WIT Studio’s Newest Fairytale Anime Is Darker Than The Ancient Magus’ Bride

There is a land divided in two. On the Inside, humans live happily. On the Outside, creatures dwell, beset by a curse that turned them into beasts. One day, an Outsider discovers a young human girl in the Outside, abandoned by her family, and sees no other choice but to take her in, careful lest she touch him and catch the curse as well. However, far from being frightened of her new 'Teacher,' the girl adapts to life on the Outside quickly, and soon the Outsider is participating in Shiva's tea parties and -- very carefully -- letting her place flower crowns upon his head.

The truth of the divide between their worlds is something Shiva cannot possibly comprehend, and yet she could be the key to understanding the curse -- something that becomes more and more apparent as forces from the Inside attempt to tear Shiva away. The Girl from the Other Side features dark lore and questions of morality and humanity, all revolving around the bright innocence of one little girl.

The Girl from the Other Side began publication in September 2015 and ended in March 2021. Wit Studio produced a short OVA in 2019 that was very well received by fans for its animation style and faithfulness to the dark whimsy of the manga series. The studio decided to begin a Kickstarter to create a feature-length adaptation. After the success with the previous OVA, it took four hours for the feature length to be completely funded, giving Wit Studio the go-ahead to create a full OVA to be released on March 10, 2022.

The studio has been flourishing lately with titles such as Great Pretender, Ranking of Kings and the upcoming Spy x Family, but its experience with a similar work perhaps gives Wit Studio what it needs to properly adapt The Girl From the Other Side. Airing from 2017 to 2018, The Ancient Magus' Bride is another story from Wit Studio, also playing with the darker side of fairytales that makes it the perfect complement to The Girl from the Other Side. 

the girl from the other side

Although The Girl from the Other Side is overall darker in tone, the basic premise of both series resonates. The concept of a human girl being placed in a new home filled with strange and wondrous mysteries makes Shiva and Hatori Chise protagonists of similar circumstances, if Chise were old enough to better understand her situation. Chise and Shiva also develop deep bonds with Elias and Teacher respectively and provide comfort and acceptance in return. There is a deep emphasis placed on the beauty and importance of found family, recognizing that sometimes the ones who don't share blood are the ones who offer the most love.

However, the series' diverge drastically when it comes to general tone. The Ancient Magus' Bride is mostly a story about healing from past trauma. It's a tale of creatures and people coming together. Even the vibrant colors of Elias' head covering and Chise's hair contrast with the dull, bleak colors of The Girl From the Other Side. The animation style of the second anime is an accurate representation of the manga, smeared and shadowed, sometimes even difficult to tell what's monster and what isn't.

While Elias looks otherworldly and takes care to cover his face, Teacher lives in fear that he will accidentally touch Shiva and contaminate her, so while Chise and Elias can come closer via physical touch, that is something Teacher doesn't dare, even through clothing. As Teacher and Shiva grow closer as surrogate father and daughter, they cannot close that gap with distance to match, leaving an odd dissonance between the two.

The worlds of the different series' give The Girl From the Other Side a darker tone as well. The split between the Outside and the Inside is far more hateful than those who know of magic and those who do not, and even if Chise and Elias face enemies, it's not systematic oppression like the Outsiders face. There is still much that Teacher himself does not understand about the curse, and the way that knowledge is kept both from the audience and from Teacher creates a tense and distrustful atmosphere. Everything is desolate, Inside and Outside. Despite it all, Shiva remains the heart of the series, just as Chise brings her world together, creating a new family out of the oddest collection of creatures imaginable.

While The Girl From the Other Side is darker thanks to its themes of systematic oppression and exploration of fear and what it means to be a monster, it's a must-see for fans of The Ancient Magus' Bride when it comes out in March 2022. Both series are exquisite fantasy worlds changed by the arrival of one girl, whether it be through learning magic or by hosting tea parties.

About The Author