Love on the Other Side is a collection of various short stories by Nagabe that focus on relationships – some platonic, some romantic – between humans and an assortment of supernatural creatures, animal-men and some just straight-up animals. Much like Nagabe’s other work, The Girls From the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, the stories in this collection have gentle pacing and a bitter-sweet, and somewhat eerie, feel to them. Some are warm tales of innocent love and others are more macabre stories, but they’re all beautifully drawn in Nagabe’s lovely, minimalistic art style.
As with any anthology, I wound up liking some stories much more than others and there were a couple of relationships in this manga that had romantic implications that made me uncomfortable. For example, The White King is about a lonely boy who visits a talking lion in the zoo every night and seems to develop a crush on him, which was pretty weird. Even more awkward still is the relationship featured in The Wolf-Man and the Girl-Wolf . This story is about a wolf-man who is caring for a human girl who was raised by wolves for several years before he found her. It starts out pretty cute, with the wolf-man doing his best to try and teach the child to behave like a human while she frolics around on all-fours and chews on the books he’s using to try and teach her to talk. His efforts do, eventually, pay off and, by the time she’s grown into a young woman, she’s fully articulate and capable of cooking and caring for herself. That’s when her wolf-man parental-figure proposes marriage to her, apparently having planned to do this from the start. Way to take a sweet story and make it gross!
Despite the presence of some of these strange or icky elements, there were plenty of stories in Love on the Other Side that I did enjoy. One of my favourites is Midnight Waltz, an endearing story about a vampire who was rejected by his clan because he resembles a huge bat and who now lives in an abandoned castle with only animals for companions. He befriends a kind human girl who teaches him to dance and brightens up his life. His adorable animal friends all do their best to support their relationship while also trying to keep their master from realizing that he’s not actually human, a task they kind of suck at. This is a very whimsical and touching story that felt like a classic fairytale, probably because of all the helpful animals.
I also really liked Those Without Eyes, which is probably the darkest story in the book. In this tale, a blind girl who was abandoned in the woods by her family is found and cared for by a frightful monster. The monster manipulates the corpse of a human man when interacting with her so that she’ll think it’s a human, but doesn’t realize that the girl has seen through its ruse and is convinced that the monster is trying to trick her so that it can eventually eat her. It’s a pretty messed up scenario, but there’s more to the monster then it initially appears and I found this to be the most interesting story in the collection.
The stories in Love on the Other Side are all a bit odd, but, while they’re not all gems, I found some of them to be quite moving and, overall, this is a unique collection that’s worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of Nagabe’s other works.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
For more information on this manga, visit Seven Seas Entertainment’s website.
What did you think of this manga? Which stories were your favourites? Let me know in the comments. Also, be sure to check out my review of another of Nagabe’s short story collections: