If you are in any way acquainted with anime then this past month you’ve likely heard of the new series Goblin Slayer! With the fourth episode having just passed, I figured that this makes for the best time to cover it. This is not just because of how much is out there but because it’s Halloween.
So do I want to expound upon the so-called controversy with this? Not necessarily. That ship has come and sailed. Do I have some bizarre second theory about why so many hate Goblin Slayer? Well… it could be that SJWs are butthurt because Goblins are NPCs….. But no, I’m not gonna dedicate an article to such a easy joke. No I’m actually going to examine the series in full!
So how am I going to tackle reviewing this series? Considering the setting I’m going to contrast it against the Isekai-themed series we’ve been used to along with the classic Dungeons & Dragons fare it’s based on. Second, I’m going to cover how this deals with Men’s Issues. Finally, I’m going to cover how it deals with social issues. Also, since this is a 12 episode series that means if we are covering the first third of the series, we are going through a full arc. Namely, the character introduction arc. Why am I certain of this? Because it’s how I would structure a story in such limitations, and from what I’ve seen of the source material this is based on, that’s exactly what this bit is, the part that introduces us to the main cast. Let’s Hammer This In!
In our first episode we start through the first half mainly being introduced to the female protagonist – Priestess. This is brilliantly put together with a minor flash forward to show the trauma she is about to experience to set the mood, though not many caught that with the first viewing. This part of the arc also shows quite clearly that she is supposed to be the moral center by her class, and even is an admission of how women usually end up taking the motivational center of any group. Even our titular Goblin Slayer, who is introduced as the badass he is, defers to her advice when it comes to social cues and interactions. In this way he is the ‘white knight,’ or in this case silver due to his rank against her rank of porcelain. It provides another image of her perceived purity and piety, combined with the fact that she is a Priestess of the Earth Mother. There isn’t much else to go in on here as, this episode is dedicated to setting the tone, showing the horrors even low level goblins can perform, and the expertise of our hero the Goblin Slayer.
As you may notice we aren’t given any specific names for anyone in this series. Only titles and classes, you’d think this would make our characters bland and one dimensional, but in actuality it frees us up a great deal. Take the three other adventurers of the first episode – our Fighter, Sorceress, and Warrior. While it’s horrifying how brutally and viciously they were killed and/or raped you aren’t as invested in feeling for them as individuals. This is because they were throw-aways – disposable – just like any man sent out to fight another tribe for the maidens. Yes, even the two women in this party were typed male in the eyes of the Adventurer’s Guild in which they were enrolled. In the end of this story it’s mentioned that its not an uncommon occurrence for a young group of adventurers to die ignoble deaths at the hands of monsters and demons. This is refreshing because it shows that not even the holy vagine is exempt from defiling in this world. Granted, feminists hate it with a passion.
So what about episode 2? We get a complete heel-turn. For the first half of the episode we see through the eyes of our hero’s childhood friend and closest thing he has left to a family, henceforth known as Cow Girl. No, not just because she has huge tits but because she runs a farm. So she is nicknamed after her job just like everyone else in this show. This is where we get our backstory for our lead. We don’t see his face because it never gets shown in the flashback and he never takes off his armor… NEVER TAKES OFF HIS ARMOR! He even eats and sleeps with it on because he is that damned vigilant and badass. Here we see that not only did he witness his entire village being slaughtered by goblins but the fuckers raped his beloved big sister right on top of him then killed her after they were done violating her, drenching him in her blood. Needless to say,’ he has all but lost himself to his new purpose. He is gonna genocide them. Not just kill goblins – GENOCIDE THE ENTIRE RACE OF THEM!
