Goblin Slayer Volume 3 Light Novel Review: It’s A Date, And Goblins

The Harvest Festival is on its way and all the female adventurers and friends suddenly have one thing on their mind. Too bad Goblin Slayer only ever has one thing on his mind – killing goblins.

Previous Reviews

Review:

Of the three volumes I’ve read so far, this one is probably the weakest. And that’s because instead of feeling like we were on some epic adventure (albeit to fight goblins), this one genuinely felt like we were reading a harem based light novel with a wishy-washy protagonist, girls who have no purpose outside of their pursuit of him, and ultimately a conflict that felt like it was thrown in at the end for the sake of having a final fight. And while none of that makes this a terrible read, it certainly wasn’t as compelling as previous entries.

However, the positive would be that Goblin Slayer is given more time to become a bit more humanised in this volume. He’s still the enigma and still has complete tunnel vision for goblin killing, but his interactions with the rest of the cast help to paint a broader picture of his overall personality when removed from blowing up goblin nests. Priestess also comes out of this volume looking reasonably good with her being able to showcase how far she’s grown since the opening of volume 1 where she was the scared little girl in need of rescue.

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Unfortunately, the rest of the cast, whether it is Guild Girl, Female Knight, Cow Girl, High Elf Archer or Witch, they all just come off looking pretty vapid and silly as they scurry about trying to attract this or that guy’s interest at the festival. Then again, it isn’t as though Dwarf Shaman or Lizard Priest come off any better. While they aren’t trying to attract a partner they seem to spend almost two thirds of the book doing nothing but taking part in various eating and drinking activities.

And that’s more or less the whole problem. Even though Goblin Slayer is preparing for something from the beginning, it is easily dismissed as his usual eccentric paranoia and doesn’t really count as foreshadowing. The disgruntled adventurer is an obvious flag early on, but it doesn’t amount to very much. So by the time things start happening and the much needed goblins arrive (needed because how can he be Goblin Slayer if there are no goblins), the reader is more or less suffering from festival fatigue and it is almost a relief to see the town plunged into danger.

The danger itself though never feels all that real. Unlike in the previous volumes where the Goblins attacked either a farm that was pretty remote or were underground, here they attack a town. There’s very little reason why our plucky adventurers seem to be fighting without back-up given how many adventurers are in the town (and I don’t care how drunk they claim they might be after the festival), and yet the book insists on having the core group take on much larger numbers by themselves. While it is an excellent showcase of their abilities, it kind of pushes plausibility and after a fairly dull set-up it isn’t really much of a payoff.

So I left this volume with mixed feelings because there are some great character moments here for Goblin Slayer and Priestess and the final fight is actually kind of exciting even if it makes little sense in context, but there’s just too much down time here and too many female characters being too cliche female character from a light novel. I’m hoping the next volume picks back up because if this is an ongoing trend with this series I may very well let this one go and that would be a shame. It has been a lot of fun up until this point.


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Karandi James

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Lord of Vermilion: The Crimson King Episode 1: Another Round Of Weird Stuff Happens That May Or May Not Get Explained

Let’s start the anime off with a battle between characters no one knows with no context and then let’s transition back to normal everyday Tokyo and see if we can figure out how they got from point A to everybody ending up dead.

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This technique has been kind of used to death at this point and it isn’t really very effective. Dumping the audience into the middle of a battle sequence when they’ve yet to form any attachment to any of the characters rarely makes any kind of emotional connections, and no matter how cool that fight sequence is, without a context it is all just a lot of lights and colours whizzing around. Worse in this case, as every character is paired up and exchange about two lines of dialogue so that they name each other and then they wipe each other out. Over and over again. Meet two character, quick exchange of words with names I’ll never remember thrown in, and then bang, one of them is dead and then the other realises they are also hit and falls over. And this goes on for the whole opening without a single narration or explanation so it is just noise on the screen while we wait for the story to actually start.

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Once the story does start, I can see why they started with the fight sequence. We meet Chihiro and some other guy at a dojo where they are practising and we are told that Chihiro always uses a disarming technique rather than going for a killing blow but still manages to win. He’s told, in an incredibly dreadful attempt at foreshadowing that he can’t win an actual fight like that which he agrees to. Then they go to uni, here a weird noise and pass out. Jump forward five months and Chihiro is the last person in Tokyo to wake up (everyone else managed it after a week, so what makes Chihiro so special is I guess a question we’ll get answered eventually). There’s some exposition about the state of the city and then Chihiro and friend return home to be attacked in another no-context fight sequence, but at least that clumsy foreshadowing came in handy.

