I come to you with this literally treat written by Nagabe, and it is my sincere joy to give my time and thoughts in order to bring you closer to a manga that goes by the name The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún. This literal piece consists of 11 volumes or 52 chapters in total and honestly, I wish there were more. The story is rather poetic, yet simple. Sad, yet immersive.
Beautifully drawn, depicting with such ease emotions like joy, the urgency of a situation, longing for what you cannot have… and many more.
The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún is definitely one of the manga I read that I keep close to my heart now. Although I consider it simple, I find it beautifully written, filled with symbolism and the urge to have what is most precious to us today, even though we take it for granted – our soul.
I will tell you about what happens in each volume to bring the story closer to you, but I still wholeheartedly recommend that you read this story. It isn’t that long, though you’ll wish there’s more when you reach the end and because every detail was well thought of – the words, the style, the drawings, the pace… every single detail.
There is also a 10-minute OVA anime adaptation released on September 10, 2019., and in February of this year, we get to experience a new feature animation movie, available on DVD. It will be produced by WIT studio, which is not a small thing, honestly. They produced a lot of popular manga such as Attack on Titan, Vinland Saga, The Ancient Magus’ Bride, The Great Pretender, and many others. And when it comes to The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, you’ll experience a new immersive kind of animation, which they’ll fund with collected money from the Kickstarter campaign.
Her name is Shiva.
Shiva is a small girl abandoned in the Outside – a place beyond the city walls where dark creatures reside and hunt those like Shiva, pure human beings. Innocent and non-understanding of the world, she befriends anyone who gives her friendly company.
She calls him Teacher.
Teacher is tall, a dark being cursed for eternity to be hated, feared, and disgusted by. One day he finds a small girl, alone in the woods, and decides to be her guardian. The beauty of a strange and unlikely company is rather amusing to read about in The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, but there is a constant shadow over their everyday lives.
True, he is kind and gentle towards her, and she is happy to be only his, but with one sad fact. Teacher may never touch Shiva or he will give her his curse. And that is what scares him the most. Such a pure and kind child to be turned into someone like him – a constant cloud of fear that looms over his head.
As we go deeper into the story, Teacher reads the same book over and over again to Shiva, while at the same time introducing us to the lore of the world they live in.
“Once upon a time… There lived a God of Light and a God of Darkness. The God of Light gave happiness and prosperity to all her people. But the God of Darkness liked to come and steal that happiness away, playing tricks on everyone. The God of Light grew very cross with the God of Darkness, so she decided to punish him… in order to teach him a lesson.
The God of Light took everything away from the God of Darkness changing him into the shape of a hideous monster. Rage drove the God of Darkness mad. He transformed his punishment into a curse and spread it to others. The God of Light was distressed at this and banished the God of Darkness to the Outside. And built a vast, enormous wall to keep his curse from spreading further.”
“In time the God of Darkness came to be called the Outsider. In turn, the God of Light became the Insider. “
There is no doubt, that he truly loves Shiva and wants to protect her from others like him, from the vile touch that may destroy her purity. At the same time, he also keeps her safe from the Insiders as well. The motives are rather various – either from fear of losing her or if they may hurt her… Or is it maybe because he doesn’t want to end up alone.
Shiva constantly awaits her aunt’s return and Teacher says nothing to persuade her otherwise, though he is sure she will never come for her. He never saw a woman looking for her and then again, why did her family abandon her in the first place. He doesn’t want to sadden her little heart by smothering that little hope she has.
There are instances when she wants to touch Teacher and simply enjoy the meaning of a simple hug, but Teacher has been forever cautious, feeding her with tales of scary consequences. Shiva obeys him and is very understanding for such a small girl, but a young mind is easily fed with fears, and those fears manifest inside her dreams.
One day, as Shiva wakes up from a nightmare, the cause of her fear glooms over her small body, eager to take her soul to the one that created them. And she realizes this is not her familiar Teacher, but someone rather bigger, scarier, approaching with extended hand, she is unable to run from.
And something Teacher feared the most, happened – she was touched.
A pure child was cursed for eternity.
Teacher doesn’t lose a minute, but acts upon the threat in the room in order to protect the little joy bundled in the bed.
I cannot bear, but to say just how beautiful this manga is drawn. It isn’t easy to draw an action stuck in a moment, but this manga does it effortlessly. I can see the anger, the hastiness in Teacher’s movements, the despair in his eyes as he tries to slash down the cursed grip on Shiva’s small soft face. I stared at this particular image for minutes and admired it for its beauty. One of the first moments where Teacher showed the viciousness of his nature. Not a nurturer, but a warrior.
