Anime Review: The Slayers

I used to be into anime a lot more than I am now. It used to be something I was completely obsessed over, I would watch every single episode of anime that would come past me on TV (which unfortunately made me watch a large number of unmitigated dreck) and at one point was spending $40 a week on manga. My love of anime has declined over the years, partially through the fact that I almost stopped reading manga entirely when I went off to college and partly because most of the anime that has been coming out recently has been almost entirely terrible. I usually have to go back in time if I want to be able to watch some genuinely good anime, and that is exactly what I did this week.

One of my friends has been cosplaying as Lina Inverse from Slayers at Otakon for the past two cons and my group of friends is planning a Slayers cosplay group for next year. I decided to cosplay as Gourry Gabriev, but there was a problem with this: I had not seen Slayers before (or to be more precise, I had not seen any Slayers with Gourry in it (I had seen some of the OAV’s and the first movie)). Netflix very recently put all of Slayers up on Streaming, so it was time to finally remedy the lack of Slayers in my life.

Slayers follows the adventures of Lina Inverse, a very powerful but greedy sorceress. She will help anyone who asks for it, but always for a price, and is always out there looking for her next treasure score. Lina will take on anyone who gets in her way and will even seek out groups of bandits, eradicate them, and take their loot. It is precisely this kind of act that gets her into trouble in the first place and has her get saved by the great but incredibly simple swordsman, Gourry. Gourry is the kind of person who will not be able to remember anyone’s name (even the names of ancient evils that he helps to put down) unless they are able to provide him with the food he craves. They are joined on their quests by the shamanistic sorcerer, Zelgadis Greywords, who was granted immense power, but was turned into essentially a living stone statue in the process, and Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun, a princess of Seyruun and a self described “hero of justice.” Her attempts at being a hero are usually overdone and are decidingly silly, but her heart is in the right place.

The first series of Slayers (there’s 5 of them now), merely named Slayers, follows the forming of the main group and their battles against a powerful sorcerer who hopes to resurrect the dark lord Shabranigdo in order to restore something important to him. What I find to be very interesting about this show is that the story described above is only the first half of the season, the rest of the show is something that cannot really be summarized without some major spoilers.

Slayers is a show that is immensely watchable. It has some strong ties to Dungeons and Dragons, and draws much of it’s humour from using what is essentially the framework for a D and D campaign, with all of the stereotypes that come with it, and turning everything on it’s head. Lina will help people out, but usually ends up causing even more damage in the process, sometimes even destroying the entire town that she was hired to save with her immensely powerful signature spell, the Dragon Slave.  She is also loud and brash, as compared to other sorcerer’s in other fantasy stories. She may be as powerful as Gandalf, but she has none of his restraint or wisdom. Zelgadis is a character who does great acts of good, but considers himself to be one of the bad guys, despite travelling with the good guys. Amelia always stays on the side of “good” even if that side involves betraying her friends. The villains are even polite! Slayers is a very funny show, most of which stems from the fact that nothing is quite as you expect it to be, but also the fact that Lina and Gourry are black holes when it comes to food. The show is very silly, but that just adds to it’s charm.

Slayers is definitely one of the best shows to come out of the 90’s and is one of the best shows in all of anime. It’s funny, action packed, and simultaneously original but familiar to anyone who has ever played a tabletop fantasy RPG. If you haven’t seen it, change that. Seriously, all 5 series are on Netflix and you can get the first three series (that’s 78 episodes) off Amazon for only around $26. If you don’t like it, well you are going to be up the creek without a paddle as there is going to be a bunch of Slayers related content in the coming weeks as I work through all of the Slayers series.

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