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While there is a very small chance this won’t be a dreadful mess of a narrative, I’m thinking this is one that going into with any expectations would be a mistake. I’m going to give it another episode or two to try and pull itself together but I don’t really expect much.


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Karandi James

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In Case You Missed It

Celebrate the end of another week and a new beginning as we move firmly into the Summer Anime season. As always, I’ve found so many really great posts over the last week and below are some links to a few that really caught my eye, however I’d love for you to share a link if there’s a post you want to give a shout out to.

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Mythos from the Backloggers shared a bit of a personal post about the importance of seeing our homes in media. He looked specifically at Fallout and its depiction of West Virginia and it was a really great post to read. Okay, not anime related, but I love the Fallout games and this was such a well written post that I just had to have it on the list this week.

Mistress of Yaoi tells us that Banana Fish isn’t Yaoi but it is still Awesome in a post that looks at the first episode, some of the reaction to it, and also recommends a manga for those who are looking for something similar to read. A great post to check out if you are curious at all about the anime.

AhNeeMeh looks at some anime titles that have been either mistranslated or changed when translated into English. I really enjoy reading posts where I also learn a little, or am pushed to actually use some of my Japanese and so I found this post interesting because usually I don’t try to translate Japanese titles but some of these it should have been obvious that the English wasn’t right if I’d thought about it.

Umai Yomu Anime Blog has a review of season 2 of Nanatsu no Taizai (or the Seven Deadly Sins). While I watched season 1, I wasn’t really feeling a return to these characters but I’ve enjoyed reading some of the reviews around the episodes and now that its done I’m enjoying reading how people feel about it overall. Maybe one day I’ll get around to watching it, but in the meantime if you want to know what it is all about and how this season is different from season 1, this is a great review to check out.

Yuri Nation looks at Ikuno from Darling in the Franxx and why she isn’t a tragedy but a hero. With all the controversy around Darling in the Franxx it is sometimes easy to overlook some of the things that went well in the series, and this post looks at Ikuno’s character in a fairly positive way, highlighting one of the reasonably successful character arcs in the story as well as how a gay character has been represented.

A Piece of Anime has a review of Darling in the Franxx that looks at the show’s early successes and then some of the ways it unravelled toward the end. Through this they look at the themes the anime initially seemed to be developing and the way these were handled, or not handled, as the show progresses. For those who have avoided Franxx drama this review might be a bit spoilery but it will give you an overall impression of what the show does and doesn’t do.

Jon Spencer does a retrospective on the WIXOSS franchise giving a brief overview of each of the four seasons. It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who follows Jon that he’s a fan of the series and now that Lostorage Conflated Wixoss has essentially wrapped up all plausible loose ends, it is a great time for reflection on the series as a whole.

Irina muses on what makes a good review and generated a lot of blogger discussion. This is something that all anime reviewers should have a read of and the comments and get involved in the discussion. A nice reflection post to generate community conversation that allows everyone to think about their practice. Thanks Irina.

Over on BlazTavern, Tanteikid wrote a response to a post I wrote awhile ago asking the question of what happens when you get tired of anime (or rather why I don’t think that will happen). I really enjoyed reading someone else’s perspective on this and it was a great post to come across this week.

Otaku, She Wrote has a really brilliant analysis of the second episode of Banana Fish out this week. Okay, spoiler heavy if you haven’t watched the episode but a really detailed breakdown of what happened in the episode and the symbolism used in each scene and sequence. A really great post to check out this week if you are watching Banana Fish.

Pick of the Week

Frog-Kun gets into the inherent problem behind the conceit of one person coming in to a historical or fantasy setting and fixing it in their post ‘How a Not So Realit Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom on Privilege and Hubris‘. It is an interesting post to read as it clearly identifies an issue with the basic premise of all such stories, yet I think most of us were already aware that modern knowledge or not, we aren’t going to save a kingdom (just look at the world we live in the problems we’ve created as a society and do very little to fix to know that the average person is not exactly enlightened even if we understand a little bit more about the world). I really enjoyed this post as it is so clear in its explanation and arguments and it is something worth thinking about both in literature and in the real world.

My Stuff

And that was my week, in case you missed it.


