With every passing week, Somali and the Forest Spirit is reminding me more and more of Ghibli with maybe just some traditional Disney sprinkles here and there. And I know we’ve been very disillusioned with Disney (with good reason I might add) but there’s no denying the impact and importance of the studio on the animation industry so I do mean it as a compliment.
Last week’s episode ended on something of a cliffhanger and I speculated on a few ways the series could proceed from there. Despite having been framed as a potential antagonist, it turns out that large wolfish looking creature was in fact a friend. More specifically a friend of Kikila and part of the town’s watch group which is why he was keeping an eye on Golem and Somali as unknown outsiders. A reasonable explanation and that was it, the show went right back to what it has been doing up until now. Namely, meticulously crafting the characters of Somali and Golem in the context of wondrous environments and looming heartache.
I said last week that I didn’t know what I was hoping for out of this episode of Somali. Whether a more action oriented confrontation would have been a nice break or whether I wanted to keep on this beautiful, calm and slightly melancholy journey. Well I still don’t know but I can say for sure that I’m not disappointed that they chose the journey.
This sequence had some good and some bad for me.
First, Kikila trying to make himself into a bigger animal to protect Somali from danger was one of the most adorable things I’ve seen all week. Kikila is such a good friend and I’m rather surprised that Somali hasn’t let her secret slip yet.
On the other hand, the baby monsters were so on the nose and blunt as an analogy that I actually burst out laughing. And I cry at all the sappy scenes normally. It’s scenes like this that make me think that Somali is a show for younger audience because it’s a very simple and straightforward morality but I was told that it’s actually a seinen, so I’m hopping it will eventually take a bit of a deeper look into it’s themes.
For instance, this week was once again about the delicate child parent relationship. It wasn’t subtle about it either as the innkeeper just plainly told us directly the thesis of the episode while cradling his sleeping child. Golem is continuously reprimanded about being too strict and too overprotective of Somali and eventually he softens up a bit by the end of the episode and everyone is happy. It’s a fine lesson and overprotective parents have been known to make their children’s lives very difficult, except it sort of goes against what the show itself tells us.
Somali could have been seriously injured or even killed in that cave and was only o.k. due to the miraculous meddling of a kind and heavily armed stranger who could also have harmed her. Golem is absolutely correct in wanting Somali to understand that this is not behaviour she should reproduce. Not to mention that she’s a human and that simple fact puts her in danger at all times. It’s something the other characters don’t know so it makes sense that they would be more relaxed about her safety but we know…
When I was younger I probably would have been all about this message. Kids need freedom and a chance to develop their own personality and so on. But now I was just going, she got off easy, she should get grounded! You have to balance out idealism with practicality at some point.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the episode. I did. It makes me nostalgic for some reason. I really feel like I’m watching those shows I use to adore except with considerably higher production values. And every single week makes me want to watch the next episode which is saying something.
I do hope you’re all enjoying it as well.