Rating: 3/5 – Just Like the Title Implies… Goblins are Slayed!
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow
One of the great things about manga – as with most forms of entertainment – is also one of the worst things about it: When there’s blood in the water, everyone comes around to get a piece of whatever’s floating. A successful story about monsters will beget the sudden appearance of several other books about monsters. A ripping yarn about witches will bring a number of other witch-based stories to the bookshelf. And if a fantasy tale happens to hit big, you can count on having plenty of fantasy-based options to choose from. Cultural zeitgeist or quick cash-in? You can make your own mind up where that’s concerned.
Case in Point: Goblin Slayer, a dark dungeon romp with plenty of blood, ghoulish – and apparently horny – goblins, and an armored terror determined to slay them all. I mean, that last part’s right there in the title, okay? Don’t worry, though, because if you forget the titular character will remind you, repeatedly. When a young priestess finds her adventuring party wiped out by goblins who were much craftier and more ruthless than previously believed, she’s rescued by the aforementioned armored terror. The obsession Goblin Slayer has with the green-skinned monsters goes beyond mere fanaticism. There’s a drive spurring him onward (if indeed it’s a man inside the armor) that isn’t wholly revealed in the first volume. And there lies the real question: Is there enough here to make me want to get past the first volume to want to give Goblin Slayer time to reveal the roots of that drive?
Kousuke Kurose’s inkwork is exceptional, particularly during the many action sequences that fill this book. Character designs, particularly for background characters, are given more thought that many books in a similar vein. These aren’t your standard dungeon crawler NPCs. Some side characters who maybe only get a line or two in have enough depth in their creation that you get the sense they have stories all their own to share. How much of that is Kurose’s influence or that of character designer Noboru Kannatuki, I’m not able to say, but it gives the book a bit more gravity.
It comes down to how long they can keep the “I hate Goblins” storyline going, then. Goblin Slayer, as mentioned, is obsessed with them, and finds many ways to destroy them while commenting on elements of their culture and society (to explain it to the priestess (and to us)). It’s entirely possible he or she *is* a goblin under that helmet. Nothing can be ruled out at this early stage of the story.
As hinted at earlier, these Goblins don’t always just kill their prey. It should not be lost on any manga fan worth their salt that a good number of “adventurers” are female as well as archetypes of various dungeon epics. The witchy-looking mage (complete with glasses) for example. Because our priestess, one of the main characters, is a blonde, waifish, cute girl, she’s spared this horror with only future volumes to determine if that’s a stay of execution or not. Perhaps she’s to become Goblin Slayer’s morality center, if nothing else. Whether this is an enticement or a turn-off for you to pick this book up (it does show in no uncertain terms that these Goblins aren’t nice creatures) isn’t for me to judge, but I found it a bit much for my own taste.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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