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The Slayers Group Watch Thread

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
I haven't watched this series in quite some time and going back to it now was a trip. Seeing that cell animation and 90s anime styles again was nice, and I think I still prefer it to the modern stuff, weird subtle movements and all (seriously just watch the english credits, keep your eye on the text, and you'll see the background image moving about ever so slightly).

After watching the sub exclusively until now I decided to go ahead and watch at least these first two episodes dubbed, and I gotta say.... not as terrible as I remember? Maybe that's unfair, but I do remember disliking the dub on an almost visceral level, but this time I found a lot to like. Just about ALL of it was Lisa Oritz's performance, she might not be Megumi Hayashibara but she does make a great Lina. The other voices though, they didn't fare as well. Gourry's alright, but not particularly standout, and he doesn't come off like the lovable moron he is compared to his JP voice. Zelgadis just sounds kinda bored, but he's only had a few lines so far so we'll see.

Every other voice though? Competent to awful. From what I remember the dub really had issues with minor characters that only show up briefly, and there are a few stinkers here. The worst might be the shop owner's wife in the second episode (I'm not even sure if that was a woman voicing her or a man doing an annoying wife bit), and the other incidental characters might not be as bad but none of em are particularly good. Though the absolute worst dubbed voice I remember comes from a minor character in the second season, I guess we'll get there when we get there.

(oh and a weird bit with the intro, the dubbed track has Lina's opening monologue before the song starts dubbed, but the music accompanying that part is totally different, it's not like any other music is replaced and they clearly got those BGMs to mix into their dub track so why was that one part different?)

One thing that honestly felt like coming home was the stock footage. Oh Slayers and its stock footage. You'll see Lina throw that Fireball dozens of times, Gourry will draw his sword in that manner so often, and don't even mention the Dragon Slave. I remember the stock footage use being most egregious in the first season, though Next and Try still fall back on it from time to time. Honestly I find it kind of charming?

One thing I STILL can't find a good explanation for, though, is what 'Dragon Spooker' really means? 'Step Past Out Of Clear Revulsion' is a clever acronym, I guess. The Japanese term is 'doramata', sometimes called dra-mata online, but I can't find an explanation.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I never put together that it was an acronym.

my head canon is that somehow the entire dragon species heard about her reputation for solving her problems with Dragon Slaves
 
One thing I STILL can't find a good explanation for, though, is what 'Dragon Spooker' really means? 'Step Past Out Of Clear Revulsion' is a clever acronym, I guess. The Japanese term is 'doramata', sometimes called dra-mata online, but I can't find an explanation.

"Doramata" is a an abbreviation of a wordplay twist of an idiom that was originally along the lines of "a fish that even a cat would go out of its way to avoid."

Original:
猫も跨いで通る (Neko mo mataide tooru)

Slayers:
ドラゴンも跨いで通る (Doragon mo mataide tooru)

The bolded characters are what gets taken for the abbreviation.

In this wordplay, Lina replaces the fish and dragons replace the cat. So, basically, Lina is a human being that a Dragon would go out of its way to avoid, because she is dangerous. (In the original idiom, it's a fish that a cat would avoid because it tastes bad, is rotten, etc.)

I am simplifying a bit because the idiom can have other meanings, but that's the most essential information. (For example, if you know some Japanese and are noticing that the word fish is not in the original idiom and wondering where it is, it's because it's implied by the idiom, not directly stated.)
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
The music is probably the immediately strongest aspect of the show. Not just the Hayashibara openings and closers ("one slip and it's to hell you go" is a wonderful lyric) but the soundtrack by Osamu Tezuka (a different one) that lands on really delightfully of-the-time breezy synth pop for the key sound. So many Slayers jokes don't work at all, so it's important that the aesthetics can carry the rest when needed and communicate what sets it apart from its straight-faced fantasy peers.

The animation for Lina's levitation spell just zooms directly on her butt before panning to her breasts, and that coupled with the character's groanings about her figure, combined with how fixated other characters on it also are, reminds me of why it's a pretty uneasy thing to really invest in this series in how it plays out. I actually think Naga is a really interesting character and am similarly frustrated that the stories featuring her aren't very good, but her dynamic with Lina does a lot in personally alleviating this stuff because instead of the focus being on the literal 15-year-old for the writing's obsession with women's bodies, it's instead directed at the at least of-age comparative adult in the room, whose self-adopted gimmick is owning that aspect of her presentation to farcical heights. The group dynamic that eventually develops around Lina in the TV series is ultimately the more compelling one, probably, but there's always a funny feeling that both halves are somehow incomplete and letting their mutual potential lie unused and unexplored in how hermetically sealed from each other they end up being.
 

