A visually striking manga that follows a young human girl Somali and her 'father' a golem - one of the guardians of the forest. Somali to Mori no Kamisama follows their travels as the Golem seeks to reunite Somali with humans in a world full of 'monstrous' anthropomorphic beast-men.
The setting of the story is rich and deeply fleshed out. It follows the large, peaceful, anarchic society of the beast-men, a generic term for dozens of non-human races, who peacefully coexisted with each other for centuries until they ran in to humans. The beast-men eagerly invited the human's to join them in their paradise, but the
humans who mistook them for savage monsters attacked, sparking a war.
An untold amount of time later, humanity is on the brink of extinction having been slaughtered in a series of wars and hunts by the beast-men, who realize that to continue to live peacefully, cannot allow humans to exist.
It is in the morally grey world that the Golem must smuggle Somali who will be killed if her identity is discovered, as the two desperately search for any remaining humans while under a strict time limit.
Ive never written a review on MAL before so bare with me ! i will try to keep this spoiler free
"We're all equal in times of need."
I came across Somali and the forest spirit yesterday when i was on reddit looking for high fantasy setting manga recs, i ended up binging all the current chapters because it was almost everything i have been looking for, when lately i just seem to come up short in my findings! (28/27.5 chapters at the time of this review)
Its literally gorgeous, the art is outstanding and i'm constantly in awe at the landscape detail and art style.
To me, every character is memorable even ones just appearing in one chapter, i've grown very attached to them and specifically Somali and Golem's father daughter bond, its so sweet and easy to get into. I can see this series sticking with me for a very long time since it really is my kind of story
Its not action packed or anything like that but there are plenty of themes and aspects about its setting that have violence, at occasion there are some gruesome elements. But at its heart its a fantasy slice of life, and i love reading chapter by chapter learning something else new about the world of Somali. Some people would call it slow paced but for what it is i kinda disagree? if it was any faster id feel i couldn't keep up as well, it has a nice easy pacing for me, if you're looking for thrilling and exciting though i wouldn't say this is your manga.
I think i would describe Somali in comparison terms as a sort of cross between Ancient Magus Bride, but with a bit less tragedy/gruesomeness and a ghibli movie like Totoro's delightful charm and other wordly intrigue. And beauty of course. Its sweet and impactful, while also having its serious themes and feelings
Obviously nothing is Everyone's cup of tea, but if you're like me who just wants to dive into a completely fantasy based world with adventure and lovable characters, i'd say give it a shot :)
This is my first review here on MAL, so feedback would be appreciated.^^
If I had to describe this manga in one word, it would be: Soothing.
A simple slice of life anime or manga is something to watch or read while not concentrating. It's perfectly calming. And the artwork perfectly adds to that feeling.
The story is simple in its design and it slowly develops like an rpg. At every point, you stumble across another hint for the final destination of your quest. The same thing happens in this manga. A young girl named Somali is shackled and left alone in a forest for (yet)
unknown reasons until the guardian of the forest - a golem - finds her. After having protected the forest for many centuries, he sets out with the girl to find her parents. Looking for hints, they meet many interesting animals, witches and other fantasy characters, most of which act more mature than humans, who are nearly eradicated after a long fight with the fantasy characters. Because of this, they are still at bad terms with humans. Therefore keeping quiet about the fact that Somali is a human, they travel through amazing places with luscious fruits, soothing lights, antique houses and wonderful details in a perfectly illustrated cheerful world. Truly, I've read my fair share of manga, a couple of which had amazing artwork, but nothing comes close to Somalo to Mori no Kamisama. If anything, it makes me want to live in the world illustrated here. Every single detail is nicely drawn and only adds to the wornderful atmosphere. I found myself in a trance looking at some of the pages. Especially the witches library. If we had a library even remotely looking like that, I could read books all day there.
Even though I say this now, there have been a few serious moments that caught me off guard. Feeling like such a child friendly manga, the setting still asks for more serious themes. One of which is the war between humans and fantasy characters. This implies murder and it indeed happens at some point. But, as said, I did not expect that, which added weight to it. A life is not someting to take lightly, wether it be a human or a rabbit like creature.
The artwork is not the only good point about the manga. The story is simple, but effective. Although it sounds repetitive from this review, it doesn't feel that way. Every step to take is logically explained and only feels more magical combined with the extraordinary artwork. At every new location, they obtain information in the form of a backstory or explanations of how things work there. It's definitely not an outstanding story, but it has no need for that. The focus is on adventure: exploring new areas and meeting interesting and often cute characters rather than a deep intriguing story. Perhaps it will get more complicated near the ending, but for now, I do not see that happen.
