It’s Monday so it must be time for a picnic. An Otherside Picnic that is. Look… it’s Monday, don’t expect too much from me. 

I’ve been doing generally fine. Winter is FINALLY here. Kinda. It’s way too warm up here. It’s quite worrisome in many ways. Although this was the first time in years we’ve had a proper colourful autumn. Wow, I’m talking about the weather, I’ve really fallen here. Quick K, save me. Interest out readers! How was your week?

Oh, you’re expecting me to be interesting…umm that was a mistake. My weekend was fine but don’t worry I’m willing to discuss the weather with you. Speaking of which it’s a little late but I just watched Weathering with You, it’s a really cute romance. Wish there was a little more substance in the themes and there was a lot more gun in the movie than I expected but it’s a cute little tale. Give it a watch if you like coming of age romance and beautiful shots of the sky. (Now they’re going to think you cleverly set me up, they’ll never suspect a thing!)

We continue with our two heroines along this Slice of Urban Legend journey (?). In some ways, the structure is a little reminiscent of In/Spectre. And I really am enjoying the cultural myths primer. This week we learned about the Big Head village or  Big Head O. And they made the reference really obvious for us gaijin folks. Showing and lingering on the signpost not once but twice. 

I actually wasn’t familiar with this particular legend, although tales of humanoid creatures with disproportionately big heads abound in most cultures. They were even reminiscent of those little gray men K talked about last week. However, it seems Big Heads are their own specific thing in Japanese urban legends.

If you don’t want to bother reading the link I added in there, let me give you my very favourite part of it: “Even in Japan, nobody knows what this story is supposed to mean…” I love it! Were you familiar with the legend K?

Can’t say that I have. I not only learned about this creepypasta, but I learned that Big Head Village is a place in Texas. It feels reminiscent of some other sort of stuff. Anyone familiar with Ao Oni, knows about the horrors of a deformed freak show chasing you at ridiculous speeds. They kind of remind me of SCP-173 or the Sculpture. Apparently it’s an African sculpture, but I always thought it was this weird big head teddy bear thing. Despite not being familiar, it was cool to see them brought to life with crude 3D animation. It really brought me back to King Ramses from Courage the Cowardly Dog which was one of the coolest effects ever. Still, very creepy looking.

There does seem to be a slowly evolving relationship between our two leads. Maybe I’m just reading too much into things, because I’m a crazy romantic and all, but it did seem like Sorao was being a little snippy at the mentions of Tomiko’s lost friend. Like a little jealous snippy, huh…huh??? I forgot Toriko’s friend’s name and I figured I would try to cover it up by implying juicy details. Do you think I pulled it off?

Maybe I’m not well versed enough in Yuri, but I like that kind of romantic development. I don’t think you’re reading too much into it at all, I think there’s a little jealousy and a little bit of teasing going on between the two. However, I’m almost starting to get the sense this show is a Yuri first, supernatural adventure second. That’s fine, it doesn’t have to be a plot heavy show but I feel like just having the characters pause and look longingly into each other’s eyes for a few seconds is kind of lazy. So I wish it was a more developed relationship through Satsuki, then just redundant face service bits. 

Up until now I have been happy to just go along with things, and I still generally am, but this episode did have me thinking that there might be some adaptation hiccups. I’m all for streamlining a narrative when moving to anime and cutting the fat, but you got to make sure your foundations stay solid. Those were way too many metaphors to mix. 

What I’m getting at is that I don’t quite know why Sarao just seems to know what to do. I understand that her blue eye sees things hidden to others, that’s fine, but how did she know they had to open that small shrine or that Tomiko had to rip some pan-dimensional pool cover away so they could jump through it. How did she know they could jump through it? They didn’t go through the Hasshaku-sama portal last week. Also, how did she know what to do about Hasshaku-sama for that matter? 

And they both have guns now? Where did they get a second gun? Does Sorao know how to use it? Should I be worried about friendly fire?

All of these are details. Some more important than others but ultimately I can follow along without knowing the answers. It’s no big deal, and I’m not left scratching my head. But it does make me wonder if the adaptation just didn’t quite know how to properly get all the exposition in or whether the original narrative glossed over a lot of stuff. And the fact that I even thought of that usually means there’s a bit of a weakness in the pacing or narrative. What do you think, K?

Admittedly, the writing is coming across really weak. This has been 3 episodes in a row now where the conflict is solved by, “look at thing, touch the thing”? If a Shonen battle show did 3 fights that ended with the same move, basically a copy and paste of the same animation we’d say it’s not very good. 

It’s kind of disappointing that in terms of the monster of the week, it’s a little too much weekly repetition and not enough monster. These are some interesting creatures this show is pulling inspiration from and the show can be doing more to make each one feel unique.

Unless this is setting up some more tension later, sort of like how they almost got in trouble for considering the elevator sort of routine it’s not been great at treating each episode plot as its own mini-adventure. I’m certainly thinking about what they’re prioritizing in adapting, as half of this episode was them getting to their destination, and I’d argue that was the better half of the adventure.

One thing I did enjoy is Sorao’s generally good advice of don’t shoot people until you’re certain that they’re not human. I wish I could get that in a fortune cookie. It would make my week!

Wise words to live by!

All in all, I have to say that I found this episode pleasant but generally aimless. I wasn’t bored and I didn’t think it was a chore to get through. It flew by actually. But I also think it would have been fine to just skip it. Do you know what I mean?

I agree, 100%. Honestly, full disclosure we all know this is my first time reviewing a seasonal show. I talked to you last week about how I was nervous about being in charge of the episode discussion. You did such an amazing job, prompting discussion and I was a tad worried about an episode that didn’t generate a lot of things worth addressing. If I got this episode I think I would have been in tears.

It’s not a terrible episode, but it’s underwhelming to say the least. Give yourself a pat on the back, you’re doing great trying to fish something out of this one. I’ll be honest, this is an OVA posing as the third episode of the series. The plot is highly irrelevant and if I continue to enjoy these characters it will be neat to see them in action again sort of deals.

Otherside Picnic is a series with a central mystery and a tensish disappearance plotline. So having an episode so early in the series that feels like fodder is very unusual. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad sign. 

One thing I am sure of is that I like it when Toriko and Sorao do their odd-couple routine. It really put a smile on my face at the end of a long day.

I mean prior to this if I had to describe two shows that just felt like they were going through the motions at the beginning it would be Myriad Colors Phantom World and Charlotte. Both of those shows progress in two completely different ways so , I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens with this one.

Also, Irina I hope you know that despite your questioning on Twitter, you best believe I’m sticking around. Thank you again, for having me the pleasure is all mine. The concern shouldn’t be whether I’m leaving but if you can get rid of me after Otherside Picnic. Until next time, take care and I’ll see you on the other side. 

Good, cause I’m not going on this ride alone. I get scared easily….

8 thoughts

  1. This episode had some major animation mistakes. The big-head monsters never stopped running while Sorao and Toriko did, yet they never got caught.

    1. It looks to me like the creators are consistently sloppy on things like this. In Episode 2, when Abarato-san throws that bolt, the geometry changes from one camera shot to another.

      1. …also in Episode 2, when they find the corpse with the blue things growing out of its eyes, the anime looks like it can’t decide if they are at the top of a range of hills or on flat land a relatively short distance from the elevator building.

  2. It’s Sorawo and Toriko, not sure where those other names you’re putting in the review came from.

  3. Nice catch — this was not part of the original LNs, at least, not part of the ones that are out in English. The screenplay _was_ written by the author. And I note that according to Wikipedia, each episode has been directed by a different director.

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