Slayers Season 1–Anime Review

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3 Stars
Sometimes the popularity of an anime series can be measured by its longevity. In this case the original 1995 television season was followed by 5 movies, 2 OVAs and 3 more TV seasons, the latest of which has just finished broadcasting in Japan.

The longevity probably has as much to do with the strength of the stories’ setting as with the popularity of the characters. This sword-and-sorcery parody is set in a well-drawn fantasy universe, with stories that are comic, but just dark enough to hold an adult’s interest.

It is interesting to compare the first season to the latest effort. The visual style has changed over the years. The latest series looks different, largely because the anime industry has shifted from hand-drawn cel animation to all-digital techniques. Yet I think the most important difference–and the main reason to check out the first season if you haven’t already seen it–is in the writing. The first season is a lot funnier and tells a better story.

  • Original Title
    Slayers (SUREIYAAZU)
  • Genres
    Fantasy, Comedy
  • Languages
    Japanese with subtitles, English.
  • Demographic
  • Contents
    26 Episodes on 4 DVDs
  • Based on
    A series of light novels by Hajime Kanzaka
  • Director
    Takashi Watanabe
  • Series Composition
    Takao Koyama
  • Script
    Takao Koyama
  • Character Design
    Naomi Miyata
  • Art Director
    Toshihisa Tojo
  • Character Conceptual Design
    Rui Araizumi
  • Animation producer
    Koji Ogiwara
  • Music
    Osamu Tezuka
  • Animation Studio
    E.G. Films
  • Broadcast
    TV Tokyo 1995
  • Region 1 Publisher
    FUNimation Entertainment

Parental Advisory

I don’t recommend this for young children. There is a lot of violence, and while most of it is comic slapstick, some of it is not, and people sometimes get killed. Age 10 might be a reasonable minimum.


This is one series that Netflix does not carry, even though it is in print. (I guess they just don’t reorder new discs when the old ones wear out.) However the box set is inexpensive and available from most of the usual online vendors.

Premise and Characters

World of SlayersThe world of Slayers is a hemisphere [1] balanced on top of a giant staff or pillar. As in most such stories, the world is a battleground between gods (shinzoku) and demons (mazoku, called “Monsters” in the subtitles.) The shinzoku want to preserve the world and the mazoku want to destroy it. The mazoku are always busy with their plots while the shinzoku are rarely evident.
Magic plays a central role in this world. There are three types:

  • Black Magic Destructive spells performed by calling upon the power of the mazoku.
  • White Magic Healing and protective spells, presumably powered by the shinzoku.
  • Shamanistic Magic Spells that draw on the power of the spirit world. These are morally neutral, but some are quite destructive.

Any magic user can perform all three types of magic, but it generally pays to specialize. Anyone who is really good at one type will probably be bad at the others.

Lina InverseLina Inverse is a sorceress who is an expert in Black Magic. That doesn’t mean she is evil. Just…ethically challenged. She’s actually quite an engaging character, a bright, cheerful, energetic girl who clearly enjoys blowing things up. Her crowning achievement is a spell called “Dragon Slave“, which seems roughly equivalent to a tactical nuke.
Lina and BanditsLina enjoys eating, fighting and stealing treasure. Of course she only steals from people who more or less deserve it. At the beginning of the story she beats up a troop of bandits and makes off with a large quantity of loot.
GourryAt this point she encounters Gourry Gabriev. Gourry is your basic hero type: tall and handsome; honest, loyal and brave; a mighty swordsman; stronger than an ox and almost as smart. He possesses a magical weapon of immense power: the legendary Sword of Light.
Gourry and Lina EatingLina decides to tag along with him, hoping to acquire the sword for herself.
Mysterious PursuersIt soon develops that Lina and Gourry are being shadowed by mysterious pursuers. Somewhere in the bundle of treasure that Lina stole there is a magical item that the pursuers will go to any lengths to obtain. If they get it, the consequences for the world could be disasterous–but Lina doesn’t know which item it is.
ZelgadisThe pursuers are led by Zelgadis Greywords, a grim, relentless man; a skilled wizard and a mighty warrior. He is a chimera: part human, part stone golem, and part brass demon. He is an expert in the art of Shamanistic Magic.
Zolfand Zolf are Zelgadis’s henchmen.
RezoA helpful stranger turns out to be Rezo the Red Priest, a blind wizard famous for his many acts of benevolence. Rezo is reputed to be one of the greatest masters of White Magic in history. He offers to help safeguard the treasure, but Lina doesn’t fully trust him.
ShabranigdoRuby Eye Shabranigdo, the Dark Lord of the mazoku, is very bad news.
Prince PhilHe may look like a common thug, but Prince Philionel El Di Seyruun actually a man of royal blood and noble character. He is a devout pacifist who believes that all disputes can be settled by rational discussion in good faith, and he is prepared to beat the crap out of anyone who refuses to cooperate. He is the ruler of Seyruun, a city famous for it’s many holy places and practitioners of White Magic. He has no magic powers but possesses immense strength.
Philionel’s young daughter Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun is a priestess [2] and sorceress. An idealist like her father, she fancies herself a great Champion of Justice. It might be better if she were on the other side. Her clumsiness, gullibility, inept spell-casting and general poor judgment often make her seem more of a threat to the good guys.
Zangulus and VrumugunZangulus and Vrumugun (l-r) are bounty hunters pursuing our heroes.
SylphielSylphiel Nels Lahda is a priestess who seems to be in love with Gourry. She is extremely good at White Magic, but hopeless at the other kinds.
Eris is a sorceress who is up to no good.

Anime Versions

TV Series

  1. The Slayers 1995. Reviewed here.
  2. Slayers Next 1996.
  3. Slayers Try 1997.
  4. Slayers Revolution 2008.


These are prequels to the TV series, in which Lina has not yet met Gourry and is travelling with a scantily-clad sorceress named Naga the Serpent.

  1. Slayers The Motion Picture 1995.
  2. Slayers Return 1996.
  3. Slayers Great 1997.
  4. Slayers Gorgeous 1998.


These are also prequels featuring Lina and Naga.

  1. Slayers Special 1996.
  2. Slayers Excellent 1998. Shows the first meeting between Lina and Naga.

Short Feature

Slayers Premium (2001) is a short feature shown on a triple bill with two unrelated anime spinoffs. The story involves Lina and Gourry, though Naga also makes an appearance.


Wikipedia entry (spoilers).

Anime News Network Encyclopedia entry.


[1] This detail seems to have been forgotten in the latest TV series.

[2] She is called a “miko” in the dialog, but since the local religion is only vaguely related to Shinto, “priestess” seems as good a translation as “shrine maiden”.