Tag: 2020

Somali and the Forest Spirit Episode 1

Somali and the Forest Spirit Episode 1

Journeying Parent and Child

Somali and the Forest Spirit is an anime I’ve been waiting for for months now. Maybe even a full year. Ever since I first learned that this series existed and was getting an anime adaptation, I knew it was one I had to watch. And honestly, the first episode didn’t disappoint.

But before I get into this series and the first episode in particular, I want to mention my winter 2020 schedule. Although this episode review is going live on Friday, future Somali and the Forest Spirit episode reviews will be on Thursdays. However, since this episode is technically airing early, I’m not sure if there will be an episode next week.

With that out of the way, let me just quickly run through everything I like about this series so far in no particular order.

Somali and Golem meet for the first time from the anime series Somali and the Forest Spirit
Somali and Golem meet for the first time

First of all, while the character designs are great, I don’t think the character art is anything special. But, the background art is amazing and I can’t wait to see more of this world depicted in that art style. Whoever the main background artist is for this series, good job.

Second, I’m already a fan of Inori Minase as a VA (no, not because of Rem), but I was surprised by how well she voices Somali. Off the top of my head I can’t think of another character she voices who’s so young, and I wasn’t quite sure how it would be. But it’s safe to say she’s done a great job.

Also, Daisuke Ono, who most people probably know as the VA for Jotaro Kujo, voices Golem.

And I also need to point out that the soundtrack is great so far as well. Hopefully we’ll get some truly amazing insert songs for this series later.

Golem of the Forest

So before we even discuss the predetermined “best girl of the year” Somali, I want to talk about her “dad,” Golem. From this first episode we learn quite a lot about Golem, and golems in general.

At the start, it’s said that golems are guardians of the forest who watch over nature. They don’t get involved with the struggle between predator and prey, they simply observe. However, although we aren’t told this, we can assume the golems would intervene if someone or something threatened their forest.

We’re also told that golems live for either exactly or roughly 1,000 years. We don’t know how old Golem is, but based on the way his arm is shown to be cracking, we can assume he’s nearing the end of his life. In fact, he may be in a race against time to return Somali to her people — which I’ll get into later.

Golem searching for Somali from the anime series Somali and the Forest Spirit
Golem searching for Somali

Additionally, we can infer that he has superhuman strength and agility based on the fact that he jumps off a rooftop like it’s no big deal. Clearly that implies the golems were originally designed with combat in mind — again, likely to protect their forests.

And the final ability we know he has is his one, giant eye which usually remains closed. He uses this to help him find Somali whenever she goes missing, so he probably has exceptional vision. However, the main thing we see this eye used for is determining the molecular structure of objects such as jewelry.

It’s also said that golems don’t have emotions, but this doesn’t appear to be entirely true. Golem clearly has strong feelings for Somali beyond simply being her guardian.

Somali the Minotaur

So, this is where we get into the part of the episode I don’t think was handled well — what’s the deal with Somali?

She’s obviously a human — Golem says as much when he first meets her. She was also clearly a slave who escaped somehow based on her clothing and collar. So right from the start we know that Somali is a human (escaped) slave; that’s good information to have.

Then, later on, we learn that the reason Somali’s cloak has horns on it is to hide her race. When asked what she is by a restaurant employee/manager, Golem says that she’s a minotaur, which is seemingly confirmed by these horns.

Somali talking to Golem from the anime series Somali and the Forest Spirit
Somali talking to Golem

Golem also mentions that they’re in search of humans, to which the “monsters” reply that they haven’t seen humans in a long time. That’s where this conversation should have stopped, but unfortunately it didn’t.

Piecing together the mystery surrounding Somali’s past and the disappearance of the humans throughout the series would have been great. Instead, we’re given an exposition dump by the restaurant waiter which explains everything in an unnatural way.

Apparently the humans discovered this monster continent and ended up getting into a war with the monsters. The monsters easily defeated the humans, and then went on to hunt down the survivors. They even went so far as to eat humans, which apparently taste pretty good.

So, that explains why Golem wants to find humans while also hiding the fact that Somali is one. He wants to return her to the safety of her own kind. It’s just such a shame that the series had to explain all of that to us right in the first episode rather than slowly over the course of the series.

Conclusion

Aside from that exposition dump, there was one other thing I wasn’t a particular fan of — the ED. There’s nothing extremely bad about it, but I think it would have been better without the use of CGI for Somali and Golem. Just do the ED in the same art style as the series and it would have been fine.

But anyway, I have extremely high hopes for the rest of this series and can’t wait to see all the various locations Somali and Golem travel to together, and all the people they meet along the way. I’m also curious to see if Golem’s age will become an important element of the story later on. Will he return Somali to her people before he dies?

What are your thoughts on the first episode of Somali and the Forest Spirit? Did you like it? Do you think this could be the best anime of the season by the end? It’s going to have some fierce competition, but I think it’s possible if Magia Record doesn’t turn out well. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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My review of the next episode is available here.

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