Goblin Slayer Episode 4 Review: The Goblins Must be Slain and This is an Adventure?

October 30, 2018

Quick Summary

In Goblin Slayer episode 4, "The Strong," Goblin Slayer leads the party into the enemy fortress. They encounter and free a captive Elf and send her home with the magic of the Lizardman, Tokage Souryo. But the event shatters the composure of the party's elf, Yousei Yunde. Just what did she expect from a foray into goblin territory? Will she be able to stay with the party in spite of not only her fear, but of Goblin Slayer's own brand of "compassion?" Onna Shinkan tries her best to maintain the peace, as does the Dwarf, Kouhito Doushi. But soon, the Elf's reaction to her first goblin combat is absolutely the least of their worries. 

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

Moment 1

Saying Yousei was not enthusiastic about the method used to cover her scent would be an understatement. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

We learned a lot about Yousei (the Elf) in this episode. More than she'd probably like us to know, true, but these things give us great insight into her character. The first thing we learned is that she's a bit squeamish. The team has advanced on the dungeon's entrance. They're admiring her marksmanship, and it's clear she's proud of her skills. Then Goblin Slayer does something that shocks her: he slices open on the goblins and soaks a rag with their blood. He explains that goblins have a keen sense of smell that's particularly sensitive to women, children, and Elves. She immediately realizes what he intends to do, and she appeals to the party for help. Onna, already more than used to this ritual, just says, "You get used to it" with a blank look in here eyes (1:04). I don't think she ever really got used to be covered in goblin blood...

Whatever her own misgivings, Yousei sees herself as a warrior. She had no intention of backing down. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

Moment 2

Remember I said that we learned a lot about Yousei? Well, we also learned that though she's a ranger and has had some kind of experience, whatever experience she's had, it hasn't been with the kind of combat she's seeing now. The party rescued the Elf they found chained to the wall in the goblin's waste heap. Upon even just seeing the captive, Yousei threw up in horror (5:43). Even after the Lizardman had used his magic to send the Elf back to her people, Yousei's nerves were shattered. She was crying almost uncontrollably (7:05). It was clear this experience was completely different than she had expected. Goblin Slayer spoke to her brusquely, to which Onna objected. But it seemed to be just what Yousei needed -- not to be coddled, but to be treated like one of the party's warriors. She understood what he was trying to do and even told Onna it was okay (7:43). One thing her previous experience did do was teach her resiliency. Good thing, too, because she's going to need it. 

Yousei wants to show Goblin Slayer that there's beauty in the world. I wonder if she'll succeed? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

Moment 3

I'm not sure this show is getting enough credit for its characterization. With what we've seen of Yousei so far, if we got nothing more in this episode, it's be enough to help us understand that she's inexperienced when it comes to bloody combat, but that she's strong and is willing to overcome her fears to be a warrior. But then this episode gave us the scene of the exhausted party traveling back to the city in the Elvish wagon. Yousei reflects on what they've just been through (21:16). She explains to Onna that adventures are "supposed to be fun. The joy of experiencing the unknown and discovering new things... Feeling elated elated to accomplished... That's what my adventures are like. This is no adventure." Then she promises some day to take Goblin Slayer on a real adventure. Instead of being a spoiled child playing at being a warrior, she'd just experienced a different kind of adventure. In the time it took her to assist in the attack on one goblin stronghold, she'd reconciled her expectations and had bonded with her party enough to want to show them a better life. That's a lot of development for one episode! 

Thoughts

I wonder if Elves are made of sterner stuff than humans -- or maybe the Elves have a better support system to treat survivors of the kind of experience the Elvish woman had at the hands of the goblins? The human women we've encountered so far had to retire to a convent, presumably for the rest of their lives. The Elf in this episode simply asked, in a grim and determined voice, that Goblin Slayer remove the threat by killing all of the goblins. We don't know what happened to her next, but I got the sense (and maybe it's just wishful thinking) that she would be on the road to recovery. 

Was I the only one who thought that once the ogre introduced himself as "not a goblin," that Goblin Slayer might just walk away? Glad he didn't! I'm sure the party feels the same.

Yep! Definitely not a goblin! I'm still surprised that Goblin Slayer didn't just walk away, uninterested! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

I stuck with this series hoping I'd get some realistic combat with real consequences for its characters. How are we doing after four episodes?

So far, I'm impressed!

