Monday, July 3, 2017

Goblin Slayer Volume 1 - Light Novel Review

Not to be confused with the free print & play game of the same title. Goblin Slayer is Kumo Kagyu's dark fantasy epic, a 'spoof,' if you will, of the recent crop of rpg-esque fantasy worlds. You know the type. Adventurers with levels or ranks, where they have to shout the name of their ability to use it, and have classes, use guilds. That sort of thing.

Goblin Slayer is not that Light Novel. Instead of the fantasy world playing out like a typical anime or 80s fantasy movie where everyone is altruistic and has noble purpose, people in Goblin Slayer are largely in it for themselves, and the setting is a much darker place than you usually come across. Instead of things working out for the betterment of all, the world is spiraling downward in a circle of decay and neglect. Adventurers, the people who should be protecting the common folk, are avoiding goblin hunting quests because they are hard and don't pay well, leaving villagers in dire peril to the green tide.

When idealistic Priestess becomes an adventurer, and her party of new friends is wiped out by goblins they were under-prepared for, the concerned Guild Receptionist sends her a little timely backup, a medieval version of the Punisher called Goblin Slayer, who is on a lifelong quest to kill every Goblin as revenge for his destroyed village and family. If that sounds pretty dark to you, you've got the gist.


  • Smart Hero - This genre has too few heroes who know what they're about, and Goblin Slayer is certainly one of the prized few. He focuses on the pragmatic instead of the flashy, mercilessly discovering what will work, and discarding everything else on his single minded quest. he'll tell others about how to do his job as well, if they'll listen.
  • Comedy - From reading all of the above, you would think that you couldn't laugh or smile between the front and back cover, but that's simply not true. There are some comedic moments, usually involving Goblin Slayer as the 'straight man,' but these are well chosen, and priceless for their infrequency.
  • Realism - Not sure really how to phrase this better, as a book that has elves, goblins, and magic should not be described as realistic, but this is not a horror movie where you find yourself yelling at the screen "Why don't they get in the car and leave!?!" The options are explained, and the reader rarely is given reason to second guess the characters. Maybe I should call this plausibility?
  • Expy - I found it forgivable, given that the setting is an allegory for tabletop roleplaying games (of the Gygaxian variety), but many of the characters are lifted seemingly straight from games, anime, or other light novels. Like I said, I found it charming (especially Lancer from Fate/Stay Night!), but I could see some people getting annoyed by this quickly.
  • Short - While normal length for a light novel, this is a quick read. Add on that only two volumes are in English currently, and you will be wanting more before you know it.
I'm not sure where this falls on my continuity of light novel interests. I enjoyed it because it's along the same vein as other dark fantasy series I have enjoyed, like Overlord and Dungeon Defense. Unlike those two, however, Goblin Slayer is the good guy, at least from a certain point of view. It's nice to see that heroes can still be represented in a 'Not everyone is an idiot' fashion, instead of just villains. 

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