In the kingdom of Xoana, Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev unexpectedly come across their old companions, Zelgadis Graywords and Princess Ameilia Wil Tesla Saillune. Upon their reunion, the friends end up easily foiling the King of Xoana and his daughter's dastardly plans of world conquest.
Soon after, it is revealed that Zelgadis is in search of the world's most valuable magical tome, the Claire Bible, hoping to discover a method to recover his human body among the many secrets sheltered within it. Despite his protests, the rest of the group decides to join in the quest after hearing of his mission. However, just when they were wondering where to start looking for the legendary book, they stumble upon a mysterious priest by the name of Xellos, who claims that he may be of some help in their pursuit.
One of my pet gripes with multi series anime is the tendency to make major production changes from one season to the next. The main issue I have with this is simply that there is a lack of continuity in the look and feel of the show once this has been done, even if the different series are equally as good as each other (Top wo Nerae 1 & 2 are great examples of two equally good shows that look and feel completely different).
Thankfully, Slayers Next doesn't suffer from any of those problems, and it's great to see chief director Watanabe Takashi (who also
directed both seasons of Shakugan no Shana, Shin Hokuto no Ken, Boogiepop Phantom, and almost all the Slayers anime series and movies), continue to work his magic with the show.
Slayers Next is a little different from the first series in that the show has a bit more bite to it than before. This time around Lina and the gang are searching for an item called the Claire Bible, a book that supposedly contains knowledge imparted to man by the Mazoku, and that Zelgadis believes has information on how to return him to normal. Aside from that Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis spend their time fighting, playing tennis, getting kidnapped, destroying castles/towns/anything that makes Lina angry, dressing in drag, and generally making nuisances of themselves.
The "bite" that I referred to stems primarily from the fact that all of the character and scenario introductions were done in the first series, so Next can simply crack on with the story. As with the first series, there are some pretty obvious holes in the plot, but once again the comedy comes to the rescue, and while the humour will be familiar to anyone who's watched the first series, it retains a degree of freshness thanks to the overall feeling of continuity and the acting talents of the seiyuu. The one area where the plot is actually better than the first season though, is in it's development of Lina.
As a character, Lina Inverse was pretty one dimensional in the first series. That's not to say she isn't fun and approachable, especially in terms of female leads. During the course of the first season though, there was very little in the way of development for her, and while she and the other characters had some very good characterisations, the development on her part doesn't really begin until Next. While she remains as happy-go-lucky as she was before, certain events in Next serve to temper her personality and actions, giving her character a more rounded persona. That said, these changes are also the cue for some laughs, and become an important factor to the climax of the series, so it was nice to see this tempering process handled in a manner befitting the show.
I will be honest though. As much as I love the characters it should be noted that Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis receive only token development, however in the case of Gourry this can be forgiven since he's an idiot (all brawn and very little brains, like any good fantasy "hero"). However, the characters remain as good as they were in the first series, and fans will find that they like them even more come the end of Next.
After all, character development isn't always necessary, and can sometimes ruin a great show, especially one as action oriented as this is.
In terms of art and sound, there's very little that's different from the first series - both have aged fairly well. The biggest plus points are that Next retains the whole cast from the original TV show, and that the director and production company are the same as before. This gives the show feeling of continuity in terms of how it looks and sounds, and while one can watch Next as a completely separate entity, it's advisable to watch the first season of Slayers in order to fully appreciate the second.
Slayers Next is a little different from the original series, but only in terms of how focused the show is this time around. However, the series retains all the charm, humour, action and adventure that made the first season great. Next takes the adventure one step further, and where the first series liked to show Lina as almost god-like at times, Next isn't afraid to show some of her weaknesses (slugs, for example). While the characters are as likeable as ever, Next gives them a little more room to get themselves into trouble.
Suffice to say that Slayers Next is at least equal to the original Slayers, and is one of the few occasions where the sequel not only adds to the whole, but also improves it (much like Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2nd Gig, and the Aria: The Natural & Origination).