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Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #25

A reminder, that if you would like to be involved, just answer the very simple survey here and I’ll consider your question for inclusion in this series of posts. You don’t have to answer the second question but if you leave your name and link I will link to your blog when I respond.

Question: How long does it take you to write reviews? Do you plan the content and/or structure ahead, or do you just “let it flow”?  From TSOG

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This question I need to split into two parts because episode reviews and whole series reviews are two different things.

Episode Reviews:

My episode reviews are incredibly reactionary. They are relatively short and mostly end up being drafted within twenty minutes of my first watch through the episode. However, as I do not post the same day – usually, the current My Hero Academia series is my shortest turn around yet – I have given myself time.

And in that time I rewrite, rephrase, remove rants, remove unnecessary details, sometimes go and rewatch the episode, and basically make sure the review says what I want it to say.

However, the let it flow approach is probably the most apt. Despite all the editing and rewrites, I tend to stay relatively true to the initial reactionary writings unless it is actually completely incomprehensible. But I find that is the best way to capture the true mood or spirit of the episode.

Series Reviews:

This is a whole other ball game and again split into two parts. Series reviews that I am writing immediately after a season has ended are much easier as I have all my notes and episode reviews to rely on as well as a myriad of screen caps to look back through. I usually write these reviews about a week after the final episode airs and then schedule it out whenever my next blank space in my review line up is (so could be several weeks later). These reviews are pretty straight forward and mostly I just let them flow.

There are times when I get stuck. Yuri on Ice was such a time and then I fell back on a plus/minus format because I couldn’t write a review. It just kept becoming this gushy love letter and a fan-girl squeal fest.

Still, these reviews are simply approached by noting the main points I came back to time and again while episode reviewing, figuring out what my main point is and whether I enjoyed watching the show or not, and ensuring that I’m being fair to the show because sometimes I don’t like things just because I don’t like them and there’s actually nothing wrong with the show itself (Tsuki ga Kirei). Same for sometimes when I like something just because I do and there’s nothing particularly good about the show (King’s Game).

Being fair doesn’t mean I don’t express my opinion, I just try to balance it with evidence and I do look for positives that other people might find in the anime even if I didn’t enjoy it as well as looking at the obvious flaws of something I quite enjoyed.

Reviews of older anime are usually even more planned out. I’m usually not in a position to fully rewatch these, though sometimes I plan a rewatch so I can review a particular title. These reviews are usually very planned out and I spend time reading through the episode synopses, reminding myself of key scenes, considering the character points I want to raise, and trying to figure out how much I can say before I just cross into blatant spoiler territory.

As to how long it takes to write a review… that entirely depends. Initial drafting of a 500 word review (give or take) usually only takes about ten minutes as long as I have a plan and have thought about what I’m going to say, no comment about how long that process might take sometimes. But then there are a lot of rewrites with full series reviews. Generally speaking, I’ll rewrite it two or three times in its entirety and certain sections may end up with up to five rewrites before I feel it is reasonable.

I’m just going to be thankful that I type fast so as long as I have a solid idea in mind, writing it out doesn’t take too long. It is getting the ideas together and then making sure I’m happy with how I’ve expressed it that takes all the time.

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I’d love to know from the rest of the community – what is your approach to reviews?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Steins;Gate 0 Episode 13: Ignore the Paradox

After spending an entire episode setting up a bootstrap paradox, this episode chooses to ignore the song in question entirely and focus in stead on where Kagari was during that missing time. I kind of wonder if they intend to get back to it or not at this point.

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Steins;Gate 0 continues to be a bit odd in that even at this midway point we seem a little short on an actual focus. The original series by the midway point made it clear what the overall goal was going to be and then it just had to accomplish that goal and iron out the wrinkles that achieving the goal created. Here, I’m not sure what anyone is actually trying to accomplish. At first it seemed Okabe wanted to maintain his status quo having decided to sacrifice Kurisu for Mayuri (which is what put them in this timeline), but now he is actively seeking out Kagari’s past and generally involving himself in things that are undoubtedly going to change his realty whether he wants them to or not.

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It is even harder to get a read on characters like Daru and Suzuha who at times seem to have tunnel vision on their goals, and yet Suzuha, for all her drive and focus, doesn’t seem to be actually making much progress to achieving anything at this point. Mayuri is still just kind of floating along, as are most of the others who hang around in the lab these days and honestly I’d be hard pressed to say what any of them are actually trying to do in this story.

