Before I begin, I will mostly focus on manga instead of the anime adaptation.
Goblin Slayer is a fairly odd manga. Put harem, hentai, guild anime in a blender and mix it all together, and you will have Goblin slayer. This manga and its anime adaptation are certainly not going to be for everyone.
Why? Because the first volume/episode will put some off right away. The very early beginning of this manga/anime makes it clear of the dark fate that awaits for female adventures should they fall in a battle. They will be raped and then killed by monsters, or just get straight eaten.
Which, let us be honest here, is logical outcomes to be brutally honest. It is almost as if the creator behind this series has decided to put up a filter at the very beginning to sort out his audiences.
Basically, I feel the message is that: “If you can’t take it, just leave. I don’t want you.”
The main protagonist of this series is, well, Goblin slayer. I am sure he has a name but everyone calls him Goblin slayer. He is quite famed that even other races have come up with weird names for him, all of which basically means Goblin slayer. And we never get to see his face. It is, however, indicated that he is quite handsome. Yes, of course.
Speaking of which, I do not recall anyone being called by their names. The guild girl, the cow girl, the elf girl, the lizard, the dwarf, the priest girl, the spear guy…. Yep, I don’t recall any names.
Truthfully though, it never really bothered me that names aren’t mentioned. I mean, do we really need names in a series like this? We all watch a lot of stuff and trying to remember names of all characters is a mental ordeal. Perhaps, the author is aware of this and has decided not to use names at all.
Goblin slayer is, just his nickname indicates, a specialized warrior in killing goblins. His only interest is killing goblins and will take no job that isn’t related to killing goblins. His whole life revolves around killing goblins. He talks only about goblins as well unless forced into talking about something else.
While seems awkward, Goblin slayer has valid reasons for being obsessed with killing goblins. While heroes hunt down bigger prays, for Goblin slayer, goblins are more menacing to average folks which is one of his primary reasons to hunt them down exclusively.
Paraphrasing his own words, there is no point in defeating the greater evil if there is no village to come back to. Makes sense indeed.
Back to the plot, as mentioned earlier, the first volume will put off some. Newbie adventurer party ventures into a goblin cave unprepared and most of them end up dying. One is raped by goblins. The priest girl who ends up being Goblin slayer’s sidekick is the only one who comes out somewhat unscathed.
Once you get past the brutality of volume 1, it actually gets a fair bit better. There is no further brutality. There is some gore but nothing too daunting like what you see from Berserk.
This series is also harem. I mentioned that in the first paragraph. Goblin slayer is surrounded by clearly eligible & willing females. The guild girl (average, proactive), the priest girl (loli, shy), the cow girl (huge rack, too shy), the elf girl (loli), and the sword maiden (tall, huge rack), they all fall for Goblin slayer. Out of the five women, the guild girl is most proactive and she is, so far, the only one who asks him out for a date during a festival period.
A major difference between anime and manga is that the anime adaptation has moved episodes around. In the anime, the episode where Goblin slayer protects the cow girl’s village is the last part of the story.
In manga though, that part occurs early before Goblin slayer meets the sword maiden. However, due to episodic structure of the series where each episode is isolated, shifting episodes around doesn’t mud the overall story.
The series is also fairly realistic about wardrobe as well. Female warriors wear proper armors which is against the ongoing trend of more skin exposure equaling to more protection when it comes to females.
Also in volume 7, an interesting dilemma is presented to readers where a female paladin consults Goblin slayer about her growing concern of choosing a mate. The female paladin says that, while it is easy for male adventurers to find their mates, for female adventurers, the situation is the opposite because men do not want physically strong females. And she certainly does not want weak males, either. Given her limited choices, she feels that she has to be proactive in pursing her mate within her circle which can break parties apart.
Her dilemma is a valid one but is never really talked about in anime or manga which I feel is another strong point for this series.
In conclusion, volume 1 acts as a filter to stop some people from getting into it. Those who go past volume 1 are able to experience a pretty decent plot and art. This series is somewhat similar to Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash but more realistic and less focus on human relationships.
Between anime and manga, I’d recommend anime. It’s just better with voices. But manga does go further than anime and is still ongoing. The real source material is a light novel which is something only few can swallow due to large number of words.
My verdict on this manga is: Get it. Just hang in there while you go through volume 1.