But now there was that fear – was Shiva lost now? Was her purity, mortality, her frailty forever lost?
There is nothing wrong with living forever, and Teacher wouldn’t rob Shiva of that. According to Teacher, when one becomes an Outsider, that person loses her/his sense of a warm or cold sensation, memories begin to fade until one day an Outsider has just been… Let’s just say, they realize the meaning of a curse when that eternity knocks on the door.
The new Outsider that surprises them, turns out to be a friend, or at least, not a direct enemy to Teacher or Shiva. The Outsider comes with some explanations about who the Outsiders really are and where they come from. The Outsider tells him about Mother, an entity that supposedly created them with the sole purpose to bring to her pure souls, such as Shiva. Once the Outsiders, who came from Mother, do their purpose, they return to the home where they came from – her arms.
I’m only revealing the very skeleton of The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, to spark some interest in your mind because I fell in love with the art and the story of this manga. It will hold a special place in my heart, just like all the best stories I read before.
Suddenly, the unexpected happens – Shiva gets her aunt back. How and why this happens, is up to you to take the manga in your hands and start reading it, because it is not a coincidence. To stay on topic, aunt returns with Shiva to the city where people like them live and are kept safe from the Outsiders. For a moment there, Shiva is happy to be reunited with her only family, but on the other hand, she is separated from Teacher.
Her aunt tries to convince her that Teacher is evil and that he only had ill intentions towards her, sparking doubt in Shiva’s heart. As you probably learned by now, Shiva still hasn’t turned, despite being touched by the Outsider. So the morning after was plagued with unpleasant surprises. Shiva woke up in an empty house and loud screams coming from outside. What she saw was a scene filled with people running from newly turned Outsiders and soldiers stabbing them to death, whether they were touched or not.
As you can see, Shiva is mentioned here as a child from the Revelation. There is a possibility that she is special. She lived outside the walls, and in that, not so short time, what the soldiers see is a human child, adapting quite well in the outside life. How could she stay unturned surviving by herself for years? The only explanation was that she was special and possibly an answer to ending the existence of the Outsiders.
But is Shiva the answer?
How can she believe that when she learns that her aunt turned into an Outsider, just the day after they were reunited. Could she be cursed after all?
Shiva keeps being terrorized by her nightmares, by her guilt of turning others into Outsiders. By turning her loving aunt into one of them and condemning her into eternal life.
In Volume 4, Shiva manages to be reunited with Teacher and her “changed” aunt, living as a happy small family, or at least trying to. On one hand, Teacher feels redundant in playing a role of a parent and the aunt tries to ignore him and keep him out of Shiva’s grasp as often as possible.
In one moment, aunt reveals to Teacher why was Shiva abandoned in the first place and it is a rather painful story to tell. Keeping a long story short, Aunt intends to be Shiva’s family again – her “only” family again. And Teacher can leave for all she cares about. He is not indifferent to this situation, his sadness manifest in the form of heartache which he doesn’t understand.
A creature that cannot feel, suddenly experiences fear of abandonment and pain of not being loved anymore.
Days spent together seem joyous and finally free of pain and fear as the trio is building a family relationship, but even Teacher knows what awaits Shiva’s dear aunt. And it happens sooner than expected – that crippling approach of not being able to remember the little girl’s name… Thought after thought slipping through her hands – as the time goes, aunt loses one memory after another.
For Shiva, Teacher can keep this little fake life to last long enough for her to grow up with some happy memories. Her happiness is his top priority. At least that is what Teacher wants us to believe. Things don’t necessarily need to be so plain and obvious.
Before I continue with the rest of the story, I must state something quite obvious when you set your eyes upon the text. The details of this manga are just marvelous. When you look at the scene below, you’ll notice that different font is used for text that Teacher delivers and when the other Outsiders speak. In a way, you get an idea of how differently, they speak, whether it is the color of the voice or perhaps the hardness or softness of their speech.
But moving along, the Outsiders introduce Teacher with their lore. They explain to him that Mother tasks them to bring pure souls to her. She gifts them with a body and mind and once they fulfill their duty, they return their „gifts“ from Mother, as they call them, to her again.
Here, the story slowly tells us that immortality is a relative thing and not everything is present forever.
