements, and certainly has characters going to another world, but also very frequently returning to our world. It’s a series that is, on the one hand, incredibly chill, and on the other hand is absolutely not.
Otherside Picnic follows two college girls – Sorawo Kamikoshi and Toriko Nishina. They have both, for various reasons separate to their own backgrounds, gotten caught up in exploring another world simply known as “Otherside”. That world comes across as a vast ruined land, comparable to The Zone from Stalker, with ruined abandoned buildings, and a very primal, wild feel. However, instead of conventional animals, the Otherside is inhabited by monstrous creatures, many of which are drawn by urban legends, and if you aren’t careful will abso-freaking-lutely kill you.
All of that said, while there is peril in the stories, and certainly some one-off supporting characters die in the various episodes (pretty much universally male), Sorawo and Toriko get through the events of the series with basically no significant harm. Not physical, and arguably not psychological – we don’t see much of a real psychological toll taken on our protagonists over the course of this series.
To be clear, they each have their own degree of emotional baggage, but it’s their own existing baggage that they have when they’re introduced in the series, generally not something they accumulate through their explorations of the Otherside. There are some exceptions, specific to particular bits of character development in the show, but this isn’t inflicting an escalating level of trauma on the two leads.
The animation of the show is generally good, but it’s also generally not an action based show. Like a “healing” anime, there’s clearly a lot of work put into some truly impressive background art that builds out the setting wonderfully.
The ending of the series isn’t exactly what I’d call “conclusive”, and the show doesn’t have a second season green-lit as of this writing either. Fortunately, the books are currently in print, and continue past where this show ends, apparently, so I’d recommend picking those up if the ending of the series left you hanging.
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