We learn he had been doing this so long that he has developed hundreds of tactics for dealing with them dependent purely on their fortifications. He also consistently and vigilantly checks fencing and areas of the village he still lives in to ensure that it stays protected. It’s here we find that the uncle of the Cow Girl, who saved her by going shopping in the neighboring town, thinks the Goblin Slayer mad with grief and vengeance. Possessed even. However, Cow Girl realizes he does things the way he does to ultimately protect others and make sure goblins are brought under control. This is even stated by him admitting he’d be happy to drive himself out of business… so much so that he claims that he is a goblin to goblins – the thing they fear the most. The Priestess also makes her return, and essentially decides to become his lasting companion, having been granted a new “miracle” of Protection by the Earth Mother. This, she uses to seal a horde of goblins within a burning fort. Goblin Slayer is pleased by this ensurance of goblin immolation.
We also learn that much like John Shaft, the Goblin Slayer is a complicated man and the only ones who understand him are his women! He’s a bad mother fucker.
With this, we end up getting introduced to our remaining cast leading into the third episode. We’re greeted with a song from a bard describing the quests of our hero in similar order to what I stated. We hear that a princess offered herself to the adventurer, but he declined her, caring only about his calling in life, robbing goblins of theirs! So our new adventurers are all Silver ranks, a High Elf Ranger, the Lizardman Priest and a Dwarven Shaman. They mention how the capital is about to be attacked by a horde of demons and request his services to start clearing out what seems to be a scouting party of goblins. The Elf calls him Orcbolg, the Dwarf calls him Beard-Cutter, and the Lizardman uses Japanese to call him Goblinslayer in one word, all basically meaning the same thing.
The rest of this third episode is our relationship and world building, such as introducing the other races to cheese, sharing Fire Wine from the dwarves, some special rations from the Elves, basically showing cultures in this surprisingly diverse world. This shows genuine cultural exchange in the desire for lasting peace. This is shockingly well done in a short amount of time in midst of an actual conversation, revealing that Elves don’t really age much with our High Elf being 2000 years old to our dwarf being closer to 100, and revealing that Lizardmen don’t really live long at all, hoping to through bravery or piety be made into much more long-living dragons. It’s hinted that on this quest they’ve embarked on, they may be going against a Goblin Lord, the equivalent of a Platinum ranked adventurer.
So what about this ranking system? This is an ingenious way of foregoing a system shown in a series from the previous season that I feel took you out of the series: How Not To Summon a Demon Lord! In that show they went by a full MMORPG level system based upon an as of yet unreleased game called Cross Reverie. I in fact believe that series to be an attempt to keep interest in the fledgling game series while they had trouble producing it. But there is talk about how the main character of that series, known as Diablo, is level 150 while most of the people in the world that he got sent to are the equivalent of a low level server. I mention this because this does take more after a tabletop game as depicted, by explaining the gods of light and dark in this world using dice rolls to determine everything, talking about, in essence, Game Masters.
Now in the world of Goblin Slayer, you have to sign up at the Adventurer’s Guild and this is exactly like filling out a character sheet in a tabletop system. In fact, they show the sheet in the show, and while using their alphabet, it’s obviously mapped out like a character sheet. Now instead of dealing with the level system they use a more fluid rank system. Your rank based around your experience. The way I’m interpreting this is while a Porcelain (lowest rank) warrior would be screwed against a Sapphire (7th rank) beast a handful of Silvers (Rank 3) could hold their own against a Platinum equivalent without too much hassle. This leaves things to a more minimal amount of calculation. It’s a misnomer that having a lot of stat numbers and factors leads to an enjoyable game. This is fine in a video game where the computer keeps track of all these enormous numbers. But in a tabletop system? You are better off keeping things simple in order to allow for more concentration being put on making an engaging and intriguing story.
Now a hypothesis onto why most of these characters are so named; in many tabletop systems I’ve dealt with it’s not uncommon to make characters limited to a specific campaign. Create your character for your adventure at hand and don’t get too attached. Are there long-running campaigns with long, highly built up characters with several abilities? Sure there are! However it’s not unreasonable to have binders full of character sheets from different adventures and still be building for short scenarios. Some even make the same character over and over again with different stats or in different systems. This feeling is apparent in Goblin Slayer as a series. I’ve heard many consider it a subpar show based purely on its first episode. This is why I feel a three episode test is better, because you don’t have the complete feel from just one episode. A good first episode is supposed to catch your attention, a second sets your overall mood, and the third endears you to the cast as a whole. In this, Goblin Slayer has done its job very well, in my opinion.
