Summer 2008 TV Cartoons: Slayers Revolution, Episodes 1-6

If you got into Japanese cartoons around the late 1990s like I did, odds are one of the first shows you saw was some incarnation of Slayers. If so, don’t bother clicking “More”. You already know exactly what to expect from Slayers Revolution, the first new season of the Slayers TV series in a decade. Aside from being digitally produced and broadcast in widescreen, the show is exactly as you remember it. The entire Japanese cast is back reprising their roles, Megumi Hayashibara’s opening and closing theme songs are exactly the same sort of 90s J-pop that book-ended previous seasons, the score is identical to past seasons, the show is still immediately going off on questionably-written filler tangents, etc., etc. It’s pure nostalgia, and you know what? I love the stupid piece of crap.

If you haven’t seen Slayers before, here’s a quick summary: God-slaying teenage sorceress who wears her underwear on the outside Lina Inverse, her dimwitted-but-skilled bodyguard/BFF Gourry the swordsman, solemn stone-man Zelgadis and hyperactive “ally of justice” Princess Amelia go off on D&D campaigns to smash the crap out of bandits, gods and pretty much everyone else who gets in the way. They’re periodically joined by Xellos, servant of one of said evil gods who helps out our heroes whenever it fits with his master’s goals (or just for laughs), and a rotating guest slot typically filled by another girl with some score to settle with whoever Lina and company are out to brutalize. Along the way, Lina blows up various innocent villages, usually because someone made fun of her small breasts or kidnapped her when she’s on her period, since female magicians can’t cast spells while they’re on the rag.

Hey, I never said it was a good show.

This latest season begins with Lina taking part in her favorite sport – blasting the hell out of bandits and helping herself to all of their ill-gotten gains, supposedly in the name of searching for a new ludicrously powerful sword to replace Gourry’s old one, which has been sealed in another dimension. Shortly after reuniting with the rest of the party at the local diner, Lina is arrested by Inspector Zenigata Wiser, of the local kingdom, on charges of being Lina Inverse. Given that Lina’s from the Dirty Pair school of problem solving, and most sane people will panic as soon as they figure out who she is, even the party agrees this is totally understandable. Lina’s just about to blow up the poor town to take out the brigade of soldiers sent to help apprehend her when someone beats her to casting her trademark city-smashing spell! Obviously she’s not going to stand for this, so she vows to track down the little furry jerk. Don’t worry, though, this is Slayers – by episode three, Lina’s back to smashing random evil warlocks who are abducting the pets of rich people in order to protect her reputation as a city-smashing teenage sorceress and general menace to society, but not the sort who would abduct poodles and elephants.

As I said, the show is identical to its predecessors despite the decade-long gap. The animation is just as cheap as ever – it’s just a lot brighter and shinier since the industry has abandoned cel animation in favor of digital production. The character designs are pure ’90s, with huge eyes and bright colors popping out everywhere. Characters are usually on-model, but the series has always relied on dramatically exaggerated gestures and expressions. The score and sound effects are all lifted from the old seasons for maximum fanboy appeal, and the cast has stepped back into their old roles like it was just yesterday. (Of course, they’ve been voicing the characters in various non-TV Slayers productions off and on for the past few years, so it’s not like they’re coming into this totally cold.)

There’s nothing wrong with Slayers Revolution that isn’t a problem with the franchise as a whole. It’s a pure nostalgia trip, the height of fanservice, and while I would like to think I am above this sort of thing I’m really, totally not. If you hold a soft-spot for this stupid series in your heart, too, you can’t really go wrong watching this. (I won’t tell anyone if you won’t!)

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