It’s a little more involved than that. You can’t just go to your friends house, tell then their playstation is now named George and then take it home. Naming something is about more than just the name itself. The name has to be recognized for one. And when you’re naming a living being then the name absolutely has to be recognized by them…

I’m afraid my post title is going to give people dangerous ideas… Golem decided to call Somali, Somali. And she liked it. So now their a family! After all, Somali had already named Golem “dad”. He simply returned the favour.

The opening scene of this week’s Somali and the Forest Spirit silently implied that Somali’s past is potentially more violent and horrible than we had imagine. Or at least than I had imagined. I don’t like endless pits of tragedy as a rule. I find that when too much misery is piled up on top of itself, it looses it’s edge and I tend to loose interest. But I think Somali handled it well here. It was a fairly quick scene, so quick I couldn’t even get a screencap of it, with no dialogue and barely any exposition and it wasn’t dwelled on or recalled at all. As a result, it hot me quite hard and seeing that Somali has pretty much always been the radiant little firecracker of charm we all know and love was also all the more endearing for it.

And this story was told from Golem’s perspective. Clearly he was charmed too.

The sunset forest scenes have some of the most dazzling colours yet. That’s saying something as this show is a colourful feast for the eyes on it’s worst days. The beautiful blend of soft warm and cool tones is special and just looks so inviting. I really liked it.

The early bonding experience between Somali and Golem went pretty much exactly as I had expected it to. That is to say, it was heartwarming if rather safe and hinged heavily on the contrast between Somali’s indomitable spirit brimming with childish wonder and excitement, and Golem’s impassive robot with a heart of gold persona. And I think it worked. I won’t lie, it’s a bit repetitive as this exact routine is sort of the core of most episodes, right down to a touching scene of Somali asleep on Golem, but since I’m watching these episodes spread out once a week, I don’t mind it as much. Or really at all. My mind wanders a bit but in a pleasant, lulled by the cuteness sort of way.

There was however one scene I was waiting for. Desperately waiting for. I thought this scene would be just the cutest and a great way of showing Somali and Golem’s growing father/daughter dynamic without spelling it out. I waited all episode and it never came. I’m still waiting a bit… When did Golem cut Somali’s hair?

Her early haircut is longer and very different from her current one. Since no one can know she’s human, it seems obvious that Golem would have been the one to cut it. Why didn’t we see that. It would have been so adorable. He hair is a bit uneven (I like it, it looks cool) so I imagine Golem fretting about making it just right and then cutting one strand a bit shorter so going back to even it out only to cut another strand shorter and so on, until we get the pixie cut shes currently rocking. Can’t you just picture how sweet that would have been. And it would have perfectly countered the early unsettling scenes. Missed opportunity!

I really like Shizuno. Maybe because he’s an Oni and that’s a well known enough creature for me to have context and relate to him. I can fill in all the blanks myself (like with Golem although he doesn’t seem to be quite the typical Golem). Or maybe I just like the dwarf oni cause he’s a fun carefree character. I was a little surprised to see him cleaning the place of his own accord. Seems to responsible for him…

Well another reason that I like him is that he’s the bringer of hope. First time we see him he brings a cure for pain, a warm meal and parting cookies. He literally had a safe heaven in the woods. He is one of the few characters that’s completely aware of both Somali and Golem’s situations and he accepts them fully, even views it with optimism.

The second Shizuno accepted to take care of Somali should something happen to Golem, I felt better. Like everything was going to be all right. Shizuno and Somali are a great pair and I bet she would have an awesome life with him and Yabashira. But that wasn’t enough, Shizuno also gently encouraged Golem not to give up. Not to accept his fate. It’s probably foolish and pointless but I like it. It’s a counterpoint to Golem’s fatalism that I think makes the emotional impact of the story stronger.

There’s a grandma look. You know what I mean, no matter what the creature in anime, you can always tell when they’re supposed to be a grandma. Maybe I just have grandma sense.

One of the things Somali and the Forest Spirit has not been handling as well in my opinion, is subtle grey morality. There’s a clash between humans and non humans. Although both sides have been shown to have flaws, so far every even we’ve seen had one side as helpless, innocent and peaceful victims while the others were moustache twirling caricature villains. Grandma here may be the in between I’ve been hoping for. It’s too early to tell but she does have some potential.

However, there’s always going to be a Somali problem. You can’t make the “anti-human” side sound reasonable or relatable to your audience as long as the human side is represented by Somali (if your audience is me that is). She’s just too lovable. You can tell me humans have thoughtlessly gone out and exterminated everyone then build a bunch of nuclear reactors that melted down and that’s what decimated the human race and now the non humans are trying to suppress the humans only because the survivors are all heavily contaminated and would kill everyone they came into contact with, but if that means going against Somali I will side with the zombies. That’s just the way that goes…

Somali and the Forest Spirit ep10-6 (8)
never mind, she looks super evil here…

11 thoughts

  1. It didn’t even occur to me to expect the hair-cutting scene, but I now I really want to see it. This would be soooo adorable.

    I do really like Shizuno, too. Apart from all the reasons you’re giving, I like how he’s so very perceptive. He had a very subtle hand in steering the grandma axolotl interaction, but I’m fairly sure he caught on. I’m not surprised the little guy’s a healer. He’s got the kindness to make it count, but also the perception and cunning to make people take really bitter medicenes.

    I’m not fond of the humans vs. grotesques angle in this show. It’s not a turn-off, but I’m mostly just rolling my eyes, or going with the camp. The scene in the beginning? I have to wonder what happened. In a better written show, I might actually look forward to see what happened. In Somali it’s probably enough to know that “an accident killed everyone but Somali”. I could muse about death, the great equaliser, but even that feels like too much investment. The show’s going for very simple emotional manipulation here.

    I’m not sure what to make of the ending yet. I mean one of the biggest problems the show has with the humans vs. grotesques angle is that it’s… not very elaborate. There are two sides and that’s all. And on the other hand there are kind people and not so kind people. On the one hand, the humans are bigots, and on the other hand, sharp-toothed grotesques want to eat humans. If you’re going to go for a general bigotry-on-both-sides angle that doesn’t work. So what are they even up to? And if people in this world eat other people, is this a problem between other species in this world, too? (This could, for example, give harpies an evolutionary advantage, since potential predators would be wary of the feather disease.)

    It feels all just incoherent to me. It works as a background threat and cheesy plot point for Somali, but any sort of moral message is just going to end up a moral mess instead.

    1. It would have been an awesome scene!!!! I’m still holding out!

      You’re completely right, the human vs grotesque conflict is too plaib and blunt. To me it clashes with the mood and and nuance established by the other elements of the show in an uninteresting way…

          1. This put me in the mood to reread some of our Zombieland Saga reviews. I’d almost forgotten how spot on and amazing your character insights were.

            To be clear, they’re still amazing. I’m not saying there’s been a decline or anything! But your insights about Sakura and Tae and Saki were really something.

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