OP: 「ありがとうはこっちの言葉」 ( Arigatou wa Kocchi no Kotoba ) by 森山直太朗 (Naotarou Moriyama)
ED: 「ココロソマリ」 (Kokoro Somali) by Inori Minase
「旅する親子」 (Tabisuru Oyako)
“Journeying Parent and Child”
Two years ago, my sister introduced Somali to Mori no Kamisama to me as one of her favourite ongoing manga. It proved a unique and contemplative read. A couple of months back, I felt pretty excited to hear that Somali to Mori no Kamisama would be receiving an anime adaptation. So did the premiere live up to expectation? Here’s a brief rundown of the premise and my take on how Satelight went about adapting the first episode.
Our setting is a fantasy world dictated by supernatural laws – and the conceptualisation departs from the traditional Japanese take in favour of one more similar to a Western style e.g. Alice in Wonderland. However, despite the overwhelming beauty in this seemingly serene and spiritual setting, a riveting darkness bubbles beneath the surface. As explained in this episode, humans and monsters were at war. In a twist from the usual pattern, where humans emerge victorious in their effortless subjugation, the exact opposite happens here. Humanity came out as the losers, with the survivors being viciously hunted down, and being treated like animals – which is to say they were either made into slaves, pets or eaten.
In such a cruel world, a humanoid golem, the protector of a forest, stumbles across an emaciated human youngling by the name of Somali shackled in chains. For whatever reason, he pretty much assumes the role of being their guardian and claims to be emotionless – despite clearly exhibiting sentimentality towards Somali. And he abandons the forest to seek out humans – a remarkable departure from what monster society expects from a golem. Only he has good reason for making such a choice. The golem’s arms are slowly crumbling – indicating that he doesn’t have long to live. The inference one can make is that he’s seeking out a pocket of humans so that Somali can find a safe haven to peacefully live in before he dies – away from the evils that would seek to bring harm.
With a very obvious time limit and high stakes revolving around life and death, an uneasy reminder continually permeates the show, juxtaposing the playful and innocent vibes from Somali’s sheltered world view. It’s made abundantly clear that Somali doesn’t quite understand the gravity of their own situation, so it will be interesting to see that moment of epiphany when it comes – not to mention whether Golem dad will be able to discover a safe haven for Somali before his inevitable demise.
From watching the premiere, I can say that Satelight deserve top marks for their visuals. They perfectly captured the beautiful and mysterious art from the manga, coupled with picturesque backgrounds. And the colour palette decisions are extremely vibrant, adding that final touch breathing life into the whole thing.
Story-wise, nothing quite remarkable yet. But I can assure you the grass will be greener down the line, and this is definitely a great show to pick up if you want to view consistent quality throughout the Winter 2020 season/ Would I recommend Somali to Mori no Kamisama? Not if you demand exciting twists or dramatic developments. However, if you’re seeking out wholesome stories about a golem dad going on a soul healing journey and doing what he can to protect his human child from dangers in the world, then you’ve come to the right place. So make yourself comfortable and enjoy the process.