One of the most controversial anime series to have come out in 2019 is Goblin Slayer, a dark fantasy series adapted from the manga and light novel series of the same name. Written by Kumo Kagyu and adapted into manga by Kosuke Kurose in the Monthly Big Gangan magazine, Goblin Slayer was the subject of controversy because of depictions of violence and sexual assault.
The sensitive scenes in question made a lot of watchers uncomfortable, but are the sensitive scenes really worth skipping the series? Here are a few reasons why you should watch Goblin Slayer, as well as why you shouldn’t. Hopefully it will let you decide on your own.
Why You Shouldn’t Watch Goblin Slayer
The first 15 minutes of the pilot episode include scenes of sexual assault and intense violence. If the anime were using the US FCC’s TV Parental Guidelines, it would most likely warrant a TV-MA rating. So if you are too young to watch TV-MA rated content, you shouldn’t be watching Goblin Slayer.
Unfortunately, this being a Japanese series and only streamed to the west via online channels, the TV Parental Guidelines do not apply. And when it was originally streamed by CrunchyRoll, it was not marked as an adult content. This is most likely where all the confusion and outrage comes from. The series is Dark Fantasy, told through the lens of Japan. You can understand why someone expecting something as light as Himouto! Umaru-Chan would be shocked when greeted by scenes of a group of goblins doing you know what to a female warrior.
But if you are not offended by sensitive content, and understand that CrunchyRoll’s original TV-PG rating of the series was an honest mistake, then there really isn’t any other reason not to watch Goblin Slayer.
Why You Should Watch Goblin Slayer
For starters, the story is really well-written and a fresh new approach to Japanese medieval fantasy anime. Unlike most male anime protagonists, Goblin Slayer is not heroic. He’s fighting against malevolent creatures, but that’s only a side effect of his singular obsession with revenge. He fights Goblins – creatures that most heroes in the story ignore and dismiss as tasks that lack in prestige.
The Goblin Slayer is also not your typical male anime protagonist. And definitely as far as you can get from a shonen protagonist. He has no friends at the start, he does not spare any one, and will willingly give up on allies that are beyond help. You don’t even get to see his face. The rare times when his helm is removed, his face is obscured by hair and shadows.
As for the sensitive content, it is definitely not forced. Contrary to what many detractors say, the scenes are not fan service. Sure, the anime has fan service, but they’re mostly inoffensive scenes such as a 3-second long scene of a female showering, with all the naughty bits conveniently hidden by the camera angle and some strategically placed steam. It is not something perverts can easily perv off to.
The rape scene in question only took a couple of seconds. No genitalia was shown. The camera itself panned away before the act started, leaving the viewers to imagine what happened next. And then a second later and we cut to a new scene. This is why it is so disturbing – because the viewer fills in the details as to what happened. If you think the scene was meant to tittilate, then that says a lot more about you than Goblin Slayer.
The scenes of Goblins sexually assaulting a female warrior serves a purpose. The Goblins are considered as a joke in the story. Veteran adventurers don’t take on Goblin Slaying quests, treating them as mere pests lacking the prestige of, say, dragon slaying or evil wizard hunting., Yet the few seconds devoted to the sexual assault effectively establishes why these veteran adventurers are wrong, and provides subtle defense of Goblin Slayer’s brutal determination to hunt down every single Goblin in the world. Without the scene in question, readers will struggle to emphatize with Goblin Slayer and the many victims of the creatures. Because no amount of words or description can ever compare to simply showing you a few seconds of the Goblins’ savage cruelty.
You should give Goblin Slayer a chance, and let the controversy die down. Assuming that you’re the intended audience, which is adults who love dark fantasy, you will be treated one of the best anime series to have come out in the past couple of years.