Slayers: The Demon Slayers!

By Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi. Released in Japan by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Elizabeth Ellis.

And so, we come at last to the end of the Slayers novels. Well, not really. This volume came out in May 2000, and after 18 years, a new volume appeared in 2018, and another the year after that. But this book has a feel of “final” to it nevertheless, wrapping up the plot points from the second arc, bringing back a few familiar faces, and even throwing in a hint of romance that doesn’t really go anywhere (which is a step up from the series’ usual no romance at all). It has the usual strengths of the series – the fights are snappy and well-paced, Lina’s narration is fun – and the usual weaknesses – emotional depth from this author feels like he’s reading aloud from a piece of paper. Actually, the most interesting part may be one of the familiar faces. Slayers rarely goes back to look at its survivors, so seeing Rubia again was something of a surprise. Even if it feels like she’s just there to contrast with someone else. Which is true.

Lina and Gourry are finding that demons are popping up more and more often, and their attack patterns are very weird. Indeed, one of the demons seems to be … stopping the other demons from killing the two of them? Then Lina discovers that there’s a doppelganger of herself walking around, and all signs point to (for the third time) the doomed city of Sairaag as being the place to go. They’re helped here by… no, not Amelia and Zelgadis, they’re still absent, but Xellos does show up, and he is his usual self. Milgazia and Mephy are there as well. But the final battle between Lina, Gourry, and whatever it is that’s causing all this will have to be a lone one… if only as they’ve been transported to another dimension!

If you’ve been reading these books, the identity of the villain should not surprise you, and some decent effort is made to remind you of the hints from previous volumes. That said… this is a book which ends with an assisted suicide, with Lina seemingly devastated by having to be the one to do it, but again, it feels very emotionally weak. Rubia, as I noted above, was a surprise, but she’s meant to be there to show what happens when you’re able to let go and move on… even if the answer is “I’m still sad and there’s no one in my life, but I have a greenhouse now”. Possibly the biggest surprise in the book is at the end, where Gourry says he wants to go and meet Lina’s family, which is very much the equivalent of a proposal in this world. That said, it has to be undercut with him talking about wanting to taste the grapes her town is famous for, and sad trombone noises ensue.

Slayers is a series that is very much of the 1990s, and judging it by 2020 standards can seem harsh at times. It’s a classic 90s series in that it was exciting and funny and also made for a much better anime, when the emotional heft could be fleshed out and left to other writers. I wonder what the newer books feel like, with 18 years’ more experience between them? Perhaps we’ll see one day.

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