Mar 26, 2020
Stark700 (All reviews)
Somali to Mori no Kamisama has a love to exercise its genres by perfecting storytelling through its world of beauty. This is the type of show you get when a creator not only wants you to experience their fantasy world but also be part of it. Somali to Mori no Kamisama (Somali and the Forest Spirit) is the anime adaptation of the same name that made me believe Fantasy-Drama shows in this decade can still work wonderfully with the right set of tools.

Once you’re thrown into the Forest Spirit world, it’s easy to get lost in its spellbinding aura. The mystifying backgrounds will suck you in as every picture frame looks like it’s carved with painted art. You ever been to one of those science exploratoriums before where everything around you look surreal? That’s the sort of impression I got the first time my eyes saw that forest. It’s one of the charms of a fantasy show where the creator can inject all sorts of their creative ideas and craft its setting as imaginative as it can be. However, an anime like this must also have the ability to balance its world fiction with its character cast. Given its small roster, it needed to go extra miles to make us, the viewers, feel invested. In the end, it needs to capture the essence of a character relationship and doesn’t make us forget them. Thankfully, Somali to Mori no Kamisama achieves that.

Meet Somali and Golem. They are the heart and soul of the show. Like gadgets of a machine, this anime cannot operate without an important relationship. The story binds these two characters together and as contrasting as they are, Somali and Golem portrays the type of relationship that truly works. It isn’t easy at first because the show has to balance out a tricky way of showing the characters’ personalities. From the start, Somali is the innocent human girl we meet in a world dominated by monsters. In this human racial era, a vulnerable small girl like her is exceptionally easy to fall prey to any element. Then, she meets Golem, an entity swore to protect the forest he lives in. As a Golem, he lacks real emotions and serves more as a guardian of the forest. However, it doesn’t take long for Somali to declare him as her father and thus begins their complex relationship and a fantasy-drama adventure in this monster-ridden world. To elaborate, this show isn’t about the pair having any sort of specific goal in their adventure. They’re not trying to reach a certain designation or defeat some ancient demon king. No, Somali to Mori no Kamisama works as both a drama and slice of life. Every day brings out a new challenge for the main characters whether it’s dealing with human prejudice or surviving in the untamed wilderness. The key to unlocking this show’s enjoyment is to embrace the relationship of Somali and Golem. As you follow their adventure, there will be many questions that may not have the right answers. The show wants you to decide the true purpose of their adventure.

And during their adventure, Somali and Golem encounter new allies, foes, and challenges. The show preaches to fantasy genres where pretty much every character they encounter is a non-human. Some of these characters have their own personal problems that gets the pair entangled into their own stories. Meanwhile, you can bet the show wanted us to see how much Golem can change and while it doesn’t explicitly happen, there’s windows of character personality evolution we can see when he interacts with Somali. In essence, Golem shows more human emotions towards Somali than to any other character. While he may not truly be Somali’s father, he adopts a guardianship role to protect her in their adventures. Somali’s friendly and innocent personality allows her easy to make friends with although she must always hide her human nature. In one particular compilation, her life is put into danger when a harpy tried to kill her for a specific purpose. It reinforces the idea that the world they’re in is no safe haven for a child. However, Somali’s way of resolving conflicts using words rather than power shows that humans are not what they are assumed to be. In fact, given the state of their world, humans are a misunderstood race and others such as the witch Hazel wants to understand them. Meanwhile, Somali continues to adapt in living with courage and attachment to his new guardian. She makes friends such as Shizuno and his assistant, Yabashira. And the more characters she meets, the more courage she finds in herself to live. Because if one thing this show taught us, it’s that the hardest thing in their world is to live in it.

But as unorthodox as the show may seem, it still follows traditional fantasy elements such as exploring and adventuring. An anime like this takes advantages of its world fiction concepts by expanding its settings such as the Anthole City and Witch Crest Library. Many of the locals in these places takes on human-like roles such as innkeepers or researchers. It feels like exploring an open world game but with only one life and no pause menu. But with Somali to Mori no Mamisama, it prioritizes more character relationships and daily life challenges than completing quests or conquest. Somali and Golem has voice actors that are perfectly suited for their roles. Their vastly different voice mannerisms remains true to their character personalities from start to finish. The emotive expressions draws the line between human and monster, a unique trait I’m sure fans shouldn’t easily overlook.

When I first watched Somali to Mori no Kamisama, it felt like being in a Xenoblade-like world where the photography and everything around you looked like it came from a high fantasy video game. Once I got attached to our main characters, it became so much more than exploring the monster world. Somali and Golem together managed to show that such an unorthodox pair can co-exist together. As someone who has read parts of the manga, this show also has a simple pacing woven into a precise 12-episode adaptation. It works so well that it doesn’t truly need to be one of those long-running franchises that never seemingly has an end. So should you recommend this anime to your friend, family, neighbor, co-worker, stranger, or your dog? Absolutely.