As we learn this vital information, the story delivers us with a loss. Once a person is turned into The Outsider, you lose your soul and you are nothing more than just a shell. After the soul, memory after memory fade, and once you lose your very self, your existence is no more. That is the true curse of the Outsider.
Shiva experiences loss once again. First by abandonment, second by metamorphosis.
In a turn of unfortunate events, Teacher and Shiva are forced to flee. They were being pursued by Insider soldiers, with the intent to take Teacher’s head and Shiva’s fate was questionable. (Ultram) After all, she seemed important to the Insiders – a small gem outside the wall still unturned, still pure and very much human. But the change of home didn’t kill their joy. One day, snow hid the entire scenery and created a wintery wonderland, which helped them to forget about the unwanted pursuits, at least for a short time.
Later in Volume 6, we learn more about what the Insiders believe about their world. There are teachings by which they live, stating how it is their Heavenly Father (God of Light) who sheds his tears in the form of rain and once those tears run dry, He smiles upon them and shines everything in His domain. Thus, creating a circle of life and the change of nature which happens every day. Further, they explain how His breath represents the wind that carries seeds across the land and plants them into the soil.
Those are the teachings in which they firmly believe, not even questioning the credibility of their belief.
Bringing back the focus on Teacher and Shiva, we learn how the soldiers found the old house in which they were residing. As they go through their belongings, hoping to learn something about Teacher and Shiva, to find any clue which could lead to them, they actually learn something about who the Outsider was before. Or, they believed there was a possibility that they held the information about the person who was now an Outsider traveling with a small girl who wasn’t cursed.
As Teacher searches for answers about his past and a cure for Shiva’s spreading curse, she is tasked to take care of herself and stay in the house until he returns. But, a child being a child, she couldn’t stand still and wait. So, she decided to look for him – the only grownup figure in her life who took care of her and kept her safe from harm.
Teacher and Shiva may try to escape those who hunt them, but if you keep your mind on one thing, the other sneaks up to you without you even knowing it. Finally, the past starts to catch up to them and slowly reveal some important facts intertwined with their current state and situation.
Teacher is desperate to stop Shiva’s curse from spreading until it consumes her and leaves nothing but a walking black shell, a living cursed creature like himself. The very thought sends shivers down his spine, even though he doesn’t remember what it feels like. If bits of her soul shrivel and fall off with every passing moment, maybe he can stop it by gifting her with his own soul. Such selfless deed created a turmoil of fear in his resting heart. Fear of a possibility that he might not save her with his soul.
But it was important to try.
It has come to this, a choice Teacher made in order to save Shiva. Losing her was not an option, so the only thing he could do is – give her his soul which was still residing inside him.
But, doesn’t that mean he will end just like Shiva’s aunt? Won’t he become a motionless withering tree?
True, Shiva will be what she once was, but he won’t be there to see her. A bearable price to pay, he agreed. After making his decision, he returned home to her, but she wasn’t there. Stricken with fear, Teacher realized she went outside, where it was snowing and it was cold and more importantly, she was all on her own.
Or did the soldiers find them and took her with them? Was he late?
After searching for quite some time and asking other Outsiders if they have seen her, Teacher finally finds the little joy of his life sitting under a pine tree. Shiva tells Teacher how she knew he would find her because she held on to his medallion and wished for him to find her.
And he did.
But the sight of the curse slowly, lingering over her fingers until it consumes her whole, he decides not to lose a moment more. She was, and is, and always will be the most precious and important person in his life and it was his duty to save her. He saw more meaning and value in her short life than in his or anyone else’s.
Reaching out for her hand, he encouraged her to receive his soul.
The moment she drank his soul, the curse has withdrawn, and once again, she was in no danger of turning into an Outsider. But what was Teacher without his soul? What happens to an Outsider who is just a walking shell?
The moment he gave the only thing that was keeping him from rotting away was now given away. And Shiva was in his memories, no more. He forgot her right there and then and it was the worst moment ever for it to happen. The soldiers found them. Teacher didn’t fight to rescue her and all he could do was to lay on the ground as they kicked him and hurt him.
Shiva fought and screamed at Teacher to save her, to remember her, but it was all in vain.
She was taken to the city, and he was left in the snow, slowly rotting away.
Shiva, not understanding why Teacher forgot her and didn’t fight to save her, lost her hope and the only family she had at that moment. She truly felt abandoned.
The Insiders had Shiva. And they had special plans that would set the course of the war raging between the Insiders and Outsiders to a different path. A war they fought for so long.
