Powerful, avaricious sorceress Lina Inverse travels around the world, stealing treasures from bandits who cross her path. Her latest victims, a band of thieves, wait in ambush in a forest, thirsting for revenge. When Lina is about to effortlessly pummel her would-be attackers, the swordsman Gourry Gabriev suddenly announces his presence. Assuming Lina to be a damsel in distress, the foolish yet magnanimous man confronts the brigands in order to rescue her. After defeating them posthaste, the oblivious cavalier decides to escort Lina to Atlas City. Though not very keen on this idea, she ends up accepting his offer.
However, without realizing it, Lina has chanced upon a mighty magical item among her most recent spoils. Now two mysterious men are hunting the young magician and her self-proclaimed guardian to obtain this powerful object for apparently nefarious purposes. This way they begin their adventure, one where the fate of the world itself may be at stake.
The mid 1990s were a bit of a special time for anime, kind of like a mini golden age. Akira had opened the doors to the West and, after a taking a little rest, the second great expansion of anime began to gather pace. Titles like Ghost in the Shell, Martian Successor NADESICO, Fushigi Yuugi, Golden Boy, Escaflowne, Macross Plus, Giant Robo, and the ever contentious Neon Genesis Evangelion became firm fan favourites and cemented the media's place as a viable form of entertainment in the West.
In amongst all these great shows came a fantasy series that would literally change the way studios would approach
the genre for years to come. With its irreverent humour, memorable characters, and a story that was more about getting rich than going on quests, it possessed an appeal that was almost universal.
I am, of course, talking about Slayers.
The saga began as a series of light novels written by Kanzaka Hajime (with illustrations by Araizumi Rui), which were adapted for manga from 1990 onwards. In 1995 the series was then re-adapted for anime, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The series follows the adventures of the notorious Lina Inverse, a young sorceress whose name strikes fear into the hearts of, well, pretty much everyone (even though she's petrified of slugs and her older sister). She is joined in the first episode by a wandering swordsman named Gourry Gabriev, the wielder of the Sword of Light (which Lina wants for herself), who initially believes Lina to be a lost little girl and decides to become her bodyguard.
Many shenanigans ensue from that fateful meeting, and things only get worse when the pair are joined by princess and perpetual justice freak Amelia Wil Tesla Saillune, and the man with a huge chimera chip on his shoulder, Zelgadis Graywords.
The story is, at heart, a fantasy adventure that on the surface resembles many other sword and sorcery romps. The big difference though, is that Slayers doesn't take itself too seriously, mainly because of the characters themselves. Although the plot follows a pretty straightforward route through the series, there are many occasions where the narrative plays second fiddle to the comedy, especially where Lina and Gourry are concerned. Whilst there are some obvious holes in the story, the comedy more than makes up for it, and more often than not the viewer will find that they simply ignore any inconsistencies just so they can see Lina lose her temper and destroy something else.
The humour is pretty formulaic for the most part, however that doesn't mean that it's bad. The comedy sequences are actually very good throughout the series, and some of the running gags are well thought out and executed. It's strange, but there are very few comic fantasies out there, especially those of the sword and sorcery type, and most of the shows that include a degree of comedy often treat it as an afterthought to the main, and often serious, storyline. Slayers approaches things from the other direction, and the main aim of Lina and Gourry isn't to save the world, but to get as rich as possible for the least amount of effort (and we won't even mention how much food the pair can put away).
This is perhaps the main reason why the franchise has become a benchmark for the fantasy genre, and many shows will, either fairly or unfairly, be compared to Slayers. It would be fair to say that the most common question asked about almost every fantasy anime since is "Is it as good as Slayers?". The uniquely defined characters, the lack of any real "quest", the explosive humour, and the underlying tone of sheer anarchy all serve to separate this show from the rest of the pack.
