It's the end of another series of Slayers, and you know
what that means! Yep, as usual the crap hits the fan in this volume, and
our heroes are once again on cleaning duty.
The third series of Slayers draws to a suitably spectacular climax with a series of magical battles, a demon god's arrival, the fulfilment of ancient prophecies and a struggle against overwhelming odds. It must be said that you can see the ending coming a mile off, especially as the series has been signposting it for some time, but it is still the kind of rip-roaring ride you expect from Slayers. The predictable comedy episodes from the last volume are nowhere to be seen this time round, although there are still a few laughs to be had, and the focus shifts firmly onto drama and action. Action-wise this is probably the best volume of the series, with plenty of tense battles and
face-offs throughout these final six episodes. However, where it really does well is in the drama.
The most interesting aspect of Slayers Try has
been Filia trying to come to terms with the dark past of her people. As a
priestess of the Fire Dragon King she has always believed herself and the rest
of her holy order to be virtuous, but her encounter with Valgaav uncovered a
hideous secret that turned her world upside down. After that she was
wracked with guilt and torn between duty and what she believes is right.
This volume sees her personal struggle reach its climax, and it remains the
driving force behind a story which without it would be a bit ordinary.
Apart from this it's pretty much business as usual, a big beastie is on its way,
a returning villain harnesses a great power and Lina must work with both her
friends and enemies to combat a threat that could destroy the world. Yes,
it's basically a retread of the end of the first series, but spiced up by the
addition of the scheming Xellos and Filia's emotional trauma.
I may sound cynical, but whereas the ending of the second series really stretched the story and characters, this one just gives you more of what you have seen before. I would be more annoyed about this if the creators didn't deliver it so well. Whilst it has been a bit more generic than the previous two series, Slayers Try has always remained entertaining and this volume is no exception. The story thunders along at a hectic pace with plenty of battles and tough choices for our heroes, the episodes are frequently exciting and there is plenty of tension even if you do know how it is all going to end. Filia's story really gives it an extra edge that makes you care about what is going
to happen and her final decision is made all the more poignant by what it represents. Xellos is great as always but it is a shame that the series cannot stretch itself like it did in the Slayers Next. The ending of that series (prior to the big reset epilogue) was the only true ending Slayers has ever had, and Slayers Try just isn't able to match it.
In the end Slayers Try vol 4 is a fittingly entertaining ending to an entertaining series. The characters are strong and there is a nice mix of comedy, drama and action to keep you on the edge of your seat up until the inevitable conclusion. However, it stays well within its comfort zone and fails to build on the superb ending the last series delivered. Whilst it is certainly enjoyable Slayers Try as a whole has a faint whiff of playing it safe, giving the fans exactly what they want without taking the risk of pushing its boundaries. In a way I'm glad that the franchise stopped at three series back in the '90's, if it had carried on it may have gone past its sell-by date. As it is it comes up smelling, if not of roses, at least of something kind of like them, and hopefully the new Slayers Revolution series can give the franchise the shot in the arm it deserves.