One of my favorite things about anime is its ability to present interesting ideas and expand on them through interesting dialogue. This is one thing I think that anime does better than a lot of other forms of media, making meaningful conversations that can carry the bulk of the show’s meat. This might be why I dislike Goblin Slayer so much. It takes something that I think the medium has incredible potential for and completely squanders it.
(This post contains minor spoilers and discussion of rape and its sexualization in the show)
Goblin Slayer is a show currently airing about an adventurer, Goblin Slayer, who slays goblins and only goblins. He’s been obsessed with them and seems to care about nothing else. His personality is absolutely nothing outside of this. He responds to all questions and comments as concisely as possible, always talking in monotone without showing any emotion. On top of this, he constantly wears his armor and helmet. As you’d expect, we’ve been given hints of something being seriously wrong with him. He’s been broken somehow and now cares about nothing except for goblins. There’s obviously something deeper to his personality, but 5 episodes into a 12 episode show, we haven’t been shown almost any of it. A couple dialogues about goblins and a flashback to his childhood is as much as we’re shown.
Goblin Slayer starts off with a young priestess looking to go on her first adventure. She meets 3 other people and decides to join them on a quest to kill goblins. Expecting it to be easy, the party has their expectations completely subverted as the goblins easily overpower them. This is where we’re introduced to something that’s going to be very important in looking at the show, it’s use of gore and other things for shock value. I’ll come back to that in a second. Instead of just killing the adventurers, one of the girls is brutally beaten and then raped by the goblins. Not long after, the single male adventurer is killed and the other girl is brutally beaten and raped just like the other one. However, Goblin Slayer shows up just in time to save the priestess and only her. While one of the girls is barely alive, Goblin Slayer sees it best to put it out of her misery as attempting to save her would only be prolonging her suffering.
Here we come to my first of a few big problems with the show. Rape and gore are used and abused in this show. While it would be completely fine to use these topics in a mature way to implant a fear of goblins into the viewer that lets us relate to the characters more using a unifying fear, it’s not. While they might’ve tried that, that’s not how it turned out. Rape in this show is used as the thing to be afraid of. But it’s uncomfortable at best. Perhaps the worst thing about the rape is the sexualization of it. While they didn’t have to show any rapes actually taking place, the first episode contains 2 rape scenes that sexualize the victims. The usual ways of showing as much of someone’s body without it becoming porn are used like small strips of clothing covering just a character’s nipple or crotch. They treat these girls just like any other, communicating to the viewer that it’s okay to enjoy them. This aspect takes something that’s slightly uncomfortable and multiplies that feeling tenfold. While the later episodes haven’t taken this approach as much as the first one, it still speaks volumes about the writing of this show that they’d portray rape in such a disgusting way.
As Goblin Slayer continues his adventures, the priestess girl, Onna Shinkan, follows him and assists him where he needs. Having a partner, you’d hope that we’d get to see Goblin Slayer open up a bit and show some weakness. However, he remains the uninteresting shell of a human that he first appears except for a small monologue that’s never expanded on (remember that for later). We’d hope to see some sort of interesting dialogue between the young priestess and Goblin Slayer, maybe asking him about what he’s learned about goblins or why he’s obsessed with them, but we see nothing of the sort. This is where a certain problem in the show starts to become really apparent.
The dialogue in Goblin Slayer is atrocious. While at first, we’re waiting for the dialogue to get interesting, it never happens. Episode 3-5 really show has bad this problem gets. Every single conversation feels forced as if the characters are from completely different worlds and just don’t communicate in the same way. It doesn’t help that Goblin Slayer gets brought into so many of them because of his incredibly lackluster personality. While after watching episode 2 I wrote in my notes that I was hoping for this show to become a character study of him that explored the nuances of a broken man, I’m now just constantly wishing for him to get off the screen. Characters have awkward, choppy dialogue where they seem to be on completely different pages, and having a seemingly emotionless man be half of that conversation only multiplies the problem. The conversation between Majo (the girl with the pipe) and Onna is where I really started to become annoyed with this. Majo goes on a strange monologue where she just talks at Onna about Goblin Slayer incredibly vague and slowly that it hurts to listen. This conversation sadly isn’t the last one where we see this happen. One character monologuing about something that nobody else involved seems to care about seems to be a common thing in this show. I was so excited when I started to hear Goblin Slayer talk about greed and goblins in episode 3 or 4. I thought we were finally going to see Slayer open up a bit so we could explore some nuance that surely had to be hidden somewhere in his broken self, but then he just fell asleep mid-monologue and everyone moved on entirely, not even addressing anything he had said. The conversation before this between Slayer and 3 who have come to him with a quest reeks of this same problem. The three basically just take turns talking while the only responses they get are one-worded and show no interest in anything that’s just been said.
