Goblin Slayer: First Impressions – The Hypocrisy of the Controversy

Goblin Slayer (ゴブリンスレイヤー) is a seinen, fantasy, action-adventure anime adaptation of the original light novel series written by Kumo Kagyu that first aired during the Fall 2018 simulcast season. It was produced by White Fox with twelve total episodes.  One of the reasons that I held off on watching the series until now was because it was on fire for nearly the entire season. With the controversial pot getting stirred and all of the people getting ruffled, I didn’t want to get involved. So, I waited until things cooled down somewhat and I’m happy because it will also allow me to watch through it without much influence or pressures from other people. Another reason to wait was the ability to binge it, or at the very least watch an episode a day with very little time to wait in-between.

Goblin Slayer begins with a fifteen-year-old girl who is simply called Priestess. She’s a rookie adventure, indicated by her porcelain dog tag, who joins up with other rookies in order to gain experience and work up towards becoming a talented and reliable warrior of sorts. For their first hunt, they decide to go fight Goblins who are considered to be very vicious and difficult creatures to defeat. Unperturbed by the worries and warnings of the person who tasks them with the quest, the motley crew excitedly heads off. However, very shortly upon engaging with the Goblins, their naivete and inexperience works severely to their disadvantage.

Please Note: These first impressions will discuss some graphic content that can be construed as episode one spoilers and triggers for people sensitive to topics of rape.

Goblin Slayer Promo Title


There was a lot of controversy that surrounded the introductory episode. It is visceral and difficult to stomach at times, but the main ignition for these flames was caused by a rape scene that occurs halfway through the pilot. As a person who has their own set of triggers that they usually don’t like to engage with, I will admit that rape is one of those. Normally, I would turn far the fuck away from a show like this, but I love fantasy and I didn’t want to be swayed by popular opinion. I’ve also learned that the more I interact with things that make me uncomfortable or that are psychologically triggering, the stronger that I become against allowing those things to affect me. This is very personal and will not be the case for everyone. I respect that. I also respect that, while the episode is not for every type of anime watcher, it was still a phenomenal first episode, specifically for a fantasy series.

I honestly don’t understand the hatred that this series gets (granted I’ve only seen 24 minutes of it) where rape is concerned. When we read fantasy serials such as A Song of Ice and Fire or The Wheel of Time, there tends to be sequences of rape making a consistent appearance throughout. Very few readers who aren’t female will discuss how these depictions are harmful or toxic. Most other people will argue that it’s a representation of the time periods that inspire those narratives (such as The Dark Ages) and how they play a key role in distinguishing the identities/personalities, or morals/beliefs of the people who participate in such heinous activities (I have lost count as to how many times I have heard arguments in defence of rape in A Song of Ice and Fire; books not TV show). So, then why is it so vehemently frowned upon and construed as highly offensive material when it is given to us in an entirely different medium (books versus anime/cinema)? There’s a level of hypocrisy here I just don’t understand.

Everything that happens in episode one of Goblin Slayer sets the bar in illustrating to the audience the level of malevolence that these vile creatures inspire. They are evil, ferocious, and brutally savage and there is a reason that inexperienced warriors should avoid them at all cost. It plays a key point in telling the story of Goblin Slayer. The same thing can be said about Ramsey Snow and the ways that he torments and tortures some of the characters from A Song of Ice and Fire. It establishes him as a sadistic person with no moral compass whatsoever. I think when stories outside of the bookish medium gain the courage to depict something of this calibre within their narratives, especially to set the tone or to distinguish a particular custom amongst a group of people, it makes it feel more authentic and engaging. Most things that I watch and adore the shit out of are the ones that can get under my skin when I least expect them to. That discomfort and that inability to stomach what’s happening makes me question why? And what is the purpose of it?

Now, with all of that being said, Goblin Slayer is not for every single person out there, as aforementioned. Some people will welcome this far more mature content with open arms and others will want nothing to do with it, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those. I just feel that name-calling and insulting people for liking something that you don’t, particularly when it’s dark and a bit messed-up, is utterly unnecessary. Everyone has an imagination unique to them and that doesn’t mean that the person is inherently a rapist or an advocate of violence. Nevertheless, this is merely my two cents on the whole controversy crap. *shrugs*

As a fantasy pilot episode, Goblin Slayer was extraordinary to me. It’s wonderfully atmospheric, capturing the essence of fear in the face of frighteningly traumatic encounters; uses subtlety and symbolism to formulate scenes and interactions that are mildly contemplative; had great animation, notably during low-light settings;  utilises music in a way that complements the environments and ambiance rather than simply using it fill some empty space; and wasn’t afraid to set the standard of how brutal this realm can be, which plays into why it needs adventurers to begin with.

After I finished watching my 24-minute intro, my first impressions strongly pertained to a combination of a Final Fantasy or D&D game, more so when the adventurers were chatting about their skills and abilities and the daily limitations on using them, and soldiers who are eager to join the war in order to fulfil their patriotic duty, only to learn the dreadful reality behind these romanticised notions that drove them to sign up in the first place.  It’s a strange coupling, but one that worked really well for my tastes.

Suffice to say, I was blown away by Goblin Slayer’s first episode and I definitely plan on watching through the whole series. I haven’t quite decided if I shall be doing episodic musings for the series or not, so if that is something you’d be interested in reading, please let me know in the comments. Based off what I have seen thus far, if you have not picked up Goblin Slayer, but want a decent fantasy anime series to watch (and aren’t affected by the triggers mentioned), I think you should try the pilot at the very least.

