Original Run: January 10, 2020 - March 27, 2020 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Yako Gureis
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Somali and the Forest Spirit. Reader discretion is advised.***
Forest guardians are silent observers who watch over the land but never get involved with the natural order. One such sentinel, who we will call Gollum (voiced by Daisuke Ono), is near the end of his function when he runs into a creature even rarer than himself, a young human girl (voiced by Inori Minase).
In this world, humans have been hunted to near extinction, and this small child is lost and alone. Although it goes against the purpose of his race, Gollum decides that he cannot leave the girl to die. Therefore, he decides to take her on a journey to find others like her.
Gollum names the girl Somali, and they set off to travel the land, meeting an endless parade of unique individuals. And on the way, a most unusual thing occurs. A guardian and a human child become family.
As of the posting of this review, I have only yet seen six anime from the winter 2020 season. Don’t get me wrong; there have been a handful of series I have enjoyed, and plenty I am very much looking forward to watching – A Certain Scientific Railgun T, for example. Still, it wasn’t until Somali and the Forest Spirit did a show from this batch impress me.
Granted, the order I view anime from any given season is arbitrary and it was pure happenstance I saw Somali and the Forest Spirit when I did. Nevertheless, the point I’m trying to make is, this series was wonderfully done.
This show was gentle. There was a calmness to it that made the whole thing feel relaxing and peaceful.
I am not saying Somali and the Forest Spirit was upbeat, easy-going, or lighthearted. It certainly wasn’t a comedy. However, it also wasn’t dark, tension-filled, or crushingly dramatic. What this series did have was humor, somberness, pleasant feelings, and sadness. Quite a lot went on throughout this story.
Somali and the Forest Spirit was a satisfying slice-of-life anime that just so happened to take place in a fantasy world. Actually, go ahead and ignore everything fantastical about this series. For the vast majority of this show, it didn’t come into play. After all, this was the story of a father and daughter traveling together. The setting was irrelevant. No matter what, Gollum would do everything he could do to ensure Somali, his little girl, was happy.
I will admit that I never bought into the notion that Gollum was incapable of showing emotion. From the moment that idea was uttered, it was only natural for this show to go down a path that would disprove it. So, on the one hand, that plot point and its conclusion couldn’t have been less obvious. On the other hand, the journey to that predictable ending was unexpectedly gripping.
This series went beyond a story saying Gollum and Somali were father and daughter. By the end, the bond between these two was unquestionable.
Taking it to the next level, it was these two that made Somali and The Forest Spirit worth checking out. These two characters, for me anyway, are the first characters of 2020 worth remembering.
Gollum was calculating and analytical, but fully aware that everyone else operated through their feelings. The concepts of happiness, intuition, and glee were not unknown to him, and thus, he was never rigid or flat. Gollum was a kind and caring parent for Somali. And while we’re on the subject:
If I had to pick between the two of them, I would have to say Somali was my favorite character of the series. I don’t know any other way to put it, but she was just someone you wanted to protect.
It needs to be known that Somali was just a child. Therefore, she had an innate curiosity about the world around her. This desire to look got her into trouble, but it also meant she had an untainted view of what was happening. Despite being the “big evil human” the other species were afraid of, Somali had no concept of prejudice. She was not the villain – or food source – everyone assumed all humans were.
This series had a revolving door of solid side characters, but it was Gollum and Somali who were the constant. They were the single factor that turned this show into something memorable.
I’m trying to rack my brain here. Indeed, I am. If you have seen this series and had an issue with Somali and the Forest Spirit, please let me know in the comments below. You might trigger something I am overlooking.
As I am writing this, though, there isn’t much, if anything, that I can say against this show.
I do suppose there are a handful of slower than necessary bits, but even those were few and far between. Not to mention this series never went off and did something without reason. For instance, there was a segment that took place when Gollum and Somali were visiting the vast library of their world. It was a flashback scene that involved neither of the two main characters. An argument could be made that this took time away from the primary storyline. However, there was still a purpose.
The part in question gave context as to why the rest of the creatures and species feared humans. Although it was a slightly — as in incredibly — negative, on-the-nose view of humanity, it fit with what was going on in the series and what it was trying to establish, mainly the danger Somali was in for being something that was not her choice.
See, even when I attempt a criticism, my appreciation for this show only grows. That is why I, again, ask you to fill the comments with your thoughts. Was there something I missed?
As of this post going live, I have found a benchmark I will be using to look at the rest of 2020, which still has a long way to go.
Aside from that, this series was a pleasant watch through and through. It had truly outstanding animation, beautiful music, a brilliant atmosphere, and two phenomenal lead characters in the form of Gollum and the titular Somali.
Thus, it really goes without saying. Somali and the Forest Spirit has earned a recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Somali and the Forest Spirit? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.