The 3 adventurers I’ve been mentioning do convince Slayer that he should fight goblins with them. The problem I had with this was the way they handled the raid. It was obvious that the show was trying to portray the raid as some epic adventure with a lot at stake. While goblins have been shown to demolish entire parties and brutally rape the women, this seems to be a much stronger nest than usual. However, we know that there’s absolutely no chance that the party will lose. It’s obvious that the characters aren’t meant to be killed off yet and Goblin Slayer is so powerful and experience with goblins that we know he won’t lose. Along with this, he has been shown to have incredibly dangerous scrolls with spells that he won’t let anyone even touch that are shown to have great significance in the story. Thinking about it, we know that even in the toughest of situations, these are likely able to get him out of any sticky situation he and his party could be in. Of course, as soon as the party is shown to have trouble with an opponent (for the first time), one of these scrolls is used to completely obliterate the threat. The way they try to hype this adventure up seems horribly out of place and it only further distanced me from the show.
Even with all of this, there’s one problem that’s even worse to me than any other in this show. As alluded to a few hundred words ago and at the start, I have a huge problem with this show not expanding on its ideas. I’ve found that at the start of every episode, I get really excited. However, that excitement quickly dies out after the OP and the scene following it. This isn’t a coincidence. It’s because the show just loves to push ideas out there but hates actually doing anything with them. This is why I call the show a waste of potential. Every single good idea they have is just left to sit on the sidelines. I mentioned earlier that I had initially been excited to see the show go on as I thought it had the potential of being a great character study. However, I quickly lost all that hope.
Trust me, the possibility of Goblin Slayer becoming a deep dive into the conscious of a broken, obsessed man wasn’t the only great opportunity that this show squandered. For instance, there’s this really interesting idea presented about gods rolling dice to decide the fate of the universe. This is presented in episode 2 or 3 but never expanded on. Becoming a HxH reminiscent opening to the show and something that’s brought to attention multiple other times during the show, the dice idea goes absolutely nowhere. There have currently been 5 episodes released and not a single one of them has done anything with this idea except tease us with it. If all this show has is teasing us with good ideas, then it’s really going to end up even worse than I thought it would. Remember when I told you to remember Slayer not opening up even with a partner? Yeah. They had the perfect setup to expand on his personality and a monologue that could’ve started a great discussion on the morality of killing goblins or his past, but we never saw anything of the sort. As I mentioned earlier, monologues opening up good ideas and then immediately abandoning them are pretty common in this show. The monologue about goblins and greed was literally completely ignored after Slayer fell asleep and hasn’t been brought up since. In the start of the 5th episode, Goblin Slayer’s sister/childhood friend (I don’t remember which) has to tell him his feelings after he says something about the party that he had recently been with. Yet again, this is the last of this idea that we see (at least for now). With all of these interesting ideas being presented and immediately yanked away from us, we could at least hope to see one of them expanded on. However, I have not seen a single sign that this show is in any way willing to do that. I was keeping my hopes up, but after 5 entire episodes of nothing, I’ve lost hope for this show doing anything good with its ideas. Even if it magically starts expanding on all of these ideas and fleshing them out through deep conversations between characters that aren’t just clunky and awkward, the first entire half of the show will have been spent dilly-dallying and not getting to the point.
While I could say a few small good things about this show and just as many if not more bad things, these were the big things that I thought needed to be brought up. While without these, the show would be a decent watch, there are a lot of glaring problems that make this outwardly okay show one of the worst airing shows in years (at least so far). While I’m going to keep watching to see if anything happens with these really interesting ideas, I doubt the show is going to improve since it has shown us that it’s flawed on a fundamental level and doesn’t know what to do with itself. While I think at least watching 3 or 4 episodes of the show is interesting enough to be worth it as long as you can handle the more “mature” aspects of the show, I don’t at all consider it a good show. Goblin Slayer is something with incredible potential that throws it all away with some of the worst writing I’ve seen from anime in a while.
Wew, that was a bit long-winded. Well, thanks for reading this far. I think this post was one of my best when it comes to portraying what specifically I find good or bad about a show and it’s fun to be able to feel that growth a little. Anyways, part of the reason this post was so long was that I’m now taking notes on shows while I watch them, so that’s been a huge help with writing these. Also, I just felt like writing a little more. As a few of you might know, it’s currently NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where you write 50k words in the month of November. I’m not sure if I’m going to participate the whole way through, but I’d like to. Anyways, thanks again for reading this far. I’ll see you guys next time.