Goblin Slayer Episode 9: Close Quarters Combat and Crushing Expectations

December 4, 2018

Quick Summary

In Goblin Slayer episode 9, "There and Back Again," our heroes discover a magical mirror gate that the goblins have been protecting. Before they can do anything about it, Yousei Yunde hears a goblin army approaching -- along with the now one-eyed goblin champion. Goblin Slayer takes stock of their surroundings. Can even he come up with a plan to defend against that many attackers? And if he does, can Onna Shinkan and the others implement it quickly enough? 

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

For maybe the first time, Goblin Slayer-san figures out the answer to the question, "What's in my pocket?" Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Moment 1

This episode picks up right where episode 8 ended. Our heroes have discovered a magical mirror capable of creating a spatial gate. They discover that it's linked to the green moon, which is full of goblins. As they're trying to decide what to do, Yousei hears a goblin army approaching -- accompanied by the same goblin champion that had caused them so much trouble a couple of episodes ago. Tokage Souryo points out that if this mirror is the way goblins are getting in, they can't just abandon it, so they can't just flee. Everyone turns to Goblin Slayer to come up with a plan. The pressure's on! He looks around the room and suddenly says (2:22),  "What's in my pocket?" It was the same question his mentor had asked him in a previous episode, and it took on new meaning: When coming up with a plan, take stock of what you have. Goblin Slayer showed once again that not only does he try to be prepared, he's cool under pressure. Good thing for them, too!

Goblin Slayer's plan had multiple moving parts and required almost perform teamwork. And guess what? His team was up to it! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Moment 2

The culmination of Goblin Slayer's plan was brilliant! Last week, he verified that they were beyond the boundaries of the city, and now we know why. This week, Tokage's job was to detach the magical mirror from the wall (with Onna's help). While he did that, the rest of the team held the goblins and goblin champion at bay -- which wasn't at all easy given their numbers and goblin champion's brute strength! But as soon as they got the mirror detached, he told Tokage to face it upward and told everyone else to get under it (9:22). He then told Kouhito Doushi to launch an explosive magical attack very high into the air at the same time he ordered Onna to cast a light spell. Frozen by the blinding light, the goblins and their champion couldn't see the Dwarf's explosions destroy the pillars and supports -- and bring the roof down on them! Goblin Slayer and his team hid under the mirror, which transported the falling roof to the green moon. It was a brilliant strategy (yes, pun kinda intended). Even better? It was a team strategy, where each depended on the other. And they nailed it! Goblin Slayer's come a long way since the first episode.

From one perspective, Goblin Slayer merely said he would continue to be himself. From another, he gave Shield Maiden hope. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Moment 3

I can't imagine the courage it would have taken Sword Maiden to open up to Goblin Slayer (14:39). Any woman talking about such an experience would be challenged, but this world looked at Sword Maiden as an all-powerful protector. If her secret got out, she could loose her position. Maybe even her life. She went so far as to admit to him that if the goblins were to attack, she knew she'd freeze. But Goblin Slayer being Goblin Slayer, he didn't judge her. He almost broke her heart when he told her he could not save her. But then he did something beautiful. He told her that if goblins ever showed up again, she could call him, and he'd come immediately and kill the goblins for her (18:32).

Falling to her knees, in tears, she asked, "Even... Even in my dreams?"

"Yeah," he answered. 

"You will come?"

"Yeah. Because I'm the Goblin Slayer."

Her relief was just heart-breaking. I don't know about you, but I feel no shame in admitting that I teared up here. 

Thoughts

So, the white alligator we saw earlier was actually Sword Maiden's familiar, and it was responsible for keeping the sewers clear of rats. This episode made that pretty clear. The explanation of the rest of her story, however, was less clear -- at least to me. I admit that I researched Reddit's spoiler discussion of this episode to make sure I understood what had happened.

Goblin Slayer saw through the lie that goblins had been behind the murders. He knew that goblins would not have killed women on the spot. The Sword Maiden, a Gold level adventurer, could not admit that lowly goblins terrified her to the point of immobility, so she couldn't just ask for help when protecting the city. She'd heard the song extolling Goblin Slayer's abilities, and she came up with the plan to ask him to get rid of the goblins for her -- under the guise of investigating how goblins were committing murders. She knew he'd take the bait because it meant he got to kill goblins.

