WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SOME CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECT MATTER. READER'S DISCRECTION IS ADVISED. This is a SPOILER FREE review.
As a character moderator (in training for the second season), Goblin Slayer is the title I personally claimed for the Fall 2018 season. I had no idea that not only would it be as good as it is, but as controversial as well. To cut right to the chase with the one word that sums up most of the controversy, and that is rape. It was the biggest issue with the series even before the news broke about the Light Novel becoming an anime. It is a serious topic that should not be taken lightly. Please be aware of that if you intend on watching this anime. With that being said, it is an anime that is much more than it's predestined controversy.
Goblin Slayer was geared to be a graphical anime with some potentially heavy controversy attached to it based on the light novel source material alone. The very first episode sets the tone when four novice adventurers seek out some goblins in an unknown cave. Their inexperience is soon made apparent when they, to their surprise, are easily overwhelmed by a substantially large hoard of them, at least twenty strong. Things are looking grim for them when behold, the Goblin Slayer himself first appears to save the day. Along with the Priestess, they manage to make it out alive unscathed. What happens from there is an irrefutable journey of conflict, filled with trials and tribulations. The new challenges that they will have to face and overcome will bring about accolades and titles, which in turn will cause strife as well.
From a story and entertainment perspective, I have no problem with Mature Themes, including rape, being used as a plot devices to show just how vile and disgusting the goblins actually are. However, it should be done with some dignity in mind and not be redundantly shown. After all, anime is supposed to be entertainment. Unnecessary amounts of it are not entertainment in my opinion. It's just trash being used to desensitize the viewer on what is a serious injustice to an individual's person.
The Goblin Slayer creators do not overuse and exploit the fact that the goblins perform this and other heinous acts. What is shown are only minimal amounts that are used to tell the story and not be the story. Thank goodness because this Action, Adventure, Fantasy story is actually interesting and decently written without the repulsive behaviors of the goblins even needing to be shown on screen.
The animation and art of Goblin Slayer is executed at a very good quality. It is clear that WHITE FOX has been given a fair budget towards this anime production, visually (and in sound quality too). Both the characters and backgrounds display a really good range of color and contrast. Line details are solid and the actual animation is fluent, and not just in the actions scenes. That is always a plus when it's maintained consistently throughout. However, there are scenes where the actual artistic design is decreased, althoouhg the color and animation levels are still maintained. That's a minor deterrent in the grand scheme.
The OP and ED tracks are decent. I usually never look into them with too much thought because they do little to nothing for the in-story soundtrack and overall story in general. Speaking of soundtrack and in-story (sound effects), Goblin Slayer showcases some nice moments of climactic music and excellent sound effects in my opinion. That is key to the type of story such as this one. The production team did an excellent job at utilizing both soundtrack and effects.
Through the first few episodes, character development is lighter than I would've expected. To this point we don't know too much about Goblin Slayer and even less about Priestess, the two main characters. However, by episode nine (or so) more background of Goblin Slayer himself starts to come through in the episodes. In general, both he and the Priestess are excellent characters and are pleasant to watch.
They find themselves joined by a group of other silver-ranked adventurers. They are the Hot-Headed High Elf Archer, the slower magic-using Dwarf Shaman, and the cheese-loving Lizardman Priest. Together, the five of them slowly start to learn about each other, build strong bonds of trust, and complete various quests together.
Back to the two MC's, he is solely focused on slaying goblins no matter what the situation or circumstances are, even to a humorous extent. For example, their world could be coming to an end and he would stoically say, "That doesn't matter. It's time to slay some goblins." Funny and fantastic in my opinion. On the other hand, Priestess has a strong faith in him. She can be often weary and frightened but her dedication and faith is quite refreshing and reassuring. That faith carries over to the rest of their party as well.
Regardless of the pace of development, the characters are driving this anime more than anything else. They are all an interesting and entertaining bunch. It is hard not to like them. It is both fun and nerve-racking (sometimes) watching them embark on their quests and goblin-slaying adventures together.