Then there’s the disconnect between the intense focus on finding out the source of the song last week and then this week it isn’t mentioned at all. Mozart has come back and music in general still remains significant and is firmly linked to Kagari, but what the connection is hasn’t been established and how any of this connects to the whole AI Kurisu from the majority of the earlier episodes is also pretty unclear at this point.

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While there’s definitely hope that the second half of this might sort itself out, at this point I’m still just kind of curious but not really as into it as I’d like to be.

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Karandi James

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Calamity of a Zombie Girl Review: Were They Even Trying?

I don’t keep it much of a secret that I really enjoy bad horror and yet every now and then something comes along that is so lame, so incredibly poorly executed, and just has so little effort put into it that even with a receptive audience it manages to bore and be completely and totally pointless to watch. That is the real Calamity of a Zombie Girl. It isn’t that it is generic horror, it is that it is incredibly by the numbers, dull, uninspired, and ultimately a completely flat viewing experience.

However, let’s take this review step by step. I went into this with no prior knowledge, it was just another title that had popped up on Crunchyroll while I was away that I intended to catch up on. Finding out it was an ONA and a single movie seemed like it could be fun rather than another series to follow, so I went in expecting the usual lame set-up, the group of canon-fodder friends, and then some zombie hi-jinks. Which in a way I guess I did get but there’s definitely an issue of quality here.

By the way, there are spoilers below but I don’t think it matters given how predictable the show is.

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Visually, this is really ordinary. Okay, it is actually on the lower end of quality in general, though it doesn’t have so many glaring discrepancies that you could actually say it was dreadful. Still, it looks like something from at least a decade ago, if not older. Couple that with the opening credits where the sound-track from a generic black and white horror film will blare at you while you stare at incredibly dull and poor quality colour splotches with floating names and the general appearance and sound of this just isn’t going to meet the expectations of the day. While horror regularly gets away with slightly less than cutting edge visuals and sound, I think even the least discerning viewer is going to want better than what is on offer here.

The story itself if probably the only reasonable part of this, provided you judge it by standard B Grade horror standards. Group of friends break into a storeroom looking for a rumoured treasure when one of them steals something from inside a mummy (as you do). The mummy and the mummy’s companion maid both wake up and are determined to get the stolen item back and thus begins a night of a deadly zombie rampage. Because they are zombies, not mummies. They just happened to be mummified zombies for reasons that will get explained though still don’t really add a lot to the plot so you may as well just go with that part. Throw in a teacher who is also involved in the theft and has his own agenda and you’ve got your basic horror plot all laid out and you won’t get too many surprises along the way. If they’d just done a better job of executing it there is no reason why this shouldn’t have worked.

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Alas, the characters are all from start to finish dreadful. While canon-fodder characters are generally made to either be pathetic or unlikable so that the audience doesn’t get too choked up when they die ingloriously (in fact I think they design horrible characters on purpose so that there is actually a sense of joy when they finally get knocked off), the characters here are too inconsistent, too uninteresting, and ultimately nothing is done to make us want to care about a single one of them (whether to feel sorry for or happy for them when they die).

Abe is described by plenty of other characters as arrogant or egotistical but little of that comes across. His character defining moment was bargaining for his life by essentially throwing his companions under a bus right before he got crushed by an exploding wall and then a toilet was thrown at him causing his head to turn to mush just for good measure. This definitely reminded me of the lawyer on the toilet seat in Jurassic Park only much less interesting. See, the lawyer had actually served a bit of a plot point up to here and we knew a bit about him, and while he was a lawyer and did abandon Lex and Tim, he was a person with goals and a personality. Abe is a guy who breaks into a storeroom after an internet site tells him there is treasure, drinks a lot, feels up a girl and uses something he saw about her a reason to threaten her, and then ultimately becomes a complete coward in the face of death. Abe is a caricature of a human and not once does the audience feel anything but disgust toward him. However it is so heavy handed in its delivery that we can’t even get that moment of happiness at seeing his demise because all I was thinking about as he hit the wall the first time was that something more was going to happen to him, and then they threw a toilet at him.

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The other characters are all much the same. I don’t even remember the name of the guy whose only purpose seems to be to have picked the lock, but on seeing a pretty girl he immediately tells the school groundskeeper about the entire break in and who was involved, never once considering that he was firstly admitting to a crime and secondly selling out every one of his friends. It was such a stupid scene and his death was equally stupid and drawn out.

