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John

(he/him)
I approve of FAST TRACK! renaming.

The train reminded me of a Ducktales type scenario, or a less sinister Dark Tower. It was the Operator kicking off the long defunct processes, cheerfully reminding people to stay away from the closing doors that would most likely kill them.

Dunno why Filia had to be conscious for the train to detect her presence. Maybe the drug the Evil Lackeys gave her suppressed her Dragon nature?

Also, how are those two always one step ahead of the party on the trail, after they're blown up or otherwise dispatched every single time? They must be lightning quick in between episodes, or the party just takes super long breaks in between, allowing them to catch up and get the drop. The fox guy's too willing to blow everything up, he should try a different tactic sometime. I guess when you're a Demolitions expert, everything can be solved by an explosion of some sort.
 

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
EGOS: We get to see some full on antagonism between Xellos and Filia this time around, and a reminder that most of the people on this new continent are not familiar with magic (though dragons and lizard men and cockney fox boys and explosives are all fine), and also that the gang really should read ahead regarding the places they visit. Xellos clearly got that guidebook SOMEWHERE, it would have been nice to know they were visiting a place that was dragon-racist!

Oh and what's up with that chef? He was presented as weirdly sinister and ominous, but aside from using some very suspect meat for his dish (which if the guidebook is anything to go by isn't even something he's really hiding or trying to get away with) he's more a victim of the gang's carelessness.

FINDING FAST TRACK: I.... completely forgot this episode existed. It isn't really filler since it's part of the journey to the Fire Dragon King Temple (though in this season it's technically ALL filler I guess???) but it still feels like it? Some more dickishness by Xellos leads the gang to a literal runaway train (which is an absolutely absurd contraption even by fantasy RPG standards but I love it) which Lina eventually deals with the way she deals with absolutely everything, blowing it the heck up.

Oh and Zel has a weirdly prominent focus, it's kind of a character episode for him? KIND OF???? His dual with Graavos has a lot of pretense but ultimately doesn't amount to much. It's like the season is trying too hard to fit in a purpose for him since 'palling around being Lina's lackey' isn't good enough I guess?
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
I think Fast Track is the last time Zel is even relevant to Try

At least he got a really well animated fight scene out of it
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Man, these titles are giving me nothing to work with;

A Peace Conference?
The Plan Has Begun!


I unno… Goals and History?
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
Goals: there’s not much action here but there’s definitely plot aplenty. Lina and co getting put to work rebuilding the temple is blatantly the gold dragon elders stalling for time, but it’s also a chance for the gang to show a side of themselves we don’t see often. With good reason in Lina’s case! Yow! We get a bit more about Luna too though it’s all mega vague. The dragon elders are hyper cautious and really not that comfortable with entrusting mortals with the fate of the world, and then…!

History: … yeah those guys are really bad at that whole world saving business aren’t they. The bad guy is obviously not going to keep his word. But they’ve got an easy answer, so they take it… Or try to anyway. Valgaav gets his backstory fleshed out and it turns out Xellos and the Gold Dragon Elders have an agenda in common? Other than winding up Filia that is. The big fight here is great, with each party member getting to show off before Lina breaks out the Ragna Blade and scares everyone senseless.

I love the design of the dragon temple. The interior is enormous, clearly built by people who don’t think at human scale. A 40 man raid is going to have no problem fitting into this place! But it also feels like somewhere that people actually live, even if a lot of those people are the Dragon equivalent of Gillis.
 

John

(he/him)
GOALS - Lina's sense of Helping somehow always leads to her ordering people around, and blowing something up. I wasn't expecting her to create a Morrowind/Seuss mashup for the temple facade.

I really liked the extended peek at Big Bad's Evil Lair. It's very H.R. Giger/Alien inspired, I expect him to have a Navigator chair that he uses to amplify his remote viewing powers. That demon clock is ominous, and I'm sure won't be used when all five of these super weapons are found to do some evil bidding.

There was quite a few slow tracking shots as they stalled for time in this episode. Oh, and a cliffhanger ending. Maybe instead of stretching this into two episodes, they could've plotted a bit tighter and fit it into one. It wasn't extreme, just felt like fitting 15 minutes of activity into 20 minutes of airtime.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
Forgot something from the post above!

