The season finales are rolling in and for now at least, Somali and The Forest Spirit has come to an end. This show had one of my favourite opening episodes. I was absolutely charmed by it. Where do we stand now?

At some point I stopped caring about Somali and the Forest Spirit. I’m not sure when it happened. No that’s a lie, I’m pretty sure I know and it started early on. The fact is, I’ve been coming back to it for the art, the colours, the stunning backgrounds and that’s more or less it. At some point during those tense opening scenes I just sort of started looking through my DMs without even realizing what I was doing. I completely drifted.

And I’m particularly bitter about this, and probably going to be way too harsh as a result, not because Somali turned out to be a bad show. It’s not at all. I could argue that it’s generally good. But because it started out as my favourite of the season. I was completely charmed by this series. And I ended up a little bored and a little annoyed. And this hurts so much more from a series that had potential for greatness than from one that just never had much going for it.

The final episode itself was alright. Way too melodramatic for my tastes but generally in line with the flow of the story. It was a bit of a cheat in my opinion. It tried to give us the emotional impact of loosing Golem not once but twice. First with the possible death scene in the opening act which turned out to be just a heavy injury. I have to say patting Somali’s head and saying her name all hesitant and asmr just before passing out was the moment that irritated me the most so the emotional impact was just wasted on me. Then with Golem’s apparent decision to leave Somali behind with the onis (is that the plural of oni?) at the festival.

But then it couldn’t stick the bummer ending and switched to giving us a happy ending by resetting Golem and Somali’s relationshio, as well as their quest, back to exactly where it was at episode 1. To give us a cautiously optimistic ending I guess.

I mean Golem admitted he had emotions which I guess is a step forward and some personal growth but we, the audience, already knew all that and he hasn’t exactly been hiding it. This ending is quite good if they are hoping for a season 2. It doesn’t tie down the narrative in any particular direction and it’s not definitive enough to make extra story seem excessive. As a series ending, it’s o.k.

One thing I did enjoy quite a bit in the episode is Shizuno and Yabashira. Then again I always enjoy them. More specifically, I had a good laugh at how, as soon as they all realized that Golem had disappeared, they pretty much lost Somali imminently. They let her run off on her own through a crowded city of creatures that will likely murder her on sight if a breeze blows her hood off. It’s not like they couldn’t have stopped her, they watched her leave. They should have been able to catch up with such a small child. At the very least Yabashira has been shown to be very athletic. It was almost as if they let her go on purpose. Which you may think they did but I reiterate my point about how dangerous the world is for Somali. You probably wouldn’t let a kid that young run off on her own in this world, let alone in Somali’s world. We even see her loose the hood when she falls in the forest. Goo thing no one was around!

I was seriously thinking that they were secretly following her the whole time and we would catch a glimpse of them in the bushes after Golem and Somali made up. But no… As far as we know, they just watched her leave and that’s that.

Part of my thinks Golem really did want to leave Somali behind right then and there, and what made him change his mind was not the sudden realization of his boundless love for the little girl. I mean he probably likes her alright and all that. He might of laid it on a bit thick to make her happy but there’s no harm there. However what really changed his mind was the sudden realization that the godparents he had chosen for Somali couldn’t keep her safe for 5 seconds. She would be dead within 2 days if those two had to take care of her. I love them but they are not suited for parenting…

Bottom line for me: Somali and the Forest Spirit is a show with beautiful art and good but very safe directing. The voice acting is decent and the characters are quite easy to get attached to but a little one note when you really think about it. The story itself is very uneven in themeing and has regular tonal clashes that aren’t handled all that well. It’s a bit as if it’s unsure whether it wants to be a fluffy Disney movie where everyone lives happily ever after or a bitter sweet exploration of the limits and sorrows of familial bonds that doesn’t shy away from the sad and unpleasant truths.

The thing is, I think it could have pulled of both of these identities but not at the same time. In the end, for me, it didn’t quite succeed at either. It’s not a bad show. I’m not entirely sure I would watch a second season but I might. There are a lot of things I did like about it and when it was good, it was great!

Somalli and he Forest Spirit ep12-9 (2)

8 thoughts

  1. “However what really changed his mind was the sudden realization that the godparents he had chosen for Somali couldn’t keep her safe for 5 seconds. She would be dead within 2 days if those two had to take care of her. I love them but they are not suited for parenting…”

    I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days now, since I finished watching the last episode.

    I think yours might be the defining insight.

    I enjoyed the series. I spent 11 episodes getting ready for what I thought was the inevitable ending: Golem breaking down and leaving Somali behind. That’s the ending that the narrative prepared us for. That’s the ending that the evidence supports.

    Yes, it would have been tragic, but that was the point. Tragedy happens. Watching how characters respond to it is part of the magic.

    But if we’re not going to get the promised emotional hammer-strike, then the characters within the story are going to begin to rebel. I know this as a writer. I actually had characters argue with me, through their dialogue, because I’d made a stupid plot decision. They were offended that me, as a Creator, had let them down. So they made it clear by not cooperating.

    That’s what Golem’s doing in the situation you described.

    It should have ended in tears.

    Since it didn’t, I think we should visit the witches again. I’d like to ask Hazel what she thought of the ending.

  2. I really loved this show but I did find the ending a little…anticlimatic. I mean, so is Golem still going to keel over in however many days? Is somebody going to tell Somali this one of these days? I think she should know. If for no other reason than to put an appropriate value on the time she does have with him. Of course, you know I was going for the warm fuzzy feels on this one. I loved the art. But…yeah, I am vaguely disappointed with the story ending. I almost think I’d like it better if we just had an episodic Golem and Somali walking around in this gorgeous, lush world exploring and growing up and meeting fun Oni friends and leave out the overarching story arc and drama altogether. And you know me, I wanted them to discover that the magic of a little girls love turned Golem real and he was going to have a regular lifespan or another hundred years or something. So I love it, but I’m vaguely dissatisfied. I think I probably would give another season a watch – for the art if nothing else.

  3. I’d definitely watch season 2, but also definitely not for the narrative. They’re just aiming to bluntly for the emotions; that’s probably why they’re not subtle – it’s hard to aim for two conflicting emotions at the same time.

    I just love the style of the show. It’s pretty, and it’s interesting. I’m lucky in that I didn’t have quite the same expectations for the show that you did. It was never in the same tier as Eizouken or Hanako-kun for me, but it was and remained in the tier below this. Excellent entertainment.

    The finale. Yeah, it didn’t have the emotional impact they probably wanted to achieve, but I did think the voice acting for both Somali and Golem in their big cathartic scene was really good. Yeah, too much melodrama, but that’s not the voice actors’ fault.

    I did like that Golem’s functionality was noticably reduced. The loss of an arm is a visual reminder, but not actually the most important thing about it. They handled that part fairly well. At the end, Golem felt more like Grandpa than Dad.

    Basically, I agree with all your points, but they didn’t seem to impact my enjoyment of the show as much as they did you. It’s true, though, that there’s a lot of wasted potential here.

    Also, I love the opening. It feels like a musical number, with all the sudden mood changes in the music. Probably my favourite opening this season.

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