Goblin Slayer – Anime Preview
Synopsis: “I’m not saving the world. I just kill goblins.” Rumor has it that, in a certain guild in the middle of nowhere, there is an extraordinary man who has climbed all the way to the Silver rank just by killing goblins. At the same guild, a priestess who’s just become a new adventurer has formed her first party… and the man who ends up rescuing that party when they get into trouble is none other than the Goblin Slayer. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Goblin Slayer is one of the Fall’s most divisive shows. You’re either going to love it as a guilty, violent pleasure or denounce for its ‘edgelord’ content. There is a lot of brutality and sexual assault in its first episode, most of it less graphic than one would imagine but it’s enough to cause a strong reaction one way or the other. The self censorship in the episode is comical as the thinnest strips of cloth cling on to hide certain body parts and avoid the censors. It’s a episode that’s selling itself on its violence, the kind of violence that most would call cheap and low. If you are averse to that stuff, this preview is here to tell you to avoid the show and go on your merry way to find something that will better suit you through our other Fall previews. If you are someone who enjoys that violence for cringe or ironic reasons, read on.
Tom: There’s no doubt that Goblin Slayer dives straight into brutal murder and rape in order to shock. It’s definitely edgy content, not entirely unlike Berserk’s first few pages. Where as Berserk sits at the pinnacle of adult aimed manga/anime, Goblin Slayer isn’t nearly so appreciable. That said, I’d argue there’s more to like about Goblin Slayer beneath its edgy nature. When the titular Goblin Slayer appears, our armor clad hero who cares for nothing more than to slaughter Goblins, we get some intense focus on his methodical ways for exterminating the enemy. We learn enough about his character through his approach to discern that he’s a crazed expert in the field, with a cold heart for the misery he instills upon them.This hints at what drives him and gives the character an immediate appeal as a tortured soul. We even unearth a little world building when initially introduced to our unfortunate party of adventures who’ll suffer at the hands of this series’ most violent tendencies. These inexperienced adventurers jump straight to hunting Goblins, but little hints in the dialogue and presentation point to the fool hardiness of such an action. We see that Goblins, while mocked as a lame duck monster to hunt, are actually a dangerous problem for the uninitiated, and underestimated by anyone who isn’t aware of the true suffering they can cause. It speaks to a world where the rural folk have been forgotten in pursuit of greater and grander prey, as slaying Goblins doesn’t bring fame. It’s these little elements that make Goblin Slayer worth sticking with through its more divisive content. Once we’re past the worst of the rape and brutality the episode even picks up, moving fast as Goblin Slayer demonstrates his skill and our defiant little priest, Onna gets some first hand combat experience.
Linny: What cements violence as Goblin Slayer’s main star (at least for the moment) is how little we get to learn about our characters. They’re more or less there to act out and react to the violent and shocking events. There’s little to no character or story or even background, with all focus on cementing Goblin Slayer’s brutal tone. Much to my annoyance and disapproval, Goblin Slayer pulls the whole ‘sexual assault broke and ruined the women’ shtick which while totally plausible and real, is often used as a cheap ‘shock/edgy’ device that undermines women and paints them as delicate damsels that ultimately need to be protected, rescued and are prone to permanent damage. It thankfully does not harp on it and the specific scene is over in a flash, but if this is something that irritates you, do be aware that it’s there. So, should you try Goblin Slayer? Sure if you enjoy the violent equivalent of popcorn movies, something you watch for cheap thrills and scares and shocks. Otherwise, move on.
Tom: As offensive as Goblin Slayer can be, and it’s perfectly understandable to feel so, what’s in the anime remains significantly toned down from the manga. I don’t have experience with the Light Novel, but the manga adaptation adds an erotic element to its depiction of the Goblin’s disgusting sexual assault. The anime manages to keep things more focused on the abhorrent violence, rather than eroticizing it, which I think is a plus, even if that edgy content remains a black mark for viewers who want none of it. Another hit, more superficial, is the wonky CGI used to depict Goblin Slayer himself, in a selection of wider shots. It rarely works and often looks stilted, damaging the visual presentation. Ultimately though Goblin Slayer’s edgy content is an understandable turn off. But if it doesn’t bother you too much, what’s beneath the surface has a lot of potential and with a little more focus on the world building, and Goblin Slayer’s reason for being, the series can still grow much like Berserk did. I doubt it’ll ever be in the same league, but it could eventually feel like a more substantial story.