The Slayers is considered one of, if not the, most popular anime of the nineties. Based on a huge series of light novels (over fifty) The Slayers is a comedic response to the more serious fantasy anime of the time, most notably Record of Lodoss War.
This first season of Slayers came out in 1995 and I feel it’s only right to watch and review this series as we approach its’ twentieth birthday. So for the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring all five seasons of the show, as well as the movies and OVA’s.
Lina Inverse is the star of Slayers, a dark magic user who floats around in search of treasure and monsters to slay. After stealing from a group of bandits she meets up with a knight named Gourry, an absolute moron despite his skills with the sword. Together the two battle monsters and bad guys as a man named Rezo wants a statue Lina stole in order to awaken a dark lord and get back his eyesight.
Slayers has a very simple plot that allows it to be episodic while still carrying over a story. What I just described is the first arc, about eight episodes. In the second arc the characters are framed and being hunted by bounty hunters while in the third they have their final battle against the bad guys.
The first arc does a really good job of getting you into the show, providing great introductions to characters in a wonderful blend of comedy and nonstop action. The second arc is a little rougher, with a Pokemon-esque game of cat and mouse between the bounty hunters and our heroes. There are some hilarious episodes scattered in here but these, for the most part, feel like filler. The final arc is the biggest offender for me as it slows the show down considerably, loses the humor, and spends much of it in a shonen-esque fight that goes on way too long.
While the pacing and plot can be a minor issue, the world itself is the interesting part. While the unnamed fantasy land is pretty generic in look and legend, the characters that populate it are all so interesting, perhaps the main reason anyone will want to watch Slayers. While not all the characters are three-dimensional (in fact, I don’t think any of them are), they’re such good company, no matter if they are part of our good guys or one of the baddies.
Lina Inverse, our heroine, is a loud, annoying, and really selfish person. As a main character she is completely unlikeable and the opposite of the fantasy heroes the viewer is used to. She uses dark magic for her own gain, is only friends with certain characters because it benefits her, and treats everyone as a stepping stone. She still does some good, though in the end I feel that she only does it to save her own ass and perhaps become a hero.
Gourry is a knight and a complete moron. He joins up with Lina as her bodyguard and she later learns he carries the mythical Sword of Light, which she hopes to get from him despite the fact it is his family heirloom. In fact, we’re given to believe the only reason she follows Gourry is to get the sword from him (though there is a hint of a romance brewing between the two). He’s the comedic relief for the most part but he does, occasionally, get to be a complete badass.
Later on we meet Amelia, a “hero of justice” who’s pretty much the clumsiest girl in the world. Her father, Phil, is the prince who looks like a barbarian and is a staunch pacifist (unless you get him mad, then get ready for his Goodwill Toward All Creatures Kick). Zelgadis is the son of Rezo who was turned into a Chimera and banished by his father. He’s probably the most level-headed character with the best motivation. Then near the end we’re introduced to Sylphiel, a girl in love with Gourry who is only there to make sure the heroes win the final battle.
Then we have the bad guys. Rezo the Red Priest wants to resurrect a demon lord in a bid to get his eyesight back, something that has driven him crazy for years. He was a good guy but his search for sight made him go nuts, leading to his eventual death. Later, he returns as a clone created by a woman named Eris, one of his followers who loved him and wants to see Lina and the gang die for killing her beloved master.
The bad guys are all competent people with good intentions and backgrounds who are thrust into crappy situations. There are a ton of much lesser bad guys strewn in but the main villains may be more sympathetic than any of the heroes. I felt especially bad for Eris who couldn’t understand why the man she loved was taken from her. Rezo and Eris are just misguided.
Meanwhile the “heroes” are all idiots, which leads to a lot of great comedy situations but doesn’t make you care about their well-being. One of my favorite examples of the stupidity of our heroes is when Amelia asks Lina to blow up a hill using her magic so that the townspeople don’t have to walk over or around it in order to get to the next town. Thus, Lina uses her magic selfishly to blow the hill into a crater, and accidentally unleashes a hoard of malicious ghosts sealed within.
Hell, in the first episode Lina, in order to defeat a dragon, winds up blowing up the entire town she’s supposed to protect. She’s out of control and is the kind of character that in any other series would be the bad guy.
And that right there is why Slayers is so damn good. It’s making fun of traditional roles and tropes in fantasy. The good guys are selfish morons while the bad guys are the ones you feel empathy towards. Does that mean that the series as a whole suffers because we aren’t as impressed by the heroes? No. It actually makes it more fun.
So you’ll watch this show for the characters and not the plot, but I’m sure you’ll be stuck to the show for two more reasons.