As mentioned before, most of the characters act quite mature. Seeing a small girl and her guardian, a golem, they often engage joyful chatter and explain the interesting elements of each area as both of the main characters are often unfamiliar with the rest of the world. The golem lived in solitude in the forest and his awkward speech with other species and the cute little Somali who often hides behind him make this manga truly enjoyable. Some manga have a food freak who eat a lot. In this case, Somali is awed by the deliciousness of the food, sometimes to the point of crying and understanding this should not be taken for granted, hence the maturity of the characters. At this point (after 20 chapters), there is a small cast of characters already, each with his own treats, notably and beautifully illustrated with the amazing artwork, which only adds to the liveliness of the characters. Almost all of them are side characters as the focus is on Somali and the golem, but they leave a certain impression. And most have their reasons for their actions and don't resort to violence if not necessary. They too want to live a normal life.
Story: 6. Simple, but gets the job done.
Art: 10. See for yourself. Seriously, just open a random chapter and random page. They are all equally detailed.
Characters: 8. Sometimes overused elements, but I like them a lot.
Enjoyment: 10. There has not been a moment I did not like this manga. If anything, it is yet too short.
Overall: 9. The artwork and enjoyment weigh the most for this rating. A simple story can be overlooked if the manga is a blast to read.
Everything that happened in this manga simply calmed my soul. The stunning artwork (I cannot run out of positive adjectives to describe this) truly gives you the feeling you are living within the illustrated fantasy world. The likeable cast and a simple story that is wonderfully executed is soothing to see. If my enjoyment wasn't clear yet, go read this right now and see for yourself how I was automatically immersed in the story and the chapters flew past in the blink of an eye.
Somali and The Forest Spirit is like a cold beverage on a hot day.
You're covered in sweat, eager to rush something cold down your throat, then after you take a big gulp out of that sweet beverage, you let out a cry of utter satisfaction.
This manga revolves around a world, in where humanity declined, and non-humans have taken over.
Somali, a human girl, was lost and bound with chains in a certain forest, until that forest's guardian, a golem, finds her.
The golem then leaves the forest, which he spent all of his life protecting, to search for the girl's family.
Now the premise might sound like
another fantasy manga, but I personally, never actually read something this soothing.
The scenery presented is amazing, and the atmosphere leaves off a sense of childlike wonder, something that I've been craving to feel again.
The father-daughter relationship, between the golem and Somali is super cute, and every panel of them doing something together is just heartwarming.
Without going into details, I recommend this to anyone who seeks a lighthearted, cute and wondrous adventure story, that leaves you feeling happy.
If you're having a bad day, this is an effective form of medication
Somali and the Forest Spirit might seem like a cute, father-daughter bonding story, and there are lots of warm, cute, touching and happy father-daughter moments up there, but in truth - it's a really sad and dark story of survival.
The story takes place in a fantasy world where various "civilized" monsters and humans exist. There was a time when the two races lived alongside each other in peace, but then the war broke out and humans, who are believed to be the aggressors, were defeated; banished to the uninhabited lands and hunted down to the point of extinction!
Somali - a human girl, can be considered
an endangered species. She's an innocent, kind and harmless soul, but even she has to hide the fact who she really is, in order to stay free and alive! What a wonderful world it must be...
The Golem - a robot-like being, and a father figure to Somali, has been "programmed" to watch and protect the forest for nearly a millennia, and he's been faithfully following his duty until the day he met a human child and decided to protect her, while at the same time traveling the world in search for humans.
During most of the story that has aired so far, we explore the vast world together with the duo, encountering monsters, monster societies and various difficulties that are common on long journeys. The art is beautiful, and characters, who are plenty, are quite interesting and likeable. I really hope that at some point the story will take us back to the characters who are left behind for now - hope they're all doing fine.
If you suddenly stumbled on this manga without knowing much about the story, please give it a try, it's definitely worth your time - and give the anime a try too :) BUT! be warned - the manga is an ONGOING series, meaning it isn't complete, and the worst part is - there aren't that much chapters out as well; the story, so far, has told us many things - it hooks you up, but there are many things that still need answers, and the pace at which new chapters get released is unbearably slow, so you might have to wait A LONG WHILE before a new chapter gets released. (And it's always such a pain!) With the release of Anime however, there is a hope that the series will continue at a faster pace...so i'm highly recommending you read this nonetheless.
There is a lot good to talk about the manga, but there is 1 BIG thing that I personally hate about this story, and it's hard for me not to talk about - a lot!
The thing i'm talking about is how the story handles humans in general!
How come humans lost to the monsters? How come they're so hated? Why does an innocent, kind girl fear revealing her race every time she leaves a hideout? What went so wrong? - These are one of many human-related questions you (Or just me) are going to be asking yourselves a lot, with an unsatisfying answers delivered to you by the author.
Imagine a world where humans are a minority. A world where magic and dragons are real. A world where anything and everything is pretty much capable of killing you without breaking a sweat. A world where monsters are bigger, stronger, faster, tougher and huge in numbers - compared to humans! You'd expect a highly cautious or highly militaristic human society right? That's logical. That's how we'd respond to the world.
