The third and final classic Slayers series continues unabated, and has so far proven that the forthcoming Slayers Revolution series has a lot to live up to.
As is typical in Slayers, Lina and co's journey to see
the Fire Dragon King in the last volume was anything but uneventful, and
cumulated with them levelling half of the great Dragon's temple! The
temple elder is none too happy to find that the vandals are the ones selected by
Filia as their would-be saviours and puts them to work repairing the damage they
caused. When they are finally granted an audience it is interrupted by an
uninvited guest in the form of the overworlder Almayce. He explains that
his race is attempting to summon the demon god Darkstar and to do so they need
to gather the 'Darkstar weapons', five legendary weapons of which Gourry's Sword
of Light is one. He gives the dragon elder a proposition - hand over the
Sword of Light and he will summon Darkstar on another world, leaving theirs
alone. However, Lina doesn't trust the newcomer, especially since he is
allied with the man who tried to kill them in the last volume, Valgaav.
Despite her protestations the Dragons are ready to accept the deal, and intend
to take the sword from Gourry by force if necessary. Lina isn't having any
of it and decides that she will try and get the Darkstar weapons first to
prevent the summoning. Her search is not going to be easy though.
Almayce already has three of the weapons, Gourry has one and the fifth is lost.
This means that as well as a frantic search for the fifth weapon our heroes have
to defend the Sword of Light and will need to confront Almayce and Valgaav again
if they are to get the others...
Slayers Try has already surprised me by blending the action, drama and comedy together more effectively than before and going against its own formula by introducing the villain early. This time round the stakes are raised as a rift starts to grow between Almayce and Valgaav, whilst Filia is shocked at her own people's willingness to make a deal with someone who intends to summon a demon God. Lina makes the unusual decision to pit herself against everyone, even those who seem to be the forces of good, and Xellos shows his powers and duplicitous nature once again. The magical action flows thick and fast, particularly after Valgaav decides he'll obtain
the weapons his way, and it looks like Gourry is going to have a hard job holding on to his mighty weapon. Yes, this volume has quite a lot going on plot-wise but there's still time for the trademark humour that has typified the previous two series.
Whether browbeating mighty golden dragons into helping rebuild
a temple, trying to reunite warring nations or visiting a 'Temple of Love' that
is precariously balanced on a mountain in the shape of a dog turd, the humour
comes thick and fast. As with the last volume the comedy is blended well
with the actual story, often having a bearing on the main plot rather than being
side stories. The fight between the warring city states is reminiscent of
the peace born from constant fighting in Nineteen Eighty Four (although I
doubt this is intentional) but before long devolves into our heroes being split
into two factions and being pitted against each other. Yes, like
Slayers hasn't done that before. Disappointingly there are a couple of
comedy setups rehashed from previous episodes and other series, whilst it is
difficult to buy the usually sharp Lina and Zelgadis not noticing that a
wandering monk is villain Jillas in a crap disguise. If it wasn't for the
genuine laughs that crop up and the fact that these stories do have a bearing on
the story in some way I would be a lot more disappointed.
This said the actual dramatic parts of the story are enthralling once again. Almayce and Valgaav's characters are expanded somewhat, and this helps make them more tragic characters than many of the villains Lina has faced before. Valgaav especially has a dark past that really causes a problem for Filia, and her despair coupled with Valgaav's quest for vengeance adds a layer of emotion that is sometimes missing from the Slayers franchise. For the first time you actually have sympathy for the main villain, and this is something that should hopefully push the series on to new heights. However, one thing that is noticeable in this volume is that it does slip back into
formula, with a few comedic episodes preceding what looks like the usual mid-series battle. It does at least have a more involved story going on at this point than some of the previous series though.
Slayers Try vol 2 is, in a lot of ways, more of the same. If you have been buying Slayers this long you'll know exactly what you are getting, and you'll also know that it is pretty entertaining. There's plenty of action and the story is strong and interesting, whilst there is a decent scoop of comedy and drama thrown into the mix. However, there are a few signs that some comedy setups are becoming a little worn, which somewhat mitigates the quality of the central story. It's a shame, whilst the series is getting better in one way in others it is losing something, for the first time it seems like it could be on a downward slope. But at the moment it is still great fun and the story is still really exciting. It remains the best fantasy comedy available in the UK, but maybe the reboot that will come with Slayers Revolution may come at exactly the right time.