You can watch Goblin Slayer on CrunchyRoll, or Funimation if you’d like to see it dubbed.

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17 thoughts on “Goblin Slayer: First Impressions – The Hypocrisy of the Controversy

  1. I really like how the story begins. There are some moments throughout that are less interesting and less well done, but the initial set up of the dangers faced by unprepared adventurers is something it does incredibly well. Though the subject matter won’t be for everyone, it is a fairly gripping first episode.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I get what you are talking about when it comes to hypocrisy. As somebody who doesn’t think that something like this necessarily is a bad thing, I do believe it can be done poorly. I found the scene itself to be no big deal, I’ve seen a lot worse, BUT, and this is the important bit, the scene is really bad. It doesn’t really add to anything going on and is also framed in a way that suggests this should be somewhat stimulating to the viewer.

    Maybe this is setting town then? Well, without spoiling too much, it actively works against what later episodes go for. This episode is pure shock value that ultimately detracts from the series on the whole. If the rest were aligned with this, I could at least get it, but…

    Anyway, I’ve written about this on my site already. Was not a fan of this show at all. Season two is on its way though so I guess I better buckle up XD I truly am a masochist when it comes to watching stuff lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I totally understand what you’re saying. I will say this much, the thing that I *liked* (as in noticed when compared to others, not that I got excited by the rape) was that the emotions and reactions were far more genuine than other anime (even outside of anime, specifically books) rape scenes I’ve seen. The women are traumatised and it’s a powerful scene of agony and violence. These things aren’t portrayed so much in anime. So, for me, when compared to other similar scenes that I’ve seen/read about, it was far better. I honestly never felt it that it was supposed to be anything other than shocking and very discomforting; not really stimulating outside of those things.

      I think a little shock value can be healthy in fantasy/sci-fi narratives. It’s when the show exists solely for those values that it begins to lose a lot in terms of quality and sincere watching merits (for me).

      Liked by 1 person

      • It definitely had the correct emotions and reactions on display, solid agree there. When it comes to titillation (which I would like to be clear, I wasn’t), certain camera angels and convenient censorship is the problem. I’d have to rewatch the scene to give you solid examples though.

        Sure, shock value can do wonders, I just think it was massively mishandled here when the rest of the show doesn’t support the need for this on the whole. Some part of the issue is the show doesn’t justify a lot of things or explain a lot of stuff, which impacts this. Anyway, I’m a bit tired so I don’t know if I’m making a ton of sense. I know I explained all this stuff better in my article if you really want to dig into my thoughts. Likely a few spoilers, so hold off if that matters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d love to read your review after I’m done watching the series. I’ll look it up and bookmark it. 🙂 I feel like the lack of support or information tends to happen when a light novel is adapted into an anime, although I haven’t read these novels so I can’t say much on this specific comparison. But it is something I’ve seen with other shows. I remember Karandi & Arthifis’ discussion chatting about this a little bit. Either way, I understand what you’re saying about it better and I’m actually inclined to agree. If that really is the case here then it’ll make slightly sad for sure because I’ve been dying for a newer excellent fantasy anime for ages.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds good. I just want to let you know that if you decide to pick up the source go LN’s and NOT the manga. The manga is borderline porn and makes some… interesting choices. The LN’s are pretty decent for what my friend has read and he picked those up after hating the anime.

        All this said, I do think you will likely enjoy the show though. It certainly hits the fantasy mark, but just not in the way you probably think.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Goblin Slayer really has a strong beginning! 🙂

    When it comes to why people got so mad… Well, I have some theories.

    First, we are in 2019, where everyone seems to be offended by everything. The same happened with the false rape accusation in The Shield Hero.

    Second, the first episode did not have a disclaimer of how violent the show was. For people who, as you said, get triggered to this, they wouldn’t know what it was coming. To be honest, I understand that. If you read MAL synopsis or if you see the cover image chosen for this Anime it’s not really rape and dark fantasy that comes to mind. In fact, it seems that it’s more of a light fantasy due to the cute character design of the priestess for example.

    Last, but not the least, is crying for attention. As we know, people in social media are getting stupider each day. They will just type anything they are thinking without thinking it twice. This means that being hatred/angry the ones that are more difficult to control those are the ones people will be typing right away. And, of course, the more controversial you can get, the more popular they think they will get… Something that completely boggles my mind… But that’s probably because fame and popularity was never something I wanted for my life! In fact, when I was deciding if I wanted to be an actor or not, one of the major negatives was that, to be able to have money to buy food as an actor I would have to be somewhat famous and recognizable on the streets, something I don’t want… At all…

    Nevertheless, great post! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh I agree with all of this! When I watched it, it did say that the show had violent content, but I feel when it comes to things like rape, there should a bit more specific label, just because of how significant it can be for some people. But yes, everything else you said is on point. I honestly didn’t even realise it was such a violent show, because you mentioned, it looks like a normal fantasy that is very unsuspecting. It wasn’t until it started getting so much attention that I realised the nature of the series. It kind of sneak attacks people who nothing about it.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post! 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good review, aside form the controversy this sounds like a good start to a high fantasy D&D style anime. As for the scene with out seeing it and only going by what you have to say, it does seem like they tried hard to not have this be something that fetishes rape and shows the dangers of going unprepared into the unknown. Hopefully the shows stays good and I look forward to hearing your further impressions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Goblin Slayer Episodes 2 + 3: The Naked Stretch & Finding Camaraderie | BiblioNyan

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