I'm not sure Sword Maiden needed such an elaborate plan. Then again, until she actually met him, she didn't realize how much she could trust Goblin Slayer. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I suspect she needn't have gone to that much work. She could just have sent him a secret message asking for his help. It's clear he would have come anyway! But given the state of mental health care in that world, maybe she just couldn't see beyond her own trauma. 

I think this episode was dramatically a step up from the last. I've been looking forward to battles where the tactics and operations made sense in the context of the world. The battle in front of the magic mirror delivered that! I also wanted to see the team come together and fight as a unit; I got that, too!

Even the way this episode portrayed Sword Maiden was effective in terms of conveying her tragedy. Without the issues I talked about in last episode's Thoughts section, I was able to focus on sympathizing with her, so that scene I noted as my third favorite really resonated. It's just a shame that so many people (including me!) were initially confused by that scene. I've often reflected on how hard it must be to adapt a manga to anime form. Maybe I should be more surprised that so many adaptations go as well as they do!

This episode showed a lot of great teamwork -- like Yousei shooting a goblin as it tried to attack Goblin Slayer from a blind spot. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I've not read the manga and (with the exception of checking Reddit's spoiler thread this week) I've avoided even reading about the manga. So I'm not sure where the show goes next. If it can keep the trends from this episode, I'm optimistic that it could stick its landing! 

What did you think of the completion of water town's arc? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

Other Posts of Interest

  • Dawnstorm says:

    The depiction of teamwork this episode was pretty good, and the mirror plan was great. Goblin Slayer’s sowly opening up, too, which is interesting.

    Other than that, I have little to say. GS is one of those shows that suffer from Main-character syndorme (main character is way more developed than others, and everyone else is written as to maximise that development). The Sword Maiden scene suffered from this, even if only indirectly. It’s an okay scene, but she’s not being developed in any other way than to make goblins look bad, which seems to be the shows rationale.

    The way Goblin Slayer handled the scene, I’m sure, is thanks to his party opening him up. I’d expect episode one’s Goblin Slayer to have expressed confusion about killing dream goblins.

    It’s not so much that Sword Maiden isn’t a good character; it’s that the show’s only interested in her to the extent that she furthers the shows concept. It’s a problem I’ve always had with “put only into the story what’s relevant.” The ultimate result is a “reduced” world, and something overly constructed. Plot or concept efficiency isn’t all that stories are about. I don’t mind open ends and detours, if it means the world feels more alive.

    Take Goblin Slayer out of the show, and I have no interest in sticking with the show. Based on what I hear on writing forums or read about creative writing seminars, people see that as the show working as it should; but I feel that’s a flaw.

    • tcrow says:

      “It’s an okay scene, but she’s not being developed in any other way than to make goblins look bad, which seems to be the shows rationale.”

      I wonder how much of her apparent level of development is because of the disjointed scene? Based on the Reddit thread, the manga was more coherent. I really enjoyed the scene, but only in retrospect (if that makes sense) — I had to fill in the missing pieces and then rewatch it.

      Though in that regard, it’s not as bad as Trinity Blood — even after reading the source material, the plot was still a mess!

      “It’s a problem I’ve always had with “put only into the story what’s relevant.” The ultimate result is a “reduced” world, and something overly constructed. Plot or concept efficiency isn’t all that stories are about.”

      I agree with that sentiment. Have you ever read Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering? He builds a case that plot boils down to a formula. One of the objections against that idea is that if everything comes down to a formula (Setup with its Opening Scene, Hooking Moment, Setup Inciting Incident, and First Plot Point, Response with its First Pinch Point and Midpoint Scene, etc.) is that all novels will be the same. Mr. Brooks has two answers. First, that a structure is just a skeleton; the writer has to provide the muscles, connective tissue, etc. Second, the structure is not _everything_ that goes into the book. A good will include the “open ends and detours” that you mentioned.

