Slayers – Review
Original Air Dates: April 7th, 1995 – September 29th, 1995
Synopsis: Lina Inverse is a young, powerful, sixteen year-old sorceress who is feared across the land. One day while traveling she’s attacked by bandits but is saved by the valiant and not all that bright Gourry Gabriev. Believing he needs to stick by her side to protect her (he totally doesn’t), Lina and Gourry now travel together across the world slaying bandits and dragons alike in the name of treasure and something resembling justice. But mostly treasure. However the two eventually find themselves embroiled in a plot to bring about the Resurrection of one of the most dangerous demons to ever walk the Earth and must work with Rezo the Red Priest to stop this dark demon’s resurrection.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Slayers is considered one of the stronger 90s fantasy anime classics with its simple premise: A loud-mouthed sorceress and a brain-dead swordsman travel the world in search of riches and adventure. Despite its age Slayers’ narrative holds up surprisingly well. The first episode contains a lot of character and builds proper expectations for the tone and destination this series will head towards. Subsequent episodes launch into the overarching narrative concerning Rezo the red priest which carry the series to its season conclusion. The first ten episodes, upon reflection, are weaker than Slayers later sixteen, which really push the plot in exciting and dangerous directions for our heroes as they get closer and closer to the great demon’s resurrection. It’s this back half of the series where Slayers is at its strongest, where Linny and I often felt on the edge of our seats. Despite the back half being a tad more serious, Slayers is oozing with comedy that helps the show bounce back and forth between its more light-hearted and darker aspects.
Linny: Unlike more recent fantasy anime like the Heroic Legend of Arslan, or Grimgar, Slayers is stepped very heavily in magic and demons and monsters. It’s a chaotic mess that’s a ton of fun to watch. Lina and Gourry’s adventures are wildly entertaining as they confront anything from bandits to dragons, to golems and more. They never set out to save the world, but somehow, by the end, they often seem forced into it.
Tom: It’s Lina’s reluctance to be the hero that leads us to Slayers major boon: It’s characters. Lina herself is incredibly feisty, making for one of the most memorable and strong female characters from 90s anime. She’s the star of the show and she knows it. Lina isn’t perfect, often suffering from arrogance or her anger streak, but has confidence and determination even when things get exceedingly dangerous. She’s offset by Gourry, our token idiot of the series. I don’t think anime has yet topped just how lovably moronic, yet courageous Gourry is. And the dynamic that he and Lina share is a classic one that I don’t think anime in the last decade has really managed to top within the fantasy genre. Filling out the cast are a wide-range of personalities, from Zelgadis, the golem-skinned brooding swordsman, to Amelia, the fun-loving easily excited justice hounding princess. The cast isn’t necessarily terribly deep, or three-dimensional, but they’re all very fun to watch and keep the show’s antics churning out at a fast pace.
Linny: I really enjoyed watching Lina be Lina. She loves to eat, she’s bawdy, greedy, dislikes most people and she’s ambitious, even greedy (it bears saying a second time). And gosh, is she good at delivering fourth wall breaking one liners. Tom has often compared me to Lina, and part of me wants to be flattered because she’s such a fun character. Gourry is kind of a doofus but I actually found that very charming and endearing. He’s clearly good hearted yet simple minded and I had a blast watching the two of them. I actually found Amelia, our justice-loving princess, super annoying. She’s your typical goody two shoes with deluded notions for dispensing justice. Her father, Prince Phillionel, is slightly deranged, but unlike Amelia he’s entertaining with his convoluted interpretation of pacifism. There’s a couple of smaller characters I really didn’t take to, like Sylphiel, Gourry’s “love interest” who’s a bit too ‘stereotypical meek girl’ for me, or a late series villain Eris, who’s entire character is centered around her infatuation for Rezo the Red Priest.
Tom: Slayers boasts a wide and impressive range of voices for its dub. Lina and Gourry’s voice actors are perfect for their roles and their voice work has aged beautifully over the years, letting Slayers stand as one of the oldest high quality dubs. However, some other voices don’t hold up nearly as well. Zelgadis’ original voice provides such an uninspiring performance in his first few episodes that it’s little wonder, and with relief, that he’s been recast by the time Zelgadis’ returns to the group several episodes later. Another character that detracts from Slayers strong, thriving vocal track is the voice of Sylphiel, who’s entire performance lacks any and all enthusiasm, effectively ruining two late series dramatic moments with severe underacting. If it wasn’t for these few flaws I might site Slayers as one of the greatest early anime dubs.
Linny: Now brace yourself as I let loose just how annoying I found some of the voice acting. Zelgadis and Sylphiel both had voices that made me want to rage quit the entire show, especially Sylphiel. Every time she opened her mouth, I was immediately irritated. Thankfully, Zelgadis has a voice actor change after episode 10 but if you dislike Sylphiel like I did, heads up, the torture lasts all season.
Tom: Slayers has a very different visual quality compared to modern anime, which use digital coloring techniques to create the finished product. Slayers was animated back when coloring was still done by hand giving it a very different look. this isn’t helped by the fact that slayers was produced back in 1995 on a much smaller budget compared to its sequels. The first ten or episodes themselves suffer from weak animation, stilted movements and washed out colors. The quality does improve as the season continues, and despite all this I’d still say Slayers is much very watchable, saved by the high quality writing and voice acting. But the first few episodes do make you wish the series had gotten a slightly larger initial budget.
Linny: The show has the classic 90’s anime aesthetic, from its character designs to its quality. Everything screams the 90’s and is sure to be a nostalgia trip for older anime fans. Newer fans, or those who have only been exposed to recent anime may not find it appealing, but when considering the time period and the budget, should be able to understand and enjoy it as a product of its time.
Tom: Slayers remains one of my all time favorite anime, despite its failings. I believe it’s one of those series that’s so well-rounded that really anyone can enjoy it. It’s got solid action, particularly once the animation picks up, and fun comedy to keep the mood light. It never gets sappy with its character drama, and hardly ever dives into the melodrama that plagues quite a few seasonal anime offerings of recent.
Linny: All in all, Slayers was enjoyable and has some great fourth wall breaking humour courtesy Lina Inverse. I was happy that Tom picked this as it was fun but in honesty I don’t think I would have stuck through the entire season if I had picked it up on my own as there were moments when I just wanted the episode to end already. It’s definitely not an anime I personally would recommend as an introduction to anime or for trying to convert anyone into a hardcore anime lover, but it’s definitely worth a try for a nostalgia boost or if you just want to enjoy some classic anime fun.