Come for the goblin slaying, stay for the goblin slaying.
Title: Goblin Slayer
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Action, Adventure
Publisher: Square Enix (JP), Yen Press (US)
Creator: Kumo Kagyu
Artists: Kousuke Kurose, Noboru Kannatuki (Character Design)
Serialized in: Monthly Big Gangan
Translation: Kevin Steinbach
Release Date: December 19, 2017
A review copy was provided by Yen Press.
When it comes to reading words, and describing the anguish of a hero expecting greatness getting absolutely slaughtered by goblins, you try and picture the situation. You form an image in your mind that can go almost how you want it based on the description. That’s why when reading the Goblin Slayer novels, imagining it in that form was pretty brutal.
Reading the manga version of it is downright ghastly.
Goblin Slayer the manga is adapting Kumo Kagyu’s story about as close to it as it can. A young Priestess is new to adventuring, but gets swept up by a plucky group of upstarts. The three of them — A Fighter, A Warrior, and a Wizard — choose to take a goblin slaying quest, and asks Priestess to join them. She does, which turns out to be a tragic mistake. Due to overconfidence and inexperience, only the Priestess makes it out of the goblin’s nest alive. And the only reason she’s alive is because of one man dedicated to killing Goblins — Goblin Slayer.
It’s not quite easy to say just how much the manga has adapted so far of the light novel. It’s obvious there were things left out in this volume — starting with the tease of a much greater plan involving gods, certain characters couldn’t make it into Volume 1, etc — but as pictures are used to tell the story, it’s possibly halfway through the first volume of the light novel.
Man are those pictures telling the story though. Kousuke Kurose is bringing to life in graphic novel form the Warrior getting gutted by goblins, the Fighter getting raped by goblins, and the Goblin Slayer slaying goblins in every possible way he can — by fire, by trick, by sword, by axe, whatever. All of that is drawn way too well. There’s one scene in the manga where Kurose draws Goblin Slayer as one of those ghouls parents might tell their children to scare them, standing atop a pile of dead goblins. It’s freakishly vile.
That’s probably why Goblin Slayer is good. It’s a dark fantasy maybe up there with the likes of Berserk in violence and style. The translation’s clean and the lettering isn’t awkward at points.
It’s most assuredly not for everyone. In general the problem with this manga, and this was a criticism with the light novel, is that the stakes are too simple. You just have one man who had a gut-wrenching experience with goblins as a kid who wants revenge. That all it is at this point. The goblins are treated as nothing. No one cares about them much in this world. The only ones that do are the ones suffering from them.
But sometimes simple can be best. In this case, from giving the characters a backstory to showcasing one’s man desire while he’s ostracized by everyone else works well enough. Goblin Slayer should be read by someone who can handle the amount of savagery that happens in this work. If you can tolerate that, then this is one work you’ll be thinking about for quite a while.