In Goblin Slayer episode 11, “A Gathering of Adventurers,” Goblin Slayer reads the signs of an impending goblin attack and begs Ushikai Musume to run for her life. Unwilling to abandon him, knowing he will stay and try to fight them alone (and to his death) if she leaves, she declined, forcing him to make a difficult decision. He goes to town and immediately begs the others adventurers for help. Will the high-ranking adventurers agree to fight lowly goblins? Or will Goblin Slayer have to stand against a sea of goblins with only the Elf Yousei Yunde, the Dwarf Kouhito Doushi, and the Lizardman Tokage Souryo at his side? Is it possible even they would abandon him?
Warning: This series presents decidedly mature themes, and it contains a dramatic representative of violence against women (including rape). If any of these these trouble you, please do not watch this series or read this review.
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What’s in This Post
3 Favorite Moments
Ushikai seemed terrified to her core when Goblin Slayer admitted he would not be able to stop all 100 goblins alone. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
If I had any doubts about Ushikai’s courage, they’re gone now. The woman is as brave as any adventurer we’ve met. Goblin Slayer comes back from his morning rounds and tells her, “Run” (1:50). He offered no explanation until she asked, and he explained that he’d discovered tracks. Rattled, she tried to brush the threat aside by saying she was sure he could defeat them. “I can’t,” he said with his characteristic honesty. She’s not an idiot. As Goblin Slayer’s friend, she’s completely aware of what goblins are capable of doing. His words terrified her (2:13). But remember, courage isn’t not feeling fear. Courage is making the necessary decision in spite of fear. She knew that if she ran as he asked, he’d still stay and fight, alone, until he was dead. So, she told him that she was sorry, but she was staying. That was the only way she could think of to keep him alive — even though it put her in harm’s way. Did her sadly defiant expression tug at your heart? It did mine!
Lancer asks how much Goblin Slayer is willing to pay for the adventurers’ help. “Everything,” he answers simply. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Goblin Slayer couldn’t convince Ushikai to flee, and he knew he couldn’t hold the goblin army back on his own. He’s shown us time and time again that he’s a reasonable man (perhaps to a fault!), but he’s nearly unskilled with human interaction. So he does exactly what I’d expect Goblin Slayer to do in this situation: he goes to the Guild Hall and asked everyone for help defend the farm against 100 goblins. Yaritsukai (Lancer) is the first to talk to him; the others more or less ignore him (though Majo the Witch watches with interest). Adventurers being adventurers, they can’t just help for free; they have professional pride, and Yaritsukai tries to explain this to him. Lancer used a condescending tone to maintain appearances, but I could see that he was really trying to get Goblin Slayer to offer some kind of reward so he could say yes. So he asks Goblin Slayer how much he’s willing to pay for help. “Everything,” is his answer (8:44). He was willing to pay everything he had, up to and including his life, if they would help him defend Ushikai’s farm. Except for one thing: he withheld the commitment to actually die. “There’s someone who might cry if I die. I was told that I can’t make them cry.” After that moment, there’s no way I can think of Goblin Slayer as emotionless. He might not be able to express it, but there are emotions going on in there!
I would not want to be in that Goblin Lord’s shoes about now… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
The show’s called “Goblin Slayer,” and the main character is named “Goblin Slayer.” The second half of this episode lived up completely to the title. The adventurers, relying on Goblin Slayer’s strategy and tactics, were able to counter each goblin attack wave, until the Goblin Lord decided to flee. That’s when the main character stepped in to live up to his name. The fleeing Goblin Lord skidded to a half, half sensing and half seeing a presence in the trees (21:42). A moment later, he saw a red glow. I’ll be you know what’s coming! Yep! It was Goblin Slayer in trade-mark mode (21:45)! Yeah, it might be gimmicky. Yeah, it was almost mandatory that it show up in this episode. But dang, it was still cool!
Yaritsukai (hard not to think of him as Lancer!) gets the bro-ful quote of the episode when he said, “I don’t need your life, you dumbass! Just buy me a drink later” (9:44). Hard to say how the conversation would have gone without him directing it!
Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to see the word masculinity without it being prefaced with “toxic.” High-profile people (at least in the United States) too often assert their “manliness” at the expense of a woman’s dignity. If one of the most powerful men in the “free” world can act the way he does in the name of masculinity, then I can understand why it’s so often seen as toxic. It’s really the only reasonable reaction.
Watching this episode of Goblin Slayer made me wonder if it’s time to redeem the idea of masculinity?
