By Christopher Kinsey
Fantasy tropes, ah, fantasy tropes. Where would we be without you? Decades upon decades have been spent taking the torch lit by Tolkien and borne by the basement dwelling Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts to harvest some pretty great entertainment. And one of the most famous styles of that entertainment is the computer based role playing game. Using magic and blade to take out pitiful underlings before you reach an epic conclusion has been a mainstay for a long time, and it’s led to quite a lot of anime that look and feel like Goblin Slayer. But you learn from the very get go that this isn’t your typical adventure anime with a JRPG bend to it.
This series is what you get when someone decides to make the monsters in a fantasy world monstrous. It takes what we know about these kinds of series and immediately makes you uncomfortable, realizing how such a society and world based on dungeon based adventuring would even work. We are introduced to a newly minted adventurer, a Priestess by trade, who meets with some other newcomers with a low level quest of killing some goblins and rescuing some girls abducted from a nearby village. It’s the sort of thing that crops up in any adventure game as your initial quest, some simple enemies and a worthy goal. And the anime plays right along, showing our newly minted adventurers confident in a successful crusade, sharing life goals and bragging about their prowess and credentials.
Smile and optimism, check
But once the group gets to the cave they make a lot of little mistakes that lead up to the big reveal: no monster in this world is to be taken lightly, especially the goblins. The party is killed or taken as breeding fodder by the goblins, except the Priestess who is saved by the stoic Goblin Slayer. A man who has a coveted Silver Rank and is a one man army when it comes to wiping out goblins.
Anyone have a straw? Thirsty work slaying goblins.
I temper this review now by saying I’ve been a fan of this series for a long time and hoped it would get an anime, but I didn’t give it that much hope with the subject matter. The brutal opening that focuses on a goblin’s methods and habits is a lot for a casual viewer to take. But anyone who’s seen a few anime over time has been exposed to this kind of shocking display of villainous power in the past. My favorite anime movie of all time is still Ninja Scroll and in the first twelve minutes of that film brutal violence and rape shows you this is not an easy world to exist in. Having such up front expectations is vital to a story and will tell you within pretty much one episode if this is something you can handle. If you can watch the likes of Berzerk, Attack On Titan or any anime that delves into traumatic experiences in a frank and revealing manner, this is an anime to keep watching and I only say this because I know where this story leads to. After we establish the very real threat of goblins, as we learn how underestimating your task is your own doom, then we learn that there is hope through knowledge and skill, and we can get down to the REAL story of Goblin Slayer. It’s a story on how to grow as a person, but it takes a brutal journey to traverse that path.
Yeah, it be like that sometimes
So let’s talk about the animation itself. White Fox Studio has this crisp style that has made them a kind of king of light novel and game adaptations. They have Re:Zero and Girls Last Tour under their belt and even series I wasn’t fond of like The Devil is a Part Timer are quality when it comes to the animation department. Voice acting isn’t a slouch here either. With only one episode out so far it’s hard to nail everything down, since all of the main cast hasn’t been introduced yet, but the direction it takes is spot on much like Re:Zero did. Priestess is certainly showing her doubt and fear convincingly while Goblin Slayer has that air of a creepy mystery that he starts out with. I can only hope everyone else sounds like I “heard” them as I read the manga and novels. A rare treat when it comes out the way you want it to.
If there was one complaint, it’d be a few I take with the series as a whole. The naming conventions. Referring to everyone as their profession feels like sloppy writing, like it was a place holder that kind of just got carried over, similar to Project A-Ko. There is also the matter of threat scaling, which isn’t an issue yet but it could get to be. Goblins are known to be such a threat, but somehow they are still treated as something for low level fodder to just have a go at. If this guild is any sort of competent at the ranking, training and classifications of adventurers versus threats one would think they would better serve the newcomers with some tactics and training. But then again, what if there’s something within the guild or society itself that doesn’t mind weeding out would-be adventurers for some sinister reason… So hey, why not build off a story’s weakness. The only place to go from nothing is up, right?
I can’t wait for you to meet these guys. For those of you who stay, you WILL be entertained.
- -A Dark Tone for Bright Heroics
- -Familiar tropes with a good twist
- -Serviceable animation and voice acting
- -More than a little over the top for the “comfy” anime loving crowd
- -The overlaying world is a little too generic anime RPG, not enough world building
- -Will probably only have one season.