"Psst, kid, wanna roll some D20s?"
Goblin Slayer is a series that, paradoxically, is underrated because of how popular it is. Popularity means a wide audience, which means a wide array of stupid uninformed opinions that undersell a good work of fiction. Here is a shortlist of wrong statement about this show one might hear, as well as where those statements originate from:
“It’s edge-fest/fetishistic porn/literally neo-nazi propaganda” - originates from sheltered, entitled life without any hardships plus never reading/watching any serious fiction, thus having no context whatsoever for how a dark/whatever show looks like. Goblin Slayer is just an ordinary R-rated show.
“It baits you with gore and then becomes generic SoL” - from sheltered, entitled life without any hardships plus never reading/watching any serious fiction, thus having a warped idea that to be “mature” a story needs a character getting killed/raped/eaten every 30 seconds, “just like it happens in real life”.
“It’s a generic isekai” - from thinking SAO invented fantasy anime and not knowing such words as “tabletop” or “D&D”.
“It’s a bad adaptation” - from not even knowing what medium the source material comes from, and mistakenly believing it’s manga. Between manga and anime, the anime is a better adaptation of the original light novels. Alternatively, from fundamentally not understanding how “adapting” from one medium to another actually works.
Brushing the nonsense aside, I want to emphasize what makes this show good:
Goblin Slayer perfectly captures the spirit of a D&D campaign - that is, the spirit of murder-hoboing, with all the glorious total party kills, rule-lawyering and cheesing of the encounters. You can constantly see deliberately written moments where the players are implied to be rolling the dice, and how good of a roll that was based on the outcome.
It is a well-written dark fantasy in a market where this commodity is in deficit. Many little details show that a lot of thought and research was put into world building. While it’s not quite on the speculative fiction level, it comes pretty close to being a D&D setting written as a real functioning world.
A unique and fascinating main character and his character arc. The premise initially implies that Goblin Slayer is going to be a faceless killing machine. He was born to be a completely unremarkable average person, but then a single event radically changes his life making him fanatically focus on a single goal (of killing goblins) in favor of which he abandons everything else, including growing into a well-adjusted human being. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a human being, or even that he is crazy. The foundations to lead a normal life are there, and the more Goblin Slayer comes in contact with other people, the more he grows, becoming more and more complex and constantly re-evaluating what he is.
Good adaptation. Not slavish adaptation, but actually good adaptation. Things are swapped around and changed to accomodate episode length and season length limitations, thus having a proper story arc in 12-episodes format. Between the things that are the point of anime medium - fight scenes choreography, music, voice acting - the former two are great. And while the latter is nothing to write home about, hearing Priestess say Goburin Sureiya-san is a reason enough for an anime adaptation to exist. Also, main character’s model is CGI and it looks fine unless you hate CGI on religious principle, not based on how it looks. For those who desire faithfulness, the anime is more faithful than the manga, which has an annoying manner of randomly changing characters’ reactions/behavior, therefore changing the characters themselves and making them look inconsistently written.
9/10 because this series succeeds in what it tries to achieve with basically no issues.