In a world where humans have been hunted to near extinction, a Golem finds a young human child in its forest and decides to search for her kin. It’s going to be a tough journey and time is not on their side!
What did you watch?
So, I almost gave Somali and the Forest Spirit a miss after examining the promo image. There’s a lot of smiling faces and cutesy characters. But then, I decided to read the synopsis and I added it almost instantly. It said something about it taking place in a world where humans were eaten and that caught my attention. Then, I imagined something akin Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I rejoiced at the thought of some seriously dark moments and a heavy story full of observations and comparisons to real life. If you’ve seen this series, you’ll know the answer, but let’s find out if I got what I wanted. Also, you can expect spoilers.
The Golem travelled the world with Somali, a young human child he found in his forest. They were searching for humans in a world where human meat is considered a delicacy. As such Somali wears a disguise, but she’s also a child and prone to wandering off and exploring. This makes the Golem’s job that much harder, especially as it doesn’t understand or feel emotion. They travel from town to town looking for clues, buying food, and earning money.
One of the biggest issues they face is that the Golem has almost reached the end of its predetermined lifespan. If it died, Somali would be alone in a world that would almost certainly eat her up. The clock is ticking and there are few leads, but they continue to push on, learning more about one another and meeting other creatures.
What did you think?
So, this was not that similar to The Road. Sure, there were some elements that could be compared, but not much. I did enjoy Somali and the Forest Spirit, but there were some times where I got a little frustrated and bored. It is a cutesy story about a little girl and her adopted golem father. There were some comparisons to real-life situations, but they weren’t terribly subtle. The artwork was very nice and had a real Ghibli feel to it. On top of that, I loved the world-building even if it didn’t fully explore the potential.
What was your favourite moment?
In the first episode, there was a moment when Somali wandered off and followed a cat. However, it wasn’t exactly a cat and it lured her into a dead-end to confront her for following it. I remember thinking that she was in trouble, especially as at this stage the overall tone of the series hadn’t quite been set. I was expecting the cat to attempt to eat Somali or at the very least create a very dangerous situation for her to escape from. There was a lot of tension at that moment and I enjoyed that. It was disappointing that it didn’t quite follow through, but then it did some fairly dark stuff much later in the series, which I’ll discuss in my least favourite character section.
What was your least favourite moment?
All right, fine! I’ll talk about it now. So, there was a character called Aunt Rosa and she sent some human hunters after Somali. She’s even given Golem some false information and basically lead them into a trap. Her goal was to cut up Somali and sell her parts to the highest bidder! It was a shocking moment and it drove the Golem crazy. He ended up unleashing too much power and lost control. Soon after he chased down the human hunters and did something off-camera to them.
He then caught up with Aunt Rosa, and just to be clear, I’ve not wanted a character to die quite so much in a long time. Absurdly, however, Somali protected her and the Golem calmed down. Now, in the source material, I’m led to believe that Somali protected Yabashira from the Golem in his crazed state, which would have made far more sense. At least that way, Aunt Rosa could have got her just desserts!
Who was your favourite character?
It’s probably the Golem, although Yabashira was a close second. I liked how they portrayed him as the cold and emotionless machine and see that as some sort of parallel to the way fathers have been stereotypically perceived for quite some time now. It was interesting to see him grow and change as the series went on and his actions in the final episode. I was a little disappointed that they had basically set the path for all of that with the Haitora arc and then followed it almost exactly.
Who was your least favourite character?
Aunt Rosa. Why didn’t she die? Damn you, Aunt Rosa. Damn you!
Would you like some more?
So, I did enjoy this series, even though I was hoping for something a little bit darker. I’m not sure if I would necessarily watch another season, but I also wouldn’t rule it out. It had its moments, but I also don’t really care for the cute child characters in these sorts of shows. The world-building and artwork would probably be the main reason for me checking out a second season should there be one.
What have you learnt?
One of my favourite elements from the story side of things was the way that this series looked at some pretty serious real-world issues and spun them to fit this world. I don’t think they were handled too well, but the idea was a good one. It was interesting to see the two different perspectives too. Haitori had his story on how the humans were hunted and persecuted, while the head witch also told a story that was quite the opposite account of events. It’s good to show more than one point of view, especially as one of those was not a first-hand account. I think there’s a lot you can do with unreliable storytellers and how that can influence and change the world in the story.
Other Posts in the Series
- Season One
- Episode 1 – Journeying Parent and Child
- Episode 2 – Edible Herbs and the Oni’s Dwelling
- Episode 3 – The Sea at the Bottom of the Cave
- Episode 4 – The Wishing Flower and the Promise Request
- Episode 5 – The Wandering Birds
- Episode 6 – Dying Flowers Look Up at the Birds
- Episode 7 – The Footsteps That Stalk the Witches
- Episode 8 – Meetings and Bonds Prayed For
- Episode 9 – Memories of Minor Days
- Episode 10 – The Infant Child and the Green Fortress
- Episode 11 – Those Who Protect and Those Who Threaten
- Episode 12 – Bonded Father and Child
- Bonus Posts