Critic’s Log - Earthdate: September 4, 2014. Review #89: The Slayers
I have recently completed Final Fantasy IX (a PlayStation 1 game) and I had a lot of fun playing it and I really enjoyed the game. It has now become one of my favorite entries in the Final Fantasy franchise. I felt like watching a fun anime in response to finishing that game, and this one happens to be under the fantasy genre. That anime is… The Slayers.
This is the tale of Lina Inverse, a wandering sorceress and bandit-killer. She joins forces with roving swordsman Gourry Gabriev in what's supposed to be a quick union of convenience. Instead, an artifact that Lina "liberated" from a gang of thieves turns out to be the key to the resurrection of a demon lord. Urged on by the mysterious figure Rezo the Red Priest, the pair has no choice but to fight the dark lord and his servants, accumulating new allies and enemies along the way.
To be technical, The Slayers is a J.C. Staff production and as far as this anime goes, this anime does have the 90’s old school style. That should not discourage you from watching this one, it may be dated but for 1995, It was animated well for the most part. The Slayers looks good for its time and if you are into old-school anime. This one is a classic for a reason. However, for the time… Recycled animation is to be expected in this show, but there’s little recycling in the animation cels which can be seen as a good thing for this anime. Another nice thing is that even though this show does have those special scenes where there is dialogue in it such as Usagi’s transformation to Sailor Moon from, well...Sailor Moon. The Slayers has moments like those too especially with the spell chanting. Even though these are the moments that come with some animation recycling, those moments are nice to look at and like I said, they aren’t heavily recycled and I ‘ll leave it at that.
Now before I mention the music here, I do need to address something to avoid confusion. The composer is not meant to be confused with the influential and well-respected manga artist. The soundtrack to The Slayers is by (composer) Osamu Tezuka, and the music is not exactly memorable but it does fit the show. There are some memorable pieces that I did hear in the show,. However, there are two themes that are very catchy once you start watching The Slayers. The opening theme “Get Along” is really damn catchy, Kujikenai Kara! (I’ll Never Give Up!) also happens to be a damn catchy closing theme as well. These themes are both sung by Masami Ouki and Megumi Hayashibara. Masami Ouki would be also known for the opening theme of Revolutionary Girl Utena. Megumi Hayashibara on the other hand is a seiyu that does some anime openings, especially for all the openings of The Slayers franchise (or so I’ve looked up). The music might be the weakest aspect of The Slayers, but it isn’t a terrible soundtrack. There are just some tracks overused. I’ve seen a few anime where it contained not-so-well-used soundtracks and The Slayers does not have one of those “poorly utilized” soundtracks. So there’s a plus there.
When it comes down to voice acting. The Slayers may have some big names with its Japanese cast but the performances aren’t really A+ material. Megumi Hayashibara is fine in this show despite that she would be known for voicing Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop and unanimously famous for voicing Rei Ayanami. Those two roles I just said don’t feel like copies of Lina Inverse, and Hayashibara-san plays Lina appropriately. Yasunori Matsumoto is also alright as Gourry but I don’t have much to offer in terms of opinion with this guy’s voice. Hikaru Midorikawa is fine as Zelgadis, like Gourry… I don’t have any further comment about the voice, and I can say the same for Masami Suzuki as Amelia which I can only say…it is her only memorable role. A noteworthy extra is the late Daisuke Gori as Shabranigdo. Now, for the English Dub. I do find this interesting to talk about. Back in the 90’s, there were English Dubs that were just flat-out awful and unlistenable. The show was originally picked up by Central Park Media in the U.S. and their dubs tend to be pretty bad. This was because they were licensing and dubbing the shows under their name. In the case of The Slayers, this was a bit of a surprise. This might be stretching it, but the dub of Slayers may perhaps be the earliest of what I would label as a “Tolerable Dub”. Lisa Ortiz may sound over the top at times but Lina Inverse may perhaps be her most memorable role because she actually put some effort in the performance, and I like her voice in the show. Eric Stuart is a blast as Gourry considering he’s used for comedic relief, and yes… He also was the voice of Brock from the 4Kids version of Pokemon. I miss my childhood. Now with Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun, there are two voices on her. Joan Baker (who really didn’t leave much of an impression), and Veronica Taylor. Veronica Taylor would later end up voicing Amelia for the rest of the series whereas Joan Baker only voiced Amelia. Some of you Pokemon fans should know that Veronica Taylor was the original English voice of Ash Ketchum until 4Kids re-casted the character and a number of other characters as well. As for Amelia, her performance was okay in the show. I will say that this dub does contain a lot of lesser-known and inactive voice actors and voice actresses with the exception of some main lead roles, this includes Charles Rolfe and Peter Davis who both played Rezo the Red Priest and aren’t really involved in the anime industry anymore and… well, that’s pretty much it. This dub does contain two performances that are just flat-out bad in this show. First there’s Stacia Crawford as Sylphiel, and then there’s Daniel Cronin as Zelgadis. Stacia Crawford does stick around for Season 2, but Daniel Cronin did voice Zelgadis for 9 episodes but at some point after that… Central Park Media lost contact with him. They decided to re-cast Zelgadis and this would prove to be an improvement of the dub because Daniel Cronin was just terrible in the show, but he was replaced by none other than Crispin Freeman.
