The anime “Slayers” first appeared in 1995 and was based on the light novel written by Hajime Kanzaka and illustrated by Rui Araizumi which ran from 1989-2000. The anime series success would spawn sequels in 1996, 1997, 2008, and 2009. There were also movies, though those aren’t covered here. Here’s five reasons to like this old, but great series about magic and explosions.
Article by David F. Pendrys
The protagonist, Lina Inverse, almost never needs saving, and when she does it’s unusual. Unlike in some animes including the beloved Sailor Moon, where all too often the protagonists have to be aided by a knightish male, Lina can handle herself. In fact, her knight companion, Gourry, needs much more help than she ever will. Lina is a flawed, but powerful wizard and she knows it. It is fantastic even in an older series to see a leading lady who is incredibly strong, though anime has often been ahead of other media in that regard. Other women in the series like Amelia and Sylphiel are plenty capable themselves though Amelia has a ways to go because of her youth. It’s Lina’s show and everyone else is along for the fiery ride.
Megumi Hayashibara and the voice actors
The legendary voice actress and singer lends her vocals to the various title songs of the series, but also gives Lina life super effectively. It is possible to create a character and not voice them properly, so “Slayers” is especially solid in the vocal department. Megumi is wonderful in her role, and Yasunori Matsumoto’s Gourry, Hikaru Midorikawa’s Zelgadis, and Masami Suzuki’s Amelia all work well together. Even side characters like Hiroshi Yanaka’s Vrumugun have great actors behind them.
Of course also notable is Akira Ishida’s character who is a point in his own…
Xellos is a wonderful demon who hides his true agenda with a smile and his hair. Lina doesn’t trust him, nor should she. He joyfully makes appearances sometimes helping sometimes not helping, but he is a wonderful wild card. When you see his eyes, run. Agents of chaos are enjoyable. He also has a catchphrase “Sore wa himitsu desu” or “it’s a secret.” Despite being a common running gag it works fine, as does everything Xellos does. He is a delight.
The lighter side
This means two things. The show relies on humor a lot, which is not necessarily unique but the humor works. The creators manage to set the series in a fantasy medieval land with regal locations, but also turn things zany at a moment’s notice. The second meaning is that while there are dire consequences to what is going on, the series does not turn especially dark (at least through the first three seasons). Anime at times can be a joyous romp and then suddenly it’s “Evangelion.” “Slayers” fortunately avoids that. Watch for the mermaids and mermen, it’s worth it. Also, by the time the third season rolls around, dragons will be a thing and it’ll be silly.
For being older, “Slayers” as animation holds up really well. The settings are well drawn, and the characters are as well. The show uses a bright color scheme (though it is more muted in the third season), which does the job. Admittedly, it’s not as bright as the color work contemporary animation is managing, but it is suitable.
The various magical attacks, and there are a lot, are displayed well. The show does reuse footage but also often uses new animation for various attacks, as opposed to a more magical girl approach of just showing the same attack and the result. The animators do a good job with goofy results too during the comedic moments.