History is also a good showcase of how Lina's actually got a pretty sound moral sense. While, yes, she absolutely doesn't want the Sword of Light moved out of her reach, and also clearly understands that Almayce is simply lying, she also clearly understands that pushing their problem off on some other world makes them the bad guys. And she's willing to fight a weird Overworld elf dude, a temple full of dragons, and a crazed Monster to make the point.
 

John

(he/him)
HISTORY - I really liked this lore-dump episode, giving Valgaav more nuance than previously shown. His monster horn is still stupid, but when he tries to change out of his mostly-human form into his dragon/monster hybrid, it seems like his body's fighting itself. *GRAAK! Valgaav Shouldn't Be!*

Again with the nuance, the Dragons are super into self-preservation, remembering when they were slaughtered by Monsters oh so long ago. Also, recognizing that Lina & Co. were able to do what they couldn't by taking down the other big bads, so maybe they're not all big and powerful anymore. If I was writing this, these would be some big indicators that the Fire Dragon King is actually long dead, and the existing dragon council is hiding that from the general populace so they wouldn't be seen as weak.

Anyway, better writing than we usually see in this show, possibly due to the provenance of this being an original story and not pulled from many different source novels like the others.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Valgaavs Monstered Up form has some real Devilman energy and I really like it; still put him near the bottom of the list for Slayers villains, but he’s trying dammit.

I like that the Dragon Council really doesn’t care if an apocalypse happens in general, they just don’t want it in their backyard; and Almayce is okay with that because he just really wants to have a face to face with a Cthulhu, details beyond that are irrelevant.

On a personal note; really pleased with myself for accurately guessing what a good episode title HISTORY wound up being. That was 100% unintentional
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
Again with the nuance, the Dragons are super into self-preservation, remembering when they were slaughtered by Monsters oh so long ago. Also, recognizing that Lina & Co. were able to do what they couldn't by taking down the other big bads, so maybe they're not all big and powerful anymore. If I was writing this, these would be some big indicators that the Fire Dragon King is actually long dead, and the existing dragon council is hiding that from the general populace so they wouldn't be seen as weak.

I think he's still alive, just in hiding because he doesn't want to be assassinated like the Water Dragon King was. The Dragon Kings are powerful and fundamental enough that you can't kill one without enormous upheaval; the Water Dragon King's death created the Clare Bible, which is so absurdly powerful that it's resisted repeated attempts by the Monsters to delete it.

Valgaavs Monstered Up form has some real Devilman energy and I really like it; still put him near the bottom of the list for Slayers villains, but he’s trying dammit.

Really this is more a testament to how good the rest of the Slayers villain roster is than any condemnation of Valgaav himself. In any franchise that didn't have Shablababby, Rezo (twice), Zangulus, and Hellmaster Phibrizzo he'd be a pretty solid top-tier entry.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Even Gaav himself had something interesting going on that the show barely had time to acknowledge; to my knowledge the only character who’s a big sack of nothin’ is Darkstar, being that it’s just a Cthulu who smashes stuff and even it at least looks really frickin’ cool.
 

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
Aw jeez I'm fallin' behind here.

GOALS: Lina being pushed into helping rebuilt the temple and doing that by pushing the ones pushing her to rebuild it instead is some masterful manipulation.

The Golden Dragons are your typical long-lived arrogant fantasy species, so they're probably up to no good.

HISTORY: Almayce makes an obvious bad-faith promise, and the Golden Dragons try to betray the party! Wow, that was some quick turnaround! Usually these fantasy guardian species let the possibility of a betrayal linger for most of the story, but I guess these Dragons CAN act quickly.

The most important thing in this episode though is Valgaav's history, and the totally BS excuse the Golden Dragons give to explain why they were totally right to do a genocide. Gaav just stumbling upon Val is kinda convenient, but whatever. What's really weird is that Gaav seems done better by this brief flashback than his entirety of scenes in NEXT, so uh, good work TRY.

I love Xellos's face when he finally pops in and offers to help. He knows he's getting Filia into trouble just by associating with her and he is reveling in it.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
We’ve got
Continuous Fire
Ready for Exile


Which I will designate Infiltration and Jingoism.