If you're a fan of Slayers, then this is a must. If you're a fan of wanton magical destruction, then this is a must. If you're a fan characters getting into trouble just because they have "a bit of a bad temper and a complex about their breast size", then this is a must.
If you're a fan of action, adventure, romance (the off-the-wall kind that sometimes involves crossdressing), tennis, and magical hijinks and shenanigans, then Slayers Next may be up your street.
Before we start I'd like to have one thing cleared and settled... I'll be reviewing this series WITHOUT comparing it to up-2-date standards. Why? I don't think that the series deserves to be mashed because of some quality flaws, that's one... and secondly... Well, there isn't a single series that could stand up to Slayers, even today.
But let's go off from the beginning...
NEXT is a direct successor to the first SLAYERS tv series, and a much better series at that. It gives you much less fillers, more action, funny gags and tons of enjoyment almost every episode.
The story circles around an old and incredibly powerful
artefact - Claire Bible. As it contains some old-school anti-demonic magic, Lina wants to get it, no matter the cost. The whole season then focuses on finding the *book* and eliciting 'the most powerful spell evar' from it. The plot may seem cliche and quite simple, but as it is 'The Slayers' we're talking about I would not say my last word on it. And neither did the authors.
Very quickly the main story goes off track to some more serious business involving the Mazoku race, kingdom of Seyluun and eventually also Sairaag which you probably remember being destroyed by Copy Rezo at the end of Slayers TV. Our fellow company, this time consisting of Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zell goes off to different places to find out, why are the monsters so interested in Lina and her magic. Occasionally we will also have some cameos of old characters and a considerable amount of new ones introduced too... Xellos, Martina, The Demonic Lord Gaav and his henchmen or Philionell, this is just a tip of an iceberg and believe me, by the end of the series the list of antagonists will grow much bigger and someone *important* will appear too.
The series still is a classic Slayers successor though. It makes you cry when there is a need to, gives you chills the other time and eventually will make you die while laughing at Zelgadis being used as an anchor. The fantasy elements are omnipotent, yet they do not stand in your way like they did in the original Series. Here, everything is so cleverly designed that you won't even notice that something is actually going on behind the scenes until the scriptwriter allows you to.
The same cup of tea goes for the characters. Those are simply splendid. Lina is as vicious, clever and *cute* as always. Gourry is the very same block of brainless muscles as in the original series and Zell... well, this guy gets a lot of screen time in NEXT and it's one of the best parts of the crew. The way the group manages to put him off and joke about his prejudices is simply hilarious ;]. The same can be said about the antagonists. Most of them have their own stories to tell and those stories are neat enough to explain why the given character goes this way and not the other one. The final boss is a masterpiece on it's own. Imagine an overly powerful and demonic Lina combined with unbelievable cunning skills and non-existing self-control... Yes, I know. It's short to impossible to imagine that ;]. Moreover, finally we get to see some people coupling and talking about relationships. It's something new in the series and I gotta say it fits superb. Especially since the final cluster of episodes bases on one of those relationships strongly.
Overall, in terms of story and characters this series is second to none and you can look for better fantasy/rpg stories but you won't find them. It beats the first Slayers viciously and leaves no quarter to Slayers TRY!
The art and music are both something completely else. Although the animation may sometimes seem a bit awkward and outdated (even for 1996 when it was released) it still fits the tone of the series perfectly and does its job without a flaw. You won't get some picturesque sceneries here though, simply because this series focuses on the people, not backgrounds. Fits me.
The music is, on the other hand, flawless. I sincerely admire the person who wrote the ambient sounds and the score for the series - it fits naturally into every scene you see there, does not disturb you and makes you turn up the speakers. I especially liked the one particular OST track - "The person I want to protect the most in the world" - or so it went. It fits particularly into one single scene close to end of the series, and, well, it's unforgettable.
Megumi Hayashibara did great job in voice casting Lina, as well as preparing some of the background sounds. The seiyuu work is great in the series. You won't find a single voice that does not fit the character's personality.
