One day, a golem strolls through a forest and stumbles upon a human girl in chains. Somali immediately attaches herself emotionally to the golem and refers to it as her father (for the sake of brevity, I may as well use male pronouns from here on out). Even though his original task is to watch over the forest, he takes the girl and they embark on a trip to find her parents. Failing that, just meeting any human would suffice. He repeatedly informs the little girl that he can’t understand emotions, so at first glance, it would seem that he is ill-equipped to care for a young child. But this sort of pairing is nothing new. On the one hand, we have a young, rambunctious child full of vim and vigor; she’s brimming with childish exuberance. This unpredictability will likely serve as one of the many ways to introduce conflict to the story. In this episode alone, Somali’s curiosity leads her away from the safety of her father’s gaze. A talking cat might have eaten her had the golem not quickly appeared by her side. He thus represents the stern, paternal figure who values practicality and pragmatism; he does so seemingly because that’s all he can do. It is in his programming. At times, the golem almost appears as though he’s executing a set of instructions. The word “golem” suggests magic. It conjures up the notion of witches or warlocks taking a lump of inanimate material and somehow enchanting it with life. But from a certain point of view, you could look at a computer chip and make the same observation. We’ve taken a rock and zapped it with electricity. Somehow, the rock can now perform calculations and do so much better than us. So perhaps our father being a golem is apropos in more ways than one. He has life, but his life is incomplete. In caring for Somali, this gargantuan task will inadvertently imbue him with the feeling of love that is missing. We’re already making progress by the end of the first episode when he decides that they should hold hands in order to help keep her by his side. An obvious “aww” moment if nothing else. Just listen to the music swell.
Will the golem succeed in finding humans to care for Somali? Will Somali teach the golem to become more human-like? Will the golem, old in its age, cease to function by the end of the series and thus leave the girl to fend for herself? Or will she eventually convince him that he’s all she needs, and they can give up this journey to find humans? After all, humans have not been seen for a long time. When the unlikely duo stops by what appears to be your average tavern, we are told the story about what had happened to the long, lost humans. Like in most tales, we humans are portrayed in a negative light. We are predictably prejudiced warmongers, but this time, the bully picked on the wrong target. We humans got our asses handed to us… allegedly. After all, this story comes from the lips of some random waitress. Who can say what truly happened? You wouldn’t go down to your local restaurant and believe every single word your waitress tells you about history, would you? Stories always borrow a little something from their storyteller. This is the gift of authorship. We can recognize our own faults as a species, so it’s easy to accept that the waitress’s story is mostly fact, but I’m reluctant to just embrace whatever I am told, especially at this early stage in the story.
In any case, what’s important for now is that humans are not very well considered by the demihumans. In fact, some see them as little more than livestock to be hunted, enslaved, and finally eaten. As a result, the golem disguises Somali as a young minotaur child. It’s a bit strange to me that these demihumans seem to regard humans as having comparable intelligence yet they also have no qualms about eating them. But I suppose this has always been a tricky subject. One may reasonably ask where the line should be drawn. Why do most western cultures eat pigs but not dogs? Of course, humans are much smarter than your average farm animal, so it feels unnecessarily cruel to eat them. And even if Somali smells extraordinarily tasty to the talking cat, could you really eat a creature with that much sapience? Would we slaughter pigs if one could get on its knees and beg for mercy? Well, maybe, maybe not. But I have no further insight to add here, so I digress.
If the first episode is anything to go by, the anime is visually pleasant to look at. The father-daughter bond, if executed well, will likely coax some strong reactions from the audience. Finally, if you enjoy world-building, you’ll probably find plenty of that here. But this is where I’m going to have call it quits. Somali to Mori no Kamisama looks and feels fine. If I had to go with my gut, I bet it’s going to be at worst a decent anime. At the same time, I just have no interest in it. It’s not my cup of tea. For example, I don’t value world-building in a TV show or film as much as I would if I was playing a video game. With the former, I’m relegated to a passive role. I much more enjoy world-building if I have the ability to seek out and piece together the information that I yearn for. This is why I love the Dark Souls series. But if it had been a TV series instead, I doubt I would adore it as much as I do now. As for the relationship between Somali and her father… well, I don’t really have the right words to describe my apathy towards it. I guess I can only say that it just doesn’t vibe with me. I have no paternal or even any brotherly instincts, so this might sound harsh, but I don’t really care to know what happens to either of them.