Anime Review: Goblin Slayer Season 1

By Drew Hurley 29.12.2019 1

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Goblin Slayer Season One (UK Rating: 18)


Like many series these days, Goblin Slayer is a light novel adaptation, however, like a few, it is dipping into a genre that doesn't get enough love; the Seinen Dark Fantasy. Hoping to follow in the footsteps of series like Berserk and Claymore. When it first aired, it managed to stir up a huge amount of controversy with its initial episode. A controversy so substantial that some have written the show off entirely from a single scene. Branding the series unnecessarily edgy, offensive, or exploitative. Is that criticism valid? Cubed3 finds out. This first season comes courtesy of Manga Entertainment and is available from November 4th.
 
With the oceans of Isekai fantasy series out there, when the first episode begins it's easy to see this as yet another one. It certainly feels that way - just the latest generic fantasy series. It opens with the introduction of one of the main characters of the tale, not the eponymous Goblin Slayer, Priestess. Not 'A' Priestess, but "Priestess." The series does strange things with names and it's not just the adaptation. The source material has her named 'Onna Shinkan' or 'Woman Priest.' Goblin Slayer is just Goblin Slayer, later characters are introduced as 'Guild Girl,' 'High Elf Archer,' and 'Sword Maiden.' It's just odd - characters must have names, are these their own adventurer names? If so who picks them? And they make no sense really, what about if a huge group of adventurers gather up to take on a quest and there are three Warriors? "Hey, Warrior! No, not you, the other one. No, the big one, no… nevermind!"  ... anyway. Moving on.
 
This Priestess is heading to the local guild representatives to register as an adventurer and take on her first quest. A brief exposition dump explains the system of the world. Adventurers join as Porcelain rank, and can then work their way through Obsidian rank, through various gemstone ranks, up to Bronze, Silver, Gold, then finally Platinum. As an entry-level Porcelain adventurer, she teams up with some other newbies to take on her first quest.
 
Those other adventurers don't listen to the warnings of the Guild Girl though, who mentions this quest requires a more substantial rank accompanying them at the least. These brash and confident young kids soon head off on a quest far above their ability. This group is made up of a Warrior, a Mage, a Fighter, and now a healer in this Priestess. Head into a cave, kill some Goblins, rescue some captives. Seems simple. The reality isn't, as they're ambushed in a cave and slaughtered - and worse. The Warrior is butchered, the Mage gutted and slowly begins to bleed out. The Fighter girl is the reason for the controversy. She's raped by the Goblins, or as the series repeatedly puts it "Used as their plaything." The scene is shot poorly, feeling exploitative and attempting to garner shock value. The internet's reaction has shown it's succeeded in that.
 
The Priestess survives and tries dragging the Mage out of the tunnel, with little success. As she's about to be run down, her saviour appears, the titular Goblin Slayer. A Silver rank Adventurer with a singular obsession, as his name implies. He helps by butchering the Goblins in pretty grizzly ways, and drags the Fighter to freedom. Oh, and while he's down there, he slaughters some Goblin children too. Explaining that Goblins have no females in this world, they rape human women to reproduce, and the babies are left alive on to continue this cycle of nightmares. It's a decent way to introduce these evil creatures as truly terrifying threats.
 
Having such a scene in the very first episode, especially considering how poorly directed and needlessly offensive it is, was very foolish. Garnering so much negative attention that the remainder of the series doesn't get fairly considered by those unfamiliar with these sorts of dark fantasy. What doesn't help is the art direction feels so generic and light, so that the sexual violence feels so out of place. This sort of element can and has been used in stories and done well, showing it as one of the worst things in the world, to use it so nonchalantly is simply weak and appalling. Establishing the Goblins as unable to breed and as rapists could still be part of the tale. It didn't need to be showcased to the audience. Worst of all, it showcases it in something of a sexualised way. Exploitative. Awful.

