by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Goblin Slayer ?
So I believe this is the first episode of Goblin Slayer without any goblins in it. No goblin slaying of any kind takes place. Instead, as its title implies, ‘Adventures and Daily Life’ is about establishing the working routine of this world and the people who go about their business in it. And yes, that same well has already been visited in past episodes, but Goblin Slayer has never shrunk from reiterating itself. That sense of ongoing routine is baked into its premise, after all. And while I continue to be less than impressed with the show's insistence on presenting things as rote as possible, this episode at least succeeds at its clear goal of selling that ‘real fantasy world’ aspect.
The most clear story thread present in this episode concerns a pair of rookie adventurers taking on another classic early quest scenario: killing giant rats in a sewer. They lose their sword and talk to a procession of other characters about their options, eventually leading to a sit-down with the Goblin Slayer himself who gives them some good advice. The idea seems to be that this duo's interactions with the Slayer and other characters builds up this world to make it feel more alive. In that respect, adding this breadth of details works. But the episode still succumbs to the dry, flat sensibilities that have kept the show's engagement minimal in its least entertaining moments.
The episode's first half in particular is quite guilty of this. Large portions of it simply feel like the Goblin Slayer chatting with established characters to remind us of who they are. “I'm running into everyone today” he remarks at one point, commenting on how procedural this all feels. There is more of a sense of something developing with the rat-killing duo as their plotline comes and goes, but it's all still very meandering. It's not ever clear why we're taking this detour with these characters, save for it serving as a demonstration of how adventurers in this world can fail a quest in a way that doesn't lead to their horrific deaths. The story's insistence on not giving anyone names also frustratingly obfuscates if these two are meant to be characters who may recur later or simply a flavorful addition to an otherwise dull episode.
I keep circling back to discussing this duo rather than remarking on the titular Goblin Slayer's portion of the episode simply because his contributions feel so unremarkable. His repeated catchphrase throughout this episode is “I didn't do anything”, intended as a humble reaction to being thanked for helping people, but it comes off more like an apt observation of how uneventful his scenes feel. He gets some decent world-building bits, like dispensing more realistic fantasy weapon advice to the rat exterminators. And the whole portion at the end with him sitting in on the promotion exam turns out to be ripe for setting development that feels like it might actually lead somewhere later down the line. That's further served by all the information we glean from the discussion between Guild Girl and her Priest friend after Goblin Slayer leaves the room.
The show also continues to get some entertaining mileage out of its main character's one-track goblin-slaying mindset, with his line about the best way to replace a lost sword being to ‘steal one from a goblin’ getting a good laugh out of me. Given how tonally distaff the show can be sometimes, I find myself questioning how seriously I'm supposed to take it in any given moment, so some genuine humor is appreciated. The point of that may be to contrast with the ups and downs of how things turn out for the adventuring duo, with the guy's savage attack on a giant cockroach giving way to a jovial tavern celebration of their triumphs. As with the horrors pointedly demonstrated in the first episode, this one seems to be pushing the idea that such events are commonplace in this world.
But framing the happenings of a fantasy town as boring and routine doesn't necessarily make for the most interesting half-hour of television. This episode feels like a collection of framing stories that would have been better used between more adventurous parts of episodes where more stuff actually happened. Putting them all together in this way just comes off like rote filler in a show that isn't running long enough to need it. It's kind of neat that this fantasy story is constructed with enough moving parts that an episode like this could be done so early, but just because they could do something like this doesn't mean they should.
Goblin Slayer is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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