The Slayers also happens to be the first anime that Crispin Freeman got to work on, and this led to good times from there on. Crispin Freeman may have not been perfect with Zelgadis, but considering it was his first major role, I’ll give him a pass. He sounds much cooler in the role and it is by far the most memorable role in the dub. The Subtitled Version might be a little more listenable than the dub, but considering the show’s campiness… The dub wouldn’t hurt either. and guess what…The ADR director of this dub happens to be from Jim Malone who was responsible for the old-school Pokemon dub.
When characters are concerned. Lina Inverse has attitude and all. Gourry is funny and has a good heart despite his stupidity at times. Amelia can be a little annoying sometimes, and Zelgadis may have been cool. What most of these characters have in common is that they kind of feel the same since Day 1 but that is not to say that I hate these characters. I actually like them. Zelgadis’ backstory was quite intriguing and at the time I’m doing this review, I don’t know what happens beyond this season and if there is anything revealed about his past in later seasons, I will comment on that in a later review but for this one I won’t since I haven’t seen anything past this season. I know there isn’t much development going on with the characters in this show but considering there is more than one season, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how the characters turn out in the later seasons.
As for the story, it is your typical episodic fare. There is a catch however. According to a source or two, The Slayers is a parody of the high fantasy genre which I guess adds up. The story of The Slayers in my opinion is the weakest aspect of the show. The show is watchable in its first ten episodes but after that, the show does slow down and feels like it is going nowhere. I advise you to be patient around the middle third of the show because the pacing is not like the first third. The last third is watchable but the story doesn’t really feel as plausible as the first third of this season. Without giving away spoilers, let’s just say what is seen in the first third could have been done in the last third and the stuff in the last third could have been done in the first third. This might be viewed as a deconstruction of the common “Three Act structure” but who knows… But since The Slayers is a parody of the high fantasy genre, I guess this was fitting to have the pattern like that but it doesn’t excuse some unplausible writing later on after the first third… Does this hurt the show… Hell no! The Slayers is definitely one of those shows that people can get into if they are interested. I really enjoyed this show, flaws and all… but in all honesty, I did feel that the story was a bit weak but I digress. I do commend Takashi Watanabe (the anime’s director) if he remained true to the source material. it is still a fun show and I look forward to reviewing to more Slayers material.
The Slayers was originally available by Central Park Media back in the 90’s but for a number of years… The Slayers is still available by Funimation. The Slayers light novel series was available by Tokyopop but they went under and there were only 8 volumes translated into English, so…good luck to anyone hoping for the rest to be brought here. The Slayers Special light novel series was available by Tokyopop and well… I guess that particular light novel series met with the same fate. A manga called Slayers Medieval Mayhem was available by CPM manga and it is out of print as well as another manga that CPM manga licensed called Super Explosive Demon Stories Slayers. Slayers Mangas such as Slayers Special, Slayers Knights of the Aqualord, Slayers Premium, Slayers Revolution, Slayers Legend, Slayers Evolution-R, and Slayers Light Magic were never brought stateside, light novel iterations such as Slayers x Orphen, Slayers Delicious, and Slayers Smash were also never brought stateside. However, even with a shit ton of Slayers material that was never released in America. The Slayers OVA’s such as Slayers Special and Slayers Excellent were released by ADV Films and they are currently out of print since ADV went under and its successor Sentai Filmworks has not rescued it from out of print. The same applies for Slayers: The Motion Picture, Slayers Return, Slayers Great, Slayers Gorgeous, and Slayers Premium since they were originally licensed by ADV Films. As for the main series…
Slayers Next, Slayers Try, Slayers Revolution, and Slayers Evolution-R are available by Funimation even though Slayers Next and Try were originally licensed by Central Media Park. Now all this supplemental material mentions have finally been said and done. I shall start wrapping up this review.
