Long ago, there was a god of light and a god of darkness. While those devoted to the god of light experienced happiness and good fortune, the god of darkness would play tricks on the people and steal their joy. And so, as the legend goes, the god of light decided to punish him by turning him into a monster. Enraged by this, the god of darkness wielded his punishment as a curse in order to inflict suffering upon others. Because of his actions, he was banished to the Outside, where he and his monstrous children are to remain for eternity, while those from the Inside must never come in contact with someone from the Outside, lest they be cursed with a hideous form.
A little girl named Shiva, an Insider, is found by an Outsider she comes to know as Sensei. Though they cannot touch, Sensei cares for Shiva as best he can, and together they live a moderately happy life. But soon, Shiva not only finds herself in danger from the Outside, but from her own kind as well.
Totsukuni no Shoujo has been published in English as The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún by Seven Seas Entertainment since January 24, 2017; in French by Komikku since March 9, 2017; in Polish by Studio JG since April 28, 2017, and in Spanish by ECC Cómics since October 3, 2017.
This is such a find! A sad and beautiful story about a little human girl and a monster, who takes care of her, living together in a forest, because… Don’t want to spoil anything, don’t know enough yet, but I urge you to check this out, at least for the art, if nothing else - it's lovely and it's unique. Also there’re plenty of things to talk about besides retelling the plot.
The second name of this manga is Siúil A Rún (Go, my love), the name of an Irish song, also sad and beautiful, about a lover, who left for war, and about the wish
for safety. I’ve already mentioned “sad” twice, editorial remarks on the first pages of this manga say the same, and it’s not an overstatement – there is this calm, all-engulfing feeling of fragility and impermanence in the everyday (initially everyday) actions of the heroes, that we witness. It may be ok, but it’s a small light in the night, will it last? You know it won’t, the time runs out as you mark it. As seasons change, things will end, the flowers of today will wither.
It’s not that I can say much besides metaphors about the plot anyway. There’re only 4 chapters, and a lot of time has passed since the last. So why write a review? I know that the more advanced members of Mal scoff upon such things, but I do want more people to know about this manga, the available chapters are substantial (>30 pages each), and I was so impressed, that even if this manga flops or disappears immediately, I’ll have good memories left (so I kind of just wish to share a good thing). Also it’s worth to mention that this work seems to follow the delayed exposition pattern: we start with a closed-off point of view, focused on the immediate small events of the life of the main heroes, and there is effort to make the little girl’s days normal, so it will take time to learn the secrets of their world. It looks though that there will be violence, there’re topics of death and fear of otherness already present, and there is a scary curse.
Delayed exposition stories have failed me before, this I confess, and I have a small fear that this may go the “evil humans, misunderstood monsters” route or ends prematurely (I’ll update the review then), but so far the premise seems to be well thought-out and powerful, there’re hints on an important flashback, and a new character is lurking around.
The biggest problem for this manga is that it outwardly overlaps with popular Mahou Tsukai no Yome: this is another Mag Garden publication, that is female-oriented shounen and has a tall horned male monster taking care of a human girl. But internally Totsukuni no Shoujo is very different, I say it as a person, who doesn’t like Mahou Tsukai no Yome for the strange relationships it offers, and absolutely loves this. For starters, there’s no romance or even a possibility for it between the main characters in Totsukuni no Shoujo - the age difference is too big, so it has a parent-child dynamic (or, more specifically caretaker-child, a bit colder), secondly, it's much more scary, and, lastly, the plot looks like something more focused. So, in short, only characters look the same, and maybe the curse aspect, that can be seen as magic.
Talking about characters: we have a sweet good little girl, an ideal child, no surprises here, and a big wendigo-like monster, who is surprisingly inhuman, not only in appearance – for example, he doesn’t eat. The biggest mystery lies within him, but it seems that he also has experience, but not knowledge, so it will be a journey of discovery for both. I think that both mains are likeable, and there is not too much doting, which is good.
The art is amazing. Since there’s no other manga by this author translated, I checked the author’s profiles on mangaupdates and pixiv. It looks like she likes to draw anthropomorphic animals (mainly male figures with animal heads) and monsters. This is what makes me worry about the plot, and I also am not yet sure if people well be drawn well, on the other hand it gives hope for good monster designs.