I looked forward to watching the next episode of Goblin Slayer when they became available for me to watch here. WHITE FOX took their time with the development of the characters, which is fine because the story's pacing, although slower, was steady and perfect for this anime. They did an excellent job building hype to some big and climactic moments, which was very exciting.
If you can get past the misleading first episode and give the show a fair chance beyond that, then you will be pleasantly surprised. I completely recommend this as a well-worth-it watch up to any one who's accustomed to Dark Fantasy adventures, or anime featuring Explicit Violence and Mature Themes.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE: 9/10
This is a spoiler free review.
Ok, so this is one of the better series this season. The show has an interesting concept, dark themes, and even a few decent comedy elements. It also features a main character that’s basically a fantasy Batman with a grudge against goblins instead of criminals which is just plain awesome. What’s even better it manages all this without being tonally inconsistent.
Unfortunately, the show has a very controversial first episode, which kind of set the internet on fire and might put a viewer off. I’ll address it (without spoilers) before the rest of the review.
Prelude – the first episode controversy.
The first episode shows violent, graphic, ugly and very disgusting scene depicting the titular goblins. Said scene was widely discussed in the anime community and got a strong reaction. Rightfully so.
Now here’s my point: Your reaction to that scene is the most important part of the show. Not just in the episode – in the whole series. If you take it out all that you’d be left with is just some generic anime about an antihero type character fighting goblins.
Firstly: one of the most basic rules of visual media is: show don’t tell. The reason for that rule is that showing something instead of characters talking about it evokes a much stronger emotional reaction from the viewer. So if You want to depict the character who is - for example - angry in a book You can just write why and how much he is angry and in a movie or a show you have to show it. That makes the audience understand the character on both intellectual and emotional level and hopefully – empathize with him/her. Having said that: You would not feel the same about the goblins or the characters if the nature of the world they inhabit was introduced via dialogue. This particular scene is supposed to make you sick. It’s supposed to make you want to hit anyone responsible for making you watch it. It’s much more about Your reaction to what’s happening than what is actually happening.
This scene makes the anime work. It makes the main character’s obsession with goblins, as well as any character that was hurt by them immediately understandable and relatable. It also changes the viewer perspective on goblins from ‘just a low-level mob’ to ‘disgusting menace’. Most of all: it creates tension. When the characters fight goblins in the later episodes you DO NOT want to see ‘that’ scene again and you know you might since the story makes sure you are never sure whether one or more characters will lose the battle. That makes fighting goblins – basically a mob in any other game or movie or anime – emotionally engaging.
Secondly: the central point of the anime (and the manga) is trauma and ways to deal with it. It’s so important that the show's title might as well be: „Posttraumatic Stress Disorder the Anime (oh and also they fight some goblins I guess)”. Considering the subject matter it would be unwise not to show something traumatic at least once, so the audience can empathize with the characters.
Thirdly: In my opinion, the series would have a problem only if it showed similar scenes over and over just for shock value or to be edgy just for sake of being edgy. The show does not do that. It alludes to similar experiences of other characters but does not show them fully. That’s because it’s unnecessary for the plot or character development if you’ve seen it already. That’s also why I think the scene should be treated just as a plot point integral for the audience to get emotionally invested in the story.
Ugh … well if that’s out of the way let’s start with the review.
First - the story.
The story is structured in a few self-contained arcs (mostly involving fighting goblins) with little or no overreaching plot points.
The series is set in a generic-as-hell isekai-type fantasy world (without it being isekai) and the plot revolves around its characters, relationships between them and their everyday lives. The show is a deconstruction of the typical fantasy tropes by taking a new spin on the known character and world archetypes, so this works well. The story (and the OP) does allude to the fact that the world and the characters may be just a part of a game played by gods.
Relationships between each of the characters are given adequate time to develop and feel natural. The story sets up their motivations pretty well.