It's the characters in particular that draw people into the series though. Lina Inverse is, without doubt, the most notorious female lead in fantasy anime, and one of the most well known in the entire medium. Her vivacity and explosive (and often destructive), temperament, together with her streetwise savvy and tremendously powerful magical ability, all serve to provide the viewer with all manner of entertainment. Gourry is very much like Lina in that he provides the audience with much of the physical humour whilst never becoming a part of the visual "furniture". An added bonus is that he is also a play on the stereotypical knight, being handsome, brave, strong, virtuous, and as dumb as a brick.
That said, some may find Amelia and Zelgadis to be annoying at first, but due to the combative relationship they have with both Lina and Gourry (and with each other), viewers may find themselves warming to the pair. It should also be noted that because Slayers tries to avoid the inclusion of stereotypical fantasy characters, the writers had far more freedom to make trouble for Lina and the gang to get into, and they seem to have approached this task with some enthusiasm.
As the series progresses the characters do actually develop to a degree, however this is usually masked by some action or comedy so it doesn't really get pushed to the fore. This may seem a bit odd at first, but given the nature of the plot, this method is actually better for the franchise as a whole. This may not sit too well with some viewers though, especially those who believe that character development is one of the most important aspects of a show. That said, Slayers has some particularly strong and complex characterisations, in particular Lina herself. Because of this, the series doesn't actually need any unnecessary development, and the door is left open for the characters to go off and do other things (like arguing, eating, destroying monsters/bandits/towns/mountains, trying to kill each other (only as a joke - honest), looting treasure, etc).
Given that the series is from 1995, it's actually aged pretty well. The colours are bright and bold, especially with backgrounds and settings. The characters themselves are designed to be unique and expressive, although much of this comes from their actions rather than their faces. Animation is a big plus for the show, and it's to the credit of J.C Staff and SoftX that the series has held up rather well over the years. The animation by modern standards may not be exceptional, especially as it tends to add a more cartoon-like quality to movements, but it is extremely well choreographed for it's time and genre.
Sound is another big plus for Slayers, especially the fact that the series has been dubbed into over seven different languages (including Japanese and English). In all honesty I prefer the Japanese dub, however that is no reflection on the quality of the English version, and is nothing more than a personal preference. The Japanese seiyuu are very good on the whole, and are able to express a wide range of basic emotions, as well as humour. The English cast are pretty good as well, however I did find Lisa Ortiz' voice to be a little too high pitched for my tastes.
The music is pretty decent throughout the series, and while the pieces generally work well with the on screen action, there is a degree of repetition that can become annoying for some viewers. The sound effects are well timed and choreographed, however the more complex combinations can become a little too heavy on the ears.
Even with its age and obvious flaws Slayers is an absolute joy to watch, and it's truly rare to find a fantasy series that has such memorable characters or humour. There is a certain amount of formula to the plot, however the blend of comedy and action, together with the unique take on the characters, ensure that cliches don't feel out of place in the story.
This is a series that is worth watching by, well, everyone, especially those who prefer fantasy and comedy. There are very few shows around even today that can be called comic fantasies, and most of those have the name "Slayers" somewhere in the title.
As a person who is actually quite a lot into old anime, in fact even stuff much older than Slayers, I'm honestly bewildered by the amount of praise this show gets, and I think its status of an old classic might be heavily influenced by nostalgia. The anime is severely lacking in multiple areas, most of all it's just boring and completely devoid of anything unique.
Slayers tells a story of Lina Inverse, a powerful yet inconspicuous magician who travels around, kills monsters, fights bandits and robs them of their treasure. Over the course of the show, new adventurers, starting with a travelling swordsman Gourry, join
her party and together they explore the fantasy world. You know the drill, and have probably heard something similar many times, because this is nothing new. Nevertheless, this extremely popular idea can definitely turn out very nice and become its own thing, if the authors bring their new twists and details to it. Sadly, this is not the case with Slayers.
