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Title:
  The Slayers Next vol 2

UK Distributor:  MVM

BBFC Certificate:  12

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  15.99

Episodes:  7-13 (of 26)

Audio Options:  English 2.0, Japanese 2.0

Subtitles:  English

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

 

The Slayers saga continues without a pause for breath, with this volume - the second of the second season - the sixth to hit UK shelves in six months.

This volume starts with Lina and company still travelling in their ongoing search for the Clare Bible.  Nothing is going to get in their way...except for the possibility of the finest food in the world - Dragon Cuisine!  When they chance upon a restaurant that serves it they can't believe their luck, but things aren't that simple and our heroes find themselves accompanying the restaurant's head chef on a hunt for raw ingredients.  Unfortunately so not to ruin the taste they have to try and take down a massive lake dragon without the aid of Lina's Dragon Slave spell, something that is easier said than done.  However, food is not their biggest problem.  Their journey takes them back to Amelia's home country of Seyruun, one of the world's leading centres of white magic and a good place to look for the Clare Bible.  When they arrive they are hit with a bombshell though - Amelia's father, Prince Philionel, has been assassinated.  Lina suspects a member of the royal family to be behind the attack, and Philionel's brother Christopher and his mysterious sorcerers Kanzel and Mazenda are looking particularly suspicious.  There is more to the plot than initially meets the eye though, and if things couldn't get any worse a Monster attack seals Lina's magical ability, leaving her pretty much defenceless against her foes.  Her only hope lies in finding the magical doctor Runan, so she journeys to find him whilst Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis defend the kingdom.  Lina finds that Xellos is waiting to accompany her, and he has a new companion - Martina!  Still harbouring a grudge from Lina's destruction of her castle in the first episode of Slayers Next, Martina isn't about to let the chance to kick her whilst she's down slip past...
 

The last volume showed that Slayers Next has continued pretty much exactly where the first series left off, and viewers can expect more of the same this time round.  However, the last volume also showed that Slayers Next has a more fluid balance of action and drama, and this volume builds on it even further.  The first episode on this disc, in which Lina and co attempt to slay a dragon so that they can eat it, is Slayers at its irreverent best, going almost entirely for laughs and parodying itself and fantasy in general.  It's great fun from start to finish, with plenty of laugh out loud moments - amongst my favourites was Lina's

use of the stony Zelgadis as an anchor!  After this completely light hearted episode the tone does change somewhat, but even though the drama and action are ramped up the comedy does keep coming too.  Lina & Martina's squabbling on the way to the doctor's house is a definite highlight, cutting through the seriousness of the main storyline with practiced ease.

The visual humour and jokes may fly thick and fast but this volume also does a brilliant job of stretching the characters dramatically.  Lina is deprived of her magic for a large part of the volume and has to use her wits and her friends' support to stay alive.  The eternally optimistic Amelia sees the foundation of her beliefs crumble when she hears that her champion of justice father has been killed.  The stoic Zelgadis finds himself cast as the comic relief and you start to get hints that there may be a spark of romance between Gourry and Lina, something that adds a new dimension to their relationship.  The story throws up a lot of interesting challenges and trials for all of the main characters, not only developing them more than ever but also giving some extra depth to the series.  It's heartening to see that the series isn't content to just tread old ground, and with the plot thickening considerably and more hints that the Monsters need Lina for something, it looks like there's going to be a lot more developments in future too.
 

The Seyruun story arc is one of the best of the series so far, combining comedy, drama and action to great effect.  There are more hints that Xellos may be a bit more powerful than he's letting on and some decent demonic enemies for our heroes to overcome, and without the aid of Lina's powers.  Her resourcefulness in the face of adversity and the support her friends give her is well handled and the only real issue is that the plot remains as enigmatic as Xellos.  We're halfway through the series now and no real enemy has arrived and we are no closer to knowing why Lina is
so important or what Xellos' real purpose is.  

Whilst this makes things pretty interesting it's also a little frustrating, as the series frequently seems to be on the verge of really hitting into a major story arc...and then doesn't.  This does mean that the second half of the series should be action packed and exciting, but it's a big difference from the first series where two major villains had turned up by this point.

Despite this the latest volume is still damn good, and it succeeds in balancing humour and drama more effectively than ever.  Slayers Next vol 2 is another highly entertaining entry in a highly entertaining franchise.  Yes, the visuals lack the CG sharpness of modern anime series, and yes, the English dub isn't quite up to the standard you expect nowadays.  However, if you scratch beneath the surface you will find one of the best anime comedies available, and one that backs up the laughs with both dramatic depth and a strong characters.  Well worth owning.

Extras:

Just trailers, dull.

Ratings

Feature:   Extras:
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