Hmm…I’ve been doing a lot of one season ones thus far. Sure, there’s a couple of one seasons that are really great that everyone knows out there… “Trigun”, “Outlaw Star”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “FLCL”… But pretty much if it runs more than one season, you don’t show up in this country unless you’re well-known/great…
I wonder if I got any in here that ran multiple seasons but people are still kind of “meh” about…
…Oh! Here we go!
To be honest, I’m kind of stunned. It’s not often you go through a series that runs three seasons, gains a bit of popularity, and ends up being revived for an additional two half seasons, and at the end still go… “Eh.”
“The Slayers” or “Slayers” was based off of a popular comedy/fantasy/action manga known as, you guessed it, “Slayers” by Hajime Kanzaka. The anime concerns the misadventures of the world’s most dangerous and destructive sorceress: Lina Inverse, and her companions, comrades, frienemies: Gourry, a chivalrous, talented, and yet incredibly dim-witted knight; Zelgadis, a chimera mixture of human, golem, and demon shaman; and Amelia, an over-excitable, justice-loving white mage. As you may have guessed, the universe is set in a fantasy world full of orcs, trolls, monsters, dragons, and all that sort of good stuff. It further remains balanced by various creatures and entities that embrace good and order, and various creatures and monsters that embrace chaos, evil, and destruction. The foremost of the latter are horrific monsters called…well…Monsters, which is kind of code word for “really nasty and hard-to-kill demons”. I find that’s the easier way to describe them.
Lina is a bounty hunter and quite possibly the best sorceress and wielder of black magic in the world. However, in typical anime fashion, she’s also selfish, lazy, short-tempered, loud, reckless, greedy, cruel, a glutton, a whiner, extremely petty as she’ll kill you and your entire town for calling her any of those things, and (much to her chagrin) flat as a washboard. She usually extorts large amounts of money out of those she’s trying to help, ends up roped into situations much worse than she anticipated, and, to top everything off, usually annihilates the entire town where she was hired using the strongest black magic spell in the world: the Dragon Slave. Hence, in spite of her talent, she’s considered a demon in the flesh by most and is highly sought after by others.
Gourry falls in with Lina in the very first episode of the series, seeing it his duty as a knight to protect her. In terms of intelligence, he’s pretty much at the same level as any anime Crouching Tiger, Hidden Badass like Monkey D. Luffy or Son Goku, although most of his stupidity seems tied to an attention span that can’t keep track of anything for more than two seconds.
Zelgadis starts off as an enemy for the first part of season one, but later turns out to unwittingly being an ally as he usually shares the same goal as Lina. Originally human, Zelgadis was turned into a chimera by Rezo the Red Priest as a result of his wish for power and Rezo conducting an experiment. Since he’s part golem, he’s essentially a thinner version of The Thing from Marvel Comics and can take most punishment, but he’s also quite a powerful shaman. As far as personality goes, he’s your basic silent brooding anime character. You’ve seen him before.
Then there’s Amelia. Pretty much fanatically obsessed with justice, it’s more or less her duty to try and turn everything in the series into a cliche about good and evil and point them out whenever they turn around. Her constant ranting about love, peace, and justice would make Vash the Stampede himself strangle her to shut her up, and, much like Lina, she’s incredibly reckless when it comes to tossing around spells, preferring to mete out justice in the form of obliterate the unjust one. However, as she’s actually a princess of a fairly great kingdom, she’s handy in terms of both money and giving the group some political clout from time to time.
The four, through one means or another, find themselves drawn together on various missions that usually aren’t for money but revolve around either the Monsters of the world wanting to somehow use Lina’s incredible power to spread more chaos and destruction, or trying to stop the same from taking place. Over the seasons they’ve run into various bad guys, many of which are god-like in power and terms of destruction, and assorted allies, some of whom are brief and some of whom recur over time.
The series is pretty big, but…it’s pretty clear-cut plotline-wise over each season.