Everything, starting with the setting, is bare of nuances and unique ideas. The anime is set in a generic medieval-fantasy world, with magic, creatures like trolls and dragons, princes, knights and the like. Philosopher stone and sword of light. Old and boring. There is also the demon-king sealed long ago and sought to be revived by his followers. You have never heard of something like that, have you?
While this could still allow for a great and compelling story, with brilliant and interesting characters, Slayers definitely doesn't deliver, it actually doesn't even seem to try.
The plot progresses in a pretty messy pattern, and despite not being very long, brings to mind 300+ episode shounens. It randomly jumps back and forth between important events revealing old mysteries, and completely meaningless, inconsequential fillers that shouldn't even be there, because they are neither interesting nor funny.
The story just lacks direction. The characters don't pursue any real goal to drive the plot. Something is happening, our adventurers just get dragged into it, do their job to solve the problems, rinse and repeat. Some of it can be pretty cool , but it all feels kind of pointless.
The mood and atmosphere also swing in completely unnatural manner, and it does stand out sometimes. Two characters are killed shortly after finally uniting with the main party, and you know what? Not even a minute later, the main trio is back at an inn, stuffing themselves and laughing out loud joking. There is not even a moment of grief or sadness, just a few shocked faces for a second.
Speaking of jokes, the humour is one of the weakest points of Slayers. It's extremely repetitive, childish and ham-fisted, appearing regardless of danger or situation at hand, and is at fault in the show rarely having the proper atmosphere. Lina has small breasts. That is the joke, hahaha... I won't be discussing wether this alone is funny or not, as that's purely subjective, but repeating this time and time again, episode after episode, is definitely boring and actually gets quite annoying, even if it could be funny at first. Gourry is stupid and doesn't understand the simplest of explanations, Amelia is clumsy, trips over and falls on her face. Oh, there was another joke with Lina, you know, she's on her period and can't cast powerful spells then, isn't that funny? You know, it's THAT time of the month, wink wink, haha...
This humour is also detrimental to characters themselves, because it's all around, and in fact pretty much defines them.
While there is focus on Lina, and she does get enough screen time and characterization to be more than just her breast size, it's a real problem with other characters. It's hard to say anything meaningful about Gourry other than that he's stupid and has bad memory, and Amelia being also silly and clumsy, because most of their scenes are either fighting or reusing the old jokes. Most of the characters are just very poorly characterized and thus it's hard to truly care for them. They're not unlikeable, but they definitely are forgettable and undeveloped. This should never happen in a show that wants to be more than a silly comedy.
The arstyle is mediocre, and character designs, save for Lina and Zelgadis, seem effortless. The animation is poor even considering the time it was made, and just screams low budget. Overall the anime doesn't look terrible, even if it's aged, but the visuals definitely don't help to make up for other aspects of the show either.
The music is actually pretty good and fitting, and few of the tracks are especially good and memorable. It's nothing spectacular, but it does its job well, and in my opinion, is the strongest aspect of the show.
Overall, Slayers is a very disappointing experience. It's a huge cluster of overused ideas and tropes. The story has weird pace and goes nowhere, the characters are basically running jokes, and at times just annoying. It's full of bad, repetitive humour and lacks fresh air, making the whole show pretty boring.
It's not the worst watch ever, it's not offensively bad at anything, but it doesn't really have anything going for it either, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, because there are shows better at everything Slayers does. It's just completely mediocre.
I really can't see why it achieved the status it has now, and personally see it as just another, uninspired fantasy adventure, severely lacking in character. I would only watch it if you want to see what one of the most popular 90s anime is all about.
This is my first review, so please bear with me ^_^
Slayers, based of of the novels of the same name written by Kanzaka Hajime, is the story of a young sorceress named Lina Inverse and her 'protector' Gourry Gabriev as they travel the land in search of anything that can get them treasure. Inspired by one of the original Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, fans and players of the game can step into the series with ease as it feels just like the game. Even if your not a D&D player or a RP'er in general, the characters alone are enough to pull you in and
keep you enjoying the series from beginning to end.