If there is any main theme of the story its trauma and ways to put it behind You. Most if not all episodes feature either how traumas experienced by a character affect his or her life and/or their ways of coping with them (often by learning to connect emotionally with other people). The show isn’t over the top with those themes though so it does not feel depressing.
Also: the series has some pretty decent comedy elements to it. This is especially true with the titular Goblin Slayer who’s often being treated by other characters like a weirdo instead of some badass antihero.
Second: the animation.
The animation is decent but nothing spectacular.
The character design is generic as hell but I think its supposed to be that way. Apart from the main protagonist, we get typical priests, warriors, clerics and even monsters like goblins, giant rats etc.. This works within the series because the story clashes those generic looking characters (that the audience is accustomed to) with harsh realities of the world that other anime seldom shows.
Third: the sound.
The sound is ok. I can't really say anything more about it apart from the fact that I liked the music in the OP quite much – it sets the tone of the series well.
Fourth: the characters.
The characters and more importantly the relationships between them are the strong point of the series.
First of all the main protagonist is very similar to Batman, which makes him instantly likable in my book. He’s a guy obsessed with an event in the past that destroyed his life and channels his rage into destroying the source of that event. He’s methodical, logical, hides his face and features behind a helmet and armor. He even doesn't use his name and is called Goblin Slayer by other characters. What's more, he’s written more like a nutjob who has to work through his psychological problems than the typical gritty antihero, which makes him much more likable. That’s also why the character arc that makes him slowly open up to people doesn't feel cheesy.
The other protagonist – the female priest – and all other characters that join up with the Goblin Slayer feel very bland and generic at first. The show gives them little arcs that change their behavior, but they’re not very numerous. I think it's because those characters are not supposed to be studied as deeply as a protagonist. Their purpose in the story is to open him up. Having said that they, while bland, are quite likable. What’s not to like about a tsundere elf quarreling with a witty dwarf with stoic lizardmen mediating their constant fighting? It’s fun to watch them rub off little by little on the main protagonist and it's realistic that a long contact with them would change his solitary ways a little.
Verdict: The show is great and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to all but the youngest anime fans. Even if You decide it’s not for You – do so after watching three or four episodes instead of just the first one.
CONTENT WARNING: this review contains brief discussion of sexual assault. I should also mention that the show itself advises that a number of scenes may be disturbing or distressing.
It seems to be a trend in the current landscape of popular culture that objections to what is commonly regarded as ‘dark’ or ‘mature’ content are seen as the work of oversensitive, overly-liberal individuals who aren’t able to handle themes that intersect too closely with the more visceral realities of life. I’ve always resented this notion, not only because it’s entirely possible to appreciate the quality of a work while still feeling personally averse to its excesses, but also because there are a lot of excellent works of fiction which handle death, despair, sexual assault and bodily harm with a great degree of finesse, and while I’ve always considered myself fairly squeamish as consumers of media go, I do agree that it’s important that art continues to try its hand at depicting these concepts.
On the other hand, Goblin Slayer is a nasty, ugly show in more respects than one, and I see it as intellectually dishonest to wave off any negative criticism as “SJW crybaby”-ing.
The premise of the show is that the titular Slayer, having seen and suffered at the hands of goblins, has set out to exterminate them by any means necessary. The world posited here is the same kind of “whimsical MMO made dark reality” that you’ll have seen in the (frankly much superior) Re:Zero, among others; the Goblin Slayer isn’t respected by many of his peers, both less and more accomplished, because goblins are considered low-level fodder and normally only the most neophytic adventurers bother to take up arms against them. The show essentially follows the Slayer’s new party as they continue to seek out goblin nests and put them down, all the while seeing the horrors that come from underestimating such creatures: families murdered, women taken as sex-slaves and ruthlessly tortured, and so on.