Purple

(She/Her)
I was kind of surprised that Sylphiel shows up so
Something I find myself saying at least once per season! Her whole character is like, the PC of the one player everyone really likes who got a new job right before starting the campaign, and then every time it seems like things have calmed down enough to get her up to speed, whoops, work schedule got changed again.

But anyway, the episodes we're actually watching this week and thoughts on them:
- I could have sworn the first episode had more punch to it, or started a little more in media res. It's weird having Lina have to actually meet Gourry, and then drag that way the hell out, with a whole lot of internal monologuing that isn't particularly endearing.
- I also completely forgot that the first episode actually contains a dragon (and it's even a slave!) so our first introduction to the ridiculous overkill spell I believe the whole show is partially named after is... close to an actually appropriate usage.
- Oh, huh. I could have sworn they had a more lavish budget early on and totally static outdoor shopping shots weren't a thing until the mid-season lean times.
- The second episode is a much better foot to land on for what we're in for, and I really appreciate how it so firmly establishes its overpowered D&D characters vibe by so immediately dedicating half a freaking episode to just doing the bookkeeping on all the random loot picked up in the previous one.
- I really like that even this early on there is a firm, called out and established in-character set of basic costuming rules which hint at world building and stay consistent for the whole run. Black mages all have big cool black capes. Even if you're in a full body cast, you fasten that sucker on. Priests wear those sorta necktie things, always. Shamans kit out in that same sorta off-white. That and how rarely anyone strays out of a decidedly consistent list of go-to spells based on their class.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
Angry? Lina's Furious Dragon Slave - already off to some real "somebody's DnD campaign" energy. This is a great character intro, although Lina spends way too long trying to help Gourry maintain his dignity after he spends like a solid minute mumbling about how he thinks she's a literal child. I adore the little animation and Foley combo of Lina drumming her fingers on Gourry's pauldron when it becomes clear they're about to be run out of town.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I love that a full half of Bad! Mummy Men Aren’t My Type is dedicated to Lina gaming a shop owner into getting more money for her loot.

It was also really jarring not hearing Crispin Freeman’s voice coming out of Zels face. I forgot he had a different VA in the first arc.

And speaking of VAs, and this may be a “dubbed anime in general” thing than a Slayers specific thing, but you can really tell how much more fun the actors have when they don’t have to match their cadence and word choice to match lip flaps; not only was Zolf just making a complete meal out of all his dialogue, but it flowed a lot more organically out of him.

Theres a later episode (I think in Evolution R) with a bunch of characters who don’t even have heads and the whole thing comes across like an above average improve team
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
“Somebody’s D&D campaign” is absolutely the energy Slayers gives off, which is especially funny because that’s literally Lodoss War. It’s kind of interesting how the series-long conventions get adopted over the course of the first episode; Lina goes from unceremoniously detonating the bandits with generic fire magic to calling out her attack names from, as noted, a well defined portfolio of spells.

Overall it really stood out to me how carefully paced the first two episodes are. I remember Slayers as kind of hectic and breakneck, but it’s got very carefully considered tempo. In addition to trying to sell her loot, we’ve got breaks where Lina and Gourry are ordering dinner, negotiating payment for dragon-slaying, and trying to avoid throwing down with Mummy-man and his goons.

The ordering dinner scene is a great low-key gag because Lina clearly thinks she’s going to soak this sucker by ordering half the menu, only for Gourry to treat it as totally normal and promptly order his own feast.

(in fact there’s a lot of very subtle blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gags, like the bandit’s eyepatch falling off during an action pan in the “Lina and Gourry meet” scene, revealing two perfectly good eyes)

And the Mummy-man bit is great for two reasons. First it introduces us to what I remember being a recurring bit - filling in details in scenes we’ve already seen, usually bystanders getting caught in Lina’s carnage, that were omitted the first time. Secondly, Mummy-man has hired a gang of trolls, and while they’re brutes, they’ve clearly got motivations beyond unthinking violence, putting Slayers ahead of most D&D settings in its portrayal of humanoids.

Similarly I remember the animation as being kind of generic, but it’s really not? There’s an interesting contrast between the very involved designs of the main characters, the generic background characters, and the almost sketchy style used for the backgrounds.
 
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John

(he/him)
This was fun! I remember pirating this from a newsgroup back in high school, watched the first episode, and then never watched another. I was more into Space and Brooding back then, but I've got a better appreciation for lame jokes now. It's nice not having to watch in a tiny window so the show doesn't get super pixelated.

