by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Goblin Slayer ?
Its shocking first episode aside, Goblin Slayer hasn't exactly been subversive in its storytelling structure. So it's only natural that a quieter ‘downtime’ episode would appear to buffer between the extensive Water Town arc and the forthcoming finale. Adventurers always need time to rest, recharge, and repair, and there is a germ of a thematic idea in this episode, expressly depicting the comparative peace that could be shattered at any time by some sort of fantasy catastrophe, or left behind forever by an adventurer whose quest comes to an untimely end. But as with other times, the show has already devoted chunks to providing fodder for that kind of contrast, so there isn't enough content this week to justify this much runtime.
This episode mostly runs through the same motions already covered in the second and fifth episodes. There's another flashback to the Slayer's childhood which we know was shattered by goblins, and then we follow him on some adventuring maintenance business in town. It's nothing that hasn't been seen before, and unlike some of the side-plots or new introductions that came along on those previous detours, there's no new insight or world-building this time. The most unique element is that the Slayer isn't wearing his armor for a while, with the camera awkwardly cutting around his obligatorily-obscured face.
So this episode just comes off like padding. One whole section is spent showing a suspiciously Guts-like character training new adventurers while the Slayer and a Paladin banter about it, feeling like nothing so much as time-killing. The Slayer wanders into the Adventurer's Guild again and blithely chats with the Priestess and Guild Girl about the quest we just saw them on for the past four episodes. I at least appreciated GS's dissonant assertion that everything went fine on the adventure, with Priestess pointing out that he almost died. And seeing the gang get together to go out for another meal is cute, even inviting Guild Girl along, but it still comes across like a pit stop in the show just to fill out the run-time.
That meal they share and some of the discussions that spin out of it provide at least some semblance of substance to this episode. Despite the other issues I've had with the show, the characters are functionally endearing, especially after we've spent so much time with them. So it's not like I hate the benign D&D slice-of-life pleasantries. This episode isn't unbearable the way it would be with a more obnoxious cast, but it's still frustratingly empty. The one interesting highlight is the glimpse at a potential future we get for the Goblin Slayer; he could become some sort of adventuring instructor to help new heroes learn what it takes to survive in this unforgiving fantasy world.
That's a unique angle, anyway. The idea of looking toward the future comes through strong by the episode's end, with Cow Girl pointing out that “these days won't last forever”. That's true of the peaceful elements this episode revels in (no doubt foreshadowing some finale-level goblin horrors coming in the next episodes), but the idea also applies to this type of dungeoneering in general. Someone can't keep going on cave-diving monster-mashing quests their whole life, even though that's what it feels like ‘players’ end up doing in tabletop-fantasy games. Goblin Slayer's trying to put a human spin on the dice-rolling quest-clearing premise, and I think bringing that element up helps its ‘realism’ more than any number of bloody murders or assaults. Humanizing its characters through smaller subtleties is an underlying strength of the story, to the point that I wish more time was spent on this aspect.
That last section brings this episode just up to ‘good enough’, but it's a real drag to get there. I have to wonder how effectively Goblin Slayer's story slots into a half-hour format, since episodes like these just don't have enough material to fill out. Even the ending happy-times sequence with the cast at a tavern wastes time showing us Guts Berserk and his band of nobodies taking bets on the actual main characters. It's frustrating that the episode's nuggets of interest are buried in so much of what's basically filler.
Goblin Slayer is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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