I don't quite remember how I first learned about Siuil a Run: The Girl From The Other Side, but I think it might have been seeing this review of the first volume a few years ago. I was intrigued by the premise, and wanted a new manga to read. But as soon as I read the first volume, I immediately sought out every other volume that had been put out, and continued to do so until the very end, which just got released recently. Then I saw the absolutely marvelous 10-minute OVA put out by Wit Studio, which I already did a review of, and I don't think I need to belabor my feelings on that here. This year, the manga officially concluded, even though there's going to be a special 12th volume that focuses on side stories and some new material. There's no word on when that'll be out, but you can bet I'll be devouring that like a wolf when it comes out. That being said, you'll notice that I gave it a slightly lower rating than the OVA, and trust me, this doesn't mean I think the manga is bad or anything. Far from it. But now that I've read the entirety of the manga, I do have a lot to say about it.
An unnamed fantasy world is divided in two: The inside and the outside. The outside is populated by black, monstrous beings known as Outsiders, and if a human were to ever touch them, they would be cursed and turned into an Outsider as well. As such, humans fear the outsiders, retreating into the local kingdom while the areas infected by the curse lay abandoned. Oddly enough, a little girl named Shiva is adopted by an Outsider simply known as Teacher, and the two of them live a tranquil, happy life in a tiny cottage in the woods. But their bliss is short-lived when pursuers, Outsiders and soldiers from the inside, intend on using Shiva for their own ends, and will stop at nothing to capture her. What could both sides want with Shiva? Does she have some sort of connection to the curse? What even is the truth behind the curse? What secrets does Teacher hold, and with the Outsiders questioning if he's truly one of their own, what even is he? Can the two of them truly find peace in a world that's plagued with terror, or is their tale doomed to end in tragedy?
One thing you'll notice about the art for this manga is that it really does an impeccable job of setting the mood and atmosphere. From the heavy usage of grey space, to cross-hatching for shadows, and a mixture of thin and thick likes both for backgrounds and characters' bodies, it truly makes you feel like you've been transported to a largely abandoned world, giving it a very unsettling atmosphere, which is fitting for the story and its overall themes. That being said, with the story having very few humans in the story, their facial features are often drawn as very simplistic, with only the bare minimum needed to give a sense of their expressions. Shiva's especially, since she's often drawn in a chibi style, which does get more detailed whenever she's drawn closer to the frame. It's not like the mangaka intentionally skimps on details, mainly preferring to save them for when they're absolutely necessary, which works depending on the situation. There is an emphasis on body language being indicative of a character's mood, and considering most of the cast consists of demonic beings that don't have human faces, Nagabe really puts this to good use here.
But no matter how good the artwork is, a story can't work if it doesn't have an equally good cast of characters backing it up, and thankfully, The Girl From The Other Side understands this wonderfully. The two main characters do an excellent job of carrying the manga, even though some of the more important actions are carried out by other characters when it comes to learning about the true nature of the world they live in. Shiva is more than just a bratty child and Teacher is more than just a demon who takes care of her. Every character has a role to play here and serve their purpose well. My only gripe is that I wish Nagabe had given most of the characters names. We only know certain characters by their titles or familial relations, like Shiva's aunt, the king, or the head priest, and because of that, along with how the human designs are simpler than those of the monsters, it can be hard to tell who's who most of the time. Granted, one character's name is kept a secret deliberately, that much is fine, but I think, had Nagabe given other characters names, it'd be easier to keep track of them. Since the OVA only focuses on Shiva and Teacher and nobody else, it manages to avoid this problem by sticking to just one part of the story.
However, that's not the only flaw The Girl From The Other Side has. Believe me, I really wish I could exalt this as a masterpiece, as it has a lot that really appeals to me. It's a series that's wonderfully told and constantly evolving. But I think it starts to slip a bit during some of the final chapters, when Shiva's true nature really comes to light. Without spoiling anything, the later reveals just seem to contradict each other, and it does leave a lot of questions and subplots unresolved. The final few chapters are less impressive than the rest of the series because of trying to tie up loose ends in ways that seem contradictory. Personally though, the final arc is more of a minor annoyance than a reason not to read this manga. Plus, the final volume does say there's going to be a 12th volume that'll not only feature some side stories, but some new material that, for all we know, may or may not resolve those lingering issues.
With all this in mind, what's the verdict? Basically, Siuil a Run: The Girl From The Other Side is a fun, spooky, engaging manga that, although it has a shallow ending and leaves some things unresolved, absolutely deserves the love and recognition that it gets. It didn't overstay its welcome, I can't wait for the 12th volume, and I definitely can't wait for the new OVA by Wit Studio due to come out in March 2022...assuming they don't get crushed by their recent financial troubles, that is.