First Look: Somali and the Forest Spirit

Alternative title(s): Somali to Mori no Kamisama
Manga Adaptation by Satelight
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

In a world inhabited by fantasy creatures, golems are charged with protecting the forest. One day the current Golem protector of the forest finds something extremely rare: a human child. Together, the two go on a journey to find where the other humans have gone.

Jel’s verdict: Sweetness and Not Much Else

I love a good dad anime and I very much like what Somali and the Forest Spirit is trying to do. There’s the dad anime part: the stoic robot father learning to fill the emotional needs of a small human child. That’s adorable. There’s also a not so subtle message about how humanity has been incapable of dealing with people different than themselves. I’m on board for all that.

Somali creates a great framework for exploring those concepts, but I’m worried the writing is not up to the task of handling them. Dialogue and exposition is clunky and heavy handed, with everything you need to know being said out in the open. Rather than let the audience piece together how much danger Somali is in, they just have someone say “oh yeah, I remember humans…” and spell it all out for us.

That sounds like a small thing, but it’s the difference between something being compelling or predictable. And making an already slow paced, quiet show like Somali predictable means me likely falling asleep during the next episode. Somali and Golem Dad are charming enough characters that I’m willing to give it some time, but I’m keeping my expectations realistic.

Marlin’s verdict: One Trick Daddy?

I’m a bit worried this show doesn’t have anywhere to develop on without being disjointed, dark, or dull. With a normal dad anime, you can just have the daddy-daughter interaction take center stage, but it seems like to just have every day life of golem guys would do a disservice to the highly disturbing setting we’ve been given so far. If these creatures are intentionally eating sentient species, that would seem to be a pretty big mark of an evil culture in general, and yet it’s passed off as some quirk particular to their treatment of humans. It doesn’t help that we learn much of this information in the dullest way possible, with lines and lines of DON’T YOU REMEMBER THIS HAPPENED? slowing down an already sleepy show to near comatose state. I’m willing to be proven wrong, but for now it looks like this show will only be good for the gorgeous art and little else.

Artemis’ verdict: Awww

Somali and the Forest Spirit doesn’t present any new themes or ideas, and I have to admit, some of its storytelling decisions (terrible exposition ahoy!) are questionable at best. However, what it lacks in complexity or subtlety, it at least partially makes up for in sheer charm. Rather than focus on the darker aspects of the story – and make no mistake, it definitely has a darker side – Somali revels in the titular character’s insatiable curiosity, making the show feel like mostly light-hearted, easily digestible and family-friendly fare. However, by far my favourite aspect of the series comes from Somali’s protector and ‘father’, an unnamed golem who, despite being incapable of either understanding or experiencing (at least in theory) any human emotion, clearly has a heart of gold. His deadpan delivery of every line is somehow the most adorable part of the entire series, and is played to perfection by fan-favourite Daisuke Ono. Something like a supernatural Usagi Drop or a far less melancholy and more kid-friendly version of Natsume Yuujinchou, Somali and the Forest Spirit is definitely a sweet treat for my cold heart this winter season.

One thought on “First Look: Somali and the Forest Spirit

  1. I remember read this manga before. It nice and all but the “loner and a kid” type of stories have never interested me. I do heard some good things about it expanding lore of the world though.

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