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On Goblin Slayer and Morality: It’s Fine?

Goblin Slayer is Just One of Those Shows…

One of those shows that stirs up the pot, gets in nice and hot, bubbling. I mean, surely that entices everyone, right? I don’t have a problem with Goblin Slayer – I’m not saying it’s a brilliant show by any stretch of the imagination, but I certainly don’t have a problem with it.

Goblin Slayer isn’t an original animation. It’s an adaptation of a fairly popular manga. I don’t read huge amounts of manga, but even I’d heard of it. Anyway, I read the first chapter, and it’s almost scene-for-scene adapted in the anime, whilst significantly turned down a notch. I don’t know how this trend progresses – how faithful it remains, I’m sure there are some – if not many – changes, that’s just the nature of adaptions. I’m not here to criticise that.


Goblin Slayer Episode 1 Cave torch

A man slaying goblins…


Put mildly, Goblin Slayer isn’t for the faint of heart, irrespective of the medium you’re consuming it via. And, why should it be? That’s the question I find myself asking: Why does Goblin Slayer have to tone itself down, should it do so, and what does it all mean, if anything?

 

Changing Cultures of Anime

Anime is no longer on the fringe of media. The stigma that surrounds it is reducing by the day. We’re not pioneers bringing anime culture to the West – it’s already here, and has been for some time. What does this have to do with Goblin Slayer, you say? Because the ‘argument’ itself is inherently contradictory considering the other media we already consume.

I don’t necessarily enjoy talking about politics. I watch anime because it’s fun, and because I enjoy it. Not because it fosters some ambiguous political discourse or agenda. With this been said, it’s 2018, and that means everything is political, for better or worse. It seems like anime, specifically the conversation surrounding it, grows ever more political as each season passes. Sure, this comes hand-in-hand with the internet, and of course… Twitter. I’m conflicted when it comes to Twitter. On one hand I love it because it lets me interact with like-minded people, with friends. On the other hand, I despise it because 99% of things said on there are utter drivel.


Goblin Slayer Episode 2 Onna Shinkan praying mother earth

Praying the goblins away…


The voices representing anime are very polarizing. And I’m not just talking about just Goblin Slayer, I’m talking about the community and anime as a whole, as an entity. Unless you either love or hate something… do you even watch anime? Is it no longer acceptable to feel neutral towards a piece of media, to neither hate nor love it? Sensationalism plays a massive role:

‘WHY Goblin Slayer is my FAVOURITE Anime of ALL TIME – Find out WHY!?’

‘Why Goblin Slayer’s Character Design Works’

I don’t want to say it’s YouTube’s fault entirely. But it is a combination of entertainment outlets, news reporting, and the ‘modern’ consumption of content that leads to a title like the former. People have so many things to do: commitments both on and off of the internet – real lives to attend to, fake ones to update. There’s just not enough time to sit down and enjoy things slowly. Instead, it’s been replaced by a ferocious desire to consume everything the moment it materialises. People don’t want to be left behind in the wake of those who are ‘out of the loop’, so they jump on the ‘Bandwagon of Hate’ because they believe it’s the best thing to do, the most righteous thing to do.

“Oh no! He hasn’t seen Akira.. curse him, devil incarnate!!”

I don’t think it’s in any way beneficial. I see the effects of it on myself, and I don’t like it. I don’t like how it feels, and I especially don’t like how it makes me see the world. Through this lens of… is and isn’t. People either are or aren’t. All this stimulation, ecstasy at the tap of a button – entertainment on demand, shouting to be binged and thrown down the metaphorical throat. The thing is, we can’t like everything, no matter how much we’re told we should. Goblin Slayer can’t be liked by everyone, just as it can’t be disliked by everyone. The issue is with the people who believe one of those things, the people who believe they are correct in every sense of the word, irrespective of political affiliation. The response towards Goblin Slayer highlights these stark divisions between people, the black and white of the world; without any room for grey, for questions.

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What’s ‘Moral’?

The biggest controversy surrounding Goblin Slayer is one of morality – what should/shouldn’t be depicted in media, as ‘entertainment?’ Do you have a definitive answer for that? Because I don’t… Sure, morality means something different to each of us. Our concept of it is of course rooted within society; firstly in ‘simple’ legalities , and secondly in what we deem socially acceptable as a group, regardless of law. Whilst we agree on a lot of the same things, there’s no one-fits-all solution, and neither should there be. Differences are what make us human.


