Slayers Next; Animated fantasy/ comedy series, Japan, 1996; D: Takashi Watanabe, S: Megumi Hayashibara, Yasunori Matsumoto, Masumi Suzuki
Lina Inverse, Amelia, Gourry and Zelgadis team up again to find a copy of the Claire Bible, occasionally accompanied by the mysterious priest Xellos. On their journey, they stumble upon numerous adventures, meeting corrupt cooks and getting annoyed by Martina, who wants to take revenge on Lina but falls for Gourry. Arriving in Seyruun kingdom, they expose a mystery case in which king Phil’s life was threatened not by his suspicious brother Christopher, but by Alfred, who gets killed by his own henchmen, demon Magenta. After Lina defeats him, she and the gang decide to inspect the perpetrator behind these criminal activities, Dragon Lord Garv. They also find out Xelos is a Monster. In the battle, they manage to defeat Gaav and the far more evil Hellmaster.
"Slayers", though funny, is a rather overhyped anime series, though the second season, "Next", was the closest to become almost brilliant. The first 15 episodes are a blast (among them the fantastic row of one hilarious episode after another, especially in the ones where Amelia ties Lina to her bed because she was constantly kicking in her sleep or when they order the expensive dragon meat but the cooks want to double-cross them by serving them ordinary meat), yet the rest lost its enthusiasm and inspiration and went downhill, insisting too much on the silly and standard cliches. One of the funniest moments appears in episode 14, when Lina and her friends are following the path on a ‘black market’ map to find the secret location of the prestigious book of spells; as they climb up a road, Zelgadis spots a hill in the distance and comments to himself: “That hill looks like a profile of a woman”. Nobody pays much attention to him as they continue climbing up. But at one point, they also spot two girls climbing up the other side of the path, also holding a map as one of them says: “Now we must find a hill that looks like a profile of a woman…” As the two groups meet face-to-face, they realize in hilarious horror that they are both after the same thing. That particular episode again displays sharpness with ease, though it ends in a rather silly finale: it is somewhat funny that Amelia and Lina sing dressed in short skirts to summon the magic, but alas, the whole moment is awkward since karaoke and dungeons & dragons simply don’t go hand in hand. Luckily, despite the fact that some ideas don’t work, the majority of “Slayers Next” has inspiration. And not that kind of modest inspiration where the viewers have to be permissive in order to enjoy it, but the one where even the more critical ones will be pleasantly surprised. However, the story does lose a lot of power in the finale when it focuses on dry action and battles, which is why the last (too) serious 6-7 episodes tend to be tiresome and not really engaging.