Otherside Picnic Vol. 2 LN Review

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I am sure it wasn’t the intent, but the subtitle to this volume conjures images of the stuff of Douglas Adams rather than of horror.

It’s back to the Otherworld in this second volume, as Toriko and Sorawo stage a rescue effort to aid the Marines who were still trapped in the alternate world at the end of the previous volume. Although they earn the respect of said Marines, there are obvious enough downsides that they decline to follow them on through to their Okinawan training area. But Toriko’s unwilling to let the opportunity presented pass entirely by, leading to a beach vacation that itself ends with the pair firmly among the frightening yet again. All’s well that ends well, but Sorawo later becomes entangled in a problem involving a classmate and ninja cats. Sorawo’s desire to spend some quiet time with Toriko is probably doomed, and that’s even before considering that Toriko’s missing friend, Satsuki, might be out to get them.

This was a good second volume in a series I probably should’ve given a chance at an earlier date, even as I’m growing a bit skeptical as to the validity of some of the urban legends which play a role within the series. (Even for creepypasta stuff, sure seems convenient how many of the original sources have disappeared.) Author Miyazawa does a skilled job at adding some complexity to the mix with the introduction of the organization shut-in researcher Kozakura does her work for while managing to keep what worked in the first volume intact. I was also genuinely glad that the Marines from volume one weren’t forgotten, regardless of the fact that Sorawo admits her own motivation in aiding them had little atruism to it.

As someone who knows her way around weaponry due to professional demands, I remain somewhat fascinated by Miyazawa’s clear fascination with military equipment. My interest is sort of… anthropological, I suppose. I myself find firearms as a topic mind-numbingly boring, but its a bit interesting to read someone’s descriptions of them and their use when that someone has absolutely no hands-on experience with them. (I say “no hands-on experience” not as a dig, by the way – its just the truth. I myself wouldn’t have any experience with them if I didn’t have the professional demands. While it is satisfying to have a good day at the range, I nevertheless find the process dull.) Toriko’s instruction to Sorawo in this volume is fairly decent, although not mentioning the importance of breathing rhythm seems a huge error.

Speaking of military stuff… I suppose the real tip off that Miyazawa’s a true military otaku, though, is to do with MREs. During the rescue effort, our heroines swap some snacks with the Marines. Sorawo comments that the cookie she’s given has “chocolate discs” in it. To me, its immediately obvious that this is an M&M cookie, which in MREs are labeled as “Cookies with Pan Coated Chocolate Discs”. Why not “M&M Cookie”? Well, because there can’t be advertising material in MREs, and brand names and packaging count as advertising. But, to get back to my point, for Miyazawa to be aware of that name and as this item as something which is a dessert in MREs, well, they’d have to be fairly deep into military otakudom – familiarity with rations isn’t generally the preserve of folks who are solely all about the guns. (To me, the genuine weird fact enters if I consider that Miyazawa might have dabbled in eating MREs. This also implies PAYING for MREs! What! I would never eat one of these outside of having to!)

Yuri is… a little more substantial here, but is still firmly in the realm of “Sorawo has some feelings she hasn’t totally unpicked for Toriko”. Its at least a bit more convincing here than it was in the first volume that what Sorawo is feeling is of a romantic nature rather than of a purely possessive one, which is nice, although Sorawo’s got a lot of growing to do before I’d feel comfortable endorsing a romance between herself and Toriko. Toriko for her part still wants to find Satsuki, although it still comes off as the author wanting us to consider her connection to the latter as having been romantic rather than that it actually was, if that makes sense.

I applaud the adaptation team here (translator Sean McCann and editor Krys Loh) for handling with aplomb a text whose heavy reliance on folklore and urban legend surely make a bit challenging. There are a few moments which may throw off an American reader slightly, as word choices are made that are definitely British rather than American – but I note this purely as I think that’ll interest some of you rather than it somehow being “bad” translation.

I’ve already got a copy of the next volume in my possession, but am trying to not read it too soon since volume four (released in Japan last December) won’t be out for a while – no street date for the English language release. Someone I care about recently asked me what the point of creating a self-delay is when then I end up having to wait just as I would if I read to the end of what’s available. I would suggest its probably psychological – if I choose to wait between available volumes, well, then it’s within my control! Otherwise, its just the universe being unkind to me.

By the way, an anime’s been greenlit although I don’t think it’ll be in production any time soon.

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1 Response to Otherside Picnic Vol. 2 LN Review

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