The first season mostly centered around the villain: Rezo the Red Priest. One of the greatest wizards in the world who got his name from doing continuous acts of charity and benevolence, and working countless miracles and helping thousands of people. Yet it turns out all of this was a facade: he never cared wholeheartedly about helping anyone. All of his acts were practice to try and cure his own blindness, and eventually it became a maddening obsession that drove him to nothing else. It turns out he was blind for a very good reason: a really bad demon god of destruction, Shabranigdo, was sealed behind his eyes and if they ever opened he’d destroy the world. Well…like any good villain, he succeeds. Lina’s Dragon Slave is useless because that spell literally invokes the very god of destruction she’s trying to destroy to cast it. Instead, she ends up calling on the god of chaos itself to use the Giga Slave to blow it back to oblivion. The second half of the season is devoted to having to deal with Rezo’s followers, who are trying to revive him via a clone. As it turns out, this clone wants to prove he’s superior to the original by surviving the thing that killed him: a Giga Slave. Yet Lina finds out that spell has a rather nasty side effect that’s not a high MP cost…every time you cast it there’s a chance you’ll completely destroy the universe. Well, that would suck, but luckily Lina finds help in the form of a MacGuffin sword from a big Yggdrasil knockoff named Flagoon, and the day is saved.
The second season introduces the resident “troll” for the series: an incredibly powerful mage named Xellos. He usually looks pretty carefree and cheerful, but that’s all a font as he’s a Bitch in Sheep’s Clothing. He’s really one of the most horrible Monsters in existence and, for all his good nature, is pretty much pure evil…a fact he flaunts quite a bit as the series proceeds. The enemy in this one is an exiled evil god, Garv, who…nevertheless, is still evil. (You see, normally if a good god gets exiled that means they turned evil, whereas with an evil god they simply…um…turn more evil.) She gains a “less risky” incredibly-destructive spell called the Ragna Blade, but eventually Garv gets a Hijacked by Ganon moment when it turns out another really bad evil god, Phibrizzo, wastes him and tries to tick Lina off into casting the Giga Slave so she can destroy everything. Well, blah, blah, she casts it, brings out yet another evil god, kills the lesser evil god, like in most anime we have a Deus Ex Machina in the form of character attachment, blah, blah…the day is saved.
The third season deals a lot with gold dragons, which are apparently the servants of the gods…er, not the bad ones. Long ago all the dragons, who worked for the gods, got called to war against all the demons. But one group, the ancient dragons, tried to abstain. Bad move, as that condemned them all to genocide. Turns out the last one of them stuck with Garv because, hey, he’s a rebel like me. So now he, Valgaav, wants revenge against Lina for killing his boss (yeah…one of those deals where he considers someone distantly related to the death of his boss to be responsible even when she actually killed his real murderer…), BUT he also ends up being one of those Woobie: Destroyer of Worlds as he hates the order of gods and demons and blames them for his miserable life, so he wants to merge with…you guessed it…another big evil god of chaos to destroy everything so there won’t be any more good or evil period. Well, the group spends a lot of time running around with a gold dragon named Filia, the other gold dragons die, guys from space with clones of Gourry’s weapon show up…bah, you know how this goes. Lina casts a big spell, bad guy go boom, the day is saved.
The fourth/fifth season is all about this little stuffed animal guy named Pokota whose entire kingdom was stricken by a bad disease that condemned everyone to death, so they got Rezo the Red Priest to put them all in suspended animation until a cure could be found. Turns out Pokota was the prince of the kingdom, but Rezo put him into a proxy so he could move around at will even when his body was in suspended animation. Yet it turns out such wasn’t an act of good will, naturally. He wanted to take Pokota’s body so he could see. Anyway, Rezo is long since dead now, but he’s the only one who can undo the spell on the kingdom. So, stuffed animal guy ends up running with Lina in company and they end up unwillingly resurrecting Rezo into Pokota’s body so he can wake everyone up. Everyone gets cured but Rezo confesses even though he was only able to see for a grand total of three seconds when he opened his eyes in his last body and almost destroyed everything by reviving Shabranigdo…he still enjoyed seeing so much for three seconds that he decided he just had to see again, so…
REZO: Lina, I’m about to open my eyes again so I can enjoy sight once more for a few seconds before Shabranigdo consumes me and tries to destroy the world again.
