I would just like to say upfront that this is my personal opinion and does not reflect the thoughts of Honey's Anime as a whole. Also, keep in mind that I haven't read the Goblin Slayer manga at all. This is strictly coming from a person who has only seen the first episode of the series, has heard the voices of other people in the community and wants to give his two cents on the matter. I know some people are saying that the anime sexualizes the brutality of assaulting and raping women. So much so that they warn against watching the show at all and suggest you stick to just reading the manga.
This show has an R- (17+) rating. That puts it in a category with the likes of Freezing, Highschool of the Dead, High School DxD, Guilty Crown, Akama ga Kill, Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-, and Tokyo Ghoul. All of these shows are aimed towards a mature audience, hence the R rating. Adults are going into these shows expecting over the top violence, gore, explicit language, and even sexuality.
Anime Tropes Deconstructed
Specifically, Goblin Slayer has been referred to as a deconstruction of the standard high fantasy tropes from video games and anime. For instance, there is a hierarchy of adventurer ranks, with platinum being the highest rank and porcelain being the lowest. There is also the character that we most connect with, the young and beautiful priestess, who is a novice and very naive about the world she inhabits. Generally, this type of character would make some friends and they would go on light-hearted adventures together, growing closer and delving into their backstories for an emotionally driven narrative. Unfortunately, that assumption is shattered within the first ten minutes of the first episode. Just like porcelain doesn't make sense in that ranking system, this girl having fun adventures aren't going to be a thing in this series.
So if deconstruction is a core tenet of this show, then why can't sexualization in anime be deconstructed as well? Anime such as High School of the Dead, High School DxD, and many other R rated shows overtly sexualize their characters and scenes as fanservice. I feel that Goblin Slayer is taking that fanservice element and throwing it back in our face. "Oh you expect to see female characters with hyper-sexualized designs and to be put in sexual positions for your viewing pleasure, well how about we make you feel extremely uncomfortable for expecting that to be the case in this show!" Seeing a busty female forced to the ground with her hips up and goblins surrounding her from behind should not make you feel at ease.
Our Expectations Betray Us
Just like the young swordsman's limbs were chopped off by his own sword, our expectations are meant to betray us going into Goblin Slayer. I think the first episode does an excellent job showing you how the rest of the series is going to play out. You're going to be surprised, you're going to feel uncomfortable, you can't expect things to turn out alright, and people will be slaughtered right in front of your face. People forget to mention that there was a group of young goblin children that were murdered in cold blood. Our male "protagonist" flat out stats that the only "good" goblin is one that never makes it out of its cave.
If you want to criticize the first episode, maybe you should look at how they treated the female fighter who was sexually assaulted on her first quest. At the end of the episode, she is on a wagon, presumably headed toward her hometown or maybe even a convent where other women like her spend the rest of their days sheltered from the outside world. Her identity and sense of agency are never given back to her again. She's clumped in a group of other assaulted women like her and it's not clear how she lives out the rest of her life. Talk about lack of closure. However, this character's story arc conclusion fits right in line with what Goblin Slayer wants to present to the audience. Even though the female fighter doesn't receive a proper resolution, the circumstances leading to her trauma remain largely the same, unless someone decides to do something about it. It appears as if Goblin Slayer is the only character in the world who gives a damn about women being kidnapped and assaulted by goblin bandits.
Draw Your Own Conclusion
In closing, whenever you have a graphic scene in anime or movies people will interpret it in multiple ways. Some will perceive it to be purely sexual in nature. Others will appreciate the meaning the artist is trying to convey. And others, still, will throw up their arms in protest at how disgusting and unnecessary it is for the medium. All I'm saying is that you shouldn't avoid watching this particular anime just because there are scenes charged with hypersexuality. It appears that Goblin Slayer seeks to deconstruct a multitude of tropes while delivering a unique story with deep character development. I honestly hope that this anime stays the course and doesn't buck to an outcry from fans, otherwise it will devolve into something it's trying to criticize.
These are my personal opinions on the matter. Feel free to disagree. There is a lot of talking centered on this first episode and I think that's a great thing. The more attention and exposure the anime genre receives the more likely that future R rated shows will focus more on content and originality and less on fanservice. We'd like to hear your opinions on the matter. You can comment below or tweet at us. Thanks for reading and have a great day.