“Is that a Goblin?”

No, Goburin Sureiya-san, it’s your “controversial” show, well at least the start of it was – Goblin Slayer.

Ah yes – the first episode’s controversy – even though it’s been nine months since the first episode of the show ignited a wildfire on Twitter, I still remember the various shades of criticism/defense people gave just by the content of that premiere (or they compared to the source material). I won’t do a historical retelling of it, I’m not great at summarizing, you can find out what were people’s reactions with a Google/Youtube search. But here are my concise thoughts on that scene.

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I don’t think there’s much room for debate on whether the depiction of the scene is fetishistic/ exploitative, because it is, I mean there’s quite some heavy-handed fan-service later on in the show itself. But the level of exploitation is nowhere near than that in hentai (obviously); it’s done in a very unnecessary but brief manner. I don’t think this is anything new in anime, or any other media. It’s clear that the scene, and the violence, acted as some of the pivotal moments on the show in an attempt to switch the exciting “let’s go on an adventure” mood of the show to darker pastures. Granted, the way the scene played out with some nude-shots was kind of tasteless but I think it worked despite of that. Bottom line to this is – I don’t get what’s so “controversial” about this, I have seen way more explicit and fetishistic rape scenes in media, and this is just about average in comparison – nothing to go crazy about.

The thing that irked me the most about this “controversy” is that a small, vocal group of people started pigeonholing others into political alignments just based on whether they thought the rape scene was exploitative or not, and that’s really stupid. Sure, propaganda media exists but this anime is anything but that, and besides, anime is made in Japan and Japanese socio-political alignments aren’t similar to Western/Non-Japanese ones (as far as I know, feel free to correct me in the comments), so the armchair-psychologist claims that, liking edgy anime makes you a neo-nazi edgelord, and having a distaste for rape scenes in fiction makes you a libtard, are so dumb. Bringing western politics into anime didn’t end with just this anime- I feel like can go on this topic forever, but I don’t want to and I don’t think I would have the most-informed take on this, so let’s move on…

First episode aside, Goblin Slayer is straightforwardly entertaining. I liked the episodic format where in each episode (or two) Goblin Slayer takes up goblin slaying quests and goes about exterminating goblin lairs using different strategies. The depiction of sexual violence is relatively presented in an even less fetishistic way compared to the first episode but the splatterfest-y violence is still there. Speaking of splatterfest, the blood animation in the show is just so over-the-top yet it’s somehow fulfilling to watch blood follow some sort of fluid mechanics – thanks to the CG. I really don’t get the general complaint of the CG-animation of the protagonist – it doesn’t really stand out and I think it actually fits the grey, rigid aesthetic of the character.

I found the art of the show to be slightly below average – the color palette is bland, the character designs look derivative. The world building, as shallow as it is, feels derivative as well – or maybe it’s just my general indifference to fantasy (or isekai) settings influencing my opinion. I get that the point of the anime is to be portray the quests as D&D, and Goblin Slayer is playing great at them through creative tactics, but I think a more fleshed out world would’ve made me care about the nameless characters and not just find the anime entertaining whenever Goblin Slayer is onscreen.

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The characters are pretty flat, all of them feel like plot devices to get the goblin slaying done. The only character I enjoyed watching was the protagonist himself, I found his whole “I don’t care about the Demon Lord, let’s go slay some goblins” attitude pretty funny, and the way flashback sequences and internal monologues were used to justify his obsessive, broken psyche was pretty well done to the point where I felt weird laughing at the “Is that a Goblin?” comments made by the guy.

The soundtrack is pretty meh, but the opening sequence is nice – I like the atmospheric strings and the minimalism of the song, and how that’s a cool juxtaposition to all the loud, crazy goblin-cide that happens in the show itself.

To recap this short post, I found Goblin Slayer to be pretty alright. I enjoyed watching Goblin Slayer being clinically badass and exterminating goblins like they were pests, the rest of the cast, not so much. The art was sub-par, the fan service wasn’t good because of it. The environmental set-up wasn’t anything to write home about. The OP – good. I would recommend it if you can stomach violence and depictions of rape, and if you are looking for some fantasy, adventuring schlock. But if you can’t stomach the edginess, well, you aren’t missing out on the “anime of the decade” or anything, and there are better shows to watch.

Sorry about the rant near the beginning, just felt like airing it out.

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3 thoughts on ““Is that a Goblin?”

  1. I haven’t seen the show, but I know about the controversy from it especially the first episode. I’m surprised other anime doesn’t get bashed for having similar things, and yes, I’m talking about non-hentai titles. It’s good that you talked about the other factors that didn’t make this show perfect or a masterpiece. Controversy is fine, but it has to be for the right reasons and not just only for shock value.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah true, other anime do depict rape in an exploitative way and they deserve that criticism like this show did. I agree, controversy should be surrounding something that makes a statement or promotes negative stuff. This show hardly did anything like that in the first episode, in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of course and I agree with you on that issue. It’s one thing if it’s plot specific and the creators know and show the implications of rape or other heinous acts, but the times when it’s there just for shock and exploitation really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve watched and reviewed media that did it tastelessly.

        Liked by 1 person

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