LINA: Huh? What the…?
REZO: Relax! You killed him once. I’m sure you can do it again.
LINA: But, that was only by using the-
REZO: Too late. (Opens eyes) I can see! Thank God I can-GROOOOARR…
Luckily, Lina decides to say about the Giga Slave the same thing ol’ Doc Brown said about screwing with the space-time continuum: “What the heck.” Big spell, bad guy go boom, and once again the day is saved.
So, yeah…more or less it’s the same thing repeated several times with most of the interest coming from the comedic moments. Most of the action is repetitive. The heroes only have so many moves and so many ways to do the same thing repeatedly. Usually they’re thrown into strange situations with unusual setups for comedic reasons. Since pretty much every season features “two main villains”, you’re left with an awkward situation where the villains seem a bit drawn out and yet not quite “built up” enough to be bad. On one hand, the series doesn’t drag, but on the other it seems “off” in terms of pacing.
Is it a good anime? Mmm…er…I dunno. I personally did not care for it that much. It seemed thoroughly “average”. There’s a lot of “temporary group members” over the four seasons. I’ll admit Pokota is probably the most “entertaining” and “complete” of the bunch although I think I’m more partial to Filia. Xellos was very irritating. Usually he’s just a troll, but during the times he shows his true nature, he becomes an Invincible Villain trope. He’s very…odd, to me. It seems like the plot is trying hard to make him “likable” in many situations, but that fails because every time he shows his evil side it works hard to make him unlikable. About the only parts with him I like is during the rare times where Lina manages to counter-troll him, but even that’s kind of awkward because the only reason she can get away with it is he lets her, and that’s only because he’s ordered not to kill her by his own boss.
To be honest, as crazy as the four main principles are…they’re not that entertaining. Lina is pretty much a synthesis of all the comedic-negative traits you’d see in female characters in anime. I suppose some people find it funny…I kind of got annoyed with it long before the first season ended. Gourry is…well…bland. His only defining trait is being slow-witted. About the dumbest, most unbelievable move that was done in the series was at the end of season two when they hinted at a romantic pairing between Gourry and Lina. Seriously…it doesn’t work. Lina is too immature and vicious to have a boyfriend, and Gourry is too dim-witted and childish to have a girlfriend. Zelgadis…what to say about him? He’s got the personality as well as the skin of a rock. He only gets irritated and emotional when it comes to something that might turn him back into a human, which is his ultimate goal, but unfortunately the plot seems to stop caring about that as soon as he ceases to be the main baddie early in the first season. Amelia is probably the most “fun” out of the group, but…her voice irritates me. I’m not talking about the dub, but the actual original Japanese. I think part of the “joke” is she’s supposed to sound like an older woman but…even ignoring that, the bulk of the “fun” she gets to have is running around and getting too excited about things. So, the humor is the highlight of the series, and yet it’s either things we’ve seen before, and done better, or things that are blah to begin with.
In terms of the “serious” plot…well, it managed to hold my interest, but that’s all. Everything, I don’t know, just seemed so “base” and “simplistic”. Like there was nothing really daring or incredible about the series. A lot of things I notice about these Junk Bin entries is I can watch a whole series and, once I’m done, not really remember anything about it. And while I do recall the main plot in this series, it doesn’t get much simpler than that. Bad god wants to destroy the world; Lina blows him away. Bad god wants to destroy the world; Lina blows him away. Bad god wants to destroy the world; Lina blows him away. Lather, rinse, repeat. Just like there’s only so many ways you can do the same spell, there’s only so many ways you can tell the same plot.
In short, the whole series has the feel of something that tries to be a franchise as it was in the manga, but ends up being a great big pile of yawn. If you end up watching it, you won’t be bored to tears and you’ll get something out of it. But you’ll probably feel cheated if you pay full price for it.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
It has the trappings of the greatest sorceress in the world, but inside it’s just some idiot with a laser sword.
What You Should Do With This DVD:
Pay cheap for one viewing. I suggest low-balling the price and conning that weird purple-haired guy into handing it over for practically nothing. (But what does he need with money in the first place? It’s a secret.)