With a name like ShabbaDabbaDoo, you wouldn't expect a dark lord resurrection or lightsabers appearing out of nowhere. But that's what Slayers does anyways.
In the last set of episodes that I covered, our heroes Lina and Gourry were pursued by a group led by the golem Zel. Lina had been warned by the famous mage Rezo that Zel wanted the statue that she “won” from the bandits because it was the key to resurrecting the ancient evil being Shabranigdo. However, Lina is captured by Zel, but Gourry was the one who had the statue.
In the next few episodes, the pacing kicks into double time as it’s revealed that Zel doesn’t want the statue to destroy the world after all—he just wants revenge of Rezo, who’d turned him into his current state by twisting his wish for power. The statue actually contains a Philosopher’s Stone, which can boost the powers of a mage to the point where they could destroy the world. Rezo was stringing them all along this whole time; he wants the Stone so that he can resurrect Shabranigdo and remove his blindness.
To be honest, I have to commend Slayers on this quick turnaround. In the space of four episodes, this show went from “haha we’re fighting a guy that has a fish’s body but human arms and legs, isn’t that wacky” to literally summoning a being who’s been set up as the harbinger of the end of the world (even though I still find their name ridiculous and refuse to spell it properly!).
Slayers still has a fair bit of fourth-wall humor and standard anime gags (see: Gourry accidentally grabbing Lina’s boobs while they’re levitating) but it’s started to move more towards situational humor and has a much better grasp on when to use it as compared to the first few episodes. In my last post I mentioned that I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to take anything seriously, since many fight scenes were peppered with over-the-top gags and reaction faces. I didn’t feel that at all in the fight scenes through Episodes 6-8; even the small fights had tension to them, with the only “silly” moments coming from character actions. The biggest laugh I got out of this batch of episodes was when Zel throws Lina at an opponent after he claims that he’s just using her as a shield. Slayers is learning, and I like the direction it’s taken.
While I could see the plot twist with Rezo as the real bad guy coming a mile away, the characters are endearing enough and the execution fun enough to watch that I didn’t mind that at all. In fact, I’m glad that Slayers didn’t decide to drag out the reveal to the main characters—as soon as it’s established that Zel is not what Rezo claimed he was, Rezo is happy to step into the villain spotlight. It’s also an interesting character move as well—this is one confident villain.
I also like that Rezo and Zel both have understandable motivations for wanting the Philosopher’s Stone. It’s hard not to sympathize with a backstory like Rezo’s—he’s powerful enough in white magic that he can cause other blind people to see, but he could never do that for himself. Of course, that does not excuse what he did to Zel, but I appreciate a villain who isn’t evil just for the sake of it.
Zel’s desire for revenge is equally sympathetic, since wanting “power” does not mean “I want a powerful mage to show up out of nowhere and turn me into a non-human.” Rezo treats him like an extra pawn on the playing field, since in Episode 8 he shows that he can control Zel’s actions, even against his friends. At first I was confused by how easily Zel changed his affiliation, but after a few more episodes it was clear why he jumped at the opportunity to escape with Lina. And I’m just going to set aside the whole “Rezo is my grandfather and great-grandfather” thing for now since there are some pretty gross implications there. Overall, I’m a fan of the conflicting dynamic between the two of them. It makes things a lot more interesting to watch!
It feels like Slayers is starting to set aside its fourth-wall breaking training wheels for now in favor of balancing on its own a bit more. While the show covered a lot of ground in only a few episodes, it doesn’t feel too rushed from my perspective. My only complaint is that I hope that the show explains how and why the leader of all monsters ended up sealed in Rezo’s eyes, since that felt just a little too convenient for the situation.
With all of that said, I’m really curious about the rest of Slayers now. If Episode 8 has characters resurrecting dark lords, then what will Episode 26 look like?