Somali and the Forest Spirit – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

I wasn’t planning on doing belated First Impressions this season, even if I happen to like the show such as the case with Somali and the Forest Spirit. I’ve learned from past efforts that it isn’t worthwhile. However, I’m running behind on getting my first seasonal editorial ready for posting so I figured I’d try to squeeze in a bonus post for something I haven’t continued yet if I can.

One thing that is certain about Somali is that it’s not your typical fantasy anime (based on what is typical of the genre these days). Humans are straight up near-extinct in this show, having lost a grueling and exhausting war against an alliance of various fantastical creatures. The aftermath creates dilemma for Somali (Inori Minase), a young girl and one of the last remaining humans in the land. Fortunately, she is found by a Golem (Daisuke Ono), a protector of the forest who decides to travel with her to search for a place where she can take refuge.

I will come upfront and say that I kind of find Somali annoying. She’s understandably too young to fully understand the situation she’s in but there are nevertheless many, many times where she wanders off and risks her safety and I just want to yell at the screen over what she’s doing. There’s also her habit of mugging to the frame because of course she’d do that, she’s a little girl in an anime. Being interchangeable with her recklessness, the cuteness frankly tends to backfire and feels rather overbearing.

Fortunately, the Golem is there to greatly offset Somali. His apparent inability to express emotions makes him intolerant of Somali’s antics and he wastes no time keeping her in check and disciplining her if he has to. You also have the surrogate father-daughter relationship between the two and I can’t deny that it’s really heartwarming how protective and even affectionate the Golem is towards his “daughter” despite claiming he can’t feel anything.

What I enjoyed most about the premiere is the uneasy atmosphere it can present. All the fantastical creatures introduced so far are colorfully designed and don’t look all that menacing but when they talk about how they annihilated humanity, even enslaved and eaten them, it makes you tug at the collar once the camera cuts back to Somali. Even as something as normal as cat is a threat to Somali’s safety. The one she encounters recognizes human scent and freely admits that Somali smells appetizing (that it talks and has Cheshire eyes makes it even more unnerving). No one sees through Somali’s minotaur disguise (and how they still don’t by the end of the episode is really amusing) but you still worry what would happen if the secret ever gets out.

The clock also appears to be ticking for the Golem. One scene shows him checking the condition of his arms and it’s immediately evident that his age is surfacing and that he’ll soon cease to function. I wonder if whenever he opens his one eye to activate his scanning ability, he risks deteriorating even faster but so far, the show hasn’t suggested that yet. What’s probably safer to assume is that Somali doesn’t know. I can’t imagine she’d still be so peppy traveling with her dad if she did. It’s clear that Somali and the Forest Spirit is aiming for an emotional journey and I’m interested to see if it can pull it off.

Thanks for reading!

Watch Somali and the Forest Spirit on Crunchyroll

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