First, the animation is so wonderfully nostalgic. The character designs are cute and nearly everyone gets those massive shoulder pads so prevalent in 90’s anime. The animation screws up occasionally with bad lighting effects, graininess, a small part of the frame not colored, any number of issues you can think of. But I feel that lends it charm, something I’m sure people don’t like to hear a critic say (imperfections are so cute!) but I think looking at something from a nostalgic perspective, it shows the leaps and bounds that have been made in animating anime.
The second reason you’ll stick? The music is so damn good. From the opening (a super cheesy, totally nineties theme) to the closing, every piece of music helps make an entertaining package all the more fun. Some of the music sounds Scooby-Dooish, lending that child-like feel you want from a good cartoon.
And that’s what Slayers really is; a cartoon. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all and manages to give even an older viewer a sense of childish nostalgia.
A lot of newer anime fans don’t understand where I come from when I talk about the eighties and nineties and how different anime was compared to now. Anime treats itself a lot more seriously nowadays than it did twenty years ago. In fact, I hesitate to call anime cartoons anymore because the medium has carved its own niche. Comedy anime nowadays aren’t comedies in the way of cartoons but in a more realistic sense, using words and realistic actions rather than silly faces and slapstick. And this is alright, it makes anime a unique medium. Hell, from the outset there were anime that weren’t like cartoons and saying that anime nowadays is different from back in the day is pretty obvious. Cartoons in America are a lot different too; as time goes on, things change.
But an anime like The Slayers is very rare nowadays and watching it after some more recent series, it comes as a breath of fresh air. It’s not at all an amazing anime in any way, but it’s a lot of fun and memorable. It’s a great escape from the monotony of modern anime and, even without comparing it to anything, still stands as a good show worth a watch if you haven’t already seen it.
This show doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s what I love about this. It’s much like a dungeon and dragons game where you’re just with a group of friends who jokes around. Even Glass Reflection has said (want more of that, go to the other reviews) and each character has there own personality.We follow two characters most of the times, Lina who is a sorceress with a chip on her shoulder and Gaurry, a rather bumbling warrior. The two work rather well together from the moment they met and are the main reason why the show keeps going on. The two argue like an old married couple but its Gaurry’s heart and Lina’s knowledge that makes the dual work so well in every little case they go. Sure you have some of the stereotypes that happen once in a while, like the ‘stupid’ blond haired Gourry and the little loud mouth girl Lina, but I never found them predictable. I believe one of the reasons why they made him like that is because then we have a sort of open book to help us get into the world. Since he doesn’t know the world (or plays dumb) we get a reason for Lina to explain the things we won’t understand.
Zelgadis is a rather interesting character as he is half stone in his whole body (immature jokes aside fokes). (Kurai: “Ha! Hard as a rock even in bed!” Angel: *smacks him hard on the head* “What did I just say?”) He is also a sorcerer and in the first half, we see him as a protagonist. Now, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything when I say he ends up turning around and teaming with the other characters. Amilia was more annoying then the others but her character sort of grew on me. Lets see, I believe Zelgadis is Chaotic good and Amilia is really Lawful good if you want to get into D&D.
The storyline isn’t really a one directional storyline but it actually changes halfway through. It’s not that it goes into a completely different storyline but it does throw a couple twists and turns. Sadly though, we never get a full sense of the world they are in. They throw things in on last second and then take a little bit of time trying to rectify the change of the world. Now, they have really good luck though in this because most of the explanations actually seem to work but that’s because they didn’t put a standard to the world in the first place.
The artwork does show its age but this was made on cells. Even though its classic, it’s rather clean and when they do stray away from the artwork, its mostly to show a gag rather then just a whim. We do get some still images and overused footage but I never was bothered by this. I have to say their costumes are really ridicules though but that’s a norm for any fantasy style show. The whole magical jewels on magical jewels for a sorcerer, the armor that actually doen’t look like it would protect him to well on his legs, it’s just one of those things. IT is like they made this a stereotypical fantasy but then joke about that same thing at times.
Lina’s English voice was one that I had to actually grow to like, hers and Amilia. They were a little too high but not as high as the Japanese version. I couldn’t get into the Japanese version sadly because of Lina’s voice but the English is another matter. I think some of the jokes also work better in the English but again, it might be regional for this. They talk about lots of items that really aren’t in there time frame like cheeseburgers and such. It gives another layer to the show.
What I love about the Slayers is fact, that it combines comedy and adventure fantasy so well. At times it is very serious action, adventure at other times it is slapstick comedy and parody of various tropes including fantasy. In that regard it reminds my slightly of the Discworld series. It is not perfect, that is the movie (Slayers Perfect), but it is entertaining without any major problem. The first season has two arcs and some fillers. However fillers in the Slayers usually mean some heavily comical episode. Like for example the episode, where main protagonists have to play in a theatrical play.