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Kung-fu girl involved herself in a long and pointless fight and had plenty of opportunities to get away, but continued to pointlessly fight. What made this worse was the audience knew the whole time that the zombie girl could have turned the tables but just kind of played along, making the entire sequence just dull. Then we got the extreme end where zombie girl loses her temper and literally swings the other girl around like a rag-doll, conveniently tearing her clothes and exposing her breasts before she is smashed into the ground and thrown off a cliff.

And so things continue in an utterly uninteresting way right to the end where we get yet another smack down between two zombies.

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All and all, this one is filled with gore, brain and ear eating, full nudity for the female cast (and just brainlessness for the male cast members), violence for the sake of it, and very little to recommend it because despite having everything in it that it needs to be a standard bad horror, it actually isn’t entertaining in the slightest.

In case you hadn’t noticed,  I really didn’t much like this one. But if you happened to put yourself through it, I’d love to know your thoughts so leave me a comment below.


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Karandi James

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Goblin Slayer Volume 2 Light Novel Review: It’s Always Goblins

Goblin Slayer has quite the reputation now and in this volume he’s answering a quest request from the Sword Maiden herself, a Gold-ranked adventurer who apparently fought a Demon Lord.

My review of Volume 1 can be found here.

Review:

While this second volume doesn’t quite have the drawing power of the first, it is a very decent follow up. There is an understanding that while the protagonist is cool and all, he can’t carry the story alone, and so a lot of energy has been put into the support cast. And even while many of these characters do come off a little too one-note at times, they are all quite interesting notes and the interactions between them are always kind of fun.

The reason this novel works so well is that the readers have a soft spot for this cast. We’ve watched them come together and fight off a horde of goblins with a lot of risk and very little reward. We like these characters already and we don’t want them to die. So when the story plunges them headlong into danger there’s an instant hook to make us keep reading. Because even though I know there are plenty of novels to come and therefore it is very unlikely that the main cast are going to die here, abandoning the story when they were still stranded in a sewer never really crossed my mind as a viable option.

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If I had to complain about any character in this particular volume, it would be the Sword Maiden. I’m not really sure what they were going for. At times she seems super seductive, at others she’s the fragile and damaged adventurer, and others still she just does not seem like she’s a real character. And given she’s the catalyst for the adventure in this volume that’s probably the book’s weakest link.

However, once the quest is accepted and the characters are on their way through the tunnels and facing some fairly hairy situations, using arrows, swords, slings, magic, and whatever else is handy to survive the next encounter, the story moves along beautifully. There’s some fairly tense moments in the darkness and as the characters do come under heavy fire and several of them do sustain some fairly heavy injuries considering they are the main party – a feat the book only gets away with because there’s magic around so ultimately they manage to get the cast back on their feet before the final act.

Basically, if you enjoyed the first story, and you are up for another adventure fighting off a horde of goblins who may have learned a couple of new tricks, then this story will work for you. The writing style remains much the same and is quite enjoyable, the characters are still pretty fun, and the fight sequences manage to be exciting without getting too hectic. I had a lot of fun with this second volume and I’ll be reviewing volume 3 very soon.


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Karandi James

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episodes 14 + 15: Dreams and Faces

Monsters of the week abound with episode 14 giving us a dreamland that you can’t escape from and episode 15 asking what price you would pay to be pretty.

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This pair of episodes are both pretty cute and both pretty pointless as anything more than just another encounter with yokai. There isn’t even any real character building within the main cast, save for a small moment of cool from Daddy Eyeball in the dreamland where he imagines himself in a body so that he can save Kitaro. That said, both episodes work well enough as they introduce our human victims of the week and then overcome the problem.

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Interestingly enough both episodes very much seemed to point the blame for misery at the human world rather than the yokai with the fired salary man escaping to dreams because he couldn’t overcome his daily challenges and the school girl changing her face because of mercilessly being ostracised due to her appearance. This isn’t a new theme for GeGeGe no Kitaro, but it has been awhile since that theme has been the only focus of a story.

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Perhaps the most disappointing thing from these episodes is Mana. She used to be quite an interesting character and in episode 12 she definitely stepped up only now the show seems to be determined to simply have her as a hanger-on. It would be nice to see her returning to being something more than an intermediary between whoever the victim of the week is and Kitaro.

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Still, if episodic yokai stories work for you, GeGeGe no Kitaro isn’t doing too much wrong on that front and remains pleasant viewing even while it isn’t exceptional.

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Karandi James

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