While the idea of using every other RPG’s favourite starting enemy as a collective main antagonist is a decent one, the show’s quest to demonstrate its own crushing horror ends up, more often than not, coming across as tasteless. Rape is constantly and consistently used as a blunt hammer-blow of shock-value, with none of its traumatic realities presented with anything resembling empathy or care, and characters who we know to be the survivors of sexual assault are objectified to the point that the whole affair starts smacking of torture porn. In fact, while the show occasionally hand-waves towards the notion of being changed by grim experience, there are numerous instances in the plot where characters undergo situations that such theoretically traumatise them (including a shocking cliffhanger which is pretty much overwritten in the first few minutes of the next episode) and yet have no discernible psychological impact whatsoever. More often than not, the characters go back to bantering amongst themselves as if nothing of consequence has happened (again, this is not presented through the lens of insensibility, or of deconstruction), and it’s usually the same banter that we’ve already heard a dozen times before, in previous episodes.
Any female character in the show who isn’t there to be raped or sexually humiliated is wrapped up in an unrequited affection for the eponymous Goblin Slayer. At one point, a significant female character is heard to remark that “women are weak creatures” without any trace of irony or any hint of deconstruction from the show itself. This theme continues all the way through to the end, and given that we see at least two badass sword-swinging women hold their own in the final battle (plus, all three of the ‘heroes’ whose tale runs in the background to Goblin Slayer’s are also presumably female-identifying), it seems like even the show itself can’t decide whether it believes its own screenwriters.
The aforementioned issues with tone and content continue throughout the season up until the final two episodes, where the show does pull itself together somewhat with another effective cliffhanger and a suitable sense of escalation, dread, and a whole lot of satisfying goblin-killing. But even then, I can’t help but feel that nothing would have been lost if this had been a condensed 6-episode OVA rather than a full cour which, it has to be said, constantly struggles to knit together a narrative which is anything other than cyclical shock-value, and the occasional sense that this could have been so much more. The titular slayer himself sometimes threatens to be a somewhat intriguing character, whose psychological profile (demonstrated in both his dialogue and demeanour) is indicative of someone whose childhood appears to have been ended much too soon, and (somehow simultaneously) never really ended, equal parts hardness and naivety. It’s just a pity that he’s pretty much the only interesting character in the entire franchise to this point.
Meanwhile, the show's art design and voice acting are both very good, with some very apt music and sound effect choices across the board. My one complaint in this area would be that the CGI used when animating the Goblin Slayer himself in a few scenes sticks out like a sore thumb, and is jarring enough in comparison to the rest of each shot that it does have a negative effect on the viewer's experience.
Goblin Slayer is a perfect example of why TV should always try to do more than shock; we’re not in the 1990s any more, this isn’t Mortal Kombat, and you can’t (I would posit) just allude to rape and ruin every episode and expect that to be the entire structure of your show. If this had had a better overarching narrative and characterisation (again, the last two episodes are well-foreshadowed and do somewhat raise my overall impression, but that’s not saying much), then I might be standing up and lauding this as one of 2018’s best.
Well, at least we had Violet Evergarden, amiright?
Goblin Slayer was the edgy flavor of the month, akin to Akame ga Kill, a badly written gorefest for edgelords who are overhyping it for thinking it’s breaking some stereotype in the most laughable manner possible. In this case, it’s breaking the stereotype of never showing rape in animated form. Let’s completely disregard most light novel adaptations which have rapes, and one dimensional evil rapists are the most commonly found bad guys in modern anime.
Anyways, as I said it’s an edgy gorefest for edgelords and should not be overhyped as anything more than that. Such as calling it mature dark fantasy because it has rape, since apparently that is the only thing that made 90s Berserk as good as it was. Can we please stop calling this trash as good as Berserk was just because it also has rape? The character designs alone are enough to make that clear. Berserk has characters who look and behave like they are in an actual medieval world. In Goblin Slayer you are never given the impression you are watching a dark fantasy because everyone looks and behaves like a cosplayer in some crappy high school slapstick otaku comedy.