Most of her work on pixiv is very good smooth digital art. And the art in this manga is stylized, but it also has this painting or illustration feeling, that sets it apart. It’s soft, but it isn’t made of long flowing strokes, but instead is sculpted with small strokes, reminiscent of line art. There were a couple of hard to read panels, but mostly it’s readable and pretty. The forest is especially well done.
All in all, I have high expectations for this manga. High worries too – it needs to become more tense and epic later, and female-oriented works tend to underachieve in this regard. I am also unfamiliar with other mangaka’s works, so it is hard to say how she handles stories. On the other hand, even the few available chapters are a treat, so I will be content I've found it in any case. And if the rest is good, this will be a contender for 9/10.
Copycats are a dime a dozen within the realm of anime and manga. With the advent of a successful series, oftentimes a publisher will seek content of a similar formula with hopes of capitalizing on the trend set by its predecessor. I'm sure you're aware of where I'm going with this: The Girl From the Other Side is clearly a ripoff of The Ancient Magus' Bride (Mahoutsukai no Yome)... or is it? Well, I'm here to tell you that this is, in fact, far from the truth. While it's clear as day that Comic Garden was hoping to emulate the success of Mahoutsukai, what we've
received is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, "copycats" have never fared well with fans of the medium, and most will immediately write them off as the inferior product without even giving them a fair chance. However, those who opt to give The Girl From the Other Side ("Totsukuni" from here on out) a shot will realize it's magnificently penned story, and that its similarities to Mahoutsukai end with the cover image.
Since there's no shortage of comparisons between the two aforementioned works, I first need to elaborate on the differences:
- Totsukuni is a low fantasy story with a touch of influence from Norse paganism, while Mahoutsukai is high fantasy, inspired by fairy tails and Celtic mysticism. The former focuses on an otherwise normal medieval setting inflicted with a curse, while the latter is set in modern times and treats magic as commonplace.
- Shiva (Totsukuni) is a young child, while Chise (Mahoutsukai) is a teenager.
- The relationship between the two protagonists in Totsukuni is strictly familial, while Mahoutsukai employs elements of romance.
- Mahoutsukai focuses more heavily on character interactions and relationships, while Totsukuni's focus is on the mysteries of the world and its curse.
- Mahoutsukai boasts a wide cast of characters, while Totsukuni prioritizes the two protagonists.
- Totsukuni follows a linear storyline, while Mahoutsukai pursues an episodic formula.
- While both stories have occasional slice of life bits, they're much more frequent in Mahoutsukai. Totsukuni's dismal tone is relentless, and you never truly feel at ease.
- The art of Mahoutsukai is much more realistic, while Totsukuni's artwork is heavily stylized and unique.
- While both stories are under the same publisher, Totsukuni feels like it belongs to a seinen serialization, rather than shounen (this is just my opinion, of course).
- Not that it matters all too much, but I keep seeing others say that both stories are female-oriented, of which I strongly disagree. Mahoutsukai's author is female, while the creator of Totsukuni is male (I actually saw someone in the recommendations section incorrectly state that it had a female author), but both stories can be appreciated by anyone.
So now that you understand that the only real similarity between the two works is the dynamic of a mystical horned man/creature and a young human girl to whom he acts as a teacher, let's get to what I love about this manga.
Totsukuni is a somber, low fantasy tale with a setting very similar to that of 14th century Europe in the wake of the Black Death. Now for those who may be unfamiliar with the term, low fantasy, or "intrusion fantasy" is when you have an otherwise normal world in which some mystical or magical element intrudes on their way of life. In this story, it's referring to the curse that plagues the kingdom (and this curse is where I've drawn many similarities to the outbreak in medieval Europe). I also mentioned that the story also has ties to Norse paganism and mythology, but it's never showcased in a "magical" way. This is primarily seen through the design of the creatures that result from this world's curse, and their ties to the earth that slowly become more obvious over the course of time. While the groundwork of the story might not be particularly unique or revolutionary, it comes as a breath of fresh air in a genre that's so commonly littered with cliches and tropes.
