Goblin Slayer

3 out of 5

Directed by: Takaharu Ozaki

Uf da: rape frequently used for shock value – and, sigh, for titillation – with a lot of boob ogling to boot.  Somewhere I register the “fan service” of these elements, and their “place” in anime, but I’m not sure what to do with that information once so registered.  It affects this viewer in a way which makes me sigh regretfully: Goblin Slayer would be a much better show without these completely extraneous elements (although the sexual violence is intended to show the immoral, vicious nature of the goblins, there could be more balanced ways of handling that that might actually be more effective as well…); it’s got solid action chops, and an undercurrent of intelligence in the way it presents its lead as a forever-masked, blank-slate “hero;” its got a well-earned buddy dynamic once the Slayer teams up with others; its got a good sense of pacing and build-up to successfully bigger and bigger fights and then a giant showdown.  But then it has that other stuff, too, and I can’t help but take the show down a peg in quality as a result.

It should be said: most of this stuff seems to occur during the first few episodes, and perhaps it was toned down later either because it’d earned its audience by then, or because there was a little bit of a backlash.  Nonetheless.

Goblin Slayer is about a dude who slays goblins.  It is, on a certain level, as simple as that.  It’s a quest-based land, where warriors come to guilds for missions and to turn in proof of victories in order to have their level raised, and GS is known for his ratty armor and short sword and for never taking a mission unless it involves goblins.  After rescuing an inexperienced priestess unfamiliar with the goblins’ level of threat, she becomes an insistent tagalong… but also a worthwhile partner.  This opens up the Slayer to taking on more partners, but writers Hideyuki Kurata and Yōsuke Kuroda sternly maintain the character’s stoicism, making his eventual inclusions of more than one-word answers feel purposeful and earned.

But, yeah, it does just boil down to goblin quests, which are animated bloodily well by White Fox, with plenty of variants on hordes and imaginative ways of dispatching the various attackers.  Viewer beware of the early missteps of the series; Goblin Slayer is elsewise a quality sword and sorcery actioner.