 
Taking... that scene out of the discussion - and… the other scenes like it later in the show, of which there a handful. There's more here than shock value and sexual violence. At its heart, this is a dark fantasy series based on tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons. After the nightmare of the cave, the Priestess befriends the Goblin Slayer and begins to join him on his quests to slay Goblins. Only Goblins. While the guild is filled with quests of all descriptions, he only takes on quests that involve Goblins, something well below his rank. The other adventurers mock him for it, as he returns day after day to the guildhall, asking the Guild Girl that hands out quests "Are there any quests regarding… Goblins?!" He's a caricature, fitting with the fact that he has no name, this faceless D&D character is simply obsessed with slaughtering an entire race.
 
This duo is quickly joined by a trio of other adventurers who arrive in town in search of Goblin Slayer. A Dwarf Shaman, Lizardman, and an Elven Archer. This group forms a party to head off on the first of many quests, though only when Goblins are involved can they drag the Goblin Slayer along! These quests are the heart of the series and great. Much like how Log Horizon managed to capture the heart and soul of MMOs, this captures the feeling of D&D with friends. Some crazy quests that get out of hand, some nice little touches, and details that will only be spotted by the knowledgeable and experienced.
 
The Lizardman can summon Dragontooth warriors, the Dwarf and Elf bicker, and there's a Beholder as well, for god sakes. This is made for D&D fans and they'll love it. Best of all, the series manages to juggle light-hearted comedy and some fun with the darker nature of it all. It even manages to do the violence and carnage well, delivering some shlocky-but-awesome scenes. There's a significant lack of Seinen these days, and it's good to see the ultra-violence return. The Goblin Slayer is merciless in his slaughter, and the Goblins are regularly butchered in a truly graphic manner.
 
Outside of the random quests that the party undertakes, there are some ongoing story threads playing out. The Goblin Slayer himself has his history revealed. He lives on a simple farm where he's constantly checking for signs of Goblins. That farm owned by his childhood friend - who seems to have no issue chatting to him while half-naked - and her father. His home is gone and his history is a tragic one that led to his obsession. The cause of what set the Slayer on his fanatical path are whispered or glimpsed throughout the season, with a full explanation coming near its conclusion. Also glimpsed in short scenes throughout the season is another nameless character. The 'Hero;' a Platinum level adventurer who is taking on the Demon Lord. By series end, she returns to the town of the Goblin Slayer, and it seems their paths are likely to converge. Definitely a decent hook for Season 2.
 
This adaptation comes from White Fox, and while they're certainly not one of the most well known or prolific anime studios, they've put out some quality titles of particular note. Responsible for Steins;Gate and Re:Zero along with the recently airing The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious. The character designs and most of the series just look run-of-the-mill to be frank, but in the combat and the violence the quality spikes. Like an arrow through the brain. The only major issue with the presentation is that for some reason there's a random mix of CG with the hand-drawn. This is most noticeable in the armour of characters, and the Goblin Slayer in particular just looks off regularly. The usual type of janky CGI animation that regularly haunt modern anime.
 
This collection includes the original Japanese dub and the newly produced English one. On the bonus feature front, there's a 20-minute featurette entitled Tabletop Talk that gathers two of the voice artists with some random members… the production assistant and the copywriter. It's another strange choice, like the director or more voices weren't interested in attending. There's also a single episode commentary with some of the English team and the omnipresent clean opening/closing.
 
7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
Every conversation about Goblin Slayer is going to be based around 'that' scene. The creators clearly wanted to cement themselves as Seinen alongside the greats like Berserk, and tried shock value to get it. Unfortunately, they went about it completely the wrong way, and have alienated a huge amount of their potential audience. Not to mention garnering comments like "The worst series of all time." The creators blew their leg off than shot themselves in the foot. It's frustrating. There's a decent show here when that scene is discounted. As such, ignoring that scene completely and instead looking at the rest of the show without that taken into account. Without it, Goblin Slayer is a pretty average Seinen, with decent world-building and a ton of Tabletop fanservice and Easter Eggs to delight fans of the hobby. The battle scenes are made up of brilliant bloodbaths and celebrations of carnage like something from the '90s - something rarely seen anymore. Its audience may be niche, but they're desperate for a series like this.

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I thought this anime was pretty sick. The cgi armor is indeed weird.  I liked the fact that the show is more about out-smarting the enemy, you dont see that much.  Not sure how rediculous it gets, but the first half of the series I saw was interesting.  They dub this yet?

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