The relentless release of the Slayers saga continues with the first volume of the third series, the ninth Slayers DVD to be release in the last nine months. However, with 52 episodes down and the franchise still going strong, can it keep up the quality it demonstrated in Slayers Next?
This time the story widens its horizons a bit. It seems
that the previous Slayers adventures all took place on a single
continent, sealed off from the outside world by a powerful magical shield
erected by the demon lord Phibrizzo thousands of years previously.
However, following the events of the last series the magical barrier has
collapsed, allowing travel to the 'outer world'. Prince Philionel of
Seyruun organises an expeditionary force to bring his message of peace to new
lands, and Lina and Gourry receive invitations to travel with them from a
mysterious benefactor called Filia. As always though disaster follows them
wherever they go, and the grand departure is ruined by a gold dragon attacking
our heroes! The ensuing battle scuttles the entire fleet, leaving Lina,
Gourry, Zelgadis (who wants to see if the new world holds a way to make him
human again) and Amelia (in the wrong place at the wrong time) floating in a
ruined ship to the new world on their own. On their arrival Lina and co
rescue a village from marauding bandits and are just tucking into some of the
local cuisine when Filia re-appears and gives Lina an offer she can't refuse -
save the world or face the wrath of her sister! It's not going to be easy
for any of them though, a powerful villain has appeared who has designs on
Gourry's Sword of Light, and also wants revenge against Lina for the defeat of
Gaav in the last series. Even with the support of Filia and the return of
the enigmatic Xellos, Lina could have her work cut out, particularly if she
continues to worry more about food than the task at hand...
As you can see the story pretty much picks up where it left off and wastes no time in reassembling the central quartet of characters before packing them off on a new adventure. There's more than a hint of familiarity as the slapstick comedy, excessive eating and usual bickering ensue, and the scenery of the new world looks remarkably similar to the one they just left. However, the creators have honed the characters over the last 50-odd episodes and have perfected the series formula to a point where it is effortlessly enjoyable, and even though it is, to an extent, more of the same, it is still damn entertaining. They have
also been canny enough not to just rest on their laurels and have instead tried to expand the scope of the series by bringing in a new world that won't necessarily conform to the rules of the previous one.
The new world is the series' best innovation, even though it
is much like the setting of the previous two series. There are new
creatures and new enemies in the new world, but most intriguingly the magic used
there is far weaker than that used by Lina, Zelgadis and Amelia, something that
sets them apart from the majority of people they meet. Another good
introduction is Filia, a prim and proper Dragon Princess who has stress issues
and can't stand Xellos. She is constantly trying to get Lina and co to
begin a quest to save the world, but instead they ignore and go off to do their
own thing. She looks to be a regular character and her clashes and petty
squabbling with Xellos is the centre of a lot of the comedy this time round.
However, what is most interesting is that the pace of the story is a lot faster.
In the last series things moved pretty slowly, with the major enemies not
turning up till very late on and a lot of mystery surrounding what they were
after. This time round the enemies turn up in the first volume, attacking
Lina and revealing their motives before she had even been given her quest.
This pace of story suggests that there may be a lot more going on in Slayers Try than there has been before, but at the moment it has one problem - the ending of Slayers Next. The final volume of Slayers Next was the most epic part of franchise so far, with some really brave decisions made by the creators which delivered shocks and really developed the relationships of several major characters. Unfortunately though they then hit a big reset button and undid all of that in order for Slayers Try to carry on pretty much in the classic Slayers formula. It would have been a lot more interesting to see the creators try and work
with the series a bit more, keep some of those major events in and try and take it to another level. Instead Slayers Try is much the same as Slayers and Slayers Next, a brilliant fantasy comedy series definitely, but it's somewhat overshadowed by what has gone before. It's my only concern for this series, I can't see how it can top the emotional impact of the end of Slayers Next, or bring in a more dangerous enemy than Shabranigdo or Phibrizzo.
At the end of the day this volume is everything that Slayers does well, the comedy is superb, the action is great and the story is entertaining. There are some excellent moments, particularly when Lina learns the consequences of using a Dragon Slave at sea, and the new characters make for great additions to the already strong cast. The pace of the story ensures that this first volume doesn't get stuck in familiarity, but it has yet to show anything that makes it better than what has gone before. Instead Slayers Try vol 1 is as good as the previous series, no better, no worse. However, when the previous volumes have been as good as they have in this franchise that is no bad thing. This is another highly enjoyable entry in a highly enjoyable saga, and whilst it doesn't push the envelope, it is still one of the best fantasy comedies available in the UK.
Better than we've got on some previous volumes. This time there's two rolling art galleries, a 12 minute 'behind the scenes' featurette with the English dub cast and a deleted scene from the first series included as 'bonus footage'. Pretty good stuff.