Story by Hajime Kanzaka
Illustrations by Rui Araizumi
Translated by Elizabeth Ellis
Edited by Megan Denton
There are many series from my childhood that I cherish, but few of them rival Slayers. As a kid, I was enthralled by Lina and Gourry’s adventures, and had a constant craving for more. So, when J-Novel Club announced that they had picked up the original Slayers light novels, I immediately freaked out. It’s time to dive into Slayers once again and re-experience this classic journey.
Slayers centers on Lina Inverse, a young sorceress with a knack for trouble. On the run from a group of bandits, Lina comes across a wandering swordsman named Gourry, leading to the two going on a chaotic and wild journey together.
One of the most compelling aspects of Slayers is its humor. While the story takes place in a traditional fantasy setting, the characters act self-aware of the dangerous situations that they are placed in. This is particularly helped by the story being narrated from Lina’s perspective, giving the reader a constant insight into Lina’s thoughts and feelings. Lina has a headstrong personality, being very opinionated and stubborn in achieving her goals. As such, these qualities are equally apparent in her narration. Often, Lina will add her own side commentary on conversations and even joke about the events at hand. It provides an incomparable charm to the story, while also quickly attaching you to Lina’s character.
While Lina is the heart of Slayers, the rest of the cast also carries their weight. Lina’s companion Gourry is particularly great, serving as a nice foil to Lina herself. While Lina is generally knowledgeable and cautious about her surroundings, Gourry approaches life with a care-free attitude. This often leads to Gourry missing important bits of information or having to ask Lina and others to clarify the matters at hand. That said, Gourry still genuinely cares about the people around him, and his desire to protect others makes him a lovable character.
Outside of the main duo, another standout in the volume is Zelgadis. Zelgadis is a chimera that is hunting Lina to collect one of the items from her recent bandit raid. Zelgadis has a tactile mindset, narrowly focusing on his objective and its outcome. Compared to Lina’s more lively behavior, Zelgadis brings a refreshing variety to the series’ tone. Still, there is more to Zelgadis than meets the eye, and as the story progresses, we learn that his true enemy is someone much greater: Rezo the Red Priest.
Rezo is touted as one of the Five Great Sages, being gifted with immense spiritual power and sophisticated magic. Despite his initial friendliness towards Lina and Gourry, he has an aura of mystery that makes him untrustworthy. As his antagonistic motivations are unraveled near the end of the volume, Rezo represents a conflicted figure. He’s been given the power to help everyone around him, yet he can’t save himself from his own torment. Despite Rezo’s actions being despicable, there is a compelling air of sympathy to his story, making him a memorable adversary for Lina to face.
While there is a ton to love in this first volume, it has its fair share of missteps. The most apparent is the overall pacing of the story. In the final chapter of the volume, the conflict feels like it rushes towards a conclusion, giving little breathing room between events. The afterward explains that Kanzaka originally wrote this volume prior to Slayers’ proper publication, which explains why the entire story feels self-contained. It’s a shame that the story couldn’t be further fleshed out, but it’s nonetheless a solid start to the series.
Even after all these years, Slayers remains a fantastic series that is both action-packed and hilarious. Lina and the gang have a unique charm that few casts have, and it’s wonderful that the series is available again for people to experience. Don’t get caught in Lina’s fireball, because this is one series that you need to read!