Otherside Picnic Volume 7: Funeral of The Moon



It’s been a while. A good while- nearly a year and one month on the dot. If i wasn’t so picky, I might have read Otherside Picnic volume 7 & 8 digitally, and saved myself the equivalent of years (which I will likely do with volume 9). But, here I stand, resolute in my pigheaded decision to read physically. Who cares though, really. Otherside Picnic volume 7 & 8 were incredible reads, with the latter half of this omnibus in particular standing incredibly strong. Held up high by Miyazawa’s incredible knowledge of ghost stories told through a novel and anthropological lens, and their one-a-kind romance narrative, the series continues to soar to greater heights in that endlessly blue sky. Though, this review is exclusively for volume 7. If you’re looking for volume 8, you can read it here.

Even though I just bemoaned my self-inflicted waiting period on the series, I can’t help but argue in favor of it for a specific case- the continuity. While the majority of Miyazawa’s work has noticeable stopping points, their greater narratives tend to collate into a single experience that can be hard to break apart. After all, Otherside Picnic volume 7 is honed in on Satsuki’s funeral, and the 8th volume is all about what happens now that the roadblock in Toriko and Sorawo’s life has been removed. On their own, they still remain strong volumes- but together, well, the picture’s just that much more vivid.

Either way, let’s tackle that funeral. It can be a little hard to lose sight of in the greater scheme of things, but the core concept of communication has continued to evolve- resulting in our current understanding in Otherside Picnic volume 7. It’s not so much that the Othersiders have “understood” our characters, though. If you were to compare it to anything, I would say it’s like doing deep sea diving. Initially, you’re groping in the endless ocean for something, anything- until what you’re looking for finally comes into view. The Othersiders have continued to dive deeper and deeper into the consciousnesses of Toriko and Sorawo (the latter in particular), and in doing so have been communicating much more intensely. The vague horrors of early volumes are gone, replaced with more personalized and… edited, stories told for our characters. Just look at how they prepared a funeral venue for our group of girls going to send on Satsuki Uruma to the next life.

It stays one step ahead, but it isn’t looking for where to go next- it already knows. Sorawo’s goal of transforming Satsuki into the “ghost story” Ushi no Kubi to eliminate her Otherside interface was a great idea- but obviously, the Otherside would know this and instead opted to change towards Ushi-Oni (specifically the Setouchi rendition). Though, the question of who’s ahead of who is a silly question, when Miyazawa ties it back into the contents of the (very, very forgettable) love hotel evening. It’s an interesting idea, and confirms quite a few other pieces of similar coincidences. Sorawo frames it as a premonition, but I think the more accurate explanation would be a speech pattern. The Otherside, as its communication becomes more complex and layered, is exhibiting more uniquely personal modes of communication, and with that is reproducing similar sequences and concepts. It’s the same way a friend of yours might have a sentence structure that they tend to unconsciously use. Regardless of comparison however, it’s a deeply interesting idea to entertain as it proves the development of communication on both ends of this interaction.

On the topic of both ends, how did our group rewrite Satsuki’s interface? With a game of kokkuri-san, of course, but there’s more to it on a fundamental level. The answer is that Sorawo’s examination of ghost stories lead to the conclusion that the experience is a product of the delivery more than the content (think of it as delivery x content = experience). It’s a valid conclusion, and is what allowed them to (attempt) to change Satsuki into Ushi no Kubi. Producing an air that’s far scarier than anything imaginable, but with no content, means that there’s nothing to experience. For a linguistic example, I would lean towards it being an example of definitions. While “gruesomeness” can be a synonym for “horror”, the two have marginally different interpretations. By putting forward the idea of “gruesome” prior to “horror”, you’re able to convey something closer to the definition of the former. The only thing here is that, rather than being the ones producing that variation, they’re simply suggesting it to the denizens of the Otherside.

That’s hardly a fraction of what Otherside Picnic volume 7 is about, though. As much as the Otherside remains omnipresent in the lives of our characters, there’s just as much that happens outside that ultra-blue landscape as what happens within. In simpler terms, characters like Kasumi find their home within the narrative structure of the series, for example. Shacking up with Kozakura, she’s sort of the “final piece” that pushes Kozakura into the Otherside camp. She routinely talks about a sense of responsibility with choosing to take Kasumi in, but I also think that you can extrapolate that sense of responsibility to the state of Toriko and Sorawo. After all, if she didn’t buy that mirrored cube from Toriko, things certainly wouldn’t be where they are. Previously entertaining only a single toe into that big, blue, world, Kozakura is now choosing of her own volition to straddle the two- though it’s still hilariously less than what our pair of lead characters are doing.

Another piece is the… encounters, with Satsuki prior to her funeral. I find it incredibly interesting how she approaches each of our two leads. With Toriko, it’s an unseen but forceful approach that has Satsuki effectively attempt to drag Toriko to the Otherside. In comparison, Sorawo’s interaction is far more passive and enticing. It’s a great way to express how each character’s interest in Satsuki is entirely different, while Satsuki’s end goal remains the same. Toriko’s only interested in the Otherside because of the people that go there, while Sorawo has a much more unadulterated sense of curiosity. Alongside that dichotomy, there’s also their prior relationships with Satsuki that come into consideration. Together, they produce a very interesting conversation that speaks to how hot and enticing Satsuki is to Sorawo.

Totally speeding past that unwritten conclusion and towards our next topic, I loved how much Miyazawa included (once again) of cultural anthropology in Otherside Picnic volume 7. It’s certainly something that not every reader may love, but I believe it to be a priceless piece of this series that helps bring all of it together. After all, Otherside Picnic itself is a story that’s rather centered around cultural anthropology. Getting back on track, I found it very interesting how Miyazawa was able to use that anthropology to push through further criticism and potential for growth for Sorawo. Similarly, a lot of their general comments hold a great deal of value in regards to a reader’s greater perspective of the work. It’s almost a bit like Miyazawa is occupying the seat that Professor Abekawa takes at the discussion, simultaneously probing Sorawo and the reader as to their understanding.

Taking a step back, Otherside Picnic volume 7 comes into view as a story that is more of a stepping stone than the volumes that came before it. It still retains an independent and resolved plot, but the greater view itself is all for what immediately follows. The variance in human culture, the funeral for the woman that Toriko loved- these are pieces that allow for Miyazawa to truly excel with Otherside Picnic volume 8. They’re also pieces that add just as many questions as they add answers. It’s a great volume to discuss and argue over, so I highly recommend finding a place to talk about it and brainstorm over your own ideas and interpretations. At least, until Otherside Picnic volume 8 enters your brain and you’re stuck thinking of that ending.

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