The other day, I was reading the wikipedia page on the book Roadside Picnic, which led to many works such as Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, the Stalker games, and much more. But I was very surprised when I saw there was an anime based off Roadside Picnic called Otherside Picnic. My first thought was “Wait, Japan made an anime version of Stalker? Corporate Japan? So I watched it, and I want to write a essay on my thoughts. I will mostly be comparing Otherside Picnic to the 1979 movie Stalker, as they’re both in video format, and the movie was my introduction to Stalker and its related works.
Otherside Picnic stars Sorao, a quiet Japanese girl, and Toriko, a loud girl with blonde hair and blue eyes that speaks perfect Japanese that no one questions. I know, original. So far, the characters lack some depth, their very stereotypical nature makes them seem generic. Along with their very exaggerated anime voice acting makes them comical.
Tarkovsky’s Stalker stars the Stalker, the writer, and the professor. They all have very grounded and realistic performances, and some depth in character Otherside Picnic lacks. The characters' generally laid back attitudes adds extra tension to the more intense moments of the story where they are much more expressive.
The show and the movie both feature the zone, but they are slightly different. In the anime, the zone is called the “裏世界,” or otherside, and is another dimension, with several doors into them across the world. In the movie, the zone is a government exclusion zone that is illegal to enter. Both zones have traps, called “Glitches'' in Otherside. The in otherside picnic also has monsters, which adds another threat to the zone. I prefer the portrayal of the in Stalker, but the otherside isn’t bad.
The presentation of Otherside Picnic mediocre. The general animation is acceptable, nothing impressive, but the CG, as is common with so many animes, is very bad and distracting. The music of the show is very mixed. Sometimes it is somewhat similar to Stalker, while other times it fits into a genre I have no other way of describing as “generic anime music,” and Max Payne 3. The music is almost always there, which in my opinion is a somewhat cheap way of normalizing exaggerated voice acting and boring dialogue.
Stalker is all filmed in live action, using a combination of Sepia, and colored footage. The color is only used in the Zone, which gives it a special sense of significance that is unique. Stalker uses very little special effects and zero CG, which makes everything visually consistent and immersive. Music is very few and far between. It also makes use of classical music in a way that isn’t unlike Evangelion, giving the world of stalker a strange sense of relatability. Stalker makes use of very long shots, with the average shot being longer than a minute. Because of this, it makes you feel as if you’re watching a journey, not just watching a highlight reel, unlike otherside picnic.
But otherside picnics isn't all bad. Because it has more action, it is generally more exciting. It is entertaining enough to want to watch what happens next, which to me means the show is good enough.
TLDR; Mediocre animation if not for distracting CG, comical and unrealistic characters, cool environments, music has an identity crisis, interesting anomalies, mostly pales compared to タルコフスキー監督. Will probably watch more, the show is interesting enough to keep watching.