I was getting flashbacks to watching OG Thundercats episodes when my kids were infants and I'd have to get up to feed them overnight. Maybe it's the hand drawn cel animation, maybe the somewhat poor dubbing. The mummy-man/trolls and Mumm-Ra and his minions were both drawing from the same inspiration well.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
Bad! Mummy Men Aren't My Type! - I appreciate that this show focuses a lot on the downtime and small-scale stuff. I could watch Lina alchemize rubies, haggle with shopkeepers, and go fishing all day. I think I actually like this episode more than the first one even though almost nothing happens in it, comparatively. It's also nice to the continuation of the DnD theme with Lina winning a fight by using hacky exploit magic instead of big flashy finishing moves.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
This week we have
CRASH! Red, White and Suspicious All Over
DANGER! My Magic Doesn’t Work?!?


Ooh, there’s some stuff to unpack with that one...
 

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
Ooof, yeah no kidding.

Let's just hold our nose and get that episode out of the way shall we?
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
CRASH is where the story begins in earnest; Zelgadis and Rezo make their introductions, Shabranigdo is mentioned and it’s made clear that he’s a Big Deal (and their oddly coy about showing him, despite him showing up in the OP).

And they also make absolutely no effort to hide the fact that Rezo is secretly evil. So Lina is batting 500 for snap judgements about wizards she meets in this episode.

Also liked the gag with it looking like Lina resting and enjoying a nice sunny day after a tense fight, only for the camera to turn and we see that she took a time out and left all the monsters to Gourry. And then subverted that by showing that she was actually badly hurt in the fight and didn’t break her composure, preferring to let Gourry think she was slacking off and letting him do the work.
 

Purple

(She/Her)
Honestly, the more time that passes, the more shocking it is that Lina is not just a total asshole. Like, it's her natural role in the story to be one. Comedy fantasy series, stupidly overpowered wizard, generally mercenary attitude, but they do a pretty consistently good job on those occasions where she's being a complete jerk of laying out her thought process about it, and it tends to hold up.

Also yeah doing the whole "fighter's got this all day, wizard wants to take a nap after one encounter" ticks off another "you just animated a D&D campaign here" box. I suppose "the priest can't just cure blindness?" is one too. Seriously folks, it's worth blowing the spell slot every day.

So, what's up in episode 4 that everyone's talking about with such dread? ... Oh. Wow I so have no recollection of this. Anyway, further D&Disms: After a point the GM starts stacking up multiple weird templates on one NPC to make dealing damage a huge pain (and I really do like Zelgadis' whole crew of weirdos), and Lina's really clearly stuck with those d4s for HP.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Also yeah doing the whole "fighter's got this all day, wizard wants to take a nap after one encounter" ticks off another "you just animated a D&D campaign here" box. I suppose "the priest can't just cure blindness?" is one too. Seriously folks, it's worth blowing the spell slot every day.

To be fair, there's a very good reason for this
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
Indeed
 

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
Crash: It's a good thing Zelgadis's actor is going to get swapped out later on because this guy just isn't making the cut. I'm honestly still not sold on Gourry either, though he is better. He honestly sounds like an exaggeration of a bad dub at times, like you know that voice Arin on Game Grumps sometimes does whenever he's mimicing an anime dub? Gourry has a few moments where he actually sounds like that. Lina, though, is still pretty strong and is carrying the dub so far. Is Lisa Oritz from New York? Now and then some kind of similar accent sneaks into Lina's dialogue.

As for the episode itself, it really is weird how they bring Rezo in as this maybe-ally when the intro straight up shows him in a villainous light, isn't it? He suddenly pops up as if he has all the answers and asks for Lina to trust him so of course he's hiding something. But what???

Dash: This is the episode with the period jokes. Thankfully, they're not as cringy as I was fearing, and the whole conversation is just to have yet another 'haha Gourry so dumb' moment.

The lore dump at the beginning is interesting, setting up a world that really feels like the sort of fantasy setting you'd get in a JRPG, it even has the big ultimate evil broken up into several macguffins. If I could go off on a brief tangeant about this reveal, there was a Slayers RPG on the SNES and in it the final boss (the post-game final boss, rather) is the shard of Shabranigdo specficially mentioned in Lina's story. The one that was briefly resurrected in a human host and re-sealed. You first fight the host, Lei-Magnus, and then the final battle is against the shard of Shabrangido itself. That whole SNES RPG was kind of a mess, I should info dump everything I know about it at some point.

Anyway. I also kind of hate how the dub pronounces 'Shabranigdo', but given how a more authentic pronounciation of how it sounds in Japanese might sound in English, it's probably for the best overall.

One final dub nitpick, man those 90s dubs just did not do screaming very well, did they? Lisa Oritz for the most part is pretty good as Lina, but then at the end of the episode when Zel is zapping her it's, uh, not the most convincing performance ever.

