3 out of 5
Directed by: Takaharu Ozaki
Ol’ (young?) beard-cutter is back, in Goblin’s Crown, the first film – based on a source light novel, and hopefully either a precursor to another season of anime or another film – from the Goblin Slayer team of studio White Fox and director Takaharu Ozaki.
Premiering in theaters some months back in an apparent 60 minute form, Crunchyroll is streaming what could be an extended version, featuring a fifteen-or-so minute catch up of the preceding 12 episodes, narrated in a “I remember how it all started…” fashion by the Priestess (Yui Ogura). This is pretty breezy, really only capturing the most important bits, and definitely appreciated, as it’s been a couple years at this point since the show ran, but it’s also rather tonally indicative of what’s to come: really heavy plot points are boiled down to casual mentions, and there’s no real introductions for any of the character, our titular Goblin Slayer included. While that’s fine for returning viewers, who understand how a small troupe of warriors came to join the stoic Slayer on his never ending, goblin-slaughtering quest, all of this carries over into the film: the new main character to whom we’re introduced and some plot revelations surrounding this character seem skimmed over, as though they’re also from a previous episode. Thankfully the “lore” and concept of Goblin Slayer and Goblin’s Crown isn’t such that this is a huge deal – the team is hunting a pack of Gobos who’ve slaughtered another adventuring group, save a lone survivor – but it definitely makes this feel like just an hour long version of a regular ep, and not necessarily something that seems deserving of a film. Along these lines, White Fox’s animation seemed stiffer than I recalled, and some big action set pieces felt a bit janky.
But was I disappointed? If I had paid cinema bucks to see this, then maybe, but watching it as part of my monthly streaming fee, on a lil’ ol’ computer screen – no. On the whole, what I’d enjoyed about Goblin Slayer – its slow march toward interesting characters and bit-by-bit progression of their backgrounds, as well as nudging along the evolution of the Goblins and the exciting and bloody and smart swordplay – arrived fully in tact, which is why I do hope this is a sign of more to come. The downplaying of its more egregious elements of rape, and excessive boobage, also seemed to continue, thankfully, though there’s (sigh, perhaps inevitably) still a random fan-service bath sequence.
And then it ends on a quiet and contemplative note, which reminds me of why the series seemed to offer some potential beyond typical hack n’ slash.