In time the God of Darkness came to be called the Outsider. In turn, the God of Light became the Insider. Nagabe
A few weeks ago, I headed to Barnes and Noble to pick up some Danganronpa mangas for my daughters. Among the bright colorful titles, a dark cover stood out, like a black hole sucking up all the light. I looked closer. One of the characters could have been a long-lost Edward Gorey creation. Where the cover caught my eye, the title The Girl from the Other Side sparked my curiosity. I picked it up at least three times before finally putting it down. I couldn’t really justify spending $12.99 on a manga I may or may not like and one I could finish in roughly half an hour. When I went to check out, the gracious store associate alerted me to their manga sale (buy 2 get 1 free) and I all but skipped back to the aisle to get it.
I’m taking liberties with the First In a Trilogy Challenge. The Girl from the Other Side boasts eight volumes so far and if Amazon.com is to be believed, volume 9 will be out in October.
Like any first part of an ongoing series, volume one’s job is to establish the world and introduce us to the characters. It’s heavy with exposition but because one of the main characters, Shiva, is a child it doesn’t seem so forced. When the second main character, a creature Shiva calls Teacher, explains things to her it feels more organic than two adults explaining things to each other.
Two groups inhabit Nagabe’s world: Insiders and Outsiders. Cursed Outsiders, like Teacher, can’t physically touch Insiders, like Shiva, lest they pass the curse on to them. It’s revealed that a mysterious person left Shiva Teacher’s doorstep because Insiders accuse the child of being cursed, though she shows no signs. For reasons unknown, Teacher allows Shiva to believe her aunt will arrive to take her back to the Inside, though he knows that isn’t true.
Shiva is a typical child: curious, patient, a little petulant. Like most kids, she believes she knows how the world should work and doesn’t understand why it doesn’t work that way. Teacher, a tall biped with a bird like face and kudo antlers, is patient and protective. He cares for Shiva but keeps a practical physical and emotional distance from her. He takes his task seriously and walks a fine line between keeping her ignorant of the dire situation while offering information as needed.
The dark brooding art style perfectly reflects Teacher and Shiva’s sylvan environment. It isn’t the typical anime style character and it’s dark black and white cover is what stood out from the louder mangas on the shelves. I don’t believe it will end happily, but I will continue the series. Like Teacher, I will keep an emotional distance from these characters as we all travel to its conclusion.