Nagabe has been quickly becoming a popular mangaka in the West. Her unique stories and art style was introduced to Western audiences with the licensing of The Girl from the Other Side by Seven Seas. It has ranked high on the list for Great Graphic Novels for Teens from the Young Adult Library Services Association for multiple years. Eight volumes of that series have been published so far, with plans for two more. We’ve also seen the publication of one of Nagabe’s other short story collections, The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms, which was also quite popular with readers. Now, we have her second collection of strange short love stories, Love on the Other Side, that features odd relationships between humans, monsters, animals, or other creatures. Nagabe’s stories tend to cater to furries or those who don’t mind furry content, but I would also say that this time of year, with Halloween fast approaching, her comics featuring monsters or humanoid beings generally being creepy and misunderstood are a great way to pass these fall nights.
Love on the Other Side is a collection of short stories by Nagabe that focus on strange or “fascinating” relationships (as Seven Seas describes them). There are six stories featured in this volume, ranging in pairings, relationships, and characters. In “See You Tomorrow, Daisy,” a large black bird comforts a lonely and struggling girl. In “Midnight Waltz”, a recluse and misunderstood vampire rejected from his clan waltzes with a young girl through his lonely mansion populated by only forest animals. And, in “Those Without Eyes”, a blind girl tries to live with a monstrous creature who is more than meets the eyes. These are just some of the stories you’ll find in this volume.
I’ve fallen very much in love with Nagabe’s art, and, as I was looking through my past posts here, I’m surprised that it seems like I actually haven’t reviewed her longer series yet. Her art is very striking, looking as though it was pulled from an old-fashioned fairy tail book. Her line work is very light, but she uses values in such a striking way that her characters and worlds really stand out. Most of her focus is with the use of black and white, playing with the contrast to make her panels and overall pages stand out. Within that base of value contrast is very skillful linework that adds detail and a little shading to her backgrounds and characters. Wood and household objects especially get a lot of attention, with highly detailed floors, furniture, and items standing out as Nagabe draws our attention to the world she is trying to create and populate.
Nagabe is very creative when it comes to her character designs. Since reading her main series, and seeing the boney, tree-like creatures she came up with, I had high-hopes for seeing some truly unique monsters here as well. I wasn’t disappointed. In the third story, “Emergency Rations & Beautiful Feasts”, I thought the main bird-creature was very well designed. The detail of his eagle or vulture-like face plus his scaly hands contrast well with the very humanoid way he dresses and moves through the pages. He’s obviously not human, but you can tell that he is trying to be, in a very predator way of doing it. This design helps contrast against the young girl he has living with him, who is very much the white-haired, light-skilled contrast that makes their relationship visually questionable and uncomfortable. It clearly looks like the predator-prey relationship we are led to believe in the beginning of the story.
In “Those Without Eyes”, Nagabe creates a new kind of deep forest monster, one that terrifies all those that encounter it. It has midnight black fur, six limbs, and a massive mouth. Twiggy horns stick out its head, really driving home its connection to the forest around them. I think this is probably my favorite character design and even favorite story out of this collection. It has the suspense of a young, innocent girl versus a giant monster, the very engaging panels and pages, and a compelling story that keeps you reading. Nagabe has a way of drawing you in with her art and keeping you engaged with her dark and fantastical stories.
All six stories in this volume are fairly good, though I think with my particular tastes, I definitely found some more interesting than others. Also there is the fact that Nagabe favors stories with a furry bent, so I would caution people that don’t like any kind of furry content to read these stories at their own risk. However, I think anyone can find at least one story to like within this compilation. Love on the Other Side is a collection of stories about misunderstandings, love found in the most unusual circumstances, and love that can overcome boundaries. After reading through all of them, I think I can say that my favorites out of the six stories are “See You Tomorrow, Daisy”, “Emergency Rations & Bountiful Feasts”, and “Those Without Eyes”. These are also the ones that I think will be the most appealing to people like me, who aren’t that big into furry culture and content.
I really only have a couple problems with the rest of the stories. As I said above, I’m not a huge consumer of furry content so some of the stories were a little off-putting to me. I think the one that was the most questionable was “The Wolf-Man and the Girl-Wolf” where a wolf-man who was raised by humans tries to civilize a girl-wolf who was raised by wolves. In the beginning, they act as father and daughter, but at the end it becomes a Usagi-Drop scenario where they wind up getting married. In any story setting I find these kinds of plots really disturbing.Going from a father-daughter to a husband-wife relationship points to a power dynamic that really isn’t healthy, especially considering the age difference.
In most of the other stories we see struggling young people in strange or unfortunate circumstances finding some comfort in the weird creatures they have come to live with. In many ways, like in “See You Tomorrow, Daisy”, these creatures act as a form of escape from the problems they face and the one friend they can rely on through their troubles. It winds up being both sad and uplifting in a way. Combined with the grim nature of the creatures and their circumstances, the stories as a whole appear well-rounded and entertaining in a variety of ways.
If you’ve had a chance to check this manga out, leave a comment down below and let me know what story was your favorite!
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress for all Bloom Reviews content updates and news!
If you like what I do, consider supporting me on Ko-fi or Patreon.