What They Say:
The Adventurer’s Guild thinks goblin quests are low rank fodder; something for trainees to handle. But one silver ranked adventurer sees goblins for what they really are—monsters to be driven back to their caves—Goblin Slayer in tow.
Normally handling the dirty work alone, Goblin Slayer has a chance encounter with a porcelain ranked priestess who’s eager to help him out. And with a recent increase in goblin attacks, he’ll need all the help he can get.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the new English language dub which gets the 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show has a pretty good mix to it for a stereo show as there’s some good action elements with the magic that boosts things up and adds some welcome directionality to it. We do get that in some of the more physical elements as well with the fighting and that helps to give it all more impact. The dialogue side is fairly straightforward but it handles the highs and lows very well and there’s some placement in a few areas as well, though that’s not as big a deal here overall. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by White Fox, the show has a really great look about it with the world design, giving it a very lived-in fantasy look with lots of warm elements and detail that are balanced with the cooler pieces of the steel, armor, and so forth. The character designs get to stand out well in contrast to this with some bright and vivid colors in places that shine really well. The high-motion scenes look fantastic throughout with the battles and a few other areas and the end result is a show that just oozes the right kind of quality for the material and what dark action fantasy fans hope for.
The limited-edition release of this series is definitely treated well as we get a heavy chipboard box with a material that feels and even smells right for it. The front is given over to our title character in armor with lots of blood about him set against a murky background of runes that feels just right. There’s a worn feeling about the whole thing that’s just ideal. The back cover works the same concept with a few different colors and pieces that works well and that’s under the onsert that handles the usual back-of-case breakdowns of the summary and technical details that it handles right.
Within the box, we get a good-sized booklet that’s not done on glossy paper as an adventurer’s booklet. It has all the usual character material, settings, design work, visuals and the like, but with it done on slightly rougher paper (and that scent!) it just oozes the right things to me. It not being as crisp and clean also gives it what feels like a more authentic edge. We also get an envelope that holds six gorgeous paper cardstock postcards, half of which have a foil metallic element to them that lets the Goblin Slayer armor shine even more. They’re really striking in both the illustration style without it and the slicker version combined with the cardstock.
Finally, we have the slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs for the two formats. It’s a dark one as you’d expect with the front cover being a full two-panel spread of our title character in action post-swing-of-blade. It’s dark and murky but again sets the right tone. No show related extras are included with it but we do get some new key visual battlefield artwork on the reverse side with a weary but still kicking Goblin Slayer.
The menu design for this release goes fairly simple as we get a really murky background that utilizes clips from the show but does it in such a dark way that it’s hard to tell what most things are, though you can make out a few faces or bits of armor at times. The logo comes together through the middle with a reddish CG form that’s decent while below that we get the parchment that has the navigation. It’s a simple enough release with the basics that are quick to access and load, making it a breeze both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during regular playback.
The release comes with a few extras, mostly located on the second disc, where we get the clean opening and closing sequence along with the audio commentary produced by the English side for the eleventh episode. The big extra is the twenty-minute tabletop talk piece produced by Funimation. This brings in some of the cast as well as those work on the more technical side, including the production credits and the copywriter. It’s something that fleshes things out a bit more but with them all fans of tabletop gaming it has a really mellow and relaxed feeling to it that’s fun as it blends in pieces from the series itself.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a bit of history behind it, the general idea here is that this series is based on the light novel series by Kumo Kagyu that was published by GA Bunko Press beginning in 2016. Illustrated by Noboru Kannatsuki, it began a few years earlier online bit it’s formal published life began in 2016. And it didn’t take long to spawn a couple of different manga spinoffs, a side story light novel series, and this TV series that also has a feature film coming out in 2020. The show has Takaharu Ozaki directing it with White Fox handling the animation production and they put together a solid project that captured something familiar but a little different when it comes to fantasy anime. A genre I love but often ends up being wrapped up in some other genre or isekai kind of thing, which reduces my interest.
The design for the world is a familiar fantasy one where adventurers go and work together in groups or by themselves working from contracts that they get at the Guild. We initially follow a young woman on with her first party where everything goes absolutely wrong. Frustratingly, the series goes with titles for names so we’re introduced to Priestess who sees her entire group wiped out by a large number of goblins. Goblins are problematic enough in general but they’re usually creatures ignored by most adventurers once they get a bit of rank. What helps to salvage the situation, and Priestess’ life, is when a man known just as Goblin Slayer arrives and wipes this group of them out. He’s clad in his armor that he never takes off and has a kind of stoic feeling about him. The weirdness is that he’s fairly well ranked but focuses on just goblins, which means there’s a personal history there.
Goblin Slayer is just as his name implies and it’s something where there’s a real history behind it in just how brutal the takedowns are over it. That opening episode makes it clear what he’s capable of and while he’s not a big group adventurer type he’s also not opposed to it as long as it doesn’t get in the way of his main goal. So we end up with him and Priestess working together and eventually they end up meeting another group that has High Elf Archer, Dwarf Shaman, and Lizard Priest that end up having some mutually similar goals. It’s a little rough at the start in getting the groups together, but this new group is on the hunt for Orcbolg – which is another name for Goblin Slayer. They represent an array of races who know that they need someone like him as part of the group in order to deal with the Demon Lord that’s causing problems everywhere. He’s easy to bring on board once they make it clear to him that there are lots of goblins to slay along the way. He is quite focused on this, to comedic effect.
Not all of this comes together quickly or easily, and with Priestess almost being cut out of the loop, because we have to spend time first with Cow Girl and… yeah, that. But once we do get the actual journey material underway things work well. We get some flashback material that shows us what happened a decade ago when the Demon Lord was slain so that we have some greater context to that. We get plenty of goblins slain along the way, and the group as a whole comes together as we know all of them just a bit better through some simple reveals and moments that don’t overdo it, thankfully. Though they all have pasts they’re not critical parts of the story for the most part and it’s used well to flesh them out rather than leading us down entire sidestory paths.
The original novels have a good bit of worldbuilding in them that’s explored in some of the locations that we visit here and the time with the Demon Lord works well. There’s a nice build to things that eventually leads to the final two episodes where it’s a big action piece that puts everyone into a position to fight based on the plans that Goblin Slayer comes up with. A focus on the goblins and the Goblin Lord definitely isn’t a surprise here but it’s done in such a way that it highlights more just how Goblin Slayer’s status has changed from a weird curiosity with his focus on goblins to someone the people and other adventurers will rally for in order to deal with sizable threats. The best thing in my mind, however, is that while we get the larger picture painted here about how he’s still out there fighting, this season largely works as a self-contained piece and is damn enjoyable just for that.
With an affection for fantasy anime, violent anime, and some decent worldbuilding, Goblin Slayer was right up my alley. The series, which is largely self-contained, delivers a good story and does so while obscuring the lead character’s face nearly the entire time. With anime always being about the eyes being the window to the soul of the characters, that’s a risky position to go with. But it pays off with a bit of mystery combined with his general presence. It’s got a feeling of heft in story and design and that also translates into the packaging as Funimation put together a great looking and great smelling release. I love the books, the box, and the simplicity of the case itself. Everything his right with this set and it’s a fantasy series I can see revisiting yearly to enjoy over and over and likely build more appreciation of.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Goblin Slayer: Tabletop Talk, Episode 11 Commentary, Textless Songs
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 29th, 2019
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.