As we learn that Shiva’s sacrifice is needed to free people from the Outsiders, or so that was what they believed, we learn what is actually at play. His Holiness kept the truth about their religion in a church no one entered for a long time.
The truth would birth heretics and that would only hurt the plans he has for others.
But one day, the King followed him, not aware of what he will discover. His Holiness showed him everything. And this is how the truth goes.
And this life was special. Special because The Earthly Mother gave a piece of herself to create it. The Heavenly Father gave a piece of himself to create it. This life was a creation of Sky and Earth, and thus they formed a soul inside a body. This is how their children were born.
But the life of that child was split. There came a day when The Heavenly Father and the Earthly Mother were not at peace. The day that marked the end and the beginning. Their battle ravaged the land, the sky wept and burned, the rivers were bleeding hot.
Yes, people were created by the God of Darkness as they did by the God of Light. But the fight that stirred between them, set a different path for both of them. The Earthly Mother took the body away, which she stole from the Heavenly Father and she created – The Outsiders.
But now, there is a question. Are the Outsiders and the Insiders touched by the curse the same beings? It cannot be.
Then what His Holiness wants to say is that the Heavenly Father was after the vessel the whole time, never the soul. And Shiva is the vessel. Her body is cursed, but her soul is untainted. She represents two sides of the same coin. Light and darkness lived in harmony within her. She bears the Heavenly Father and Earthly Mother – an Outsider and Insider simultaneously.
But knowing all this is dangerous, and His Holiness won’t let his King diminish his tries to finish his vision. His Holiness stabs him in the gut and leaves him to die in his pool of blood.
It was time to finish the ritual.
His Holiness was ready to take the small child’s life, believing that action would set them free from the curse, from the God of Darkness. He was certain he will set them all free from the pain, suffering – and fear. Although he stabbed his King, he should’ve finished the act because he followed him. Weak and bleeding, he returned to the hall to stop him from committing, not a sacrifice, but murder.
As he tried to persuade the others what was the truth and how they were lied to, people still followed His Holiness like sheep. You cannot expect to shake the very foundations of human belief and expect them to accept it and be happy about it.
If someone told you that we were nothing more than just an experiment in a jar sitting next to numerous other jars with their worlds in them? How would that “truth” make you feel? Serving a purpose until we are tossed in the trash? It is definitely more pleasant to believe there is a Heaven and we will be happy there once we die.
As the King tried to persuade people of the truth, Shiva escaped and even though he failed to open their eyes, he was happy that the little girl had time to run as he kept them distracted.
She ran, she hid, she did everything necessary to escape the city walls, back to her one and only family – Teacher. She will try to make him remember her, his little Shiva. She will speak to him of the happy memories they shared together, she’ll make new memories of them being happy. She’ll do anything to…
She would do anything… She really would.
If he wasn’t already lost.
At that moment, she cared not for the curse, for the Insiders, for anything…
Shiva approached her beloved Teacher, placed her hands onto his…
Once she placed her hand in his, the curse took over her body and she was no longer Shiva. With one simple touch, she reversed Teacher’s decaying transformation and gave him back himself, his identity. Simply explained, she returned his soul to him.
Now, she was an Outsider, and other truths started to be revealed to her. Things she has forgotten.
I am saying things, giving the impression, as if she was never originally a little girl, born and raised by humans and Teacher. Let me reveal the truth to you so that you may understand.
Shiva is now an Outsider, missing a soul. And since she cannot sustain her body without a soul, her body will decay, her memories will perish, and she will be nothing but a part of still nature.
Giving Teacher his soul to save him, she also restored his memories as her final gift. He learned how it all happened, how he became what he is now…
Once upon a time, there was a man by the name of Albert, who had a family – a loving wife and a small child. A doctor by profession, he was a man loved by all. The medallion was a gift for his birthday, gifted to him by his wife, so he may carry his life close to his heart. They lived in a small prospering village near city walls where the King resided.
Each day they lived was happy, kind, and free of fear.
Until the curse spread its hands across the village, condemning all to death.
Albert urged his wife to run with their child because the soldiers were killing everyone in sight, to stop the curse from spreading. And that meant they killed everyone, touched or untouched, young or old, strong or weak… Anyone living in that village. Albert promised his family, he’ll find them, but it was really important to him that they ran.
Under the influence of his wounds, he collapsed on the ground.
After Albert woke up, he felt different. He could stand up, walk with ease, but he was confused. Bits and bits of his memory were missing and it felt, the more he tried to remember, the more they slipped away.
