He’s Not Trying To Save The World – He Just Wants To Slay Some Goblins
If you were on any kind of social media during the last months of 2018 then you probably caught some of the Goblin Slayer rape/infant killing controversy after episode one aired. Fortunately, after the storm died down and more thoughtful posts and commentary started coming out, most people seemed to agree that largely the problem could have been solved by the various streaming services providing sensible classification or warnings prior to the show airing and only a few extremists were still calling for the entire show to be trashed and calling those who enjoyed it degenerates.
Wow, I love it when people make a judgement over your entire existence based on your preference of fictional stories. That said, I don’t want this review to turn into a debate about censorship and I kind of covered my thoughts on this whole thing in a feature about triggers back when episode one first aired so I’m just going to get on with reviewing the anime now.
Still, the need for a warning label on this anime does exist because it does have content that some people will find distressing. I’d strongly recommend not watching it if you know that you don’t like shows where female characters are subjected to sexual assault or if buckets of blood flying about the screen in fight sequences is going to make you feel queasy.
The problem with that though is that while these things are in Goblin Slayer, it isn’t really what the show is about. Quite a few reviews I’ve read have criticised Goblin Slayer for not being as dark as Berserk or for being toothless. While Goblin Slayer does explore some of the darker aspects of adventuring and the less noble side of killing creatures most other consider merely pests rather than facing off against demon kings, the story is essentially about the two main characters: Goblin Slayer and Priestess.
In the first episode we meet the Priestess as she joins up to become an adventurer, gets recruited into a party of rookies and more or less lead to her death by the overconfidence and cockiness of youth and general perceptions about the weakness of goblins. It’s a solid opening encounter that sets the tone for a world where adventurers can and do die particularly early in their careers and goblins might be individually weak but in a dark cavern with numbers on their side if you aren’t prepared you are in for a world of hurt. It’s also pretty confronting in that the fates of these nameless rookies are pretty tragic. Fortunately we haven’t spent enough time with them to feel we know them, but basic empathy for humans and knowing none of these characters were actually bad people, just inexperienced, makes the whole encounter leaving you with a slightly sick feeling in your stomach, which is more or less what it intended.
Fortunately, Priestess is rescued by Goblin Slayer and the two then form a partnership of sorts. The story follows the two as they learn from one another, the Priestess learning how to use her miracles to best effect for a party and about the tricks goblins use and how to beat them, and Goblin Slayer learning slowly how to interact with others and to trust others even if just a little bit.
What this means is the story seems to sway back and forth between life and death encounters in dark dungeons and slower moments where the two go about their days in the guild and town preparing equipment, eating and drinking with others, and generally living their lives. It is this two toned approach that seemed to annoy some viewers who stuck around after episode one. I think they might have expected the violence just to keep going and not let up, but the point of the story isn’t to be violent. Violence happens in the world being constructed but it isn’t all there is to life. That is what Goblin Slayer is needing to learn and his removal of his helmet in the guild in the final episode is a good sign that he is finally starting to realise he doesn’t need to be the armed Goblin Slayer 24 hours a day.
That might seem like a small step but it is some massive character progress for him and it builds on dozens of small exchanges peppered throughout the series.
Priestess is no slouch either really stepping up in the final fight to both immobilise the final boss and to heal Goblin Slayer. She uses his plan and her own decisions to get the outcome she decides is best.
However, in case it seems like I just keep heaping praise on this series, I do have to point out the biggest problem with it. The series works best if you’ve read the source (either the manga or the light novels will do).
And that’s a problem.
An anime adaptation should stand alone. It should show the story in anime form for fans of the source who want more of the characters, but should also be accessible and make sense on its own.
Goblin Slayer fails in that regard in that a lot of the decisions and ideas are kind of hinted at in the anime but don’t make sense without the additional knowledge the source gives you.
One example that stands clear from reading episode reviews was when High Elf Archer asked Goblin Slayer not to use fire and a whole bunch of other things on the goblins under water town. And he agreed. That was all there was to the exchange in the anime.
From reading the books there was a lot more behind both her request and his acceptance. Namely the whole town being above the sewers and potential collateral damage. Now it makes sense why she’s being fairly specific with her limitations (other than she doesn’t want to get set on fire or poisoned) and why he actually listens and agrees. More importantly, it makes sense that in the next episode, when he is about to set off an explosion he checks first that they have travelled beyond the borders of the town before he puts his plan into action.