Now like I said before I’m going to do the entire first arc of the series since episode 4 just dropped. Starting off from last time, we are entering the ruins occupied by the goblin horde the party from last time recruited Goblin Slayer to clear. To simplify matters, I’m going to be referring to our party by the last part of their titles: Slayer, Priestess, Ranger, Priest, and Shaman. Ranger has just shot two arrows to vanquish two guard goblins and a wolf they happened to tame a heavily wooded area that is approximately the length of a football field away. They’re hoping to enter and raid the place before any of the horde realizes what’s going on. Then as we enter the lair, we are greeted with some of the abilities of some of our new party; the Ranger’s ability to spot traps and the Shaman’s ability to determine floorwear to determine movement patterns within a building. From that, we learn that by Slayer’s speculation there is no goblin shaman in this place like there was in the first episode. However by the use of traps, it’s shown they do have a leader!
This turns out to be the same place as within the seventh chapter of the manga version to reveal a female elven captive, still alive hung in a wasteheap with a single goblin guarding her and likely taking advantage of her. I’m reviewing the anime so why mention the manga now? Because I want to highlight a factor that most don’t realize about anime adaptations of manga – liberties are always taken. For example there are some minor details that the anime has left out, and how chapters are divvied up into episodes can vary drastically. This is usually troublesome with ongoing manga, it’s why there are so much of shows like Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and One Piece with exorbitant amounts of filler. However shows that are intentionally short like Goblin Slayer will never have this problem and what;s cut can actually increase both mystery and suspense.
Now to finish off the episode here. After freeing the female elf and having the Lizard Priest summon a draconic skeleton known as a Dragontooth Warrior to take her to safety, they delve into the main gallery of the ruins to find up towards 50 sleeping goblins. To prevent a massive fight, Goblin Slayer instructs the Dwarf Shaman to cast an alcohol based spell called “Stupor” to keep them all asleep, Priestess pairs this with another new miracle of “Silence” That way if any wake they can’t alert the rest. From here it’s killing sleeping and incapacitated goblins, down to the last one, up until the leader is awakened – an Ogre! Surprisingly enough, where most anime would cut off for a cliffhanger, at this point Goblin Slayer finishes this arc by the defeat of this massive beast, something that I highly suggest watching, as it is an impressive sight.
It’s time I gave my final verdicts. In many ways this anime shows some of the plights men suffer. Even looking ahead in the manga you can see how it displays gynocentrism by him being raised to ‘never make girls cry.’ Also his unremarkableness and faceless status reinforce the fact that despite being such a heroic being he doesn’t get considered a hero even by himself. He is disposable, a ‘pawn of the gods.’ In this we also see his strength, his ‘ace in the hole.’ Not only does he have a didactic memory but he has unshakable will. Never again will he let anyone but himself decide the fate he endures. He is the ultimate image of the working man. This is why many of us might find his character endearing, because we can easily see what we want to be in him. But while he may have many positive masculine merits, we do have to remember that he is a legit case of PTSD from having survived a goblin raid, combined with his years of nigh genocidal zeal at killing a dumb but still sentient race of monsters.
In short, it’s not the best show and there are some who have done what it has done earlier and better, but it’s undeniable that the series has a certain charm. Whether this can be attributed to the blend of elements it uses or the cultural effect it has had in the Western mainstream anime communities of Crunchyroll and Funimation is yet to be seen. I guess it will have to wait to see who can’t stop themselves from coming back to the show despite their initial disdain. It has its potential even if part of it is painted in some realities of gynocentrism. Next week we will start November by seeing who I might set off next. Until then Blessed Samhain and Please Remember to Game Freely!
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