Goblin Slayer – Mid Season Anime Review
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)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Goblin Slayer made a name for itself early in the Fall season. It’s edgy, rape laden first episode became the talk of the community. Some appreciated it for its shock value, others grew disgusted with it or perhaps frustrated that Crunchyroll allowed something so graphic for streaming without any such warning. Goblin Slayer quickly became the West’s most watched anime, dominating viewership. Despite that graphic start, one that I think went too far, even if toned down from the manga’s depiction, Goblin Slayer has remained tame since. Goblin Slayer ultimately settles into more typical light novel fair, while retaining a few darker elements not often toyed with or visualized. Even when the series decides to showcase the brutality of the Goblins, it’s far more restrained, leaving the more gruesome and sexual aspects to the viewer’s imagination. Introducing a cast of reoccurring characters helps to offer a lighter tone, one more easily digestible for anyone disgusted with the first episode. But for those who enjoyed the initial edginess, it’s bound to be disappointing as the series has little interest in making that level of brutality a reoccurring element. I think this is for the best, because beneath the initial shock appeal, Goblin Slayer himself is actually a wonderfully tortured and damaged hero. He’s a different kind of lead compared to so many other Light Novel protagonists, and by allowing him to bounce off of a wider cast of characters, his tortured soul shines through, giving the series something deeper to appreciate outside of its edgy and uncomfortable start. Something that feels fresh in a sea of perfect main characters who exist more as self inserts for a male audience than anything else.
Linny: Goblin Slayer does indeed move away from its early controversial content and while there remains a generous amount of gruesome goblin slaying with plenty of blood splatter, it’s done in such a way that only the extremely squeamish would find issue. Unfortunately, in regards to its depiction and treatment of female characters, Goblin Slayer can feel like male gaze pandering. Some episodes feature captured and disrobed women, their bodies framed for titillation. Fan service is peppered throughout in other ways, specifically in relation to certain supporting female characters, who appear ever so often dressed like in the image above or for a few scenes that linger on their sexualized forms as they lay down for bed or wake up in the morning with their bosoms heaving. Thankfully even that content grows rare as the show carries on, becoming more focused on Goblin Slayer’s efforts to eradicate goblins.
Tom: Goblin Slayer isn’t nearly as controversial once you’re past the first episode. In fact I’d go so far as to say without that rape scene the series isn’t much to write home about. While I love the character interactions, particularly the way people have to deal with Goblin Slayer’s one track mind, and the methodical nature of his goblin slaying tactics, the series is no looker. The art is often barely above passable, with few sequences that stand out as truly eye-catching. In fact more often the series is hampered by its biggest detractor: CGI. In a decision that borders on baffling, Goblin Slayer himself is often depicted via the usage of CGI. CGI is rarely, if ever, used for anything else in the series, yet half of our titular character’s screen time is spent with him visualized via a CGI model. This model for our hero is stilted, clunky, and doesn’t match the rest of the production, let alone his 2D art. It’s incredibly jarring and often marks itself as the biggest eyesore every episode.
Linny: Beyond the skin deep entertainment factor of watching our lead brutally slay goblins and face off against bigger, nastier enemies in action packed sequences, Goblin Slayer actually does possess some interesting details. I think in particular, the reveal that our ‘hero’ is no self sacrificing, beacon of light but rather a broken man spurred on solely by his past personal trauma makes for the series strongest element. It’s not dwelled upon but it adds nuance to this tale that most would otherwise dismiss as nothing more than a shallow slaughter fest. Goblin Slayer will likely never rise beyond its action packed, brutal nature but for anyone seeking some quick thrills in a fantasy adventure setting, it should be more than enough to earn a spot on your watch list.
Tom: Despite the controversy, the outrage, the outpowering of over zealous defense, hyperbole and the like; Goblin Slayer is little more than an enjoyable series, with a few missteps here and there. Goblin Slayer’s been compared as the modern Beserk, a comparison that sets expectations far, far too high. What’s here is enjoyable, flawed visually, with that singular edgy sequence early on that fails to represent the rest of the anime’s ongoing content, but nothing truly incredible. Goblin Slayer remains a solid watch for the Fall, and seems poised to remain so as the Mid Season teases a longer story arc that looks to flesh out more of this D&D fantasy inspired world. If you can make it past episode 1 and its graphic, sexual violence then what’s here should appease anyone looking for something darker than typical fantasy light novel adaptations offer. But if you can’t, that’s fine too, you’re not missing out on something spectacular.