Now, the sequence makes enough sense in the anime in that you aren’t completely unable to follow it, but it also feels like you are missing something. That isn’t how a story should make you feel and this was only one scene out of many that had anime only viewers tilting their heads and wondering just what was behind a decision.
So while I will recommend this anime, it is an average anime. It isn’t great or amazing. There are definitely issues with how this has been adapted from its source.
Still, I thought it looked great, I enjoyed the characters, loved the sound design, and all and all had great fun following along with these characters and adventures. While it does get dark, there’s also plenty to balance it and from a narrative point of view it makes sense that those moments are as dark as they are.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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15 thoughts on “Goblin Slayer Series Review”
Interesting read and I like the way you weave the words together to put your thoughts out.
Glad you enjoyed the review.
Yeah, you are right, the anime adaptation was good but it lacked in other stuff and those who have read the manga they surely know what was going on but those who haven’t they were angry on it. Same with my friend as he said that he didn’t like the anime much because of the talk or info. was quite less when they were on missions.
But let’s hope that if they make s2 then they might fill this problem.
It would definitely be nice to see these characters developed further in a season two of an anime.
Yes, this series was fantastic. We certainly agree on that point.
However, I can’t say I agree with it being necessary to read the source material to understand specific moments of the show. For example, using fire under the city.
I can only speak for myself, but I never questioned Goblin Slayer’s quick agreement to Elf’s request. In fact, I vaguely remember the reasons being explained in the show. I say “vaguely” because I just never found the circumstances odd despite having never read any of the source material.
But then again, I could be wrong. There’s been enough time since I watched the show for me to forget those types of gritty details when the rest of the series was as good as it was.
Regardless, great review all the same. I can’t wait to see what you will cover next.
Glad you enjoyed the review.
I remember a lot of people who followed Goblin Slayer episodically thought it was weird that Goblin Slayer agreed about the fire. It was something that was discussed on a number of reviews I read and quite a few people who hadn’t read the source questioning it. Then again, clearly it doesn’t bother some viewers.
Glad to see you finally got around to Goblin Slayer! It was a good series, I just can’t help but say it has so much more potential than what they left off on. I am hoping for a season 2 if they ever get around to it, I would love to see some major character development and maybe a bit of romance.
Going on some other adventures, fighting something other than Goblins, and maybe start cracking at his shell a bit more. So much potential with the characters and story, I truly hope they come back to it.
I’ve got the fifth light novel lined up ready to review and while they are still fighting goblins the story in it managed to be really interesting even following what we had already experienced. I really do hope it gets to be made into anime at some point.
I really need to start collecting manga when I get the chance. I am missing out on so much!
It was easily one of my favourite shows from the Fall schedule. I loved how raw and real everything felt. It wasn’t all glorified and overpowered.
I haven’t read the manga or light novels and I don’t feel like I missed anything. There were a lot of standout moments for me, particularly the scene in the guild hall where Goblin Slayer begged for help.
Yes, I really enjoy that whole story where Goblin Slayer is trying to defend the farm. Glad the anime decided to end on that.
Goblin Slayer works for many reasons, and not being an Isekai was one of the best ones. This was a real gem of a series, and I’m shocked it wasn’t even nominated for anything at the C-roll awards. Yes, the first episode was controversial (but done much better than Shield Hero’s sloppy attempt), but the rest of the episodes maintain a level of quality that is getting rarer and rarer these days.
My personal favorite moment was the whole Sword Maiden and Goblin Slayer dynamic, which to me summarized the entire thesis of the series: that the biggest heroes are sometimes the guys who do the grunt work, not the shining knight in armor.
Plus them nips…
Ah, knowing that backstory really would have helped with making sense of Goblin Slayer’s quick agreement to the Elf’s imposed limitations of his tactics. That bit did bother me some.
I know. I mean, it wasn’t totally world breaking or anything in the anime but it just seemed to come out of nowhere instead of being a logical part of the location of where they were fighting.
On its own, the decision makes sense–methane buildup is always a problem in underground sewers. It just seemed out-of-character for Goblin Slayer to accept the demands of a novice adventurer without any explanation or justification from her. Some sense of their preceding discussions would have helped make his acceptance seem more believable.