Nagabe, the mangaka behind The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún and The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms, is back with the stirring short story anthology Love on the Other Side. There’s an element of fairy tales to these stories, and they circle around fragile-looking people who are involved with anthropomorphized animals. Sometimes the animals are frightening and dangerous, and the humans are in danger of being eaten. Other times, the humans and animals strike up a friendship.
In one story, a boy befriends a lion who believes he’s the king of all lions. In actuality, he lives in a zoo and is kept away from the other lions because they don’t like him. In another story, a girl lives with a vampire who believes he’s human. The vampire looks like a giant bat in clothing, and since he doesn’t cast a reflection, he can still try to believe he’s something he’s not. Then there’s the story of a giant bird who takes a girl away to be prey, only to find himself drawing closer to her.
The artwork is sketchy while still being aesthetically pleasing and is done with a light touch. This matches with the light touch of each story. These aren’t stories with fast paced action or deep plots that keep you turning the pages as fast as possible. Reading these stories is more like drinking tea and relaxing, yet they can be sinister and dark at times. They’re surreal slice of life stories taking place in a dreamlike fantasy world, where they’re subtly haunting in their simplicity. If someone is already a fan of Nagabe’s work, they ought to check this out. And if they’re not an already-existing fan, they might be after reading these stories and sinking into Nagabe’s imagination.
Story & Art: Nagabe
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, and its sequel, Manga Art for Intermediates, with professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.