That’s a good fit for one and what I hope to be a good fit for the other!
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Well, "Jingoism" isn't a good fit at all. Maybe Jilted? Maybe Juxtapose? I'unno, listen to your own heart there.

Anyway, you'd think it's the start of another patented Slayers Filler Sidequest, as we have a vague goal for the party (find the missing Darkstar Weapon), they just had a big fight against a powerful enemy (Almayce and Valgaav) and the party immediately splits up to find something that should be really obvious isn't what they're looking for (a "Magical Vessel" in the twin kingdoms of Alto and Baritone).

But Try doesn't play by the usual Slayers handbook, so this is actually a two-parter that winds up being kind of important?

Infiltration mainly involves the party splitting up and trying to steal the Magical Vessels, at the request of the Prince and Princess of the kingdoms, figuring that without those to fight over, their parents will stop their daily forever war (which is more loud and annoying for the population than anything actually dangerous). And meanwhile, Valgaav, Gravos and Jillas left Almayce, and Valgaav is still pretty banged up from his fight, so Graavos takes the spear that Val stole from Almayce and decides to kill the Slayers himself; drastically overestimating how important he is to the plot. He also finally gets a bit of backstory, which... really doesn't affect much; it's basically the same backstory that Valgaav had just with less attempts to justify genocide.

Then in Slayers Try Episode J, Graavos realizes that the absolutely jacked orc with a glowing magic spear standing imposingly over a frightened missing prince and princess is WAY more intimidating than the group of adventurers trying to protect two kids, so the combined armadas of both kingdoms show up to shoot at him and demand their kids back. Also, Graavos realizes he has no actual idea how to use the spear and it's going haywire and blows up the island they're on. The kids realize that the magic vessels actually DO have magic powers; they're filled with Holy Magic of the Gods, and Dark Magic of the Demons, and when you combine those two, they make anti-magic which disables the Spears power. But not before Graavos almost completely loses control of it and nearly summons *something* really dark and absolutely horrifying. Then Lina hits him with a Dragon Slave, which makes him shoot off into the sky like Team Rocket, and I assumed that meant he was fine, but the stinger at the end kind of implies that he died and Jillas is going to avenge him, because he took the Spear off him.

Also, resolving the Romeo/Juliet angle of the kids of warring countries; they immediately turn on each other because their eloping went south REAL bad and it turns out that this is basically how their respective countries have worked for thousands of years; the royal families just hate each other that much

Oh, and Zelgadis has a shootout with a bunch of snake-guys, because while he doesn't have a lot to do with the main plot, the writers can't leave a cool rock guy be for too long
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
Zelgadis: oh no sweat. I’m actually using a kit that gives me lockpicking and a set of tools

Zelgadis: did I mention it also gives me crossbow proficiency?
 

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
This two-parter feels like a do-over of the whole Tarimu and Demia plot from NEXT, in that Lina/Gourry and Amelia/Zel are split up and wind up working with two opposing factions. Though it is different enough to be interesting.

Graavos shows up to try his hand at being a big bad but just isn't up to snuff. Everyone say goodbye to Graavos! I'm pretty sure we don't see him again until the ending, where he inexplicably pops back up, so he IS alive. He was just Team Rocketed.
 

John

(he/him)
Infiltration: I kinda felt like this was localized by Working Designs. Kingdoms named Alto and Baritone? Missed opportunity to name the kids Tenor and Soprano.

I didn't catch if the party was split up from the beginning, or if the Baritone Buddies were called over there after they activated the statue. Doesn't really matter, end result's the same, both sides up to shenanigans that come together in the end.

Fun seeing Filia just teleport wherever she needs to go, because apparently dragons do that? And Gourry definitely hasn't skipped leg day, because he's basically flying now.

Cliffhangers are fun, but we literally just had one two episodes ago. If this becomes a thing I'm down, it fits with our watching schedule nicely.
 

John

(he/him)
Oh, in Infiltration, I liked the brief callback to Valgaav still fighting with his inner (and now outer) dragon self. Almayce's out of the picture (for now?) so it's just Valgaav's lackeys picking up the action.

Jilted - All this could've been solved if these families would've communicated. The kids can't do anything other than make their eyeballs quiver, and the King/Queen just want to solve everything through violence.

