Somali to Mori no Kamisama – Episode 1 Review

Title: Somali to Mori no Kamisama / Somali and the Forest Spirit
Length: 12 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Fantasy
Year of release: 2020

While the opening minute or so is essentially all of the material from the trailers, it doesn’t stop the fact that Somali to Mori no Kamisama is undoubtedly a gorgeous anime. Exquisite detail has gone into the backgrounds in particular, and the gentle scoring underlies the natural wonder that is demonstrated. Lighting, in particular, offers complex shades on the world. The rest of the episode continues to rely upon these strengths, with several montages and candid vignettes moseying about in its marvellous world.

Sadly, it is with regret that I must say that the written portions of this show are taking a backseat. Somali is a young girl who is found mysteriously in this supernatural forest, where the forest guardian, Mori, finds her, and is confused when she refers to him as ‘father’. Many beats are skipped between this event and the rest of the episode, and the puzzle of that is gradually filled in: Mori is on a quest to find humans to return her to her kind.

somali.png

An onlooker hears this, and bemuses to his group of non-humans what has happened to the humans, and a passing waiter begins the rather blunt idiot-dump to explain just where all the people are gone. This is perhaps the biggest blunder of the episode as the sound explanation lacks a naturalistic nuance, but the other aspects more key to the show’s writing performance are not promising, either; the chemistry between Somali and Mori is forced, for example, with the familial bond forming becoming more contrived than chemical. Going back to the exposition incident, the general dialogue feels like a performance moreso than conversation within an impartial trek of the world; this is acceptable when concerning Mori, who is not human and is sort-of the point, but for other characters, such as the shady businessman to whom Mori attempts to sell his forest rocks, this is a concern.

But this is not the kind of anime to engage the white matter in that sort of way. The big world of Somali to Mori no Kamisama is one to get you thinking more broadly about the state of its world. Airy pacing and Satelight’s tremendous work here are the important pieces of that puzzle, engaging in child-like wonder with an imaginative sales pitch. One for the dreamers, yes, but not necessarily one for the thinkers.

Rating: B-

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5 thoughts on “Somali to Mori no Kamisama – Episode 1 Review

    1. I have been wondering what is up with naming the girl ‘Somali’. Then again, I’m not entirely sure how much thought has gone into naming these characters/ideas, and fantasy etymology is usually just ‘it sounds exotic!’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I seriously don’t get it at all. I’d probably be more offended if I was Somali and saw a character named like that. I’m sure the creators wouldn’t take kindly to some American naming a character “Japan” or “Japanese”.

        I’m not against having fantasy or made-up names on principle, but if you’re going to make a more exotic name at least make sure it’s totally made up and respect other cultures if it happens to be similar. I doubt this anime is going to make waves in Mogadishu, but still…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thanks! It’s an odd sort-of show for sure. A bizarre world where the aim is to just… explore it? Sort-of wholesome, sort-of wonderful, it’s not got much to it but it is nice.

      Like

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