Goblin Slayer and the PulpRev

With the first series of Goblin Slayer wrapping up, I wanted to touch on the show that’s been not only one of the number one animes in North America but has also been rather popular among the PulpRev crowd.

I enjoyed Goblin Slayer, but when all was said and done, it occurred to me that not only was it not a great anime, it was not even a particularly good anime—what gave it the illusion of greatness was that it met all of the meager expectations it set, delivering in heaping doses what little it promised. It set a low bar and clears it with ease. You want to watch a show where a guy kills goblins? This is it, chief. The utter lack of pretension is far more delicious than the “fake depth” many shows try to coast on before crashing in a mess at the end. Goblin Slayer needs no apologia, and there are no great divides in the fandom over thema, symbolism, and other minutia.

goblin slayer

Is Goblin Slayer pulpy? The only reason I ask is that it’s pretty well loved by the PulpRev crowd. And thinking about it, not only is it not particularly pulpy or Appendix N-style fantasy, it’s Pink Slime fantasy to a degree even worse than Record of Lodoss War; it’s pure, in a vacuum, D&D fan-fic.

What separates it Lodoss, however, and many other pink slime fantasies is that the D&D it draws from (if indeed it is drawing from D&D; evidence abounds) is of the older, classic variety, in which the purpose of “adventurers” is to kill monsters, because monsters represent an existential threat to mankind and because they have treasure. Goblin Slayer lacks the pretense of the game in which great and powerful forces are at work and the heroes must act because the fate of the world is at stake and the party represents the champions of all humanity and all that is good.* There are no destined saviors, chosen ones, lost princelings, who are going to stop the Dark Lord. That none of the characters in Goblin Slayer even have names beyond what they do or have accomplished or what their profession is almost serves to lampshade this lack of “special” and “important” fantasy heroes in its narrative. In D&D terms, these are characters who lasted a couple adventures and gained reputations around the table, rather than being wadded up and thrown in the trash because they died—this in contrast to the contemporary trend in D&D to craft intricate backstories for the very-special-snowflake characters who are destined for great things and will almost certainly having nothing too bad happen to them because the player might throw a hissy-fit.

The first episode of Goblin Slayer, which created quite a stir for its brutality and graphic nature**, mainly served to illustrate that the kind of game that inspired Goblin Slayer*** is the kind in which level one characters die in the dungeon and you have to roll up new ones. There’s no point in bringing your very special bisexual tiefling princess with daddy issues who is the most beloved of her tribe to the goblin cave, because the goblin and his spear that will kill her don’t give a shit about your character’s backstory.

I think that, even though Goblin Slayer is shallow and derivative fantasy to the extreme, this is the reason why it resonated so well with the PulpRev crowd, a group that grew largely from the OSR and which preferred the more brutal old school style of Dungeons & Dragons to the modern narrative-driven style of play that’s come to dominate tabletop gaming.

*: This is going on to some extent in the background; the setting is the aftermath of an earlier such conflict—but the climactic battle is not to save the world or even a town, but rather the farm where the girl who likes the Goblin Slayer lives.

**: Yo, the way everyone was talking about that first episode, I was expecting Mezzo Forte levels of gratuitous…

***:Look at all the goddamn dice rolling and talk of gods rolling dice and try to convince yourself it’s anything but TTRPG inspired.

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Happy New Year!

We’re just about ready to put a bow on 2018!

Just need to enter our final Amazon revenues and begin popping those numbers into tax forms to go full-steam ahead towards getting a tax refund and reinvesting that in the company.

So…

I’m a bit behind on one or two things because I threw my back out last Friday, but I’m getting caught up today.

Expect a big official announcement on the blog soon regarding the Misha Burnett x Louise Sorensen project I talked about on Saturday.

I haven’t even listened to this yet, and I’m sure it was a trainwreck (I was on a lot of pain pills and we weren’t even sure if I’d still be on until practically the last minute; ironically, Dan and I probably had a better chat on SFF stuff AFTER we went off the air and were just shooting the shit while playing Doom), but it was a lot of fun!

Tomorrow, I’ll probably do a full round-up of recent-ish Castalia House Short Reviews I’ve done, because I haven’t done them in awhile. I’ve finally gotten over my aversion to Amazing Stories [I didn’t want to give the rebooted current incarnation any publicity, even indirectly] and started in on it with a Rog Phillips novella. And I’m already seeing the PulpRev’s blind-spot due to only talking about a few magazines. This guy is solid.

Cirsova Primarily a PulpRev Publication?!

We got mentioned recently in Steve DuBois’ review of one of our contemporaries, Broadswords & Blasters. It’s a good review, B&B is a pub I’ve really been meaning to check out, I just haven’t had the time.

Still, it’s an interesting take-away that we “work primarily with authors who identify as members of the movement” given that maybe half a dozen out of over 50 contributors are actively involved beyond having used the tag a few times.

Rather than just say that Steve’s wrong (I probably turned down as many stories from members of the #PulpRev community for next year as I acquired, more if we count anyone who used either hashtag), I think it would be more useful to look at how this misconception came to be.

Some of this misunderstanding might spring from Cirsova having been a pre- publication, so there may have been the misconception that all of our writers were part of the movement when the movement was a fan of our publication.

I spoke about this once here, but I’ll reiterate that being published by us does not draft anyone into any movements nor does being part of any movement guarantee you’ll be published by us.

I’ll also note that there are, at this point, two distinct PulpRevs/PulpRevolutions

The first was the Movement, back when it was #PulpRevolution and eventually #PulpRev. It was small, but there was momentum behind it. This was mid-late 2016 through early 2017. Several authors, including Cirsova contributors, latched on because there was buzz and it was an exciting time. It was a “Beyond Sad Puppies”/”Beyond Rabid Puppies”/”Beyond other stuff” thing that folks were looking to get in on.

The second is the Community, which formed from participants in the movement. This is #PulpRev. It’s not really a club, because its doors are pretty open, but it’s not really a movement anymore, either. It’s more introspective, having become something of a writers’ circle. Involvement in the first =/= involvement in the second.

I was an active proponent of the first and remain an involved, but peripheral, figure in the second, but I do consider them very different things.

However that brings me around to how one could have the misconception of Cirsova being a primarily “#pulprev” magazine. What we were looking for in our stories got taken and held up as exemplary; we kept looking for the same things and buying stories from writers who wrote what we were looking for.