Somali and the Forest Spirit

Genre(s): Fantasy, Adventure, Drama, Slice of Life

Age-Appropriateness: 14+ (Heavy subject matter, violence)

Platforms: Crunchyroll

Episodes: 12

TheAwersome Rating: 8.2 / 10 (Feels)

Premise: In a world inhabited by demons, cyclopes, and other fantastic creatures, humans stand apart as the outcasts. Quick to anger, humans engaged in a war that all but wiped them out. The few humans that remain are seen as a delicacy, serving no purpose but to be hunted down and eaten.

One day, Golem, a wandering protector of nature, encounters a lone human child while patrolling. Inspired by her enthusiasm, he takes the girl, named Somali, under his wing. Together, the duo embarks on a journey to find Somali’s parents and bring her home.

TheAwersome’s Thoughts: While to a large degree this is “Fantasy anime version of The Mandalorian” in that we have a lone, stoic father type taking care of a helpless child that everyone wants to get at, there are a lot of deeper messages told through the side characters they meet along the way. We get a lot of rich world building through the various towns Golem and Somali travel through, meeting harpies, oni, witches, and other demi-humans. A great deal of work clearly went into the setting and other side stories which serve to enrich and immerse. Aside from the obvious struggles of single parenting, found family, and adoption that get explored, we also get a lot of racial prejudice, dealing with oppressive and abusive history, guilt, redemption, and finding one’s own identity in the midst of it.

It’s similar to how Violet Evergarden shows us a lot of poignant side stories before punching us in the heart with the titular character’s “learn to be human” (I’m a sucker for this trope) growth at the end. Despite knowing from the get-go that I was going to cry, I was crying a whole bunch throughout.

TLDR: A beautiful, heart wrenching and heartwarming adventure in a gorgeous world.

The music is especially powerful at getting those emotions out, be it the “wonder in awe at how magical this world is” ones or the “oh shoot help I’m a puddle oh no” ones. In a way this can be viewed as a counterpart to Maquia in the “high fantasy anime about single parent adopting a child of a different species” category. I’m not sure if there are any others in that category, but boy howdy do they rattle my emotions.

I do need to be honest and say I was somewhat bothered by how 100% pure and wholesome and happy all the time Somali was, it did hamper the suspension of disbelief a bit. No toddler, let alone one who’s endured serious trauma, is going to be a constant, wholesome ray of sunshine.

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