The show is full of cute girls blushing, puffing their cheeks, and being playful at the time. Is that what you expect to see in dark fantasy? There is a part where an army of monsters led by an undead king are about to sacrifice naked women, and the whole thing is ruined by the sudden appearance of three silly looking girls with hair ribbons and cat ear hoodies, that defeat everyone with one hit. How can you take any of that seriously? Especially when they are not treated as comedy.
As for the rape, the only thing people will remember the show for, it became a controversial topic because half the people call it necessary for showing the grim setting, and half the other people call it unnecessary because it’s presented as sexy. They are both right, because Goblin Slayer wants to keep the cake and eat it too. It’s like a war movie that wants to show the horrors of war, while at the same time making war to look like the coolest shit ever. You can’t be over the top in both sides of the argument and expect to be taken seriously.
Also, anyone who thinks this show is not using rape in a tasteless titillating way, you constantly see it happening on screen even when it could be kept out of screen and have the same result, or be described in detail even when the protagonist didn’t care to find out. Also the camera is constantly zooming on jiggling boobs and asses instead of hiding the women behind the goblins which are supposed to be surrounding them.
I mean, it’s a great thing to have a show spending some time on fleshing out the tragic backdrop of the protagonist. But when it’s done mostly through graphical rape or the narration of a bimbo with bouncing boobs, it destroys all sense of dramatization. Trying to be funny and sad at the same time creates only complete trash. Also, the protagonist is supposed to be a faceless badass everyone can self insert, as he’s mercilessly killing innocent goblin babies. Why are you dramatizing him? You are destroying the empowerment fantasy.
It’s not even consistent in terms of dramatization, as in the early episode the other adventurers look down on the protagonist for only going after silly looking goblins. And then contradict that claim by:
-Having every single girl in the show lusting over the autistic guy that will never respond to their romantic innuendoes.
-Having every other male in the show lusting over his harem bimbos, while himself doesn’t even notice them. Also, that is supposed to make him sympathetic for being an impotent self absorbed autist. Because as we all know, having a sex drive makes you bad.
-Having everyone agreeing to fight goblins, not because they threaten the cities with their great numbers but because they get paid for it. That makes it sound like they do it only for the money, then they contradict that claim by showing how they do it because the protagonist (the very same person they make fun of the whole show) asked them politely and they felt sorry for the guy.
-All men are amazed with how handsome he is and all women want his D, and these are supposed to be the same people that were making fun of him so far for being the loser who was only fighting goblins and who for some reason changed their minds after he taught them basic battle tactics against the weakest monsters.
And I need to point out how terrible the exposition is. The adventurers talk about the protagonist as if they see him for the first time, when in reality he’s going to the same place as them every day for over a decade. The way magic or traps work are shown and explained for the first time as they happen on screen. It’s as if they didn’t exist before, and nobody (not even the characters using them) knew about them and need to be taught on the spot, instead of being aware of their own equipment before they use it.
And despite the numerous infodumps the only thing we know about the characters is limited to character class and race. Why does nobody have a name in the show? Who thought names are not characterization? Every fantard of the show defends that as fine, since they wouldn’t remember their names anyways. Holy shit, we got to that point where you openly admit you don’t bother to remember names, since you know you are going to forget everything once it’s over, because it’s that shallow. It’s even more infuriating when they insist that’s exactly what it’s like when you play Dungeons and Dragons. What kind of role playing are you guys doing when you refer to your characters by class rather than name? Are you just rolling dice and calculate damage? Isn’t there any semblance of a story with interesting lore and character backgrounds? Because back when I was playing, we were doing a lot of that. And when we were creating our characters, the very first thing the statistic page was asking us to write was the damn name of the character. You can’t even play the game properly!
Instead of that, the show constantly uses gratuitous rape and tasteless fan service as characterization.
-There is a 2000 year old elf, so wise and mature to the point she acts like a 10 year old school girl with a crush on a man, for being autistic and not caring about her.
-There is a sorceress who pulls magic items out of her gigantic boobs.
