When it comes to anime, there are few that I’ve ever found legitimately funny. Sure, I’ll laugh at something like One Punch Man or Mob Psycho 100, but a lot of anime I’ve seen just aren’t that funny. However, there was another anime that I watched that managed to strike a good balance between both comedy and action. Not only that, but it managed to fill a fantasy setting with a wealth of crazy and memorable characters. I’m talking about the anime known as “Slayers”.
For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, let me explain. Slayers is a classic 90s anime that focuses on a fantasy universe, complete with swords and sorcery. This universe is populated by zany characters, all-powerful gods, and overpowered sorcerers. It’s a show that knows when to take itself seriously, and when to goof off. So, today I shall review the first season of Slayers. I hope you all enjoy it, and consider watching a season or 2!
Slayers is based off a light-novel that originally began publication in 1989. The series proved popular enough to gain an anime adaptation in 1995, which ended up becoming the first season of an ongoing saga. The anime proved well enough to get several films and even a few OVAs. The light novels continued going even after the anime ended and it proved to be an overall very popular series that ran for many years.
Plot and Setting
This series takes place in an unnamed fantasy world, full of monsters and magic. Unlike other series, the monsters are actually their own race of powerful beings that can wield their own special brand of magic called “Black Magic”. Certain characters in this universe (including our main character) can wield this dark magic, by calling directly upon the power of monsters. Other kinds of magic include: Holy, White, Shamanistic, and Chaos magic respectively.
The show itself revolves around our primary character: Lina Inverse. It’s hard to really call Lina a “hero”, as she often does things mostly for personal gain. In some episodes, she’ll cause more bad than good. Lina’s biggest draw is that she is emotionally unstable, yet she wields some of the most powerful spells in the entire realm. Lina will flip her lid at slightest insult to her chest-size, and wouldn’t hesitate to nuke a village because of it.
Despite this, Lina is usually the only one who can triumph over the big evil currently attacking the realm, which she always does. Now, our season 1 plot focuses on introducing our characters first. We are introduced to Lina Inverse, the forgetful swordsman Gourry, the powerful chimera Zelgadis, the justice-loving Amelia, along with the occasional guest character. These four are the main protagonists of season 1, who soon find themselves in a war against the forces of darkness.
The Red Priest known as Rezo is planning to awaken a powerful demon, which results in Lina and friends being pulled into a confrontation with him and the dark lord Shabranigdo. After that story arc, the show goes into silly filler adventures, before ending off with another battle against a different villain. Despite the show injecting itself with a lot of silly filler, it never really gets all that boring. The filler adventures often prove immensely entertaining, and allow for the supporting characters to get some screen-time.
The main plots themselves proved to be fairly entertaining, despite being somewhat formulaic fantasy stories. Still, the setup for these main plots can be fairly entertaining in themselves. While the story arcs for the first season of Slayers aren’t too unique in structure, that doesn’t stop them from being immensely enjoyable. Couple that with the absurd characters populated throughout this world, and you have a recipe for a truly enjoyable show.
The show is a 90s anime, and as a result the animation has not aged well. There are parts that look fairly good for the time, but others that just look stiff and awkward by today’s standards. Action scenes seem to have much better animation though, which is a common trait among anime of this era. Characters are fairly well-designed and are varied in appearance. I actually enjoyed this a lot, as it managed to avoid having a near identical cast.
Monster designs are also pretty unique and interesting, especially due to how many strange creatures populate this world. One of the pros of using a fantasy world is being able to populate it with as many strange beings as you want, which this show takes full advantage of. The show will have our heroes fighting wolf-men one minute, to fighting giant fish with human limbs the next.
The voice acting is pretty good for the time, at least in my opinion. I’ve watched a bit of the Japanese version, but mostly focused on watching the English version. The reason for this is that I’m not a huge fan of reading subtitles, and also that I really enjoyed the English voice-acting. While it’s true that this show does have a few awkward voice-actors here or there, it still manages to bring a fairly solid voice-cast into play. Once the primary voice-cast was settled on, their voices were completely solidified in my head. The voices just matched the characters so perfectly that it became impossible to go back to the Japanese version!
The soundtrack for this show is pretty solid, it even has a really energetic and entertaining theme song. There are times where the music can feel a bit generic, but most of the time the soundtrack gets my blood pumping. While the soundtrack isn’t something I’d play in the background while doing stuff, it isn’t terrible either. Despite the somewhat formulaic soundtrack, the sometimes-awkward animation, and the occasional bad voice actor, I still thought the production values on this show were fantastic!
Slayers is a series that mixes comedy and action very well, while at the same time giving us memorable and unique characters. While the first season lacks memorable villains, it’s still an enjoyable time. With great action scenes and fun filler episodes, it manages to be enjoyable despite its flaws. While the animation is somewhat stilted and certain voice actors do a terrible job, the experience comes together rather nicely and creates a fantastic series.
It balances its fantasy elements well with the silly atmosphere presented with its world, creating a great mixture of realism with surrealism. That’s why I can wholeheartedly recommend this show to fans of fantasy or comedy. This is one of those rare anime that made me laugh, that felt like it appealed to my bizarre sense of humor. That’s why I can say that this show is definitely as Sweet As Syrup and is totally worth a watch!