Goblin Slayer Episode 5 cave rats no sword

Witch Lamp, CLASSIC


So, is Goblin Slayer morally acceptable…?

A majority of Goblin Slayer’s controversy stems from its depiction of rape. And that’s fair. Rape is horrific and completely inhuman, obviously there doesn’t need to be a discussion about that. With this in mind, how does one tastefully depict rape – can it even be done? Also, it’s vitally important to remember, they are Goblin’s, they’re not human. What little society they possess doesn’t follow the rules of ours, and neither do their morals. Rape for them is part of the ‘spoils’, part of the prize. It’s not humans raping humans, and whilst I’m sure that does happen in a world as visceral as Goblin Slayer’s it’s never on-screen.

I’ve seen the question asked: “couldn’t they have just removed it, and it would still have been fine.” And… sure, maybe it would. However, you can then also ask the question “what is the effect of just…leaving it in.” Because what can those few seconds really do, what impact can they really have on a person?


Goblin Slayer Episode 1 Cave controversial rape scene

They’re goblins, vile creatures!


The latter is my question, and I believe it’s an important one to ask. Now, I can understand how a scene such as that might negatively impact on a person who has experienced rape, or sexual assault. However, should that exclude it from existing? No, of course not. Where would we draw the line on what not to show in media and entertainment? Would murder still be okay? What about hard drug use? How about torture? Once you apply a particular notion to one thing, you have to consider applying it to all things. Obviously Goblin Slayer – and shows like it – are unsuitable for certain people, just as so many other things are. Yet, the fact of the matter is, it’s just fine and acceptable for the vast majority of its audience.

 

Community and its Response

People talk a fair deal about the ‘community.’ And, not just within anime but within media and entertainment in general; each respective community has become integral to conversation surrounding the shows and movies within it. Obviously a rife example is the gaming community: entitled, impatient, and ignorant, (for the most part, there are some lovely little corners if you go looking: Check out the TwoAngryGamers for a dose of that!). The Anime Community? Well, I don’t think it’s a particularly positive force, but is that representative of anime, or of people in genera? Anyway, the people I choose interact with on Twitter are a lovely bunch!

Taking all this into account, I think there’s something to be said about what people expect from anime, and how people are receiving specific themes and depictions. It’s no secret that in recent years there’s been a turn towards a more… censored approach in media. I could throw out half a dozen words and phrases all meaning the same thing to describe this, and you know exactly what they all are. And whilst I don’t want to put people into a box, I do think there’s an absurdity to it all which I’m unable to wrap my head around. An almost satirical level of sensitivity which goes beyond all rational thought.

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Something which is complicated ever more with shows like Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Black Sails. All shows which ‘indulge’ in the adult side of entertainment: gratuitous violence, murder, sex, rape… you name it, and all without much of a question, nevermind controversy. So why does this depicted in anime – in Goblin Slayer – cause a problem? The answer… It shouldn’t, not if done competently. And what is the purpose of these themes in Goblin Slayer? Is Goblin Slayer’s rape scene specifically meant for fanservice…? If the main aim of fanservice is to make you feel… uncomfortable, then sure.

No, it’s supposed to shock, and it does that.

Anime as a medium is completely fictional. It bares little resemblance to reality, especially with its characters and narratives being as overtly eccentric and exaggerated as they are. Every part of anime differs from real life, even from traditional TV and shows – simply because of the medium of animation. The things depicted – no matter how visceral and convincing they may be – are not remotely comparable to reality. It has been endlessly suggested that film, TV, video games have almost zero connection to crimes in the real world, despite the media’s insistence to convince us otherwise. Obviously these notions can be extended to anime, to Goblin Slayer.

Unless a person has another underlying issue, nobody is going to watch Goblin Slayer, be influenced by its rape scene, and then proceed to commit rape themselves. And finally, to quote Ricky Gervais: “Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.” So, if you like Goblin Slayer, go ahead and watch it, and think nothing else of it. If you dislike it, that’s fine too, but ask yourself why? Because of one scene? One scene, which in the grand scheme of things, means absolutely nothing?

 

What are your thoughts on all of this?

Thanks for reading!

-Chris (Follow me on Twitter and consider supporting Peach’s Almanac on Patreon!)

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