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.
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.