      I don’t think Goblin Slayer has excluded those kinds of details entirely; but I agree I’d like to see more character development in parallel to Goblin Slayer. I think Onna’s a good example: She’s growing _because_ of Goblin Slayer, and he’s growing _because_ of her!

      Is there a fantasy series that you think got the mix of characters and world right?

      • Dawnstorm says:

        That’s a difficult question you’re asking, because different stories demand a different balance, and it’s not so much that GS gets it wrong, as that it’s following a model I don’t personally like (though I don’t hate it in itself). You’re talking about Priestess’ growth, but I’m not really seeing it. It’s not that she doesn’t grow, but I don’t get a feeling for her at all, beyond her type and her relation to GS. Take away GS and I have no idea how to handle her. If she were the main character of her own story, what would she do? I see little cues from the story. There’s this moment in this episode, where she seems worried GS might be going down a detour, but when he comes up with a plan all is right; you can see her relief. Normally, I’d take this as a character trait of relying too much on others. With her, though, and in this show? I don’t know. I simply don’t have faith enough in the story telling that the story telling thinks even this far.

        Compare this to Slime. Slime is generally a happy-go-lucky show that pursues its goals even more singlemindedly than Goblin Slayer. There isn’t much character development; they’re all types. But I don’t have that problem, because this includes the main character. But on that tapestry there are little scenes that hint at others having a life. Take the mustache-twirling-villain-type minister in the dwarf town, who’s shocked into seeing the error of his ways by being fired. I don’t really buy the scene; it’s hopelessly clumsy. But it’s stand alone, and the only function our main character has here is that of catalyst. It’s a scene about the Dwarf King and his minister. And sometimes the show has those little subtle moments I wouldn’t expect, when Shizue asks Rimuru about his name, and our Slime doesn’t get the question at first – she has to spell out that she means his Japanese name: the show’s as happy-go-lucky, normally, as our protagonist, but this little scene comes out of left field: the difference couldn’t be greater. It’s been a few weeks/months, and Slimy has gone native already. Meanwhile here’s Shizue, and she’s still not accepted the world after – what? – 60 years? Characters in Slime feel like they have their own existence, and occasionally you do feel that he’s overwhelmed with a world he doesn’t understand. It’s not consistent, but it’s there.

        Yet another different model this season is Ken en Ken, which is written fully to type; but because the type is a tragedy, the main characters are all written as people with strengths and weaknesses (you don’t have a tragedy without character flaws to exploit). The survivor trio all deal differently with loss, and the warmongering empress is a good child whose been given a crap job, but she’s got the pride you’d expect from someone treated like that. Side characters are usually less developed, and more type-cast, but you can pretty much tell what runs them. When it comes to the crunch, you understand really well how they all feel and what drives them, and why they’re all pushed into roles they don’t relish. (I wish this show had the direction and budget of Grancrest; it certainly has the writing that show didn’t have.)

        I generally like anime based on the novels by Uehashi Naoko: Moribito and (especially) Beastplayer Erin. I hear another one, Deer King, is in the works. (Uehashi is an ethnologist, and you can tell; her characters are types, but also people.)

        Also anime based on the light novels by Sakaki Ichiro tend to do well: Scrapped Princess, and to a lesser extent Chaika (the second season was a little messy, hurrying stuff along too much) – you generally learn how others tick before you get to the core of the main character.

        And then there are true ensemble shows, who have maincharacters because it’s a plot position. I’m thinking of X, the TV series (not the butchered film). It’s typical Clamp melodrama, but this show couldn’t conceptually work if the characters didn’t contribute their motivation.

        Many different types of shows. There’s nothing really wrong with the GS approach (Sword Art Online, the first season, felt like that, too). It’s just not my preference.

        • tcrow says:

          Thanks for sharing those titles!

          I’ve fallen behind with Ken en Ken. I see what you’re saying about how it relies on type, but it works. I’ve been able to overlook the sometimes clunky animation because the characters and situations are working for me.

          Chaika’s a show I just rewatched. Thoroughly enjoyed it; fascinating world, too. Scrapped Princess looks interesting; I just added it to my Funimation queue.

          Have I asked you if you have an anime blog? I feel like I have…

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