I’m not exactly sure where the title comes from. The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún is what the English Localized title became, although the original Japanese title is Totsukuni no Shoujo — or, The Foreign Country Girl or Girl from a Foreign Country. 外つ国 (Totsukuni) means “a foreign country”, and “Shoujo” means “Girl”, so again, I’m unsure where “Siúil, a Rún” comes from.
‘Totsukuni no Shoujo’, or in English, ‘The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún,’ is a beautifully composed manga written and illustrated by Nagabe. Serialized in Comic Garden, this engaging narrative was published from September 2015 to March 2021. Spanning 11 volumes and 53 chapters, the manga successfully delves into a world filled with folklore and nuanced characters.
In the heart of ‘Totsukuni no Shoujo’ lies an ancient tale of two deities: the god of light and the god of darkness. The darkness deity, cursed by the god of light, is banished to the Outside with his monstrous progeny, thus segregating the Outsiders from the Insiders. An innocent Insider, a little girl named Shiva, forms an unlikely bond with an Outsider she calls ‘Teacher’. Despite the inescapable curse and fear of the Outside, they cultivate a relationship marked by care and protection, yet threatened by their divergent origins.
Opinions / Analysis
‘Totsukuni no Shoujo’ resonates with a spectral, eerie charm, drawing readers into a somber, mythical world. The narrative is layered with complex themes such as life, sacrifice, and the essence of family. The series challenges and redefines the conventional perception of ‘living’. It emphasizes the irony of ‘life’ – the Outsiders, devoid of souls and deemed ‘not alive’, exhibit more compassion, patience, and kindness towards Shiva and the Teacher than the Insiders.
The narrative is rife with sacrifice. From Shiva and Teacher’s relentless efforts to protect each other, to the old woman’s selflessness, the grandfather and grandson’s bond, and the royal man’s sacrifices, the manga explores the depth of humanity. These actions underpin the poignant suggestion that the only Insiders that seem to be ‘truly alive’ are those who continue to cherish their humanity despite adversities.
The concept of family also plays a significant role in this manga. The story subtly questions the societal understanding of family through Shiva’s abandonment, Teacher’s past, and even the subtle references to family such as Outsiders’ reference to the God of Darkness as ‘Mother’. It forces the readers to contemplate – What defines a family? What makes a family significant? When does familial loyalty hold value, and when does betrayal become acceptable?
The storyline of ‘Totsukuni no Shoujo’ can keep one glued to the manga despite its length. I found myself engrossed in its world, finishing it in only three days despite 11 volumes. Initially, I thought the manga was metaphorical, but now I’m not so sure. For example, Nigeru Otoko (see link below) is definitely metaphorical of a larger issue (being, sheltering oneself from their own problems); this one, I think, is a complicated tale that’s meant to touch on multiple different themes rather than one concrete issue.
This thought-provoking manga easily earns a 9 out of 10 for its masterful storytelling. The persistent exploration of compassion, sacrifice, and the complexity of family relationships amidst despair won’t be easily forgotten.
What do you all think of this series? Do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!
Check out some of my personal top picks for other philosophical manga:
A Simple Guy in a Not Simple World – Not Simple Review
Your Soul is a Gem – Black Paradox Review
When It’s Time To Leave the Forest – Nigeru Otoko Review