I originally thought when the son Marco turned down the princess that he was under the spell of the Dark Magic vessel. Nope, turns out that Sara was just really overbearing, and he was sick of it.

There was also some Plot stuff about summoning evil beings/swords/thoughts, but that's just set dressing for the star of the show, Gunslinger Zelgadis. He singlehandedly took down a couple dozen lizardmen, in just as many frames of animation. They definitely spent the time on the sword summoning art, and just moved around some cels for the gunfight.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
We’ve got;

Jillas’ Hidden Power
Pursuit Through the Labyrinth


Man, it would have been so easy to make alternate titles if those last two were reversed. Anyway… Kissing and… umm… Labyrinth
 

John

(he/him)
Kissing - If we thought the last episode's swordfight was skint of animation, this one beats it by a mile. I'd say at least 2-3 minutes of the runtime was spent panning over static pictures while the dialog implies what's happening. It felt like an old Golden Book He-Man VHS that I had as a kid, an easy way to translate a comic to video.

That said, the heroes are super oblivious in this episode, even more than usual. Jillas doesn't exactly blend in with the crowd, being a 4 foot tall orange fox with an eyepatch, speaking in a cockney accent (in the dub at least). Gotta be a Clark Kent situation where they all have face blindness unless they can get a peek at his eyepatch.

Was Amelia upset that Lina didn't care about getting matched with Gourry, or that she didn't get matched with Zelgadis? I think last episode she said something about affections towards Zel, who just shrugged it off.

I feel like we've seen the booby-trapped chess/checkerboard in most adventure shows. Usually the protagonists sit and ponder how to best complete it, while they slowly get whittled down by the traps. Here, we learn the best way out is through, just forget the rules and go nuts until you break the game.

An okay episode, and yet another cliffhanger, sort-of. I liked that the sword of light mirrored Jillas's fox face, but don't think it ever showed Gourry or Lina's faces when they've wielded it in the past. Lost opportunity for gags.
 

John

(he/him)
Labyrinth - That Valgaav certainly has a type, rescuing persecuted non-humans who have lost an eye. How many more lackey backstories will we find out are eerily similar? A bit predatory if you ask me.

Like Amelia joked on the river, everything here felt extremely familiar, like they've done it all before. It's one thing if they reference it and then pivot to something new, but then they continue on to a labyrinth maze to be split up, just like they've done many times before.

Another pacing nightmare, this felt like they had 15 minutes of animation that they had to stretch into their 19 minute runtime. They spent 40 straight seconds just re-using two loops of animation of Valgaav breathing heavily. Normally I can give this a pass as it's service to the story, or action's happening in the audio. This was just noticeably bad and boring.

I think this was the first episode that I just didn't care for? I guess there was Plot stuff with shots of the weird demon/dragon clock and Xellos being scheming, but too little, too late.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
In Kissing, Jillas realizes something that would have saved Graavos' life; while the Heavy can't replace the main villain in a filler episode, the comic relief villain can excel in them. And so, he manages to pull of possible the greatest upset for the forcesof evil across the entire franchise; nearly killing everyone and stealing the Sword of Light. Also he messed up the team dynamics really badly by making sure none of the characters you're supposed to be shipping wind up together.

Granted, it's literally only Amelia who feels there's something amiss with this; Gourry is oblivious, Lina has her eyes on the prize, and Zel has a completely even keel about everything in this series. Filia and Xellos don't participate.

The Sword of Light mimics Jillas' face when he first steals it, and is more of a Knife of Light in the next part, so my headcanon is that it adjusts itself to whatever the wielder is most comfortable with.

Labyrinth is a combination of a chase scene with everyone trying to get the Sword back from Jillas and a really shortened adaptation of a few season 1 episodes (which is called out, in fact); and Jillas resumes being astonishingly competent and effective when he doesn't have to be a goofball sidekick; and even gets his backstory filled in (same as Valgaave and Gravos' deals, apparently everywhere outside the Monster Barrier is really racist against non-humans). The real swerve is when the Slayers wind up in Almayce' main base (apparently Valgaav was just hiding in the basement which... you wouldn't think would be the best place to hide from your boss when you betray him, but it apparently worked really well) as we learn that Almayce is actually a GOOD GUY, he wants to summon Darkstar in order to kill him, but Valgaav, after his string of failures, is content to summon it to let it annihilate the world because, heck, not like he has any particular reason to keep it around any more.

