Slayers started out as a series of light novels involving Lina Inverse,a short tempered sorceress,Gourry Gabriev,the dim-witted swordsman and a rotating cast of companions. It evolved into a successful anime/manga franchise that is much more well known. I've already discussed the first two movies based on the prequel series,Slayers Special, and I finally got my hands on the last three movies so we'll look at those in more detail in the coming weeks but. So we're going to talk about something Slayers related I actually did read this week,The Hourglass of Falces.
Slayers manga has always sort have taken a backseat to the novel and anime components of the franchise. The longest part of the manga(Super Explosive Demon Story) only covers the first eight novels in 7 of 8 volumes. The fourth volume being an adaption of Slayers Return. The various manga projects tend to cover various side stories and alternate time lines. Luckily they usually are wrote by Kanzaka himself which at least insures great writing if nothing else.
However like Lina's companions the artist for the manga tends to rotate. You have the Rui Araizumi the Gourry to Kanzaka's Lina who is responsible for the light novels illustrations. Then there is Tommy Ohtsuka that' has drawn the Slayers Special manga,Knights of the Aqualord and a few others. Shoko Yoshinaka who worked on Super Explosive Demon Story and Kanzaka's other big franchise,Lost Universe. However for Hourglass we have yet another artist simply know as Arashi who's only other work is a hentai compilation manga. After reading this manga that fact came as no surprise to me. So enough talking about Slayers lets talk about Slayers.
The story is fairly typical and nothing special,but like most Slayers stories it is more a vehicle for the comedy more than anything. The plot concerns an island that sits between some mystical pillars that can power some weird Groundhog Day style magic. It brings up your typical letting go of the past themes that has been done pretty well elsewhere. It tries to bring up a moral dilemma of letting these people stay stuck in the time loop or actually breaking the spell and ends up coming off as silly in the wrong way.
There is also the problem of it feeling just too long even though it is only four chapters long. Sections are spent on exposition from various characters on happenings that could be summed up in maybe a panel or two. Even more ridiculous is that the last chapter just seems to start mid-battle with little lead up. It is jarring as hack and feels rushed despite the manga taking its' sweet time up to this point.
The plot usually takes a back seat to the jokes though sadly they just aren't able to handle the driving that well. There are a few good jokes but they are few and far between. This is the man who has wrote the excellent [/i]Return[/i] and Gorgeous,here he is not bringing the A-game. Most of the jokes are meh and the ones that are funny have been done better in another part of the franchise.
So the plot is passed out drunk in the back and the comedy is too short too reach the pedals. Luckily some one gave the characters the map and by god are they trying to salvage this god forsaken road trip.The advantage to having Kanzaka writing is that he knows how to write these characters. Everyone is playing the parts they need to play and their interpersonal relationships are kept intact. This is the first and I believe only project where all of Lina's companions get to team up. For me this is the first exposure I've had to Luke and Millina from the later novels and it just makes me want to read those novels even more if this is how they interact.
As for the original characters for the manga there are three and they are all terrible. The villain is poor mans version of Rezo the Red Priest from the early novels and the women who serves as his motivation is might as well be the patron saint of purity sues. She gets a rushed back story about being a prostitute who never forgot how to love. The other original character Noa is a moe blob that redefines useless. Kanzaka may have unintentionally created the first moe blob style character with Amelia way back in the 90's but she actually has character,spunk and is genuinely funny. Noa has none of that and angst about everything while declaring her own uselessness. She actually wets her self at one point and I'm just embarrassed for her. Her design actually ties in beautifully to the biggest complaint about this book:the art.
If the comedy is the driver and the characters are navigating then the art is the moron attempting to car surf .However he really can't do that well and they have to keep pulling over to pick up the idiot who doesn't look that great after making outwith the asphalt. Everyone just looks ugly and off model in the book. Lina and Gourry get off by looking half way decent till they have a reaction then it's straight back to looking ridiculous. Zelgadis looks like Arashi could decide if he wanted to draw Zelgadis or Blackjack and in the end tried combining them. However this is to say nothing of the female characters and the idiocy of what happened there.
Slayers has always had a bit of fanservice here and there with Naga being the notable example. However she is played as more ridiculous and goofy parody of Ms. Fanservice. Here no one except Lina is below a C-cup and they are on full display. Amelia wears a stupid outfit that is supposed to tie into her family's habit of wearing provocative clothing that gives the artist free rein to draw pant shots galore. Noa has as the book calls them "Cow udders" and where a shirt that apparently doesn't button. It just makes the whole story feel cheaper than it all ready is.
In the end this is a really bad Slayers story that fails at almost every turn and is just shameful. It has it's moments but nothing to fully redeem it. Only read this if you really need a Slayers fix and have read everything else possible in the series.
Till next time:Stay Positive