All in all, a strong point of the series, although like I said in the intro, if I were to compare to the up-2-date series... well, the art would suffer some heavy strikes... :(.
The series is enjoyable like hell. You may have seen it several times but you will always want more. The whole picture is accompanied by very good opening and ending sequences which you'll never skip.
Summing it all up. Slayers NEXT is a must for all who have watched the original series and enjoyed it as well as anyone and everyone who likes good comedy multiplied with friendship and love factor with some drama elements aaaaaand a flashy finale.
I never watched the first Slayers series, and yet I was so adamant about buying the Next box set. I had seen more media of it online and therefore became more curious about this season. I am so happy I picked it up too because Slayers Next is THE best of the three seasons. Characters are more fleshed out than in the first series, animation quality went up, and the music is catchy. For fans of the fantasy genre I give you a nudge towards this. Depending on whether or not crack!comedy is your thing. If it is however than you will fall head over
heels for this comedy-fantasy series. Believe me when I say a lot of moments will have you clutching your sides laughing.
As far as the dubbing goes, I am partial to both Japanese and English. They both have voices that fit and don't fit characters. However that is the beauty of dvds is you can pick and choose your language preference. Aside from that Give a Reason the opening has to be the most popular anime song ever. I hear it everywhere! Also it should be noted later in the series things get slightly more serious, so that is a refreshing change of pace.
Slayers was such a smash hit and a wonderful action/comedy series with so much potential it was a must that it would see a sequel. Thus, a year later Slayers Next would be released and fans could enjoy the newest adventures featuring Lina Inverse and crew. When moving into a new series which laid out the ground work so well in the original, one would hope that none of the charm is left out while along the way making some improvements. Slayers Next definitely sticks to what made the series great for sure: the wit, comedy, action, mild development, it's there; yet at the same
time, outside of the visuals there really isn't too much improvement.
The plot follows Lina Inverse as she searches for a magical artifact called The Claire Bible which contains some very necessary spells for her. Her friend and comrade in arms Zelgadis wants the book in hopes to returning to his human form. The band once again comes together and it's off on a new quest.
The visuals are clearly the most noticeable improvement with character designs, setting and static backgrounds appearing to be more crisp and detailed. Castles and underground labyrinths look a lot better, and there are also some pretty moments when the characters travel to other dimensions or alternate worlds. The final battle towards the end has a nice dark, end of the world like setting that truly feels as if this is the end. The battles look a little better as well despite the lack of choreography at times; the light shows are still something to get pretty excited about. The BGM is still just as good creating the right feeling for whichever situation is necessary.
This season sticks to its guns delivering the comedy along with action and it does succeed a good portion of the time; but one's enjoyment is clearly going to be decided on how much they bought into the characters earlier on. The first half of the series spins its wheels on delivering something of a plot. It's true that smaller details come into play, such as a major demon by the name of Gaav possessing a hidden motive to lure out Lina which leads into his personal feud with another demon; but there's so much filler taking place and stories that serve no purpose it's difficult to hide that this stuff is simply to prolong the series. I did have fun watching some of this, yet the lack of progress grew a little frustrating. The second half finally starts to deal with these plot threads that were introduced, and things to start get good, and I mean really good leading up to a couple of good battles and an ending worth waiting for.
Lina sees some development and becomes a bit more well rounded, and some of the side characters receive a bit as well coming together more as a family; the characters aren't even 60% developed but they really don't need it because their personalities alone carries the weight. Some of the battles are quite creative with nice outcomes and I loved their use of teamwork on some things.
In closing, although Slayers Next looks better and retains everything that made it special in the first place. It still suffers from the repeated jokes and obvious episode stretching; the jokes worked very well in the original because it was new stuff and many times unexpected. I like the characters a lot, still I need something more than watching Lina blast bandits to bits and watching the gang chow down practically every episode. It just gets to the point where some things aren't as funny anymore. I still recommend giving this a shot to everyone who fell for the original series.
Highs: Maintains everything that made it great, better visuals
Lows: Needed better progress, some jokes are redundant