Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
A fifteen-year-old priestess from the Temple, having completed her training, decides to become an adventurer in order to use her skills to help people. For her first mission, she joins a party of similarly new adventurers as they set off to kill goblins. But the group grossly underestimates the threat that goblins pose, and just as the priestess is about to be killed, she is saved by a strange man in full armor. Known only as “Goblin Slayer,” he explains to the priestess how to effectively wipe out goblins, a skill he has dedicated his life to based on past tragedies – enough that the priestess is willing to join him.
The first volume of the manga adaptation of Kumo Kagyu's light novel Goblin Slayer is a significantly more grim read than its source material. That's not because artist Kousuke Kurose has drastically changed any of the content, but rather because there's a stark difference between reading prose descriptions of Priestess' horrific first encounter with goblins and seeing it play out before you in pictures. While the novel could be read by fantasy fans in the YA and middle grade categories, the manga is strictly for older readers.
To put it bluntly, the goblins' fondness for raping human women isn't scaled back much. While we aren't talking pages of exploitative material, there are panels that show both the attacks and the aftermath in clear detail, leaving no doubt as to what's going on. While this is also true of the novel, the translation of description to image will increase the discomfort level for some readers. Although they aren't used precisely for fanservice, there's enough detail in the female bodies that it feels too prurient at times. The fact that there isn't nearly as much detailed blood-n-guts violence also makes the level of detail in the sexual assault scenes uncomfortable, although we are seeing the scenes through Priestess' eyes for the most part, which might make the focus on what specifically could happen to her make more sense.
This issue aside, the manga is a fairly faithful adaptation, and it does make the storytelling smoother in one sense; since none of the characters have proper names, we don't have to refer to them by their novel designations, instead being able to recognize them visually on the page. The only character to be called by “name” thus far is Goblin Slayer himself, and since his title sounds like it could easily just be a nickname given to him by fellow adventurers, it isn't as awkward as some of the others in the novels. (For example, Goblin Slayer's childhood friend is known as “Cow Girl” in the novels, presumably for her large breasts in combination with living on a farm.) The manga version of the character designs are also a little smoother in a few respects; Priestess and the elf who comes in at the end of the volume both look younger with more practical outfits.
The actual plot has not yet moved past the introductory stage. The book opens with Priestess registering at the Adventurer's Guild before joining a party of similarly young and inexperienced adventurers on their quest to wipe out a goblin nest. While Priestess is wary and wants the group to take more precautions, the rest of the gang is ready to just dive right in, allowing their enthusiasm and overconfidence to guide them. This quickly takes its toll – their mage and swordsman are almost immediately killed by the goblins, and their monk is quickly stripped and attacked. This leaves Priestess to try to fend off the monsters on her own, at which point Goblin Slayer strides in. He's reassuringly practical, which is ultimately what makes Priestess trust him.
The rescue forms the base for their relationship going forward. Although nothing is formally stated, it's clear that Priestess will continue to fight alongside Goblin Slayer. We don't yet know if this is because she now shares his burning hatred of goblins or simply because she feels grateful and safe with him, but the short prose story in the back reassures even readers who don't read the novels that they do have a mutual fondness for each other (albeit a slightly awkward one). Neither character is especially developed yet, which is concerning given that they're about to embark on their next major goblin killing quest, so this does feel like a stripped-down version of the plot thus far. Oddly enough, Goblin Slayer's farming friend feels like the character we've got the most information on right now – we know her emotions, her backstory, and her general disposition, which is two things more than we know about Priestess and one more than Goblin Slayer himself. Given that she's still a fairly minor character three novels in, this focus on her feels like an odd choice. Of course, she's also the character it's safest to use for fanservice purposes, which may account for the level of detail in her chapter as well.
Goblin Slayer's first manga volume isn't quite as good as its source material, and the dramatic upping of the sexually violent content doesn't make it as easy to recommend. It still begins an interesting story and the characters look nice with a smooth flow to the pages, but unless you have objections to reading light novels, I'd suggest going with Kumo Kagyu's originals for this series.
Overall : C+
Story : C+
Art : B-
+ Pleasing art, story moves along at a good pace
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