I know what you’re thinking: “aw shit, another obligatory Goblin Slayer hate post?”
And you’d be right. For Goblin Slayer sucks. It blows. Goblin Slayer killed my dog, tore its intestines out, spat on its corpse and dangled its body around like a marionette. I want to go full on John Wick on this piece of shit. I want to rip its head off and take a flaming dump on its headless, bloody gaping o-hole of a stump (oh snap, that kinda rhymes).
But, there are a couple of things that got to be in order here. Guys, just because an anime has rape in it, doesn’t make it shitty okay? Some critics need to calm the fuck down. You’re acting like the PC babies from South Park. People are overblowing this situation out of proportions, so much so that Crunchyroll had to issue a content warning for the first two episodes. I’m talking people straight up wanting to censor or ban this show for its objectionable content. Keep in mind that two years ago, the anime industry bestowed upon us the wrath of a certain series by the name of “Berserk.” Sure, it got complaints about its use of lacklustre CGI and janky directing, but did you at all witness this much buzz about the scene where a horse attempts to rape one of the main characters? Nope. What about Banana Fish then, a series where the main character gets sexually assaulted multiple times throughout the course of the story? Still fail to see any complaints about that. Edgy is such a baseless term to describe something, and while I’ve been guilty of using it myself (its quite possibly the main reason for my distaste towards Tokyo Ghoul), I do admit its not the right way to criticize something. You can’t just arbitrarily throw around the term “edge” to negatively put something down. That’s not how criticism works. Buzzwords should not be a replacement for grounded critical analysis. Yet, its something I see a lot of anime fans doing.
So yeah, I’m here to tell you all that I think this show sucks, and that its not because of the rape scene and the overly dark subject matter. This show has far more problems than that. Let’s take a gander at the introduction of the party in episode one, shall we? These three adventurers that the Priestess tags along with, barely have enough time to introduce themselves or to get audiences a chance to get to know them. Nothing about these characters apart from their occupations have been revealed to us. They’re completely one-dimensional as a result. Now, what does the show do to them? It kills them off (well, technically it leaves one traumatized after being raped and all), all within the very first episode. We haven’t gotten enough time to know these guys, why should we even remotely care about what happens to them? Take Berserk’s Golden Age Arc for instance. The eclipse event feels shocking in that because we gotten to know the characters for about 25 episodes. To us, they feel like people we can actually understand and relate to. In Goblin Slayer, the adventurers just feel like cannon fodder, characters introduced for the sole purpose of kickstarting the plot and showcasing some shock value for the audience to bask in. We don’t know squat about these characters and already we’re forced to sympathize with their plight.
The central cast already pose a problem within the first two episodes. Goblin Slayer himself is a one-dimensional badass, gary-stu archetype who earns the respect of three female characters within the span of a few short minutes. He’s portrayed as a self-insert character, his main character traits being that he is silent, anit-social and absolutely hates Goblins. And the show likes to remind you, that HE FUCKING HATES GOBLINS. Now, this type of character would be great if he were portrayed more like the Doomguy from Doom, a no-holds-barred berserker who’s feared by his enemies. However, it doesn’t work out. Goblin Slayer is still a character you’re meant to sympathize with, a character with a forced tragic backstory explaining his motivations for waging war against the Greenskins. It makes him less of a muscular badass and more of a tragic figure than anything else. The only problem is, the show doesn’t allow you to sympathize with him, because he’s barely shown to have any short of personality or depth to him. The other characters suffer from similar, but otherwise different issues. The Priestess is basically portrayed as your typical pure waifu character, the kind that otaku’s like to joke about “protecting.” She basically exists as an audience surrogate, to let the audience in on what the Goblins are up to in this world and her naivety shows that. There’s nothing else really to her other than she’s innocent and aspires to protect her newfound friends. The other characters seem no different to be honest. The Elven Archer is designed exactly like everything single elven archer in every Japanese media ever, what with her slender legs, green tunic, short shorts, pointy elongated ears and greenish hair. Cowgirl is appropriately named, for she just seems to exist purely for fanservice with the constant shots of her naked body and numerous close ups of her “large tracts of land.” There was a shot in the second episode that I swear was there just to show off more of her body.
Even the Goblins themselves aren’t worth caring for. Its been established that they need to rape to expand their society and breed new Goblins, meaning every single one of them eventually ends up being a psychopathic bastard. Looting and pillaging seem to be all their society is based upon. It makes it harder to care for characters like the Goblin kids in the first episode, knowing that they’d turn into sexual predators by the time they get older. There’s no philosophical questioning about Goblin Slayer’s sense of morality when it comes to this, for every Goblin seems portrayed as the same.
The rather mediocre animation only adds to the trash pile the series keeps piling up. Certain shots of Goblins and Goblin Slayer are inconsistent, sometimes portraying them in traditional 2D animation, while other times showcasing them as awkward looking 3D models. These shifts are especially jarring with Goblin Slayer himself, as even outside of battle scenes, the animators don’t seem to know whether they want him in 2D or in 3D. On the 2D side of things, its really nothing special. This isn’t like a WIT Studios or Bones production where you’d catch glimpses of stylized, fluid sequences of animation, instead it seems as if White Fox aren’t trying to pour a significant amount of their resources in to the show’s production.
I also want to touch upon the cut content from the manga and light novel. I’ve been watching this series with a friend who has read the manga, and within the second episode, he blurted out that the episode had cut a lot of crucial story elements out. Whether it be for censorship purposes, or due to time constraints, I wouldn’t know. But, once you notice what’s been taken out of the adaptation, you’d soon realize how much of a mistake it was. I mean, these are story elements that would have enhanced the quality of the show. In episode one, each of the rookies were to be given a short backstory, listing their overall motivations and allowing the audience a glimpse into part of their character. If this wasn’t taken out, imagine how much more impactful the episode would feel. The second episode also completely removes a scene where a group of adventurers find themselves unlucky enough to stumble into a fort held by Goblins, before Goblin Slayer and his trusty loli sidekick approach it. Having us witness these deaths beforehand would put more emphasis on the brutality of these creatures. Hell, episode 2 in general feels lackluster. Rather than witnessing Goblin Slayer brutally slaughter his foes in the most cathartic ways possible, instead we spend most of the duration having his backstory told to us through infodumps. Riveting, isn’t it?
At least the tone is kept consistent throughout, rather than switching from comedy to horror in milliseconds like other White Fox anime (I’m looking at you especially, Akame ga Kill and Re Zero). If only the art style could also reflect what the series is going for. Most characters, barring Goblin Slayer himself obviously, are given designs that are overly common in isekai shows. Round faces, large eyes, slim figures, its clear that the character designers wanted to appeal to the tastes of otakus with this series. Had it adopted a similar style to say, Berserk or Shigurui, I would have taken this a lot seriously. But nah, got to milk some more cash from those pockets of theirs I guess…
Maybe I’m being too critical. Maybe this show will pull a 180 on me with episode 3, and I’d end up with a competent show in the end. But alas, the first two episodes have proven to be complete shite so far. Even in the gore department. If you’re a gorehound, you’d be better off watching something else entirely, because there’s not even any ounce of gore in the Goblin slaughter scenes. I find it hilarious that people compare this to Doom. Doomguy honestly would have ripped off a Goblin’s arm right out of his socket and bashed the poor thing to pieces if he were the main player in this.