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.
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.
Time for another wonderfully nostalgic anime review! Slayers was a very popular anime in the mid 1990s, but most young anime fans in 2015 either haven't heard of it, or they are only familiar with the less spectacular later seasons. After 5-6 seasons of the same formula, Slayers has sadly become like the Simpsons of anime. It is one of those series that older fans love and younger fans are baffled at how the franchise ever gained fans and can't even imagine a time when it used to be good. To truly understand what made Slayers special, we have to go back to 1995 and
look at the state of the anime industry.
Story and characters: 7/10
Slayers was written in 1995, which was the year when DBZ and Yu Yu Hakusho had just ended. The most popular anime of that year was the surprise smash hit Neon Genesis Evangelion. However, Eva was an exception to the rule and most anime still used a very generic shonen formula with very paragon protagonists. Slayers was created to parody many of the tropes and cliches of shonen anime of the time, early JRPGs, and D&D. Slayers was a "tongue in cheek" action/comedy that spoofed all the staples of geek culture, but was also a love letter to that culture. If elements of the story seem generic, that is because it was actually done on purpose to add to the comedy. The main character is Lina Inverse, who is a fire sorceress and one of the most beloved anime characters of her era. The reason is that Lina was NOT a moral paragon and instead a "loveable jerk" whose morally questionable acts were played up for comedy. Lina uses her fire magic to slaughter bandits, then keep the bandit treasure for herself. She rather cheerfully murders people with her fire spells and is insanely greedy for gold, jewels, and shiny treasure, making her like a "moe girl" version of Smaug from the Hobbit. Lina is accompanied by a brainless, extremely ADHD swordsman. Together they go on many hilarious misadventures.
The art is a bit dated, but truly not bad for 1995. If you compare it to other anime of the time like Yu Yu Hakusho or the original Hunter X Hunter, you will see it compares quite favorably.
The soundtrack is nice, although not my favorite. The English dub gets extra comedy because it has all the 4kids voice actors from Pokemon, but it is uncensored and they are allowed to swear and commit not so kid friendly actions.
Should Slayers have had 6 full 26 episode seasons? Probably not. However, the original is a charming little series with great comedy, fun characters, and great use of parody. It is a series that older fans can look back on fondly and younger fans should try out! I give Slayers a well earned 7/10
Slayers is an anime based on a series of light novels by Kanzaka Hajime, and it was by far one of the most popular series of the 1990s, spanning several anime seasons, OVAs, movies, video games, and other merchandise. How does the anime fair nowadays? Pretty well, I'd say, but I'm easily hit by nostalgia and have been wanting to see Slayers since I saw the trailer for one of the movies when I was a wee little thing, so the verdict's ultimately up to you, dear reader.
The anime follows the adventures and misadventures of Lina Inverse, a sorceress with a lust for food
and money. Along the way, she meets up with several other characters who join her party and end up forming the bulk of the interactions while simultaneously carrying the story afloat. Evil strikes, and it's up to Lina and her companions to save the world from sure destruction. It's not necessarily compelling, but it makes for a nice premise that's easy to swallow, especially if one is a fan of fantasy series such as The Lord of the Rings and the Shannara saga (J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Brooks, respectively).
Slayers is primarily a parody of the fantasy genre, so there's substantially more comical than serious moments, although the last eight or so episodes really pump up the drama. That being said, don't go into this anime expecting deep and provoking themes and symbolism. You'll be sorely disappointed. It's primarily an anime to kick back and enjoy the antics of the characters – of which there is a fair good amount. Back to the plot, however. Slayers doesn't necessarily follow shounen formula to a T, but it does abide fairly close. Meet the big bad villain, fail trying to beat him, get a power up, rinse and repeat. (To its credit, however, the first time around Lina and co. faced the villain, Lina didn't necessarily “power up”.) The show is almost completely aware of it, however, thanks to the occasional breaking of the fourth wall, and rarely takes itself seriously. It definitely helps that the power ups don't feel contrived. A lot of the twists and turns are predictable, but I think that that's a part of its charm.
We've got a fairly variable cast of characters, and the main four are especially likeable. Lina, our token sorceress, is quite adept at black magic and infamous for her deeds. Loud and gluttonous, she has periodic flashes of genius which are either hindered by her avaricious nature or by the actions of one of the other characters. The first character she comes across, and her most constant companion, is Gourry Gabriev, an expert swordsman who lacks brain power but makes up for it with his more endearing qualities. His bickering with Lina are some of the amusing moments of the series. Our second male hero is Zelgadis, a chimera who specializes in shamanic magic. He definitely adds the “straight man” dynamic to our haphazard group, usually being the sane voice of reason. Our final main character is Amelia, a goodie-two-shoes who believes in justice prevails over all else. She's a bit of a mixed bag as far as magic goes, seeing as she is a priestess but is also quite proficient in black magic and shamanism.
While the characters don't develop too much over the course of the series, they definitely don't feel like cardboard cut-outs of archetypes, and they are quite acceptable as heroes. At the very least, they don't encompass the traits of stereotypical fantasy heroes and heroines. Since Slayers goes on for several seasons, I'll put faith into the assumption that they might develop later in the anime's run, but I won't necessarily be put off if they don't. Slayers is, after all, a comedy-parody series that borrows some shounen aspects, and character development is not necessarily the highlight of such genres. It's amusing to watch the characters' antics, and every time I felt the need to take a break from the anime, Amelia or Lina kicked the charm or humour up a notch and sucked me back in again.
As is the case with most anime, side characters are present. These range from endearing to annoying, and some are surprisingly fun to watch. Special shout-outs for Sylphiel, whose relationship with Lina actually didn't become stereotypical rivalry, and Phillionel, whose appearances were sometimes surprising but never necessarily unwelcome.
Slayers was primarily animated by SoftX, and it has definitely aged well over the years. Hand-drawn and cel-shaded, the palettes are quite warm and pleasant to look at. The backgrounds are also nothing to sneeze at, given that they do have some amount of detail put into them. The animation is fluid and well-done for its time, and I definitely don't think I'm just being biased toward the art style (which I like quite a bit). Some people might find the character designs off-putting (mostly since Amelia and Lina have quite large eyes), but it's something I easily became used to. The characters don't change uniforms or clothing much throughout the twenty-six episodes, but they make up for it by adding some iconic value to their getup, particularly Lina, who has quite the flashy uniform. The magic of Slayers is handled quite well, albeit with a few inconsistencies here and there, but I can look over it easily (rose-tinted glasses, after all). I enjoy the chanting scenes and appreciate the fact that enemies actually realize they can't let our sorcerer and sorceress heroes finish their spells.
The soundtrack is good but occasionally repetitive. I could guess what type of scenes were coming up based on the track being played in the background, but that's not really a bad thing. The opening and ending themes are where the music of Slayers really shines. Both are sung by Hayashibara Megumi (the VA of Lina Inverse) and Okui Masami. Get Along, the opening, is quite addictive, and Kujikenaikara, the ending theme, is a pleasant end to the episode. As for the VAs themselves, I'd say they do a pretty good job. I haven't seen the English dub, but I like the Japanese voice actors for all the characters, particularly the main quartet. Yanaka Hiroshi, voice of Brumugun, gets special notice for having an extremely irritating, warbling screech.
The tale of Lina Inverse and her companions definitely deserves to be taken notice of, and it's definitely stood the test of time as being an enjoyable anime to experience, with likeable characters and a good dosage of humour to bring the chuckles along. I, for one, certainly won't mind diving into the rest of the franchise, and the first season is worth a go for the first three or so episodes to test your interest (or, alternatively, patience).