Also Xellos is trying to get Val to rejoin team Monsters because... y'know... Xellos.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
The sound design in Labyrinth is outstanding; the classic chase music, to the waterfall, to silence while Jillas thinks he has a brief respite, then right back to the classic chase music? So good!
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Two other things I forgot to note about Kissing; it’s our annual reminder that, yup, Naga exists and also I love the gag that not only does Filia refuse to participate, the show keeps cutting back to her sitting outside grumbling about the situation and you can see the increasingly elaborate tableaux she sets up to pass the time.

Zel is kind of the MVP of this season just by merit of keeping the plot moving while everyone else is busy with sight gags or recapping the story as it happened. Filia could really take some lessons from him in terms of keeping everyone on task.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Next we’ve got
The One Who Holds the Key
Lamentation Without End


Sounds like a fun pair of episodes! Let’s call them Menace and Nihil.
 

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
Oop, I forgot to comment last week didn't I? Uh. Stuff happened and the group was out-foxed by a Fox. Some great facial expressions, but the quality of the animation feels like it's dipping a lot with all the really extended shots on static or repetitive animation (see the agonizing minutes spent watching Valgaav pant at the end of LABYRINTH. Or, maybe not agonizing, if that's your thing? He does feel very fangirl baity. I don't judge.)

MENACE: I think this is probably the most sinister Xellos ever has been or will be in the series, even if it only lasts like half an episode. He's downright sadistic in torturing Valgaav in their fight, even though Valgaav only wins because he pulls a power boost out of his ass.

Animation takes another dip this week. Though I found it funny just how poorly they masked Almayce moving around when they clearly didn't want to actually animate it. He just kind of hovers I guess?

I do love Lina's reaction to Xellos's shockingly frank admission to trying to sell her out, though, another great expression.

NIHIL: Oops, Kefka moved the statues and the world blew up. Wait, wrong story.

So Valgaav summons Darkstar just long enough to be destroyed by it, way to go dude. Great plan. We get the once-a-season Giga Slave cast (getting kinda casual about using the potential world-ending spell, aren't you Lina?) which only gets interrupted by literal Deus Ex Machina. The gateway closes on top of Darkstar and everything goes boom, and Celes washes up on the solitary island to be in a coma for a year wait goddammit wrong story again.

Also, earlier Valgaav and Filia have a.... moment? I think? It feels like it's supposed to be impactful but the two have barely had any interaction before now, and the drama all hinges on Valgaav's telling of the genocide of his race which, even if 100% true, the guy's still trying to end the world so maybe now's not the time for a bleeding heart Filia. And yet despite treating her with as light a hand as he ever has to anyone thus far (go home, little girl) he then abruptly decides to torment Filia by making her summon Darkstar (or so he says, but it was still all him though honestly) after tanking a Dragon Slave fired straight into his body. I guess that pissed him off, but he doesn't even have a scratch, it only causes him to grow wings which I didn't even know was a side effect of that spell!
 

John

(he/him)
These episodes were good enough that I sweated through both in a single exercise session. A far cry from the last one, these felt like a proper season finale, even though it's only halfway.

MENACE: As Spoony said, Xellos dropping the trickster façade for a sadistic torturer was a nice twist. Lotta explosions in this cave, which normally would've caused so many cave-ins, but it's super reinforced. And we get to see what the big demon dragon clock thing is, which turns out to be a transporter? A bit of a let down, TBH, I wanted it to be more directly integral with the summoning, not just a light rail.

NIHIL: Nice episode title, since Valgaav's kinda given up on everything, though he still has the one tenet of destroying Lina Inverse (but not enough to take Xellos's bait in the last episode). More fighty-fighting, more explosions, but with more room to play instead of just going through cramped caves. Now we're in Final Fantasy boss realm! You'd think that since Valgaav was impervious to their spells, they should've just directed their attacks to the infrastructure powering the gate, but apparently after the swords activate the stuff there's no take-backs.

Good break, I fully expect Lina to find Gourry working at a seafood restaurant somewhere, serving up squid in exchange for all he can eat.
 
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