Following images are from the opening. Notice the main hero Lina Inverse defeating rampaging monsters and reluctantly taking treasures in order to protect them from bandits and thieves.
Jokes aside characters in the Slayers are really good and fun to watch. While they are presented and characterized by few dominant traits, there are times they go beyond those simple quirks and show they are more complex, than they look at first glance.
The anime is from the 90', so do not expect visual orgies. It is lot of smoke and mirrors to trick you, that it is animated better than it actually is. However It works.
The Slayers and all relevant follow ups have one of the bests songs. Both OP and ED are good, which is quite rare in my book. Sound effects and explosions do remind of DBZ.
The Slayers is time-tested anime classic at least for me. Overall it stands high over many other series, which are forgotten or are going to be.
The Slayers is one of the few anime I'll ever give a 10 out of 10 rating to, and there's a reason it's my number one all-time favorite anime. Though a lot of it is generic fantasy and spellcasting, the characters bring the story to life.
The anime itself was adapted from a light novel, and though it doesn't follow it to the letter, it's still interesting and entertaining.
I will also say that this is one of the few anime where the English dub is just as good as the original Japanese cast. I have seen both versions, and the voice actors really bring the characters to life.
There are two major arcs in this season. Both are fairly generic plot-wise for a fantasy story, though there are slight twists to them.
Because the plot is slightly generic, I did dock points, but it gives off a tabletop RPG feel (in fact, that's what brought about the idea for the series). However, that sort of plot makes it easy to dive right into the world and not be overwhelmed by terms, locations, and various species.
The Rezo arc starts when the protagonist steals an item which is worth more to sorcerers than originally thought. One of the great sages, Rezo the Red Priest, gets involved with the item and the protagonists, and there's something even darker behind his goal.
The Copy arc contains a lot of the filler episodes, which have their own merit. Someone has put out wanted posters for the protagonist and her party, which makes the protagonist seek out the person who did it. A mercenary and a strange sorcerer with a red gem on his forehead show up to clash with them, and these meetings lead down the road of something much more dangerous.
If you're watching the Slayers, you're most likely watching it for its characters. I don't think my descriptions can give them justice; they're just that charismatic.
Lina Inverse isn't your typical teenaged protagonist; nope, she's a sorceress who falls into the chaotic good side of the scale, stealing from bandits and giving to...herself. She's a sorcerary genius with a petite frame she's sensitive about, and a temper hotter than her fireballs.
Gourry Gabriev is an extremely talented swordsman with a very unique weapon, which makes up for his absolute lack of braincells. Often referred to as "jellyfish brains" by Lina, he's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but is fiercely loyal and protective of Lina.
Zelgadis Greywords is a mysterious sorcerer who has a variety of shamanistic spells in his arsenal. His appearance is startling at first, as he's part rock golem, part brau demon, and part human; magically altered from being 100% human.
Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun is a girl a little younger (but more developed) than Lina, who appears in the second arc and specializes in healing magic and astral attack spells...along with giving long winded speeches about the "hammer of justice". Despite her good nature, she's perhaps just as hot-tempered as Lina.
Sylphiel Nels Lahda is another female introduced in the second arc, and has an even greater ability with healing magic than even Amelia. She's shy yet very down to earth, and has had a crush on Gourry since they met before the series started.
With excellent opening and ending songs, and fight scenes/animation quality which are considered at the top for a 90's anime, along with a cast of colorful characters who develop nicely and comedy in just the right places...it's a must-watch for all comedy-fantasy fans.
The pacing is excellent, and even the filler episodes don't feel like fillers because of the sheer hilarity they introduce, as well as bringing to light some other sides of our beloved characters we might not have gotten to see in the story itself.
I believe all plot points brought up in the story are completed and resolved within the arcs; I don't recall questioning anything for plot holes.
I have shown this anime to everyone ever since I was shown it, and have even gotten a few non-anime fans hooked on it. It's not well known, it has never aired on TV in the USA, but it deserves much more credit than it's often given.
Certainly, it deserves a full 10 out of 10 rating.
This adaptation is not quite as good as the original light novels, which are masterpieces (go buy them, seriously! ). That said, this anime is still superb! The big changes from the books are the story arcs are re-arranged and most of the darker elements are removed for a bigger emphasis on comady. Animation for this series is well done; solid artwork thoughout the series, good shaddowing and shading, and little sceen re-use and stock footage. On the Japanese side with Megumi Hayashibara as Lina Inverse heading up the Japanese cast, the voice acting is great. However, the first bunch of English voice acters that are cast for this arn't all that great, but the second set that are re-cast half way through the first season do a good job (Crispin Freeman captures Zelgadis perfectly). Buy it. Watch it. Love it.