This time last year an anime adaption of light novel series Goblin Slayer had just begun airing. The first episode left viewers with mixed feelings, some with a total aversion to the series thereafter, and admittedly I never did watch the show when it aired due to that. However, now Manga UK has brought the anime to home video and I decided it was time to find out what Goblin Slayer was all about.
The series begins with an unnamed 15-year-old Priestess joining her local adventurers’ guild and setting out on her first quest. This quest involves taking down some goblins, which sounds easy enough to a newbie like Priestess. The guild staff warn Priestess against going on her own, so she parties up with some other newbie adventurers. Together they head to the designated area but when they come across the goblins, they’re soon overpowered…
The goblins are more intelligent than anyone gave them credit for. They quickly capture, rape and kill the other members of Priestess’ party and just as she’s about to undergo similar torture, she’s saved by another adventurer. The man is known as Goblin Slayer and as the name suggests, he spends his days hunting down goblins. Priestess chooses to follow Goblin Slayer as he wipes out the clan of goblins and eventually becomes the first member of his party.
Goblin Slayer is well renowned in the guild for being one of the only people to take goblin-related quests and he’s often made fun of for it, but the reasoning behind his choice makes sense to Priestess. Having lost his village to a goblin attack as a child, Goblin Slayer has vowed revenge against them and hopes to never see a similar situation play out again.
If you’ve read this far then it probably goes without saying that Goblin Slayer is a dark fantasy series. The first episode holds nothing back with graphic violence and rape scenes. It’s difficult to stomach and no doubt upsetting to some viewers (which is why it gained a negative reputation when it aired), but if you like this genre you’ll enjoy what the show is offering.
One of the positive things about Goblin Slayer is that although there are quite a few scenes of murdered or assaulted female characters, those among the main cast are all certainly capable women. It’s clear that the abuse women suffer is to demonstrate how vile and underestimated the goblins are, rather than the whole series being against female kind. Even our protagonist Goblin Slayer can be found being overwhelmed and near death’s door after a couple of goblin encounters, which I think is important for us to see, given his status as a goblin killer.
For the most part, the series develops its characters well. By the third or fourth episode, Goblin Slayer and Priestess are joined by a High Elf Archer, Dwarf Shaman and Lizard Priest. The cast plays off one another well and although they don’t have anything unique going for them, they’re certainly likeable enough. Although no one except Goblin Slayer’s history is explored, the members of the group still show growth from their time spent together and that gives them some depth, even though I’d prefer to have known more about them.
Although Goblin Slayer is based on an ongoing light novel series, the anime manages to find a comfortable stopping point to end with. So many adaptations like this end up with unsatisfying endings, so I was really happy to find Goblin Slayer bucks the trend and I think this makes it more attractive to franchise newcomers. If you do want more Goblin Slayer after watching the TV series then you’ll be pleased to know that there is a movie in the works, due for release in Japan in early 2020.
The only negative about the series is that once the shock factor of the gore wears off, the premise is somewhat dull. The group sets out to defeat goblin after goblin and although the situation varies a lot, it’s just not that interesting. If you like the action and battle scenes then it’s not so bad, but if your interest lies with the story, then it’s a bit of a letdown.
As previously mentioned, animation for the anime has been handled by studio White Fox (Re:Zero, Akame ga Kill!, Grimoire of Zero) and it looks fantastic. There are some wonderful dynamic shots of Goblin Slayer killing goblins which are rendered in a mix of 2D and 3D artwork and seamlessly blend together. The series is very bloody and those of you who are a bit squeamish will want to give this a miss, but if you like a bit of gore then White Fox have managed to animate some truly gruesome scenes.
Music for the series has been handled by Kenichiro Suehiro (Fire Force, Cells at Work!, Re:Zero) and his scores fit perfectly with the fantasy setting of Goblin Slayer. There are a couple of outstanding tracks that have remained memorable away from the show, which is a nice change to fantasy anime soundtracks of late. The opening for the series is “Rightfully” by Mili, while the ending theme is “Gin no Kisei” by Soraru. I didn’t find either song very memorable, but they work well in the context of the show.
Where voice actors are concerned, both the English and Japanese cast offer solid performances. Although I watched the series in Japanese rather than dubbed, it was nice to see that Goblin Slayer was played well in both languages. In Japanese, Goblin Slayer is played by Yuichiro Umehara (Seiya Ryuguin in Cautious Hero, Mars in Black Clover) while the English VA is Brad Hawkins (Shikkui Makabi in My Hero Academia, Yakoblev in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) and they both capture the often aloof and airheaded personality of Goblin Slayer.
This release comes to the UK thanks to Manga Entertainment who have released it on DVD and Blu-ray, the latter of which includes both a standard release and collector’s edition. Each release includes all 12 episodes of the anime with both Japanese audio and the English dub as well as trailers, clean OP/ED videos and some episode commentary (from the English cast). The collector’s edition includes a 48-page art book and art cards.
Overall, Goblin Slayer offers a dark fantasy series with plenty of blood and guts flying around. If that’s your cup of tea then you’ll certainly enjoy this, but failing that, there isn’t a great deal of substance here. A difficult series to recommend, but certainly one which remains memorable for its first episode alone.