Story: The story, though in my opinion not the main driving force, still moves the series alone nicely and evenly. It sets up the same style all other Slayers series that come after follow, starting fairly light hearted and movie along until eventually the fate of the world is at stake. Though sometimes it does seem like they try to make it funny at a time when the humor could be left out, it doesn't effect the flow that much. The only thing I really had a problem with story wise is there are two main story arcs. The story gets going, builds up to a climatic battle, then falls back to ground zero again and has to build up some more to get back to that high point again. Though the two arcs are linked together overall, those few episodes in the middle are somewhat of a let down after all the action from the previous episodes.
Animation and Sound: The series first premiered in 1995, so the animation and sound reflect that. Though I feel this series got the short end of the stick, because other series from the same year (Gundam Wing and Evangelion to name a couple) have much better animation and sound quality. Though not as good as it probably could of been for it's time, it still doesn't take away from the overall thrill and enjoyment of the series.
Character: I said above that I felt the story wasn't the main driving force of the series, because that role is filled by the characters. Lina's short tempered and violent nature make her an instant iconic anime character. Her and her alone could make an entire series with just her misadventures and it would be a masterpiece. Throw in her 'protector' Gourry, a superb swordsman with, as Lina would say, "the brains of a jellyfish," Zelgadis, a Chimera adept with both a sword and magic, Amelia, a "Justice-Happy" princess, and Sylphiel, a ditzy shrine priestess, and you have a well rounded cast of characters that excel in both comical and serious situations.
Enjoyment: I really enjoyed this series from beginning to end, and was hooked from the first episode all the way up to the last, and couldn't wait to get more, and thankfully theres 3 sequel series, several prequel OVAs, and 5 movies to keep someone occupied for several weeks (or days if you decide to marathon them like I did)
Overall, in my opinion, one of the best series from the '90s, and a anime classic that will stand the test of time. And thankfully, Slayers Next (The second season) takes everything lovable about the first season and takes it to a whole nother level.
Slayers is a comedy/adventure/fantasy anime directed by Takashi Watanabe (directer of Kino's Journey and Boogiepop Phantom) and in many ways it can be seen as a parody of conventional RPG video games. it revolves around Magician Lina Inverse, and Swordsmen Gourry Gabriev as they travel around meeting new people, fighting demons and monsters, and getting into various predicaments along the way.
Story: In my opinion the best aspect of Slayers. The events flow nicely into one another and they frequently recall past events, making it feel as though nothing watched early in the series was a waste of time. Although the plot is quite linear, it
is still very enjoyable. Reversely however, the atmosphere in many places is compromised by the shows non sequitur and random humor. So at times when the mood is serious, it can be quickly destroyed with a random crack about Lina's chest size. Additionally, although in many cases genuinely funny, there are alot of times when it feels like they are trying to hard in getting a joke across.
Animation: Being a few years old, the animation of Slayers reflects that. Although overly it is good. The anime has a medieval setting and the characters apperances do a good job to match the setting.There are a few parts with recycled animation, like when a character is casting a spell or attacking. On downside is that, although they have a numerous amount of magical spells, many of them have similar animations to one another. Only things like "Fireball" and "Dragonslave" get unique animation. Alot of the Shamanist spells used by Zelgadis just look like bright white light.
Sound: Nothing really spectacular about the music. Seemed to match the anime well and I enjoyed it. No major complaints.
Characters: The characters worked well with the story, but they either didn't really stand out or were fairly generic. Lina is a quick to anger and selfish female lead (think Bulma from DBZ). Gourry is your typical slow yet powerful male lead (I don't think an example is really necessary). The other characters seem pretty bland that way as well.
Enjoyment: I did enjoy it overall, however, it wasn't anything all that spectacular. There was a time during the middle where the plot lulled a little and it got a little boring, but the beginning and end were very interesting and fun to watch. check this out if you like the fantasy/adventure genre. Definatly not something to watch if you are looking for comedy primarily.