The way the story goes, monster society, despite having hundreds, if not thousands of different species, still manages to live in unity, peace and harmony, and only humans are too fearful, suspicious, hysterical and distrustful enough to wage a race-war, that is also suicidal! Humans apparently did more bad things than anybody ever before, and when they did those bad things, they were so horrible at it that the monsters convinced themselves that there can be no human child, woman or man who is capable of coexisting with the rest of the world, hence they have to be hunted down, eliminated on the spot or simply deprived of freedom before they get numerous again and stir some more trouble.
Of course there are few exceptions among monsters, but i was stunned at how literally every monster who finds out who Somali really is, feels uneasy about who she really is - a human! Dem racists! (or specieists...call them whatever you like)
War isn't a topic discussed a lot in the manga. We know only that humans started it, were too weak to actually have a chance at winning, thus got what they deserved and everyone is happy. Though it is debatable whether humans would go to war against literally whole world, unmanned and unprepared, it is agreeable that we, humans see ourselves as unique and superior and us one day going to war with them is more than possible. Though is the fact we see ourselves as unique and better - a bad thing?
Yes, humans are indeed fearful, but we, as species, would never go this far as a civilization if we weren't always cautious and afraid of various things: Afraid of discoveries, afraid of unknown things, afraid of changes. Human evolution is built on fight against fear; fight against unknown. Yes, humanity is known to have exploited and bullied "inferior", less developed races, like Indian Americans, Africans, Asians (before industrialization), but how many instances in history remembers weak nations poking a vastly superior foe simply because of differences in race? We aren't that suicidal! Makes you wonder how humanity ever evolved to having guns.
Speaking of which - guns exist in this world, and humans are seen to be wielding and using one - makes you wonder how we'd screw up in a war where we have an ultimate weapon capable of destroying a target twice your size with a single bullet!
Leaving the guns aside, why is the story trying so hard to portray our fearfulness as a negative thing? Why should humans be ashamed of what made as the "kings" of this world?
There is a point in the story where humans, young and old, are depicted as savages, bloodthirsty barbarians who kill an unfortunate, intelligent dragon-like being who did nothing wrong to anybody. While ignoring the calls for mercy, humans are fanatical, hysterical, consumed with fear and rage as they stab and stab the beast, fully convinced that non-humans have to be killed on spot - a kill or be killed kind of mentality.
Seeing how humans are treated as "subspecies" in this world though, similarly to how Jews were treated as subhumans during ww2, it is no surprise that humans would be hostile towards non-humans, especially towards those who are 5x times larger than an average human and capable of torching an entire village single-handedly. Considering how most of the humans got wiped out in the last war and how, despite being intelligent species, many of the monsters see them as just food, are clearly racist and look down upon humans - fear and hate are not out of place, but what happens next is different:
There is a moment where a human-like witch, who hides her race for her own safety, reveals her race while saving a human child - she basically endangers her LIFE to save one of the "savages", and everyone still loses their S**T! Humans may be fearful, but we're not that demented! Try imagining an innocent friendly girl who never did you any harm, one day saving a kid from certain death by doing something as unnatural as flying, what would your first reaction be?
BURN THE WITCH?! -_- Now there are some who'd argue that humans are that bad, but we've befriended wolfs for F-s sake; we didn't wipe them out simply for being scary and non-human! In time, when humans were hardly at the top of the food chain, we would hunt and kill only out of necessity - whether it be meat, fur, bones, we did what we have to do for survival; only when mankind became dominant we started doing the hunt for sport and money. We didn't go on rampage every time we saw something unusual, especially if it proved to be KIND AND HELPFUL! Ironically, i'd expect humans to worship someone so divine, instead of hating her and wanting her dead, or gone. It was sickening to see how monstrous humans are depicted in the said chapter - eager to stab a little girl simply for being non-human...she even looked like a normal human...wtf?
Apart from being inherently evil, there is this whole "humans are too stupid" elements in the story. Humans are weak and fragile, yes, but throughout history, we compensated our weaknesses with our intelligence and inventions. And where's our fighting spirit?!
Where is human ingenuity, why are humans so clueless in an incredibly hostile world? TWICE, we are shown how easily humans are killed off or/and hunted by monsters. First, there was the farm-boy who ends up living alone in the forest, second - there's the farmer guy who befriends a Harpy after eating her mother. In both cases, we see humans just leaving a peaceful farm life - only to get attacked and easily overrun! wtf?
Why won't author give humans some slack? If we were to live in an environment where we are hated and hunted, you'd expect us to adapt, build walls, arm everyone who can hold a gun or swing a spear/sword. Be always on the alert! Who in their right mind would just cultivate the land out in the open, hoping that the monsters would just live them be or maybe not notice them at all? That's insanely stupid. Imagine living in a very bad neighborhood and never bothering locking your house door or owning a gun!
Anyways, if we somehow close our eyes on absurdity and how alien humans fell in this world, and pay attention to everything else, it's a wonderful story and i hope justice will eventually be served. There still is hope!