One thins that I really have to give Somali and the Forest Spirit is that it’s really beautiful. At the very least, I think so. And I have since the first episode. That means a lot to me. And a land of witches and magic is the perfect setting to exploit the strengths of such a talented team of artists.

I made it no secret that the last few episode (well mostly the last one) were not really my favourites. In fact’ I didn’t like them much. As a result, the magic wore off a little from this show for me. I wasn’t ready to drop it or anything but I wasn’t looking forward to it as much and I got a little bored.

In my head, I had decided that this was due to a sort of tonal mismatch between the anime only arc of Uzoi and Haitora and that things were going to get back on track this week. I was pretty disappointed to see these two front and centre in the opening scenes of the episode.

I should make it clear, I have nothing against the actual characters, I just didn’t like the narrative in this arc and the execution was hamfisted which is a pretty big departure from the first episodes.

The conclusion of Uzoi’s arc and the goodbye to these two characters was fine all things considered. Golem once again revealed his limited lifespan but since we have this type of reveal just about every week, it doesn’t quite pack the same punch. Particularly when talking to a man that’s likely to bite the dust in a week or so. But it was generally o.k. No annoyingly melodramatic moments, no ridiculous backstories.

Yet I was just sort of bored and I started to worry that maybe I was over it.  The desert setting didn’t help either as I found it much less visually interesting and monotone. Right after Golem and Somali part ways with Uzoi and Haitora, there’s a series of still images showing their travels and I was about to write that those were my favourite part of the episode. Those stills really were quite sweet and I wouldn’t mind having them framed on a wall.

See, aren’t those adorable. I didn’t manage to capture all of them but even just a few gives you a feel for the sequence.

Point is, it was a good sequence that reminded me of what I liked most about the show but it was also just a few still frames. That isn’t enough to hang your hopes on.

But the Somali and Golem arrive at the witches’ village and you know what witches mean: Magic! In mere seconds, it was all back. The spellbinding visuals that made my eyes want to seek out and savour every little inch of the screen. The light and cheerful atmosphere softly cradling foreshadowed bitterness. Lovely characters that interact calmly and naturally and make you want to talk to them as well.

This was it, the show I had so loved in the first episode. The latter half of episode 7 is possibly on of my favourite halves so far.

And it doesn’t hurt that Hazel’s character design was appealingly rubenesque, at least when compared to the average anime character.

In short, the witches horde knowledge from all over the world and keep it in a huge library. Somali and Golem hope to find some information on humans there. I notice that Somali seems much more interested in her roots than before. She knows nothing about humans and it seems to be making her feel disconnected and incomplete. She is taking the quest more seriously and personally than she has up until now.

Unfortunately, I did not manage to capture and screenshots of Golem’s Swiss army wings but they were impressive and terribly sad. The scene itself reminded me on the early Ancient Magus’ bride OVAs that had so enchanted me. There was a droplet of steam punk aesthetic in the way those things moved and were put together. The imagery was in fact blunt but when compared to the last few weeks, it seemed much more restrained.

I noticed that Golem didn’t hesitate to jump in when Somali seemed in danger. He very much leaped before he thought, even in a situation with a lot of unknowns that could easily have left him, Somali or both seriously injured. See, that’s the Golem I’ve come to know!

Although the book holding some potential answers was lost in a confrontation with a giant book eating fish. (It really was a fun second half). There is some hope as the mysterious head librarian might remember something from its pages. I’m certainly full of renewed hope for the next episode! I hope you liked it too.

Somai and the Forest Spirit ep7-8 (1)

5 thoughts

  1. For years now–decades, really–I’ve watched anime portray witches as other-than-human. Meanwhile, the Western traditions are themselves mixed. And I wonder at what point folks began confusing their fellows with demigods, angels, and demons. . .We witches are very human, although that fact certainly would not and does not preclude other beings from practicing witchcraft. . .

  2. I didn’t mind that last arc, but I’d agree it was the weakest so far, and I, too, had a what?-I-thought-we’re-done-with-this experience at the start of the episode. I didn’t actually expect this to happen, but when Golem and Haitora were pounding the point of the show into the ground with a sledgehammer, I half-imagined Somali to listen in, for a nice drama parallel.

    As for the second half, I wasn’t that drawn in either. I wish it had gotten most of the episode, so they could have lingered a little on the atmosphere of the city. As it is, there was a string of here-eat-this, with a this-is-how-we-finance-our-mission reveal later on, and the idea is fine, but I felt it was a little rushed, and nothing in the first half of the show made this a valid trade-off.

    There are two things of note for me: first: so witches aren’t human? They sure look like humans. I sort of think they should just buy Somali a pointy hat and pass her off as a witch who didn’t grow into magic, somehow. This should sound more plausible than… minotaur? Anime often has this humanist streak to what it means to be human, so they have a fairly easy time saying that witches aren’t human, because… magic? That’s something I struggle with, since when it comes to what makes us human, my response is entirely physicalist. It’s just the species we are. Normally, I’m fairly good at taking it in (say in In/Spectre this season), but when the point of the show is looking for humans this strikes me as a little weird. Maybe witches aren’t homo sapiens but they certainly look like hominids to me. Won’t know, until we dissect one, but… well…

    Second: what’s with all the fish out of water. We get sand sharks, and now we get library skull fish (as a variant of magical bookworms I suppose). What’s next? Arboreal jellyfish? I think, I’d like those.

    This may sound like I’m not enjoying the show, which is untrue. It’s just that the stuff I enjoy about the show is hard to talk about. It’s a cute and pretty show, with good atmosphere and decent to great characters. A good show to relax to, which is exactly why it’s easier to talk about the flaws. When I enjoy the show, my speaking faculty shuts off, which I find very welcome. I can just let the show wash over me without much thought. So all that’s left is poking fun at the show for a few surface details that ultimately don’t matter much to me. It’s one of the shows I enjoy the most this season.

    1. I didn’t notice the fish motif. That’s amazing. I really love that. I feel like it went back to that nostalgic kid’s show feel which I really like. Also the witches were off colour so I guess that’s enough of a difference?

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