Enduring Solitude & Curse
Upon watching the OVA of “The Girl from the Other Side” made me feel and reminded me of the harrowing aspects of solitude that I can’t ever hope to grasp. We often in life face such an obstacle that we can’t seem to overcome due to existential dread and limited options. Then there’s the dread of being alone in a world where you either can’t be with others, or simply nobody is around you anymore; you have to continue all by yourself. Such feelings only allude to liminal horror. Let’s a dive into the brief introduction to “The Girl from the Other Side” in the OVA from Wit Studio that was released with the special edition of the manga’s side story in March of 2022.
Story of The Girl from the Other Side
Set during the time of an inquisition, where people were purged due to a plague or curse, this story unfolds. The curse transforms people into something monstrous and spreads through skin contact. Those afflicted by the curse are called Outsiders, and their origin remains unexplored in the OVA. The narrative leaves behind trails of mysteries and questions about them and the world. However, the primary focus isn’t that; it’s the main characters.
An entire village faces purging under suspicion of harboring a curse. A mother, desperate to save her little daughter, leaves her in the forest and leads soldiers away, ensuring the child’s safety as she sleeps. The girl, named Shiva, is later found and rescued by a nameless curse. They take refuge in an abandoned house, where Shiva’s injuries are tended to, and they make it their home by tidying up the hasty mess left by the previous owner. Together, they embark on expeditions to find resources, food, and books for leisure. Their bond deepens as they spend time together, gradually opening up to each other. Shiva affectionately names her new guardian Doctor or Sensei due to his care. Eventually, they set out to find a better place for Shiva. During their journey, various hints about the world, curses, and the affliction haunting Shiva are unraveled. Along the way, they discover what is most precious to them and move forward with the hope of breaking the curse.
Themes & Symbolism
What captivates me most about The Girl from the Other Side is its poignant portrayal of solitude. Doctor’s ceaseless wandering in search of his lost family and Shiva’s resilience in surviving alone after being abandoned by her family create a bittersweet yet wholesome narrative. In an empty world, houses lie in disarray, domestic animals roam untended, and encounters with others result in shunning due to the curse that haunts them. Despite the pervasive solitude, they find solace in each other. The absence of music in the OVA intensifies the immersive experience of solitude, allowing the audience to hear the environment—the rustling of leaves, the whispers of the wind, and everything in between. The animation seamlessly seeps into my psyche like no other, often leaving me lost in the overwhelming feeling of solitude myself. Even in this solitude, the story establishes a profound connection through the characters of Shiva and Doctor.
The narrative also delves into the fear of the unknown. At the beginning of Shiva and Doctor’s journey, the world remains largely unexplored, shrouded in mystery. They encounter dangers that could have torn them apart, a prospect more terrifying than anything they’ve faced so far. Despite Shiva’s cheerful demeanor, there’s an underlying fear of what her illness might bring. Despite their differences, they make a conscious choice to stay together and confront whatever challenges lie ahead.
It’s also a tale of the search for self-identity. Doctor’s search of his missing family leads him to Shiva, and the encounter inevitably attracts another Outsider. This meeting leaves Doctor questioning his origin and pondering his purpose. He grapples with choices, torn between leaving Shiva with humans for her safety or staying with her, despite the risk of her being cursed. This was symbolized as a white flower, evoking Shiva’s fragile body yet pure in this dark world and Doctor picks up in the end. Despite all the darkness, just like flowers keep smiling, Shiva also smiles and lights the world. Ultimately, he resolves to do whatever it takes to cure her.
About The Girl from the Other Side
“The Girl from the Other Side” originated as a manga series by Nagabe, serialized from 2015 to 2021. The anime film adaptation by Wit Studio, released in 2022, brings Nagabe’s haunting and atmospheric world to life. The adaptation captures the unique art style of the manga, emphasizing the contrast between the delicate and the eerie. The film is a testament to the challenging themes and emotional depth explored in the source material.
“The Girl from the Other Side” anime film delivers a haunting and atmospheric narrative, exploring themes of isolation, connection, and the fear of the unknown in a world afflicted by a mysterious curse. With its unique premise, well-developed characters, and atmospheric world-building, the film successfully adapts Nagabe’s manga into a visually captivating and emotionally resonant cinematic experience. I give this OVA 7.8 out of 10.