Oh, and this episode introduces Dilgear, the werewolf with the most hilarious name ever. Dilgear. It sounds like it should be an insult, like it's something Beavis and/or Butthead would call someone.

You frickin dilgear.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
Anyway. I also kind of hate how the dub pronounces 'Shabranigdo', but given how a more authentic pronounciation of how it sounds in Japanese might sound in English, it's probably for the best overall.
Gourry:
It's your turn now, Sammybingo.

Shabranigdo:
It's Shabranigdo. Shabranigdo. With an S.

Gourry:
We're only serving humble pie, Grammawingo.

Shabranigdo:
For the last time, it's...

Gourry:
Ham-and-mild chorizo. Sham-and-a-coup.

Shabranigdo:
Shab-!

Gourry:
Ah, Orgasmingo.

Shabranigdo:
No, no, no.

Gourry:
Shihtzu do.

Shabranigdo:
No no no!

Gourry:
Susan?

Shabranigdo:
Now you're doing it on purpose.
 

Purple

(She/Her)
Crash: It's a good thing Zelgadis's actor is going to get swapped out later on because this guy just isn't making the cut. I'm honestly still not sold on Gourry either, though he is better. He honestly sounds like an exaggeration of a bad dub at times, like you know that voice Arin on Game Grumps sometimes does whenever he's mimicing an anime dub? Gourry has a few moments where he actually sounds like that.
The main vibe I get is Brock from Pokemon, presumably because that's the same voice actor, but yeah, never too late to hop over the fence to the land of proper voices.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Dash! Run for It! My Magic Doesn’t Work! (I got the title wrong before, but when you live by Not Doing Research, you die by Not Doing Research) wasn’t quite as cringeworthy as I recall, which is good, but they still could have chosen a better way to put The heroes on the defensive by Lina losing access to her magic. In DND terms, she’s used up all her spell slots and is down to using Cantrips.

Despite being secretive about showing Shabranigdo in the last episode (even though he’s in the intro), they’re totally fine slapping him all over the place in the first scene of this one. Though he’s got a wildly different design (Which I believe is the same look he sports when he comes back at the end of Evolution)

I like that Zolf is still credited as “Mummy Man” in the end credits.

Gourry is played by Brock, and Zel is eventually played by Crispin Freeman (who you may recognize from literally everything) but I’m honestly not sure who else Lisa Ortiz played, and she’s absolutely doing all the heavy lifting for the English dub. Lina is easily in the uppermost tier of Early Anime Dub performances.

According to IMDB, her other most prominent role was Amy Rose in Sonic the Hedgehog, and also Oshawatt in Pokémon. And otherwise it’s “Additional Voices” in about a thousand other things.
 

John

(he/him)
Watching Episode 3: huh, Lina's suspiciously hurt after that little encounter, but doesn't want to make a big deal about it. The "Red" in the episode title was supposed to reference the totally not obviously a bad guy's Red Wizard title, and nothing else, right?

Watching Episode 4: Well, you can at least give the writers some props for introducing foreshadowing. I really hope this particular item is forgotten about, or that maybe Lina is able to conjure up some long term birth control. As a plot device, it screams "ugh, we put a GIRL in our fantasy show for BOYS, so let's both show how girls are weaker than boys while pointing out we think periods are gross".
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
It is literally never so much as referenced again through the whole run of the series; though there’s a couple of arcs (or at least episodes) where Lina loses access to her magic, they’re all for more fantastical dungeon and dragonny reasons
 

Super Megaman X

dead eyes
(He/Him)
Yeah, it's really really weird in retrospect. It's a weird, offputting story choice in the first place, and then after it's used it never shows up again, like they realized how bizarre it was. That's a positive, but it begs the question why it ever existed at all?
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
It's a weird humor misfire, and especially perplexing because the chief effect is showing Zelgadis going all-out to capture an opponent who can't effectively fight back, and who still almost gets away, which really completely sabotages the idea that Zel's a badass.

Overall the thing that still stands out to me the most is how careful and deliberate the pacing is. Every scene is given pretty much exactly the right amount of room to breathe; gags are allowed to play out, exposition to land, action to resolve, and then we're off to the next thing.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
In all fairness, a LOT of things do that. The next episode we're watching in particular.

Having watched a lot more Slayers, I know that actually the set of all actual badasses is extremely small in magnitude if not completely empty. But this is an odd way to start getting across that idea.
 

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
Who's that?


Anyway, the uncomfortable talk about the 4th episode (and it'll pop up once more, in fact, in the next episode when Zel realizes just why Lina was so easy to capture, and then it's f'real gone) reminded me that we still have yet to hit the Gourry in drag episode later in the season. Will it be worse? I guess we'll see!
 
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