Let's just say Muse is attempting to figure out what happened with Slayers, and why Amelia's ruining everything.
I have two words for this set of episodes: thematic whiplash.
Where I left off last time, the dark lord Shabranigdo was about to be resurrected and either take over or destroy the world. The first episode deals with our heroes pulling back to decide what to do. Lina’s dark magic won’t work on him, because the power that she draws on to cast her spells is controlled by Shabranigdo, so even her strongest spells would have a net effect of zero. Zel’s spells won’t work either, because they draw on the power of an alternate realm that Shabranigdo is from, which would also do nothing. In the end, the only thing that could work is Gourry’s sword of light, but when it comes down to the major battle, it still does nothing. In the end, it’s the combined powers and teamwork of everyone (even including Rezo, who is apparently still aware despite being possessed and turned into a monster) that ultimately defeats the dark lord.
The resurrection, build up, and final battle take place over the course of two episodes, and are pretty well paced. It’s easily the best that the show has done so far. When I started this series, I complained that Slayers didn’t seem to have a direction outside of poking fun at the fantasy cliches that it still embraced, and how I wished that it would embrace its own world building in order to build something more compelling than the standard fantasy fare. These episodes are the first time Slayers hits that point, building upon everything that it had presented up until that point to create a dramatic fight scene. There were even some hints of longer-lasting implications, like Shabranigdo stating that his current form was only one piece of seven, and Lina’s hair turning white due to over-exerting herself in the final battle.
But just when I was starting to think that Slayers was building itself up into something bigger, the following two episodes crushed the goodwill that I’d started to feel towards it.
Episodes 11 and 12 introduce a character from the OP that had not shown up yet named Amelia, alongside her dad. They have a bit of an interesting backstory—caught up in a royal succession dispute—but most of that gets thrown under the bus in favor of HILARIOUS SLAPSTICK! Which is to say that it’s not very hilarious. At all.
Once again, Slayers seems to think that pointing out a thing is funny makes it funny. Amelia and her father’s brand of “funny” (please note that I am using the word very loosely here) mostly revolves around their desire for justice, which means that they run into situations without knowing all the details, and shenanigans ensue.
For instance, in Episode 12 Amelia becomes obsessed with learning Lina’s most powerful spell. Rather than tell her that it’s impossible because she’s not a black mage, Lina puts Amelia through pointless exercises instead in hopes that she’ll give up. Instead, Amelia and her father encounter an old woman while walking up a mountain. The woman mentions that the hike is difficult, but it’s the fastest way to get to the neighboring town. Rather than treat this as an interesting tidbit on local travel like rational people, Amelia and her father decide that the mountain should be blown up because it will help the locals and also give them a chance to see the spell in action again. Before I could even stop shaking my head at how ridiculous that reasoning was, Lina decides to go along with it and blows up the mountain, setting ghosts on the nearby town. The show didn’t even give a reason why Lina went along with it; one second she’s protesting, the next BOOM goes the mountain.
What in the world is Slayers trying to do?
It’s really off-putting to watch a character showcase their best side while trying to save the world from the ultimate evil, and then not even an hour later throw all rationale out the window and blow up a mountain just because one of their new party members wants a demonstration. Am I supposed to like these characters or think that they’re self centered jerks? Am I supposed to be laughing or taking things seriously? I don’t know, and Slayers still doesn’t seem to know either!
Also, how did Lina’s hair go back to it’s original color? I would’ve accepted even a throwaway comment about her dying it back (Lina’s been shown to be a bit picky about her appearance), but there was nothing. C’mon Slayers, that was a perfect opportunity for another throwaway slapstick episode. I could see Lina pulling a Howl’s Moving Castle and flooding an inn with slime because she accidentally turned her hair purple or something.
Well, here’s hoping that whatever story arc the show is on now will build up it’s characters and plot again for a finale like the one from the first arc. I’m pretty disappointed that the show seems to have thrown out all that it had gained in favor of going back to its weak points, but I’m already about halfway through, so no point stopping now! Bring it on!