I just saw the first episode of Somali and the Forest Spirit when it premiered on Thursday and about 3 seconds in I said to myself, boy, this show sure is pretty! This is the first thing I’ve seen of the winter season so I didn’t know if I would be reviewing it or not but it became very clear that I would at least be taking a ton of screencaps. And of course I need to share them with you!
The episode begins in the forest with Golem giving us some light exposition about his character. It’s a bit wistful and lonely as Golem sees himself as a solitary entity fated to live and die alone with his entire existence bound to his duty as a guardian of the forest. But it’s also peaceful, contempt and full of this quiet grace.
You can kind of see that in the forest itself. Lush with this incredible colour palette of soft pinks, purples and turquoises. It’s more blue than green and looks almost like a candy coated alien landscape. It’s so pretty and soothing and somehow just a tiny bit sad. Probably because of all the blue. I’m a very simple mind.
And the bam – Somali comes crashing this serene sanctuary and she clashes with everything. Her colours are all warm and very natural except for those amber eyes. And she’s loud and unpredictable and exhausting and charming. Like kids tend to be.
I was delighted to see that the city was just as beautiful as the forest but with a completely different feel to it. With very little exposition, the story just organically reveals that Golem and Somali are looking for other humans and trying to figure out where she came from. But humans are not very well regarded in this world, the species itself is considered endangered, and Somali can’t just freely walk about without being in danger. Fortunately a horned hoodie seems to be enough of a disguise to get around.
The inhabitant of Somali and the Forest Spirit are all sorts of mythological creatures and beasts. And the designs are all very interesting. I kept looking around at tiny characters in the background because I wanted to pick up on the details. It really does a great job at giving the impression of a beautifully illustrated picture book.
When I say the designs are interesting, Golem may be the best example of what I mean. That odd single eye in the middle of his face that opens up almost like a zipper is not something I recall having seen elsewhere but that’s not what fascinates me so about the design.
Golem is objectively terrifying. Even without the monstrous eye that really brings him into nightmare territory, he’s a huge lumbering monster with a design that both physically imposing and reminiscent of a skeleton, something that’s supposed to be scary. Almost everything in this world is brightly coloured except for him, who sports and oppressive dull metallic monochrome and he dresses in drab dark robes almost always associated with evil wizards. Yet I immediately trusted and liked this character. He was instantly comforting despite all the visual language that should indicate the contrary.
Certainly the voice acting helps a lot, as well as the dialogue. The interplay between his uned9ing patience and Somali’s bottomless energy is just so endearing it’s difficult not to fall for them. But even before we see the little girl for the first time there’s something about the way Golem moves and is presented that makes him a soothing presence and I think that’s pretty impressive.
Golem says he has no emotions but Somali and I don’t believe him!
All in all I would say I found this first episode utterly charming. The characters are inherently likeable, the world is vast and inviting and the adventure is compelling. It reminds me very much of a classic children’s fairy tale or a Pixar film (in the best way).
I plan to keep watching Somali and the Forest Spirit and most likely will keep doing so as it airs since I’m already eager to see the next episode.
26 thoughts on “Somali and The Forest Spirit Sure is Pretty (Episode 1)”
This is one of the few upcoming animes I had on my list to consider streaming. Now I want to check it out even more. Soon as I get some of these electronic issues worked out..
I really enjoyed it!
Me, too. My first simulcast watch for this season. I eagerly anticipate each episode. 😀
i really enjoyed the manga, but i think this first episode did a great job of adding to it. not just with the animation as you mentioned but also with the music. i loved the song playing in the background when the shopping montage happened.
And the forest sounds were also good. It had a great athmosphere
I love the “magical forest atmosphere”… it’s so pretty and it reminded me of how my old blog uses to look like when I was 16yo – I wanted the same vibes and a background picture, like a mythical/ magical forest (I would love to live in a place like that).
Can’t wait for more episodes.
Same. It was such a soothing watch
This show stunned with its level of visual and emotional beauty!
Agreed. It maade me happy
I think I’ll enjoy reading your reviews of this series very much. As much as the world of this anime looks beautiful, your writing perfectly complements it and make it sound all the more fantastical. I can’t wait to watch binge watch the series!
Thank you! I really had fun watching it
I very much liked the direction here. For example, there’s this scene where you see Somali watching parent-child combo’s, and it’s clear she’s missing physical contact. But the show doesn’t hammer it in, and just moves on with the plot, until near the end we see that golem’s seen the same thing under the guise of “parental safety”. The way they bond feels natural, all the while highlighting the differences. Important information is often conveyed with short shots (like golem’s tearing arm).
And I really like the visuals. The colours are pretty, and the transitions are good at conveying the mood, such as the expression change on the cat during the conversation. I think it’s more storyboarding than animation, here, but I’m not sure I remember that right. (I might just emphasise what’s easier to parse for me.)
I’m looking forward to the rest of it.
There’s really a gentleness to the series that reeled me in.
This does look like an intriguing anime and I’m getting some Ghibli vibes mixed with a more fantasy based Kurogane Communication. The art and animation look great. I’ve mentioned this on another blog, but I find it bizarre and questionable that the title character has the same name of an African ethnic group. I don’t think this anime will be popular in Mogadishu anyway, but that was an eyebrow-raising choice for a name.
That’s how I felt too. It’s very getting lost in the forest in Princess Mononoke and I love that honestly.
Somali reminded me a touch of Kiki
Miyazaki magic 😁
I can see that vibe with some of the art and backgrounds.
Perhaps, since Africa is recognized as the birthplace of humanity, the series’ representative last human carries a recognizably African name as an homage, perhaps as an epitaph, even?
Interesting theory! I should look into it
Interesting theory. It would be fascinating if it was the case. Somalia was part of the Kingdom of Punt which was one of the first civilizations ever, so there might be some credence to it. I hope it’s the case instead of some “fantasy” name that just happens to sound like that ethnic group.
Oh yeah, it does have a Ghibli feel to it. That also hit me early on but I didn’t find a spot to add it in. Also, the setting and designs were a bit more European, hence the fairy tale feel.
Sure thing. Some scenes also sort of remind me of a brighter version of Children Who Chase Lost Voices even though Shinkai did some Ghibli fanboying in that movie.
Oh did you get around to watching it?
I have only seen the trailer, but not the actual show yet.