Goblin Slayer, a 12-episode anime series adaptation of the light novel series and manga of the same name, starts out as many fantasy anime do: a fledgling group of adventurers take up a low-level eradication quest. They enter a cave bragging about their abilities and how weak goblins are. Only the newest member of the party—the priestess—seems to be concerned. The party is ambushed, and the sorceress takes a knife to the abdomen. The swordsman is overwhelmed by the goblins and the boxer is incapacitated by the strength of a hobgoblin. The priestess drags the stabbed sorceress away as the goblins tear into the boxer.
Just as a pair of goblins fall upon the wounded sorceress, a figure carrying a torch approaches them. Armor covers his entire body and he uses a short sword and shield to slay the two. He addresses the priestess’ wounds but ignores her pleads to tend to the poison killing the sorceress. Instead, he obliges the suffering sorceress and slits her throat as a mercy. When asked who he is, he merely replies “Goblin Slayer”.
As a twelve-episode anime, Goblin Slayer needed to grab the audience’s attention from the very first episode—and it did just that. The show presents a unique perspective in an overcrowded genre (fantasy anime) and avoids certain tropes. First, Goblin Slayer is graphic. It is rated R for a reason; within the first ten minutes, there is a sexual assault.
One of the biggest draws to the show is the pacing and portrayal of the combat. Adventure anime protagonists are typically either exceptionally strong or smart. This leads to fights being won because of a flawless strategy concocted by the protagonist and executed by others, or the protagonist’s overwhelming combat prowess. Goblin Slayer uses a mix of tactics, preparation, and pure violence to exterminate goblin nests. He does not attempt to dodge every strike but instead wears armor that can withstand most of their attacks. It does not feel as if Goblin Slayer could defeat any opponent, but rather has become highly specialized in the one thing he cares about: killing goblins.
Goblin Slayer is far from a perfect anime. In its first four episodes, it has done little to develop one-dimensional side characters. The show features fan service, which spends time on the audience’s gratification at the expense of character development, plot, and other storytelling elements. Additionally, it attempts to integrate computer generated (CG) animation into the visuals of the show, which is mostly animated in 2D. The result is jarring and uncomfortable. Nobody enjoys CG animation.
All that said, Goblin Slayer still packs a punch. The visuals, action, setting, and premise intrigue the viewer, and make the show a forerunner of the season. With an incredibly strong first few episodes, Goblin Slayer is an anime worth checking out.