Mar 26, 2020
KANLen09 (All reviews)
This Winter season has been underwhelming to say the least, but this heartwarming and emotional show has taken over as one of the season's best low-key "underrated" shows, and I'm definitely part of the majority that is in very deep awe of this show's potentials and greatness. If your shows of favor are in the realms of Made in Abyss or The Ancient Magus' Bride, this show is no exceptions to those, and be very prepared to have tissues to be constantly ripped apart.

Based on the fantasy manga of the same name by Yako Gureshi, Somali and the Forest Spirit tells of a world where the human race is driven to extinction by strange "grotesque" creatures of all manners due to a simple misunderstanding that sparked a war and ravaged the humans inferior out of the fantasy world. EVEN a human, as frail as a child and as strong as an adult are no exceptions to persecution. It's this case that a human girl, still chained in captivity, and a golem doing its protection rounds, coincidentally meet in its well-guarded forest. The small girl's hopes in finding her parents (and other humans), and a golem that has constantly depleting lifespan, sets off on an accompanied long journey, much akin to Uchi Musume's Dale and Latina. What could go wrong?

Throughout this harrowing journey, Golem Dad (voiced by Daisuke Ono who voiced Jojo) and the small girl, given the name of Somali (voiced by Inori Minase who voiced Rem) who'd often label Golem as "Dad", goes on this tough adventure full of uncertainties, and everywhere they go, even though Golem Dad does not show his emotions well, his protection instinct when Somali encounters trouble is one of the many fatherly-figure ways to protect the young ones, and the weak but playful and energetic Somali is no different. And I've gotta say that the worldbuilding in this series is frankly and honestly, quite majestic and well-thought out, as every town (good or bad) is unique on their own with the many quirks that made it stand out a lot. There's a lot of cute moments, but the Made in Abyss moments truly sticks out like a sore thumb, it's very engaging in the literate heart-wrenching sense and lots of man/woman-tears will be shed just by the sheer size of characters alone and their purposes of journey together with Somali and Golem Dad.

Speaking of the characters, it's a damn fine solid cast of characters that if you'd turn a blind eye to them, you're truly missing out on what made this show so endearing in the first place. Somali and Golem Dad, more than their appearances alone, the personality traits of both characters may be night and day, but they compliment each other very well despite the difference in form. The few moments with Kikila and his woolly shurigara family represent most of the fun moments, as is with the oni business of Shizuno and Yabashira. The other side of the coin features Uzoi and Haitora (which explains the core fundamentals of the story with the whole human-creature backstory), and adding to it, the Witches also learning of the humans' existence, plus creatures resenting humans (due to the war), those are some disheartening moments that will suck you in down this rabbit hole and earn heartbreaking tragedies even at "ready perfectly" levels.

And holy hell, the animation and visuals are top notch, but not without introducing this person: Frenchman Vincent Nghiem, his debut as background art director for this show. To make it clear, mangaka Yako Gureshi's art styles are striking on its own, and for this Frenchman to match the gorgeously beautiful and eye-popping visuals and go the extra mile with it, it's one beautifully woven show enhanced by the already great storytelling, easily surpasses the manga in every way possible. A dual studio collab for Satelight and HORNETS, this show was everything I wanted out of a fantasy-esque show, as realistic as it looks and feels like we're in this fantasy world together travelling with the father-daughter dynamic. Simply stunning is what I'll call it, and I'll take it no other way.

Even better is the sound department, and I'd already mentioned how great Daisuke Ono and Inori Minase is in voicing for Golem Dad and Somali respectively (a good-dad Jotaro and "protect the smiles" Rem). The OST on the other hand, is amazing, simply brilliant. I didn't know whether 2 heavily melancholic songs will be a good fit for this show, and shoved it to my ears both songs did, and I only wanted more. Nartarou Moriyama's OP was a very sublime feeling song with some elements of surprise and an overall rush feelings of enjoyment that simply can't be outdone and is very notable (the TV version is superior than the full version); the same goes for Inori Minase's spectacular and cheery song as well (of which this song adds a number to her great songlist).

This show is a wholesome MUST-watch and a definite recommendation, and no regrets with chilling tears. More than its emotional rollercoaster of insane proportions, the matters of the heart in being humane is of utmost importance, and what Somali and the Forest Spirit got its formula absolutely right in, is that life is not a bed of roses. Beyond the bad, there lies a silver lining to be had: time together is time well spent.

One of the potential underrated hidden gems of an AOTS and I'm genuinely impressed and loving this to bits with no end and tears strolling down on my face every episode (and hope it does to you as well).