Do you know how to tell if someone’s Canadian? Wait 5 minutes and they’ll tell you! Or maybe that’s just me? Anyways, I’m Canadian so when the episode started on what was clearly a fantasy parallel for the maple syrup industry, I got super excited. Cause I’m Canadian you see. Also I love maple syrup and all the derivatives. It’s delicious! It’s also almost maple season! Basically, this week’s Somali and the Forest Spirit tried to bribe me with sweetness. And it succeeded!
After reading a comment on one of my episode posts I started thinking about my uneven appreciation of this show and I’ve come to realize something. I’m watching Somali and the Forest Spirit for the story. I appreciate the colours and beauty of the anime. The craftsmanship goes a long way to propping up weaker story moments. But for me, it was always about Golem and Somali’s journey and how they grow together. It’s why I’m here.
So it’s a bit ironic that I tend to appreciate the show more when less happens.
For instance, in this episode, Golem and Somali continue their journey and meet up again with Shizuno and Yabashira. Somali also happens to lose her first baby tooth and since neither she nor Golem know this is normal, she freaks out a bit about tit then finds out it’s all good.
That’s pretty much it. No big revelation, no exciting new characters and unsurmountable obstacles, and a considerably ranking down of the stakes from previous episodes. This was probably my favourite episode in a long time. Also the whole sugar shack thing at the beginning…
Man the environments are so pretty in this show!
Episode 9 of Somali was a bit of a return to the roots of the series. It reestablished the characters and even brought back my two favourite supporting cast members to expand a bit the context of Somali and Golem’s universe.
We were clearly reminded not only of what type of person Somali is but also that she’s a small child with all that implies. Losing baby teeth and being worried about nothing when real problems are looming. She doesn’t want to worry her father but he’s the only thing in the entire world that’s safe. He’s her whole universe and she sees him as both invincible and fragile.
We are also reminded that Golem is a doting and caring father with all that implies but ultimately not human. He has no idea about baby teeth. He’s never cooked before, even if he is apparently skilled at it. He has to discover so much of the world right alongside Somali which is tricky when you also want to protect and teach a child.
All the while, Shizu and Yaba remind us that the world may be dangerous but it’s also filled with potential friends if you just give people a chance. It’s a hodge bodge of kindness and cruelty and you just have to figure out how to make the best of it.
To me, episodes like this are the charm of the series. Relatively quiet but full of hope. Somali’s unfounded anxiety that we can appreciate with fondness as we know she’s going to be just fine and nevertheless feel exhilarated when we see it turn into glee.
There were also many beautiful moments of Golem just being a father. Deciding to keep the box for Somali’s baby teeth. An unpractical sentimental gesture that nevertheless had deep meaning for both of them. The show is deliberately restating it’s thesis and I think it’s a great move at this time.
For a couple of episodes we went off in a lot of directions and it was good to be reminded that it’s just a simple story about a father and daughter finding each other and going on a journey together. That’s all it needs to be. It’s the story I wanted to see.
The very last lines of the episode imply that Golems are in fact more utilitarian creatures and generally devoid of emotion. Golem is not being the most deadpan tsundere ever (although that’s sort of a fun way to approach the character). Rather his speech seemed to imply that meeting Somali fundamentally changed him.
Essentially what Golem said is that becoming a father is what made him a person.
I’m not a parent so I can’t fully appreciate the sentiment but I am a daughter and I found it deeply touching.
I really liked this episode of Somali and the Forest Spirit, I hope they keep the vibe going.