Slayers is an anime based on a light novel series written by Hajime Kanzaka and illustrated by Rui Araizumi. The anime was produced by J.C. Staff, and all the television series were directed by Takashi Watanabe. The films and OVAs were directed by several other directors, including Kazuo Yamazaki, Hiroshi Watanabe, Kunihiko Yuyama, and Junichi Sato.
The first Slayers anime series aired in Japan from April 7-September 29, 1995. Slayers Next aired on Japanese television from April 5-September 27, 1996. Slayers Try aired on Japanese television from April 4-September 26, 1997. Slayers Revolution aired on Japanese television from July 2-September 24, 2008. Slayers Evolution-R aired on Japanese television from January 12-April 6, 2009.
FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American rights for the five television anime series. ADV Films holds the North American rights for Slayers: The Motion Picture, Slayers Return, Slayers: The Book of Spells, Slayers Great, Slayers Excellent, Slayers Gorgeous, and Slayers Premium.
The main character of Slayers is a 16-year-old sorceress named Lina Inverse. She loves money, treasure and food, and uses her magic in a reckless, yet comedic manner. She has a reputation for being evil, powerful, destructive, and diminutive. Lina has also acquired the nicknames of “Bandit Killer” and “Dragon Spooker”; however, she doesn’t like either of these nicknames.
At the beginning of the series, Lina destroys a gang of bandits called the Dragon Fangs and takes some of their treasure. As she heads for the nearest town, Lina is ambushed by the remaining members of the gang. Lina ends up being rescued by Gourry Gabriev, a wandering swordsman who carries the Sword of Light. While Gourry may be skillful with a sword, he isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. After meeting Lina, he decides to serve as the “little girl’s” unpaid bodyguard. Gourry is kind, loyal, and considerate of others. However, he makes it clear that he feels Lina’s physical attributes are a little underdeveloped for her age.
During the journey, they meet Zelgadis Greywords, who is a mixture of human, golem and demon. He wants to be returned to his original human form. They also meet Princess Amelia, the princess of the Seyruun Kingdom who is a self-proclaimed Lady of Justice. Gourry also has a reunion with his friend Sylphiel, who appears to be in love with Gourry. Together, the group travels together and has adventures.
The main villain in the first series is Rezo the Red Priest, and he is scheming to resurrect the Dark Lord Shabranigdo. Lina and the others make a trip to Sairaag, where they have a final confrontation with Rezo and his cronies.
Slayers Next sees Zelgadis on a quest to find the Claire Bible. The series introduces a couple of new characters: an evil princess named Martina and a priest named Xellos. While it’s obvious that Martina’s evil, Xellos’ motivations are a lot more ambiguous. Xellos’ catchphrase is, “It’s a secret.” During their quest for the Claire Bible, they keep running into the dragon lord, Gaav.
In Slayers Try, Lina receives a letter from someone named Filia who wants to meet her and offers her money. Lina and Gourry are reunited with Zelgadis and Amelia. When they meet Filia, they discover she’s a dragon. She tells them the world is going to end and that it’s up to Lina to save it. At first, Lina refuses; however, after Filia gives Lina a letter from her sister Luna, she changes her mind. They head to the temple of the Fire Dragon King. Along the way, they encounter Xellos, and Filia and Xellos do not get along. As expected, the series reaches its climax when Lina and her party reach their destination and fight a final battle in order to save the world.
In The Slayers Revolution, Lina Inverse is being pursued by inspector Wizer Frayon for “the crime of being Lina Inverse.” Lina, along with Gourry, Amelia, and Zelgadis, try to clear Lina’s name. In the process, they meet a new character named Pokota, and new adventures await our heroes.
The Slayers Evolution-R is a direct continuation of The Slayers Evolution. In these episodes, Lina and her comrades must find the Hellmaster’s Jar that contains the soul of Rezo the Red Priest, since he is the only hope for lifting the seal on Pokota’s village. The episodes in this series follow the group’s adventures in trying to acquire the Hellmaster’s Jar, as well as answers some questions regarding the character of Xellos.
At the time of this writing, all I have seen of Slayers is the five television anime seasons, so that’s all I will be touching on here.
Of the five television seasons, I believe the first season is the strongest. The humor is fresh in these episodes, we get to spend a bit of time developing the characters and getting to know them, and the overarching story is easy to follow and enjoyable to watch.
Slayers Next, the second season of Slayers, is still a decent season, although it’s not quite as strong as the first season. The introduction of Xellos and Martina add some new dimensions to the series, and it feels like they truly added something to this season. Xellos becomes an important character after this season, so not only does he add a new element for this season, but he adds a new dimension for the remainder of the series. While Martina added something for the season, it’s a comedic element that would have gotten old after a while if she had continued to be a main character after this season.
Slayers Try, the third season of Slayers, isn’t a bad series, but it just wasn’t as strong as the first two seasons to me. Filia wasn’t as interesting of a character, and the overall story of the season wasn’t nearly as strong as the story in the first two seasons.
When it comes to Slayers Revolution, the timeline from episode to episode is rather choppy. In addition, the timeline for some of the events in the series is also questionable, because conflicting information is given within the 13 episodes of The Slayers Revolution. Also, the story just kind of stops at the end of this series, since the rest of the story is in The Slayers Evolution-R. While there is some enjoyable humor in The Slayers Revolution, I feel that this series is weaker than the previous three series of Slayers.
For The Slayers Evolution-R, I have to say that I felt that the pacing for this story arc wasn’t very strong. The first four episodes are essentially “filler,” with only one or two real events of consequence that advance the plot. The early episodes in this series also suffer from the choppy time flow that was rampant in The Slayers Revolution. I also found myself being rather unimpressed by how the series ended. While I felt The Slayers Evolution-R was a little better than The Slayers Revolution, it still doesn’t quite measure up with the first three seasons of Slayers.
Slayers does have some good humor in it, although some of it does end up wearing a little thin by the end of the television anime series. Lina Inverse and her band of companions are characters you come to care about, even if some of the stories they find themselves in aren’t as strong as they could be.
If you enjoy fantasy anime series with some humor in it, then you’ll probably enjoy Slayers. However, I would personally recommend focusing on the first two or three seasons of the television anime series. In my opinion, you’re not missing much if you skip The Slayers Revolution and The Slayers Evolution-R.