-There is a priestess who describes in detail how she was raped with no reason to say it in that point in the story. It was thrown in there at the most awkward moment as deviant fan service. And to top it all off, she then begs the protagonist to help her in a way that was basically saying “please fuck me so I can get over the fact I got raped”.
-And don’t get me started on the goblins, which are evil for evil’s sake and as one-dimensional as it gets. Yes, you get to hate them because of what they are doing, but A) this does not make them well-written, and B) they are not even evil if they are simply trying not to go extinct and rape is their only way of procreation.
And let’s not forget the amazing world building regarding these clearly dark and gritty characters in this totally not sitcom series.
-The archbishop, despite preaching about morality and how bad is rape, is dressed like a whore that makes men to want to molest women. Now that’s what I call well thought out world building.
-People sit on the floor when they talk to kings and popes, but when they are in a tavern, they sit on chairs. Well thought out world building indeed.
-We get to learn so many things about the origin of the goblins. And by origin, I mean theorycrafting about them for 5 minutes, since nobody knows from where they came from. This is how create an amazing setting. With speculation, so the audience can imagine anything they like about what is going on. Great job Goblin Slayer, that’s how you do it.
Also, as much as the show pretends to have tactics and teamwork instead of being an overpowered one-man army, in reality it just has the protagonist reading the script so he will know what will happen next. It’s usually him using spells or a macguffin that can have any effect the plot demands at the moment, which allow him to instantly win any battle in the laziest way imaginable, and makes him seem undefeatable and cool. And it’s even funnier when they say he is not overpowered because he only knows how to fight goblins, and yet he possesses a million skills that have nothing to do with goblins. At the same time, every other far stronger and more experienced adventurer doesn’t even know how to tie his own shoelaces. How is it possible for a guy who only fights the same type of monster his whole life, knows about gases and traps and war formations better than elite adventurers? In the last episode you are left to believe they would be unable to stop the horde without his advices, but whatever he did was basic stuff that can work against ANY enemy. How come a guy who only knows about goblins knows more about battle tactics than a hundred others who fight monsters of all kinds?
Sometimes they try to make it seem like there is a probability he will die, but you are only given that impression because he doesn’t tell his own teammates about the broken power or battle plan he has in store until the very last moment. Because if he did, there would never be a shadow of a doubt regarding the outcome.
Also, the plot armor this guy has is unbelievable. Everyone else dies with a few hits and stays dead. He on the other hand is the only one who gets resurrected by sleeping with virgins. I am not joking, not only he is resurrected, he also beds virgins while he is a corpse. Also, this has nothing to do with how resurrection or even healing works in Dungeons and Dragons, it was just another excuse for fan service and yet they have the nerve to call it mature dark fantasy based on Dungeons and Dragons.
If you want to jerk off to semi-decent bestiality, there are actual hentai for that. If on the other hand you are looking for a good anime, you are looking at the wrong place. The only thing people will remember about this show are the rapes and the pitifully misguiding attempts to call it faithful to the Dungeons and Dragons rules.
I absolutely loved this anime! I started watching the first episode and saw some characters and said "Ok, I like them, this will be good. Their going to kill some goblins...ok.". Then BAM!! all are dead but one, then it was like "Ooook.... nevermind on those characters..", and it wasnt even to the half point yet! So the it started rough, and gory and violent.....loved it.
Story, I really didnt expect much for the story, because the title said it all, and I was right, but at the end is a potential second season and so I would like to see what is expanded on. Overall plot was good all the way to the end and was happy with the whole thing.
Animation was fantastic, loved the detail and how everything swayed and moved with ease and fluidity. Detail was great and difference between dark and light tones were just as well done.
Sound throughout the season was great, everything was crisp and understandable. Loved the opening theme.
Usually I would say that a majority of the characters need some more background expansion, but in this one I was thinking that this was all the main characters story. So I will put the secondary characters background to the side, because all this season was definitely about the Goblin Slayer. If the second season comes out I would then like to see it expanded on with the other characters.
Overall I would watch this one again and may have to if and when the second season comes out. Here's hoping!