The story begins with the introduction of a young child named Shiva and her mysterious "Sensei," a strange yet eloquently spoken humanoid creature with pitch-black skin and horns. He is an outsider: a cursed being who will transfer his affliction via any contact with a human (or as they're called, "insiders"). Aware of the circumstances, he makes it clear to Shiva that she must never touch him for any reason, and as he shows a deep affinity for the child, he puts her well-being above everything else. From the get-go, author Nagabe employs a "show, don't tell" tactic, and he slowly unveils the details of the world little by little, rather than through long-winded exposition. The relationship between Shiva and Sensei is natural from the start, but only through delving further into the story will one begin to understand how they ended up in their peculiar living arrangement. Furthermore, the use of cliffhangers works toward making this a wonderfully addicting read, and as the mysteries begin to unfold, the picture becomes far grimmer than one might expect from the start. I might also add that the manga includes a few small elements of dramatic irony; while the story is usually either told from the perspective of Shiva or Sensei, the reader is often given insight to events happening in the world around them, helping to build the tension leading up to our protagonists' inevitable revelations.
Moving on, I must say that the art of Totsukuni is absolutely spectacular. Similar to that of old children's picture books, it possesses an elegant, painterly quality that feels truly unique amidst the generic design of other fantasy works of recent years. I, for one, am a huge fan of heavily stylized designs that take risks, stepping outside the norm of what we see in most anime and manga. Each panel is simply gorgeous, and while the tone of the art is bleak and dreary, it works wonders for the dark fantasy setting, perfectly emulating the kind of serious and melancholic mood I would expect for such a tale. Just go and take a look at the first chapter; skim through a few pages and you'll see exactly what I mean. I understand that art is subjective and that people have varying tastes, but I personally can't help but praise the style of this manga. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, this may be my favorite series I've read thus far.
Overall, if you're a fan of fantasy, I strongly recommend giving this series a chance. If you were initially skeptical or hesitant to try it due to its apparent similarities to Mahoutsukai no Yome, I hope I was able to explain how drastically different they are at their core. I'm not saying that one is better than the other, but this is one of those rare cases where I felt I needed to defend this work in particular, due to the obvious bias that comes from assuming something is just another copycat. I've thoroughly enjoyed every page of Totsukuni, and I eventually plan to collect the entire series in print. Volume 8 is easily my most anticipated release at the moment, and I can't wait to see where the story takes me next.
"The Girl from the Other Side" is, without exaggeration, one of the finest manga I have ever read. Here's why you should read it.
It's unusual to start with the art but here it's well deserved. This manga looks unlike any other I've read - its style is quite reminiscent of 19th century childrens books and western fairy tail artwork and it pulls off the style superbly. The colour scheme and small details perfectly compliment the simple but subtle story.
The story of TGFTOS will be quite familiar in tone to anyone who has read a western fairy tale - innocent and sweet
on the surface, but with far more sinister undercurrents underneath.
While the story itself is certainly enjoyable and suspenseful enough, what really kept me going through this manga was the interactions between the girl and the outsider. More is told through the artwork and silent panels than by dialogue.
A new manga published in Mac-Garden very similar to Mahoutsukai no yome( Ancient Mangus Bride) if u like Mahoutsukai no yome you gonna like this.
Slow pace and kinda magical. If you think long and hard, your will find out I've seen this type of story before but not in a manga. Feels like a classic fairytale in a manga form and feels really original. There is a lot of suspense with the whole "curse" its going and that because the story doesn't give you what you want but only what you need to know.
This is the best part about the manga. This is
not your classic manga art with big eye cute girls. Its simple, a few touches of screen tone and it feels old n rusty and European. And thats great. The art compliments perfectly the story and all the feel of this manga, makes it a more unique of an experience and makes you want to read more. No other art style is more feating than this right here.
Nothing really ground breaking about them, the cursed characters are pretty mysterious. The human character and really human like character. They fear the outside world, trying to defend their selfs from the curse. The little girl is a normal little girl. That actually fine. I thing the point of this manga is not to get attached with the characters but to experience the whole thing.
I enjoyed a lot. Its an easy read and take you in to a big journey in a small scale world. If you like fantasy and unique art this is the perfect manga for you.