The Girl from the Other Side by Nagabe was a recommendation that popped up on my TikTok. I caught a quick glimpse of the manga’s odd friendship pair consisting of a monster and a little girl and I was sold. I decided that volume one wasn’t enough, so I read the deluxe edition that spanned the first three volumes.
The world has been divided in two. There are humans tucked away safely Inside behind city walls. And there are those on the Outside, monstrous-looking creatures who can curse a person with just a touch. Armed with only this knowledge, we join a story in progress featuring an unlikely pair. Shiva, a little girl, and her companion from the Outside collect food, water, and supplies to support their life beyond the city walls. The companion, whom Shiva calls Teacher, cares for the little girl and tries to provide a life for her on the other side of the wall. However, Shiva is hopeful her aunt will return for her, and Teacher struggles with guilt due to the secrets they keep.
Volume one sets the scene, and we get a glimpse of the life Shiva and Teacher have created for themselves on the Outside. It is interesting to see how they spend their days and how they interact with one another, but as soon as the volume comes to a close the story amps up. Volume two hints that not everything may be as it seems, and Teacher is beginning to learn more about the Outside, the creatures, and Shiva. Volume three begins to reveal even more about the conflicted world and shows the horrors carried out by humans that live Inside.
Nagabe’s art style is incredible. It sets a dark, foreboding mood and makes use of the black-and-white contrast in striking ways. Shiva is literally the only bright spot in Teacher’s world, drawn in all white and standing out in stark contrast to Teacher’s monstrous facade and the gloom of the forested Outside. The art is complex when it needs to be, but my favorite part of this story is Nagabe’s simplistic panels which capture intense moments with startling clarity. These panels usually feature Teacher, and I love how much emotion is showcased on a creature that relies on only its eyes to express itself.
Much like the intense black and white art style, the heartfelt and scary moments are made even more prominent by contrast. Teacher shows such concern for Shiva’s wellbeing, and yet they cannot comfort Shiva as she stumbles or cries without fear of cursing her through their touch. The moments between these two are so pure, and it makes the scary moments even more menacing. They display such care for one another that when others display violence and cruelty it hurts twice as much. The manga is sweet with a dash of horror and it is a delightful combo for the spooky season.
The mystery that is unraveling in The Girl From The Other Side has caught my attention, and I can’t wait to read on to discover more. The first three volumes do a fabulous job introducing us to the world and its characters, and the art is so eye-catching that I didn’t want to look away. I can’t wait to see where Nagabe takes this unlikely pair in future editions.
Rating: The Girl From The Other Side – 8.0/10