Slayers
Slayers
Slayers is very much a series where you'd leave your suspension of disbelief at the door, because some VERY unrealistic stuff goes on within this series - isn't that what animated shows are for in the first place, to stretch the boundaries of realism to breaking point, then proceed to tie it up in a fancy bow?

I'll say it right now, I'm going to only be focussing on the Animated series, I will not be covering the OVAs.  Also because this is a rather old series, there may be a number of spoilers, PARTICULARLY in the Slayers NEXT and Slayers TRY reviews, so if you have not seen Slayers yet, it may be in your best interests to watch it before reading this review.

Slayers is definitely a complicated series in the broader scope, as the viewer will realise when watching Slayers TRY, which reveals the fact that Slayers and Slayers NEXT only took place in a very small portion of the world, but that being said, it is a fun and enjoyable series.

The Slayers anime is focussed around the exploits of one Lina Inverse and her steadily growing entourage of companions, including the denser-than-lead swordsman Gourry Gabriev, the mystical sorcerer-swordsman Zelgadis, immature, self-proclaimed ally of justice Amelia, naive priestess Sylphiel and more.

While the goal of the first 'act' of the series seems very straightforward, there is a lot of twists, turns and backstabbing that will keep the viewer guessing as to what will be coming next.

Naturally sorcery and fantasy plays a very large factor in a series like this, with enough spells to fill its own encyclopedia (and in fact one does exist of sorts!) Spells range from everyday commonplace spells such as a simple ball of light, to spells that can be used for both everyday use and in combat, to spells that would rival a weapon of mass destruction (plus one penultimate spell that if it was to go out of control would result in the destruction of the world that Slayers is set in)

The recurring cast in this series is actually rather lengthy, so I will have to keep background info down, otherwise you will be reading all week.  That being said...

Central to the series is the bandit killing, self-professed sorcery genius, Lina Inverse.  Specialising in Fire Shamanism and Black Magic, she is, for lack of a better term, a walking weapon of mass destruction and can cast spells that call on the powers of high-ranking dark lords residing in the Slayers world.  Her stomach is also a force to be reckoned with, a common running gag in the series being how she and her companion (and comedic relief) Gourry are both able to regularly ingest enough food to sate a small army.

Naturally, her motivations are primarily money and power, though she does have some semblence of a conscience, she will not hesitate to defend those close to her.

She is also very focussed on her goals, with very little deterring her from her path, no matter how dangerous the path may seem.  On the other hand though, she often prefers the fast, direct method to her goal, which can result in her target simply being incinerated by a "Dragon Slave" (A high level black magic spell)

Her companion, Gourry, is literally the walking archetype of "All brawn, little brain". He first meets Lina when he jumps into the fray, thinking he was saving her from a small gang of bandits, though naturally she could have handled herself.  Being denser than led, he saw Lina as a young girl in need of a protector and offered his services.

While he has no magical capability whatsoever, he is the owner of a mystical sword, known as the Sword of Light (also referred to as Gorun Nova in Slayers Next and Slayers Try), able to channel the wielders willpower into energy, though it does also have other uses which I will expand on in the Slayers Try review.

Zelgadis is very much an anti-hero, mostly out for himself, with anyone in his path being a means to an end.  He starts out as an enemy to Lina, though through the series, he and Lina come to an understanding... of sorts and he becomes a companion through the remainder of the series plus the two following series.  Zelgadis is also an accomplished spellcaster, with knowledge in some of the Shamanistic arts, but his greatest strength being Spirit Shamanism, in which he can cast the Ra Tilt, a spell on par with the Dragon Slave.

Rezo is the primary antagonist of the first season of Slayers, he started out as a famous priest that was a master of White magic, though for reasons that are revealed in the series, he eventually mastered Shamanism as well and finally turned to Black Magic.

Ruby-eye Shabranigdu (also known as Shabranigo) is the penultimate antagonist of the first half of the first season.  To keep spoilers to a minimum, I'll keep this brief.  He is the leader of the entire monster race of the plane of existence that the Slayers World resides on (there is several planes of existence, but that is outside of the scope of this review), in the War of the Monsters Fall, he was defeated in battle by the Dragon God Ceiphied and split into seven pieces.  He is constantly seeking a way to be reborn.

In the second half of Slayers, still more characters are introduced, including self-proclaimed Champion of Justice Amelia and her father Philionel (This character is one of my favourites, if only for the oxymoronic attacks that he uses)

Eris, Rezo's devoted assistant, is a minor antagonist in Act 2 of the season, having successfully cloned Rezo, and being largely responsible for the summoning of the major antagonist of the series, Zanaffar-Rezo (A combination of the Demon Beast Zanaffar and Rezo.)

Animation-wise, Slayers is not the greatest series out there, it will not compare to the works of someone like Hayao Miyazaki, but it is drawn with sufficient quality that it is relatively easy on the eye, as well as pleasing to the eye.  A diversity of characters exist, ranging from humans, to chimeras, to more exotic creatures such as fish-people (and no, I don't mean merfolk! Slayers has something VERY different - not to mention hilarious)

Regarding the ever-present debate of "Subtitled vs dubbed", I honestly have to say that both the english and japanese audio tracks are good quality.  Lisa Ortiz makes a good job of Lina Inverse, while Crispin Freeman and Daniel Cronin make Zelgadis an enjoyably jaded character, Eric Stuart rounding out the trio of primary characters with his role as Gourry.

If you are a fan of fantasy style animes with a dash of comedy as well as stretching your suspension of disbelief to quite a substantial degree, Slayers would be right up your alley.

Rating: 4/5