by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Goblin Slayer ?
This latest episode of this serious and grounded show kicks off with a fanservicey bath scene between Priestess and the Sword Maiden. Okay, that's an unfair summation; it's not entirely indulgent, as the scene does provide an excuse for Priestess to catch a glimpse of the Sword Maiden's scars and reflect on her views of goblins and the Slayer of them. Sword Maiden apparently had a formative encounter with goblins not unlike Priestess had at the beginning of the show, seeming to explain why she's one of the frustratingly few denizens of this world that takes the threat of these little monsters seriously. Reminding us of that first-episode massacre also turns out to be prurient as aspects of it come back by this episode's end.
In the show's defense, it does get the more grounded world-building stuff in this episode right. There are neat details like Goblin Slayer questioning the lack of giant-rat-slaying quests in a city known for its sprawling sewer system. We also see him pack a canary for the team's trip back down to the sewers, as a measure against poison gas. He casually remarks that he picked up the trick from miners, and that much of his knowledge comes from interacting with people more knowledgeable than him. As much as the show itself makes light of the Slayer's over-specialization, it's nice to have a light-novel hero who isn't an overpowered renaissance man and has no issue accepting tips from others he acknowledges to be more qualified.
The canary itself turns out to be a waste though. It alerts the team to the presence of poison gas just as some obviously dangerous gas is clearly being pumped into the room. It's mainly a prop to demonstrate Goblin Slayer's preparedness. He's doing the Fantasy Batman schtick this time, seemingly braced for every dungeoneering eventuality and deftly directing the rest of the team on how to make impromptu gas masks, sealing the room off, blocking doors, etc. It's always been the sort of detailing this story relishes, but as with the canary simply being a demonstrative prop, it feels less like this content is making any points about Goblin Slayer's central themes and more just showing off how well the author knows their way around a D&D campaign. And it doesn't even come off that well on further inspection, given that the situation is kick-started by the heroes walking into an obvious trap.
But if you're here for the show's other draw, the overly brutal fantasy ultraviolence, then this episode will deliver in spades for you. Overall, the big battle scene makes a point of the fight's momentum revolving around Goblin Slayer. It starts out with some absurd moves of sword-throwing, shield-bashing, and even a striking 360-degree shot that employs the show's generous use of CGI models. And then a new kind of enemy gets a solid hit on Slayer, and things take a nosedive for the team in a very familiar way.
The established setup of the main characters and plot at this point leads me to believe that the current party is ‘safe’ compared to the bunch from the first episode, in that I don't expect any of them to be horribly killed off while we're still in the middle of the story. Even then, parts of this had me antsy, particularly Priestess getting a chunk ripped out of her shoulder. I have to wonder how much blood these characters can hold. Between all that red stuff and the goblins shredding the Elf's clothes off, Crunchyroll's content warning actually feels earned this week. The parallels to the first episode are intentional, and even if the heroes do make it out of this alive, the whole harrowing scene is meant to be yet another reminder of how much this ‘real’ fantasy world plays for keeps.
So it does feel somewhat unearned how the whole scene turns around with Goblin Slayer's second wind. It's a type of plot turn I'm personally not crazy about; the heroes aren't winning until they suddenly just are. The Elf's attackers were apparently so little of a threat that the Dwarf cleared them away off-camera, and the Lizard Priest's recovery is a similar shrug. It's all supposed to be tied into their belief in the momentum of the Goblin Slayer himself, but there still isn't enough emotional connection to this guy for much audience investment beyond “oh good, I don't have to watch anyone get murdered or raped this time”. It feels like the show's more interested in giving the Slayer meme-able moments of badassery like using hair as a weapon over making us actually care about him as a person. This makes the cliffhanger ending a dud as well.
Of course there's no way that Slayer's actually dead or even in danger of dying by this episode's end, and I don't think that the show expects me to think so. It's a stock hero-collapsing moment where we hold on the canary to have a faux-artsy shot under the credit roll. (The streaming version hilariously forgot the credits entirely, leaving the prolonged scene feeling like an awkward homage to that scene in Evangelion. You know the one.) It does tie in somewhat to the episode's broader themes about how the Slayer's eventual death is an inevitable outcome of what he does, a fatalism that works with the grim worldview the show rides so hard. But it doesn't land as a shock to the audience because we can already guess that this isn't going to be his final battle. Goblin Slayer can do dry world-building decently when it wants to, and I love a good fight and well-executed harrowing tension. But any attempts at making me feel any emotions about this story haven't been earned at all.
Goblin Slayer is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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