Random Thoughts on Goblin Slayer and Sword Maiden

This post is my random thoughts after having watched Goblin Slayer five months ago. I’ll mainly talk about the rather uncomfortable issues in this anime.

Image result for sword maiden goblin slayer

Goblin Slayer is known for its sexual violence. There’s been a lot of debate about whether it’s a necessary part of the plot or just there for the sake of being there.

Sexual assault is a sensitive topic, and not one that I claim to have expertise on, so if anything I say is offensive or insensitive, then please do inform me and I will make changes.

So to see if the anime handles its elements properly, let’s ask it a few questions.

1. Does the anime romanticize rape/sexual assault, or does it treat it as a crime?

2. How does the anime treat sexual assault victims?

3. Does it normalize rape/sexual assault?

4. How necessary is rape/sexual assault to the story?

Question 1 is easy to answer. Yes, it is definitely treated as a crime. It’s why GS is so horrifying in the first place. I think the anime presented it onscreen just as it is not for some sick fanservice but as a storytelling device to give Goblin Slayer and the Priestess a solid motivation for killing goblins. So no, GS does not romanticize rape. If some people see it as fanservice, well, nothing I can do about that.

The second question is… quite tricky. Mostly because other than the Sword Maiden, all other victims disappeared from the story. Maybe this is GS’s way of saying ‘look at how those events traumatized these characters they are all gone’. However, with the Sword Maiden, it is another story. Yes, she is traumatized, as she repeatedly have nightmares of goblins. Yes, she’s the badass lady who killed the Demon Lord despite all that. She’s one of the rare cases that bounce back stronger than before. But the problem lies in how she’s…over-sexualized in episode 7 of the anime, particularly the scene where she shared the bed with the Priestess and Goblin Slayer. Here is she, talking about her traumatizing experience and what does the camera do? Zoom in on her boobs.

Excuse me, she’s talking about her trauma here not presenting herself to you. I mean, you could argue that the scene is very ambiguous with sharing a bed and whatnot, but seriously, I don’t think she’s asking Goblin Slayer for whatever people think she’s asking for. You can’t treat trauma as a selling point for a character, not that ‘oh she’s so vulnerable must protecc’ kind of deal. I wouldn’t care if they use that camera angle and glittery blushes and lips in any other scene, because Sword Maiden is beautiful, but please just not the scene where she’s talking about how traumatized she is. Please.

Does it normalize sexual assault? Yes and no, depending on how you look at it. Yes for the viewers, the more you see the more you get used to it. Yes for some characters, who are less baffled every time the goblins comes up with a new way to torture their victims. No in general, the anime presents the act as ‘wrong’ every single time, and so it cannot be considered normalizing sexual assault. However, GS does not seem to be presenting it in a way that illustrate real social issues, and that’s a different debate.

So when it comes to how necessary it is… well, this is a hard question. The first episode loses most of its shock value when rape is taken out of the story, since we are so accustomed to violence and beating the daylights out of people but not to onscreen rape. Would the story still turn out to be the same if Goblin Slayer’s village was burned and everyone murdered instead of raped? (I am not suggesting that murder is okay or less severe than rape) Well, it is there to setup Goblin Slayer’s motivation. I think the story utilizes rape so that the audience knows how terrifying and damaging rape is. It’s not just taking away a life, it’s taking away a person’s sense of pride and then taking their life. It’s also a large part of Sword Maiden’s character profile. I’d say it is necessary for those purposes. But the rest of the story? Remove it and well, nothing really changes. It’s unnecessary for pretty much the rest of the plot.

The onscreen sexual assault is part of what makes GS famous. The story and the fights are good enough to make a decent fantasy story, but there is no denying that many people know GS because of its dark and disturbing scenes. Does the anime need to show the rape onscreen, though? Not really. Maybe they’re going for a shock factor kind of deal, but on the other hand those scenes turned off a lot of viewers. I feel that GS is on a different standing than other dark fantasies, say, Grimgar or Berserk.

Thinking about it, much of the rage surrounding GS’s sexual assault scenes boils down to this question: why are we okay seeing physical violence/torture onscreen but not sexual violence? Why is violence considered more appropriate to watch on TV than sex? I can’t answer those questions, that’s something to write for another post.

Alright, that was so random but thanks for sticking around. What’s your opinion on GS’s rather disturbing scenes? How about the Sword Maiden? Let me know.

4 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on Goblin Slayer and Sword Maiden”

  1. Oh, this is one of the first discussions of Goblin Slayer I have agreed with! I agree that Goblin Slayer at least tries offer a meaningful message with the Sword Maiden, but like you mentioned, badly undermines itself by oversexualizing her. I think it goes further though… the series expresses a remarkable defeatism in this bizarre bit of dialogue: first from the Sword maiden, “No matter how many goblins are slain, nothing… nothing changes” and then with the Goblin Slayer’s reply, “And I think that’s fine.” For all the killing, they don’t even believe that they will improve the world!

    As I see it, Goblin Slayer isn’t a story about women victimized by rape (remember how the first rape victim was carted away, never to be seen again?). It doesn’t even use rape for sex appeal. Instead, it’s just an indulgent revenge/power fantasy that uses the rape premise as a justification for the series’ extreme violence, so that the audience can cheer along with the Goblin Slayer as he bashes a bunch of skulls like an unfeeling killbot. Take that, rapists! But then because the goblin horde is undefeatable — because by the series’ pessimistic philosophy, rape will always exist — it can promise an unlimited bloodfest.

    Goblin Slayer only cares about rape in so far as it enables the pursuit of righteous violence. I just find that sad.

    Like

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