Little details add up, like:

  1. Goblin Slayer being concerned that there were no goblin shaman, yet they were still somehow setting intricate traps.
  2. The Dwarf being able to read the wear on the floor to learn where the goblins were concentrated.
  3. Goblin Slayer being blunt with the Elf instead of coddling her, along with the bracing impact his words had on her.
  4. The final tactic to destroy the ogre -- using a teleport gate linked to the ocean depths to release the seawater at high pressure and narrow aperture so it would act a blades -- was genius!

Kouhito the Dwarf was able to read the wear patterns in the stone. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

I really enjoy this kind of thing! It means the world and characters have to be in complete sync; a slight error in world realism would reflect badly on the characters and vice versa. It's not easy to pull off, because it focuses attention on those aspects of the story, so a slight misstep means suspension of disbelief collapses. But if it works, the results can be fantastic! 

Can the writer keep up this level of quality? I certainly hope so. And if the story can continue to deliver the kind of character depth that we saw with Yousei, I'll consider my faith in this show justified!

What did you think of this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

Other Posts of Interest

  • Dawnstorm says:

    My favourite thing about this episode is the memes it generated:

    here

    and here

    I don’t have much to say about the episode itself, really. I actually didn’t like the Elf-girl’s “Adventures should be fun,” ending. It felt out of place: going into a dungeon to exterminate goblins isn’t supposed to be fun, and if you think it should be I’d probably want to stay away from you. It’s not that I don’t understand what they were going for, but I think it was ill-placed. It’s as if the harem genre and D’n’D ideology doubleteamed to destroy the story.

    At this point, I can say I’ll probably stick it out, but episodes like this one aren’t going to be my favourites.

    • tcrow says:

      If I had to identify what I thought was my least favorite aspect of the episode, it would be what you pointed out: Elf-girl’s “Adventures should be fun,” ending.”

      Despite that, like you, I get what they were going for, and I tried to embrace it. I find I get more enjoyment out of a series if I can extend the benefit of the doubt like that.

      That being said, I wonder if I would have liked it more had they taken a different tact. Maybe emphasize that Yousei’s expectations were based on the idea of an adventure _against weak monsters_. Once she got into it and realized the experience was as much utter war as the larger campaigns against the demon armies, maybe she could have adjusted her attitude by embracing the horror. Then, at the end, she could have promised to take Goblin Slayer on a martial campaign, beside many comrades, in the light of day.

      What do you think?

      • Dawnstorm says:

        I’m not sure what to think. I don’t really have a handle on her character. She’s supposed to be 2000 years old, but she’s lead a sheltered life? She’s got those great archery skills, but where did she practise them? And what for? What does she think of violence, anyway? If elves are vegetarians, archery isn’t going to be used for hunting. So she’s likely learned archery specifically to kill. Is that part of the “fun adventure”? Or a necessity for self-defense?

        For the scene, I probably would have prefered simple, fatigued silence. The biggest plot problem I see with your approach is that they ran into an ogre, which would to some agree overshadow the goblins in terms of threat level (in direct comparison, the single ogre was a lot more dangerous than all the goblins in there). What the show is basically saying is not to underestimate the footsoldiers, lest they swarm you. But here they took out a general. In terms of the audience, we were shown that goblin slayer can handle himself well enough with other foes. That’s at odds with making this particular raid about goblins.

        What the show wants to do, I think, is develop a difference in philosophy between Elf and Slayer. “Fun” works well enough as a sort of blanket term: it’s not really only that. Slayer’s disaffected approach irks her: there’s no pride, no satisfaction, no nothing. Goblin Slayer very literally just kills goblins because that’s what he does. The biggest problem here is probably timing: too much, too soon. Set it up now, and get the declaration going in a less tense scene. Something like that maybe?

        • tcrow says:

          “Goblin Slayer very literally just kills goblins because that’s what he does. The biggest problem here is probably timing: too much, too soon. Set it up now, and get the declaration going in a less tense scene. Something like that maybe?”

          You’ve given me a lot to think about here.

          I’m trying to bridge what this episode gave us with what I think it _ought_ to have given us. At the same time, I’m trying to preserve Yousei’s dignity as a warrior, which I think this episode tried to present, but likely stumbled.

          But I still appreciate the attempt!

          Still, all things considered, I like how the show’s driving these conversations. It’s something that Grancrest Senki, as much as I enjoyed it, didn’t do.

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