by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Goblin Slayer ?
I admit that I was jumping the gun last week in postulating that Goblin Slayer didn't have anywhere else interesting to go, since this episode seems set to prove me wrong. The water town of Water Town seems to have come down with a nasty case of goblins in its sewers, leading to the Sword Maiden, a legendary heroic archbishop, seeking out the titular hero's titular expertise. Now sure, I could snark about how the Goblin Slayer was defined by the adventuring world at large not respecting his work, only to see this insanely powerful figure specifically request his assistance. But that's all in the RPG mold of quests coming up as a necessity to move the story and action forward. Even ignoring that particular element, there are other aspects to this story's setup that ring as mere convenience to further all this dungeoneering excitement.
One thing in this episode's favor is that the show does feel like it's committing to more characterization at this point. Surprisingly, the Goblin Slayer himself is the biggest beneficiary of this benefit. Yes the script is still cracking regular jokes about his goblin fixation (and to their credit, they remain pretty funny), but we also see him opening up to his now-recurring party. The fact that he goes to the Elf, the Dwarf, and the Dragon when he first gets wind of a new goblin-slaying quest speaks volumes about how he's learning to value their companionship. His more tinted rapport with the Priestess similarly shines a light on the more subtle difference he sees in their working relationship. For as ham-fisted as Goblin Slayer can be at times, this is communicated more subtly, mostly through the character's simple actions. The other party members do remark that they've noticed him softening up, but it feels like a natural conversation between the characters, not just blatantly spelling out the development for the audience.
That said, other aspects introduced in this episode do still come off as transparent. Chief among them are the rules imposed on the Slayer by the Elf in this episode, not to use fire, water, or poison to combat the goblins. It's an extremely arbitrary restriction that receives no proper explanation. Some of the early dialogue almost indicates that the characters find that waterboarding or using poison on goblins is too cruel or vicious, which plays contrary to how heartless and poorly regarded we know these creatures are. I don't think it's an attempt by the team to make the quest more interesting compared to the simplistic way they took out the room full of sleeping goblins previously. The show's ongoing thesis has clearly been that pragmatic solutions in adventures beat out flashy ones every time, with a brutal death awaiting anyone who bungles the mission. On top of those questions, I also wonder why the Slayer even agrees to go along with the restriction, though I suppose his acquiescence could also be indicative of his growing fondness for the team. At the end of the day, it's all an excuse to keep the action as fresh as the new town's scenery, and if that does fly in the face of the show's mission statement, I'm not going to complain much, as I don't think I've made a secret of how uninteresting the story's methodology has been to me.
Instead, we get a solidly entertaining underground adventure. The setting and situation are already nicely distinct from what we've gotten from Goblin Slayer before, showing that the story can embrace more varied premises. The sewers themselves are more interesting and atmospheric than I would've expected, especially once the cool ‘underground rain’ effect starts up due to the weather below. Goblin Slayer has always been an oddly stiff show, but between the atmospheric backdrop and a few cuts of nice animation providing some spice this week, the series comes to life more than it has in a few weeks.
It feels like the Dungeon Master of this particular tabletop session was trying to throw in a few more curveballs to keep their players interested. The recurring bigger fish that is the swamp dragon-alligator-monster was a cool touch that got used well. The banter between the characters has also developed. The Dwarf and the Dragon Priest get some great lines this time. The show's also committed to showing off how the team's various spells and abilities could work with one another in exciting ways, contrasted with pointed pragmatism. And the ending leaves us with the strong hook that a higher power may be manipulating a goblin-based conspiracy. That could be the most important detail moving forward, feeding our protagonist's goblin obsession in a way that fuels a bigger ongoing plot. Again, that may run contrary to the show's previous small-scale ambitions, but Goblin Slayer couldn't afford to keep doing the same thing over and over again.
Goblin Slayer is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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