The Slayers was originally a short stories series, which appeared in Dragon magazine, a monthly Japanese magazine with the first story being released in September 1989. It was later turned into a novel series, which has been collected into 15 volumes. Later the stories spawned an anime series, which contained 26 episodes in each of the three seasons (Slayers, NEXT, and TRY), making a total of 78 episodes. There is also a 3-part ova (original video animation) series as well as several movies and with three different versions of the manga.
Slayers is a sword and sorcery fantasy series that is filled with lots of magic and adventure but it is also categorized as a comedy because of all the great laughs it will make. Like most anime, it is enjoyed by both males and females alike and still has a huge audience in Japan today. I am a huge fan of fantasy stories myself so it's no surprise that I enjoy The Slayers. I like fantasy stories mostly because I daydream a lot but I can also relate to many of the characters.
The creator of Slayers is Hajime Kanzaka a very popular Japanese novelist. Some of his well-known works are Slayers, Lost Universe, Sheriff Stars, Cross Cadia, Higaeri Quest, and just recently The Knight of the Aqua Lord. For Slayers he teamed up with Japanese artist Rui Araizumi who has done most of the majority of the artwork, including all the novels, one of the manga series, and two of the artbooks. Both are quite well known, Kanzaka-sama for his imaginative storylines and Araizumi for his unique style of art.
Our main Slayers character is the redheaded sorceress Lina Inverse, known throughout the world as being the Bandit Killer and Dragon Spooker. She travels the world looking for fame and treasure along with her slightly dim-witted, swordsman companion Gourry Gabriev. The only problem is that trouble always seems to go with her in the form of demons trying to destroy the world -- and they usually need her to help do it. With the bouncy, justice-loving princess Amelia, the seriously, stoic chimera Zelgadis, and the gentle shrine maiden Sylphiel, Lina goes off into adventure where victory shall always be hers.
In the first season, Lina fights bandits and journeys through various adventures after she meets Gourry and the gang and also has to go up against Rezo the Red Priest and later on Kopii Rezo, both who have agendas that would bring the world's undoing. In the second season, Lina must prevent herself from getting killed or using her powerful Giga Slave spell or else it will cause the end of the world. In the last season, Filia Ul Copt, a dragon priestess, comes to ask for Lina's help in stopping the summoning of the Dark Lord DarkStar, who threatens to bring the world to destruction.
Among anime fans in the United States, The Slayers is somewhat popular but not nearly as popular as other series. It has been fortunate, since no one has decided to slaughter it, censor it, and show it on television during Saturday morning cartoons. However, as a result Slayers isn't as popular and well known as, for example, Pokémon and Dragonball Z, and most of the older generation of fans is dying out with a lot of knowledgeable websites going offline.
It's not very hard to find Slayers merchandise in stores other than online retailers. All three seasons of the anime series have been commercially dubbed and subbed by Software Sculpters, with the ovas and movies released by ADV. Two versions of the manga are still being translated, both by CPM and in early fall of this year, Tokyopop will release the novels translated into English. In addition to manga volumes and anime on VHS and DVD, there are several artbooks and soundtracks, and loads of import merchandise available.
The Slayers is a very exciting story; one of my all-time favorite anime/manga series. The plot is exciting and equally easy to follow, without being overly simplistic to keep viewers interested. The characters, even the minor ones, are well rounded. There is plenty of humor, some violence, a bit of profanity -- mostly boob jokes, and of course beautiful artwork! The Slayers has just about everything one could want in an anime/manga and it's one I highly recommend.