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.
Through the first nine episodes, 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 higher quality. It is clear that WHITE FOX has been given a fair amount of money 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.
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.
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 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 a variety of 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 fun watching them embark on their quests and adventures together.
I have been looking forward to watching the next episode of Goblin Slayer when they have become available for me to watch here. WHITE FOX seems to be taking their time with the development of the characters, which is fine because the story's pacing, although slower, is steady and perfect pacing for this anime. They are doing an excellent job building hype to something big and climactic, which is both nerve racking and 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 this point!
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.
When I started watching the Goblin slayer I had no idea what is it to going to be about. So what is wrong with the series? The first obvious problem with the series is discrepancy between the style of the world, side characters and dark fantasy that the anime should supposedly be. This is precisely the reason why many people were surprised by the first episode. The overall style is not that different from Sword Art Online or other more self-indulged non-dark fantasy, with exception of the main protagonist, who with his Dark Souls design stands out like sore thumb. There is nothing wrong with making the fights harder i.e. more realistic for example that character can bleed out, die of poisoning, using mail armor for protection, etc. Also strict limit on magic by having only handful of casts levels plain field too. It’s something that one could expect from a dark fantasy. The concept of Goblins procreating solely by rape is rather bizarre and is self-serving justification for unnecessary graphical rape scenes i.e. pornography. It is also pretty straightforward way to make viewer hate Goblins. One other thing that doesn’t seem right is rather careless attitude of adventurers in this world. Only the Goblin Slayer is real enough to proceed carefully and to use any means necessary to complete the task at hand. Moreover for a damage the Goblins can apparently do, the world is overall disregarding the threat of goblin battalions murdering people. Given how Goblins can be deadly it is surprising that groups of adventurers can even fight more powerful monsters without many of them dying in the process.
So far there is nothing of much story to speak about. Obviously Goblin Slayer is fueled by revenge and to make his behavior more palatable he is surrounded by more social characters, who care about his well-being. It’s just like watching some D&D video game. Goblin Slayer takes quest, goes with his party to kill goblins, kills goblins, kills boss monster and saves the day rinse and repeat.
Sound is good, music is ok, OP and ED I couldn’t care less about that.
I would say the Goblin Slayer is middle of the road anime. It has decent animation and music, action is ok, story is more of excuse for questing, characters are average anime level. I would expect more rich story and characters from this kind of series. From entertainment point of view the Goblin Slayer anime is "so-so".
(based on the first six episodes)