So he returned to the village, facing its people. They threatened him to stay away. Begging him not to touch them and leave them alone. Albert tries to persuade them that he isn’t cursed, only to realize that not only was he cursed, but he was an Outsider.
He felt lonely, asking for anybody to help him, but everyone shut their door in his face.
Until one day an old man and his grandson opened their door to him and decided to help him.
The people of the village knew about this and they begged them to send the creature away. They tried to reason with the old man and his grandson by explaining what if they bring the curse to their village, dooming them all to death?
They told them this many times, but the old man would not send him away.
Albert listened from afar, worried because it was raining and they didn’t take the umbrella with them.
But the villagers weren’t eager to risk the curse no longer. If they won’t send the creature away, they will sever the link between their village and the creature.
The old man and his young grandson were killed before Albert’s eyes.
Albert was forced to flee and roam the woods alone.
This newly learned truth sent shivers down Teacher’s spine. As he regained his memories back, he also received a chance to feel a long-lost feeling – coldness. He was shivering and now he remembered what it means to be cold.
But did it all mean that he has to lose Shiva? Should he lose her like he did the old man and his grandson?
He could not bear this thought and he had to remind her who she was. He tried to stop her from walking away, but even he didn’t understand the whole situation and what was still hidden from him.
Albert didn’t understand what “Shiva” was telling him. She was never human, she wasn’t born, she didn’t grow up, she wasn’t abandoned by her parents. She never had a soul.
This Outsider that was once “Shiva” to him, came from the Mother, who gave her a task to bring souls.
There is more to Albert’s story. We started with “once upon a time”, but there were still some bits left out.
As Albert sent his family away in order to save them, he lay on the ground, bleeding, and left to die. As the Outsider approached him, Albert reached out and grabbed the Outsider’s hand, begging to be helped.
The Outsider felt pity and decided to help this dying man.
The Outsider reached out and placed her hands on his chest, taking part of his soul and nesting it inside herself. The only way she could help was if she cursed this dying man and turned him into an Outsider. Then, she ripped out the top of her head and placed it onto his face.
The Outsider Albert knew as Shiva was responsible for turning him into what she was. She stole his life, memories and sealed his fate, where he traversed alone, hated by the Insiders. She was responsible for condemning him to a life he hated.
She stole Albert’s soul and gave him a piece of herself so that he may live and walk as an empty vessel, not as a rotting shell. The form Albert wears is the face that once belonged to her.
Shiva was a part of his soul the entire time. Shiva was none other than Albert himself.
I’ve come to the decision that I will not reveal how the story ends. To me, it was rather unexpected and some of you may not like this particular kind of ending, but honestly, I am more than fine with it. I can only reveal to you that my honest belief is that Teacher decided to do things as they were before. I believe that he wasn’t ready not to act, that is all I can reveal and I hope it makes sense once you read the story.
As I said at the beginning, the story seems rather simple, with a few important characters who seem to represent symbolic opposites. At first, you are told that you have one demonic, dark, tall figure and on the other side, you are introduced to a small, innocent, pure lovely girl who tries to survive while keeping close to her tall companion.
But the things aren’t as they seem.
What I admire the most about The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, is the drawn art, stylized lettering which depends on who is delivering the speech, the simplicity of the story and the horror which arrives as the plot unfolds before your eyes. You clearly understand what is depicted in each image and it shows with such ease different seasons like spring or winter without a single use of color.
As much as I loved The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, I have to say, it broke my heart. The very thought that there aren’t any more volumes to read because I would like to see more and the very revelation that we learn about at the end of the manga, it is just… The very end is everything, but simplistic. Suddenly you are tasked with a question to which you don’t know the answer at that moment. Or at least, it is not smart to give an answer right away.
Will you lose something you never lost, or will you take something that was never even taken from you?
Tell me your opinion if I sparked your interest or perhaps you already read The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún? Did I give it too much praise or not enough? I would love to see your thoughts about Shiva and Teacher, were they the characters filled with life that were bursting from the pages, or if the art was different, gorgeous, or just bland?
There are reviews on other mangas and anime if you would like to discover something new. For example 15 Anime Similar to Horimiya For You to Watch.
Or if you are for something a bit more different, I warmly recommend that you take some of your time and read about 50 Best Anime With Magic That Will Enchant Your Soul.
You have plenty of time to read all 11 volumes before the animated movie is released in March, I will state some of the sites from which you can buy The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún.