Sunday, August 6, 2017

Goblin Slayer Volume One: Review

Chronicling the adventures of the titular Goblin Slayer this debut Light Novel written by Kumo Kagyu and illustrated by Noboru Kannatsuki chronicles a world filled with monsters, quests, and adventure in an often harsh and uncaring world where adventurers try not only to survive in a hand to mouth world as they try to advance in a guild system with ranks but also realize that sometimes the seemingly weak Goblins which are usually the first quest a newly minted Adventurer goes on is often times a lot harder to kill and craftier than one might be left to think. Something that Priestess a neophyte adventurer learns when her party of adventurers is with the exception of herself summarily killed or left so traumatized by their first interaction with a nest of goblins with the only reason she survives is the taciturn Goblin Slayer rescues her and slays the entire nest of goblins. Saving Priestess and continuing to fulfil his vendetta against the goblins while Goblin Slayer also works to protect his childhood friend Cow Girl and at one point gets roped into helping out a party of Adventurers slay another Goblin nest and gather a group of adventurers toward the end of the volume in a climactic battle against a raiding party of Goblins. As a story Goblin Slayer is cut from the mold of Japanese middle brow Fantasy based on Table top RPGs like Ryo Mizuno's Record of Lodoss War with its world mechanics feeling very much like an RPG but in some places grittier with the goblins being sadistic, animalistic, and violent along with a barely seen other world of arcane gods. While it's dark and often brutal depictions of Goblin savagery doing everything from using mentally and physically broken prisoners as literal human shields to cold blooded torture and rape. None of it is ever exploitatively graphic but is given just enough detail to make clear that the creatures that are so often referred to as "weak as small children" are not to be thought of lightly. Kagyu for a first-time Novelist is adept at writing action scenes that feel tense and cut throat often time leaving one unsure of what will happen in the next few pages with each victory feeling hard won no accusations of the by now cliché of the over powered Light Novel protagonist. with Goblin Slayer often winning by being craftier or learning to combine his knowledge of Goblins with the strengths of other party members such as Priestess or later on the party of Adventurers High Elf Archer, Dwarf Shaman, and Lizard Priest. While also being able to express honest emotions such as the sense of horror and loss when Priestess and Goblin Slayer find a nest of Goblins on a quest to save a party of adventurers only to find those adventurers either dead or mentally broken and the descriptive dialogue capturing Priestess's sadness at being unable to help. Even the banter between High Elf Archer and Dwarf Shaman is a nice touch giving them something beyond their class and racial stereotypes from old D&D guides to be as characters. Or the still murky past of Goblin Slayer that is obliquely hinted at but makes for a compelling mystery. While the seeming gimmick of referring to the characters by their class or job title would seemingly create an inability to connect to them on the audience's part it never really ends up becoming that alienating due to the dialogue and interiority of the characters. While the chapters that flesh out the world or build up some of the secondary characters cause the story's flow to drag a little but not so much as to completely derail the plot momentum.

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