Slayers: The Book of Spells is a collection of three self-contained OVAs, which are set prior to the start of the first season of the Slayers anime series and features Lina Inverse and Naga the Serpent. All three OVAs were directed by Hiroshi Watanabe and were released in Japan between July 25, 1996 and May 25, 1997. ADV Films licensed the OVAs and released them first on VHS, and later on DVD, in North America. As of this writing, it’s unclear if anyone currently has the rights to Slayers: The Book of Spells in North America.
The first OVA is titled, “The Scary Chimera Plan,” and it sees an alchemist named Diol requesting Lina’s help for one of his experiments. When she finds out that he plans to use her in creating a super chimera that would combine her with a lesser demon and a sea serpent, Lina angrily turns him down. At this point, Naga the Serpent (Lina’s on-and-off again companion) arrives and agrees to the plan, which angers Lina even more and she destroys Diol’s lab.
About a month later, the two are attacked and Lina accidentally knocks out Naga with one of her spells. It turns out Diol is the one behind the attack, and that he has created 10 clones of Naga with hair that he found in his lab. When Lina sees and hears the laughter of all of the Naga clones, she collapses. Vista, a brigand with a grudge against Lina and the sponsor of Diol’s experiments, gets involved in the story at this point as well. Meanwhile, Naga misunderstands why Lina has disappeared and tries to find her. Naga encounters all the clones, and they become attached to her. Thanks to Naga’s misunderstanding and all the clones, they find and rescue Lina.
This OVA was quite amusing, especially with the village people hating Naga’s laugh. There’s one particular person in the village who’s always seen praying to their god whenever they hear Naga’s laugh. They found Naga’s lone laugh annoying enough but hearing it from 11 Nagas in unison is just too much. Naga is part of the group of female characters from the late 1980’s and the 1990’s known for their laughs, and she joins such characters as Kodachi from Ranma 1/2 and Nanami from Revolutionary Girl Utena in this club.
I think this OVA holds up pretty well when compared to the Slayers television anime series, but just doesn’t quite match the other in quality. Admittedly, the animation looks dated, because you can obviously tell that it was made in the mid-1990’s. Another complaint I had, which is one I have for all three OVAs, is how much fanservice was emphasized with Naga. If it felt like the fanservice added something of value, I wouldn’t have minded it so much. But the fanservice shots felt like they were randomly thrown in.
The second OVA is titled, “Jeffrey’s Knighthood,” and it sees a woman named Josephine contacting Lina and Naga, asking them to tutor her son Jeffrey to become a member of the royal guard. Josephine has hired actors to pose as brigands so Jeffrey can easily defeat then and gain confidence. It turns out Jeffrey is small and clumsy and has a bad habit of blundering headstrong into battle to show off. Josephine watches from the shadows, with a bag over her head to hide her identity. She beats up anyone who says anything negative about Jeffrey, and her son is too dim-witted to realize it’s her and believes he’s constantly seeing the same passing pedestrian. This goes on for a while, and the OVA ends with a twist.
Of the three OVAs included in Slayers: The Book of Spells, I thought “Jeffrey’s Knighthood” was the weakest one. There were some interesting ideas going into it, but the execution left a lot to be desired. Jeffrey’s portrayal was a real turn-off to me. It would have been possible to get humor out of his character by having him being slightly idiotic, but his portrayal depicted him being such an idiot that he came across as annoying rather than humorous. While all three OVAs include humor in them, I laughed the least during “Jeffrey’s Knighthood,” because I found very little that was truly funny.
The final OVA is titled, “Mirror, Mirror.” Lina and Naga are in pursuit of Lagan, a magic user who has absconded with a mirror that is supposedly able to make an exact copy of the person who is looking into it. The copy would have the same knowledge and skills as the original but would be opposite in personality and loyal to the holder of the mirror. Lina and Naga are trying to catch him in order to get the reward for Lagan’s capture.
When Lina and Naga catch up to Lagan, he uses the mirror on them and creates copies of the two women. However, he doesn’t expect what happens, and I thought the copies were quite hilarious. If you know what Lina and Naga’s personalities are, then you can probably imagine what kind of personalities their opposites would have.
I found “Mirror, Mirror” to be rather hilarious, especially after Lina and Naga’s opposites are introduced. Like with the first OVA, I was literally laughing out loud during several moments. It’s a little frustrating and disappointing that “Jeffrey’s Knighthood” couldn’t reach the humor level of the other two OVAs. If I had to choose a favorite between the three OVAs, I think I would have to select “Mirror, Mirror.” While the Naga clones in “The Scary Chimera Plan” were funny, I thought the opposites in “Mirror, Mirror” were outright hilarious.
After watching Slayers: The Book of Spells, I have to say that I think the Slayers television anime series is a little stronger. That’s not to say that Slayers: The Book of Spells is bad, but it just doesn’t quite reach the quality of the early seasons of the television anime.
Even with that opinion, I would still recommend that fans of the Slayers franchise find a way to watch Slayers: The Book of Spells. It provides more adventures in the Slayers universe, and it also gives viewers some insight into Lina before she meets Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, and the others.
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