With everything said, The Slayers is an anime that has its flaws but can still be enjoyable regardless. The animation was mostly good for 90’s anime for the most part, the music is fitting but may not stand out for some with the exception of its catchy opening and closing themes. The characters might not be well written but I wish the story could have re-arranged some of its elements for a more plausible effect in the story. Despite the flaws that I find in The Slayers, My enjoyment outweighed my nitpicks.
I give The Slayers a 7.4 out of 10, it is GOOD!
Feel free to leave a comment.
Another of my favorite animes, I first saw Slayers in the fall of 2007 and the uniqueness of it as an anime and at the same time its similarity to my favorite video game, The Legend of Zelda, drew me right in. Top that with great story telling, great comedy, awesome action, great characters, and impressive drama for its genre, Slayers was an instant "Hell Yeah!" with me and is still one of my top favorite series, despite discovering and rediscovering multiple other new fantastic titles.
I'm never one to be too into adventure anime, considering how dull and filler-ridden it can be, but Slayers is a fantastic and well-told adventure story. There isn't much filler, but when there is, it's always centered entirely around the comedy that augments the heart-pounding action and makes this series so great.The series comes right out swinging and doesn't stop throwing its punches for its entire 5 season, 104 episode run. All the situations flow from one to the next until the season climax/finale in episode 26, and even from there, the next season (Slayers NEXT) picks up right where season one left off, just a few months later. At the beginning of episode one it introduces the main character, Lina Inverse, and her dopey companion Gourry Gabriev, and from there it just keeps going. Everything evolves seemlessly from everything else, as their misadventures lead them from situation to situation. The introduction of Zelgadis Greywards a few episodes in is very well incorporated into the plot of the first episode, and although Amelia feels kind of tacked on to the group, but her introduction is worked in so that it doesn't feel forced, like in a Sentai series where they introduce a new fighter every few episodes, but it still is a bit abrupt. Season 1 of Slayers is very story heavy and has a good flow, and doesn't concern itself too much with being a cartoon. It treats itself like a work of art like it should.
The action and comedy are both great and work very well together. It's not too intense, but not too goofy either. It's a very balanced package.
The animation is nice for its time. 1994 being around the time of Sailor Moon S, the animation isn't quite as nice, but by the same juncture, it's not an eyesore by any stretch. While other shows at this time were softer, Slayers features slightly sharp animation and especially early on, the backgrounds remind me of something you'd see on PBS in the 90's. It's an odd feeling, but over all, the animation works very well. Dark Lord Ruby-Eye Shabrinigdo looks amazing when he's shown, and the final few episodes of this first season is really where the animation shines.
The sound is really good. The music is incredible, and the opening and ending themes are powerful and catchy tunes. Get Along is one of Megumi Hayashibara's best songs for this series and Kujikenaikara is also a great song.
The voice acting is also great. I was first introduced to the English dub and I have to say, I probably wouldn't like it as much if these voices weren't so spectacular. Lisa Ortiz is the perfect Lina Inverse, and she's like a vocal equivalent of Megumi when doing the voice. Eric Stuart is an astounding Gourry, capturing his coolness and his goofyness. Veronica Taylor is a great Amelia, and Crispin Freeman, well, he's my favorite VA of all time and he makes Zelgadis ZELGADIS. Again, never listen to weaboo's who do nothing but bash dubs. They're wrong. Slayers has an impeccable dub. It's not without its flaws, but it's one of the best out there. I'm not as familiar with the Japanese track, but I know that both are great. Again, this series was done around a time when most dubs were ruined because the ignoramuses at the heads of companies thought cartoons were only for little children.
The characters are great. All very unique and help to give the series its flare. Lina is a fun, irritating, selfish, and lovable little bitch of a sorceress, Gourry is an oaf and the source of most of the comedy in the series, but is just as cool as Zel, and Amelia is just kind of there. She's unimpressive and sometimes just downright annoying, and Sylphiel, well...she just kind of appears later on and doesn't show up again until season 4. She's a quiet wall flower and for most of her appearance, she's a blubbering mess. Dark Lord Ruby-Eye Shabrinigdo, for his short appearance, is nothing short of pure awesomesauce. Rezo the Red Priest doesn't have much of a personality, but he also has a lot of depth to him. Rezo's servants on the other hand, like Eris or Dilgear, are very forgettable filler enemies.
So is Slayers worth your time? Well, does Stephen Hawking talk through a computer? Of course. Slayers is a very fun, enjoyable series, whether you want action, comedy, fantasy, whatever. It's a great anime and is one of my personal favorites. Thanks to Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi for creating this excellent series.
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.
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.