I really enjoyed the hefty slice of retro fantasy comedy that was Slayers vol 1, and with the plot hotting up I was quite looking forward to the second volume.
At the end of the last DVD Lina and Gourry had been split up,
and Rezo's true intentions had been revealed. Lina joins forces with
Zelgadis in an attempt to escape their awesomely powerful foe and stop the
philosopher's stone from falling into his hands. Rezo isn't going to let
them get away scot free though. He sends hordes of trolls and berserkers
after them and even summons a creature from the monster realm in an attempt to
gain the stone, but Lina is more worried about his intentions. He may
claim to be attempting to cure his blindness, but his false accusation that
Zelgadis was trying to resurrect the dark lord Shabranigdo has set Lina on edge.
Is the dark lord's resurrection Rezo's real goal? And if so what can they
do to stop him? If this wasn't enough Gourry has to put up with the
hyperactive hero-wannabe Amelia and Lina's adolescent dreams of charming princes
are shattered by the bandit-lookalike Prince Philionel El Di Seyruun. With
all this going on it looks like our heroes are in danger of losing their sanity
as well as their lives...
Following on from the growing seriousness of the last volume, the story really steps up a notch in the drama stakes this time round. Although the comedy is still present it takes a back seat to the action and drama for the larger part of this volume, before re-emerging with the introduction of Amelia and Philionel. The Rezo story shows that the series is a bit more than just a lighthearted romp. His dark magic brings misery and death to the relatively peaceful land, and even some named characters are killed as his fanatical ambition grows. Lina and her companions are pushed farther than ever before when faced with a
deadly foe that they have little chance of defeating, but through it their true heroism shines. The story arc is gripping, and to be honest quite surprising after the comedy that peppered the first volume. It's a sign of this series' quality that it's able to pull both the drama and comedy off without losing its identity.
And it's this identity that really sets Slayers apart.
Although it's a comedy and a parody of fantasy stories, it's actually a damn
good fantasy story in its own right. It succeeds in balancing the two
extremes of comedy and action drama in a manner that no other fantasy anime
does, and this means that it has enough laughs to keep you entertained and
enough thrills and emotion to keep you hooked. Whilst the majority of the
episodes on this volume focus on the Rezo story and are therefore more dramatic,
the episodes focusing on Prince Philionel and Amelia certainly lighten thins up
with some great slapstick comedy. From a purely entertainment point of
view Philionel and Amelia are probably my favourite characters in the series so
far. Philionel is a hulking brute of a man who declares himself to be a
pacifist but doesn't shy away from combat, even though he uses oxymoronic
attacks such as 'pacifist crush' and 'kindness to all creatures kick'!
Amelia steals the show though, she's overenthusiastic and obsessed with a
fanciful image of justice which demands that she must always make a grand
entrance and deliver speeches on justice to all wrongdoers.
Adding a superhero parody to a comedy repertoire that already includes slapstick, post-modern irony and misunderstanding is a great move, and this volume of Slayers is even better than the first. The only strange thing is that this volume ties up a storyline that most series would have kept going till the final volume. Its not immediately clear where the story is going to head over the next thirteen episodes. The episodes which see the entrance of Prince Philionel and Amelia's attempts to learn the Dragon Slave spell are superb, but are obviously filler between the first story arc and the one to come. I only wish
that the creators of Naruto and Bleach could make filler that entertaining! In fact the only real drawback for the series is that it does show its age, the hand-drawn art is pretty good but can't match the level of detail and clarity that modern computer techniques allow. The English dub remains weak when compared to the Japanese voice acting as well, which is unusual nowadays.
Once again Slayers shows its quality and combines both comedy and drama in a very effective manner. The new characters really add something to the series and the story throughout this volume is excellent. The switch from the Rezo episodes to the more comedic ones featuring Ameila and Philionel is thankfully not as jarring as it could have been, and the series continues to avoid becoming what it parodies. The lack of extras is disappointing, but with seven episodes on the disc you are still getting good value for money. Older series often get overlooked in favour of shinier new ones, but Slayers vol 2 shows that the past still has a lot to offer. One of the best fantasy anime series currently available, and one that's not to be missed.