First Impression: Goblin Slayer

A 15-year-old priestess registers as an adventurer, beginner level (porcelain), and though timid, she agrees to join with other young adventurers on a quest to kill goblins and rescue young ladies. It seems simple enough, and the rest of the group is confident, but they soon find themselves trapped in the goblins’ cave and upon the very footsteps of death…which is when another pair of footsteps makes its entrance.

Lovable group of fantasy adventurers. Check. Fantasy world mechanics explained. Check. Difficult first quest. Check. Hero gets tortured…check. Goblin rapes woman…wait. Baby goblins clubbed to death…what? The first episode of Goblin Slayer looks like a modern version of Record of Lodoss War, but feels more Berserk. It’s uncomfortable to watch in a painfully-violent-but-can’t-look-away kind of manner. But what makes the episode special is that is doesn’t just rely on shock factor—we already know this is going to go dreadfully wrong and that its very possible all members of the party will die—its that we begin to embody the feelings of the priestess and are taken along for the ride as well, which makes it all the more exciting when despite the nauseating events that have happened, the Priestess and Goblin Slayer decide to team up. And I can’t wait to see where this party goes.

NegativePrimes: Reactions to this first episode have been swift and polarized. In hindsight, that was to be expected. This is a very dark start to an anime, and not everyone should watch it. I probably would not consider watching further if it weren’t for one brief exchange near the end of the episode: When the Goblin Slayer is about to club the goblin children, who are cowering before him, the priestess asks whether there might ever be a good goblin. This is similar to a question that someone once posed to JRR Tolkien, whether an orc could be saved, which he answered affirmatively. I suspect GS will bring in such a character eventually, and since Tolkien never wrote one into his stories I’m curious to see how such a character gets handled here: There’s not as much precedent for such a twist as there are for a lot of other fantasy tropes.

Other than that, I’m already seeing a lot of personal attacks being leveled against people who disagree with others’ assessments of this show. There’s an opportunity here for us as Christians and anime fans to model charity to our neighbor in this conversation. Let’s take the high road and, whatever you think of this show, let love and grace prevail in our words.

Goblin Slayer can be streamed on Crunchyroll.

2 thoughts on “First Impression: Goblin Slayer

  1. Goblin Slayer actually looks great but it is an anime that seriously don’t match the preferences of the general audience. It’s quite dark but interesting enough to keep me on watching it. As a fan of Tolkien’s works, I appreciate the slight comparison and I am also hoping that the following episodes will provide some answers to our questions about this anime’s plot.

    1. The few tweets I read say that the story is typical fantasy anime fare, which might be okay…but here’s hoping that it goes somewhere special.

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