On one hand, I could argue that no, Goblin Slayer just perpetuates the stereotype of the damsel in distress, which is a tributary to the idea of toxic masculinity. He even says, “‘You have to protect the girls,’ huh” (5:48) as he’s trying to work out what he should do after Ushikai refused to run away. But I think that interpretation doesn’t do the character justice.
This is not the look Ushikai would give a male exhibiting toxic masculinity. Her reaction would be more of a “punch in the throat” sort of thing. Violent, sure, but understandable. No, this is the look she gives someone she trusts completely. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Consider how he acted when she made it clear to him that she was not going to leave. “Don’t make that face,” he begs her, his voice as close to panic as I’ve ever heard it (5:25). A classic (and I’d argue “toxic”) male response would be to do the chest-thumping thing and brag how he would find some way to save her; with the clear implication that he would have his way with her when this was all over. Going out into the yard, tearing up some grass, and throwing it into the air would be optional.*
That’s not what our hero did. He was terrified on her behalf. He nearly panicked. He wanted desperately to keep her safe, not because she was “his,” but because he saw her as under his protection. That’s Goblin Slayer-speak for what most of us would think of as family and friends. His honestly had long ago killed and buried his bravado. The grim realism of his fighting had driven away any inflated sense of his own abilities. Goblin Slayer knew what he was capable of, he knew he couldn’t save her on his own. Yet, he was absolutely committed to keeping her alive.
Seeing Ushikai as his friend or family (and not a prize), the commitment to protect her and the farm, that honesty about his own capabilities, and the willingness to look beyond his own abilities to ask for the help of the other adventurers — to me, that combination is what constitutes masculinity.
I couldn’t find a place for it in the post, but I just loved this shot of Yousei dangling from Tokage’s grip (you can’t see it, but her feet are off the ground!), as she reacted to Goblin Slayer saying he’d offer “Everything” to save Ushikai. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
But wait, you might say. Didn’t Goblin Slayer said he had to protect “the girls?” Isn’t even his idea of masculinity demeaning? Depends on who he was talking about. From the context, I think he meant “the girls who don’t have their own combat capabilities.” Ushikai had no idea how to fight; that’s not what she had trained for. So, he knew he had to protect her. But notice how he treated other women who were adventurers. He didn’t show the slightest hesitation in accepting Yousei’s offer to help. Same thing with Majo the Witch. Or the Amazon or Paladin. What Goblin Slayer meant was that he had to protect those who could not protect themselves — by standing beside those who could defend themselves.
Gender was not an issue in either side of that equation.
But wait again, you might say! What about the word historically seen as the “opposite” of masculinity — femininity? What does it mean in this context? Isn’t it still socially negative?
In this case, I suspect it means the same thing as masculinity. I’m inclined to simply replace both with “humanity,” though I admit I don’t have the experience or authority to actually suggest any disposition for the word femininity. So I’ll continue to think of it as an equivalent until someone more qualified has a better idea.
I’m pretty sure the fighter on the left is no less capable than the fighter on the right. Goblin Slayer welcomed both of them to the fight! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Personally, I’d like to replace the phrase “toxic masculinity” with the more accurate phrase “morally reprehensible behavior.” It’s more clear, and goodness knows public discourse on the subject could use the clarity! Plus, it redeems a word that really could use a makeover!
What do you think? What were your favorite moments in this episode? Let me know in the comments!
* Yes, I have a dim view of the antiquated views of masculinity, and I’m not shy about expressing it.
Other Posts of Interest
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit Discussion of Goblin Slayer Episode 11
- KVASIR 369’S ANIME, MANGA, AND GAME BLOG: Goblin Slayer Episode 11 Review
- AngryAnimeBitches: Goblin Slayer Episode 11
This Site (Crow’s World of Anime!)
- Goblin Slayer Episode 1: The Fate of Particular Adventurers
- Goblin Slayer Episode 2: Goblin Slayer
- Goblin Slayer Episode 3: Unexpected Visitors
- Goblin Slayer Episode 4: The Strong
- Goblin Slayer Episode 5: Adventures and Daily Life
- Goblin Slayer Episode 6: Goblin Slayer in the Water Town
- Goblin Slayer Episode 7: Onward Unto Death
- Goblin Slayer Episode 8: Whispers and Prayers and Chants
- Goblin Slayer Episode 9: There and Back Again
- Goblin Slayer Episode 10: Dozing