Anime Reviews: Slayers TRY
While it starts out promising enough, Slayers TRY is the unfortunate end result when an action comedy attempts to be an action drama.
Title: Slayers TRY
Production: Kadokawa Shoten
Series Length: 26 episodes
Air Dates: 4/4/1997 to 9/26/1997
Age Rating: 13+ (mild violence, mild language)
Summary: Not long after their hard-earned victory over Hellmaster Phibrizzo, Lina and the crew's stretch of rest and relaxation is brought to a screeching halt when a mysterious young woman named Filia asks for our heroes' assistance (after transforming into her true, golden dragon form and testing their mettle, of course). Lina accepts immediately, because if she were to decline Filia's request to face the nastiest evils in the land, she'd have to take it up with her big sister. And to Lina, those nastiest-evils-in-the-land are looking much more reasonable.
The Good: Improved art and animation; the usual high-quality music and voice acting; some new characters are fun and interesting...
The Bad: ...while others aren't; too many characters and story arcs; plagued by bad writing and bad drama
The Ugly: This season's filler episodes
And so, the decline begins. While the previous two Slayers series were decidedly good, Slayers TRY is a mixed bag of experimental ideas with only a few successes. From the looks of it, they were trying to somehow shoehorn a more serious tone into the Slayers universe, and as you would expect, it failed miserably. But that's not to say Slayers TRY doesn't get anything right, of course.
For starters, the artwork and animation have been greatly cleaned up, with more instances of fluid motion and crisp, beautiful shots peppered throughout the series, making this a nice anime to look at. Still not the best, but hey, an improvement's an improvement. Also, as usual, Slayers TRY boasts a strong crew of voice actors in both languages (except, once again, David Moo's performance as Xellos) and a great soundtrack to complement. With the latter, many tunes are reused from previous seasons, but TRY introduces enough new songs to keep the mix dynamic and fresh--including the fantastic opening and ending themes, "Breeze" and "Don't Be Discouraged" by Megumi Hayashibara, respectively--and with the former, this also extends to all the new characters that are introduced into the Slayersverse.
And that brings us to our next point: the characters. The usual crew of Lina, Gourry, Zelgadis, and Amelia are as funny as ever, and Xellos makes his return from NEXT to accompany them. Slayers newcomer, Filia, is a welcome addition to the team, serving as a shining beacon of virtue and good (Read: comic foil) to contrast with the group's general apathy. The scenes between Filia and Xellos, who are complete opposites ideologically and cosmically, are legendary among fans for a reason. Other new characters are welcome, as well: Valgaav, the series' main antagonist, has it out for Lina and the crew for personal reasons, and there's not a hint of humor on his face, making the show's more serious tone work (at least for a little while). Valgaav's two minions, Jillas and Gravos, however, are very funny in the classic bumbling-sidekick sort of way. And that's normally where a Slayers series would stop with the new characters.
Obviously, that doesn't happen. We also have three sinister celestial overlord-looking guys, Almayce, Erulogos, and Sirius, whose role in the story is very, very unclear until the last episodes. And when their natures are revealed, it completely contradicts their earlier actions. We also get Filia's father, yet another antagonist, and add in a plethora of minor characters, and suddenly you don't know what's going on anymore. At one point, 2/3 of the way through, Gourry even asks, "Hey Lina? Who are the bad guys, again?" and Lina can't even give an answer. That's not good, guys, when your own characters don't even have a clue what they're doing.
As mentioned earlier, Slayers TRY tries to take on a more serious story and tone, but not only does it clash with the franchise's light-hearted nature, it also falls flat on its face more often than not. Where it does work is with Valgaav's character, dark and ruthless and threatening enough to keep the tensions high; where it doesn't work is everywhere else. Valgaav's backstory is your typical last-of-my-kind tripe, the 3 celestials are all ominous and mysterious all the time for no real reason, and of course, Filia has to contend with her father and her creed and urrrrrggggghhhhhhhh can't we just go back to having Gourry dress like a woman again?
Oh wait, no! I forgot about Slayers TRY's abysmal filler episodes! In the past seasons, the filler was filler, but it was part of a bigger situation. In the first season, it was stuff getting in the way of their journey to Sairaag. In the second season, it was their various misadventures in searching for the Claire Bible. In Slayers TRY, there is no rhyme or reason for the filler, except for the director's need for there to be filler to meet the series standard of 26 episodes.
And thus, 1997 would be the year remembered as the last time we'd see Lina and Co. (not counting the deluge of mediocre movies that don't even include most of the characters), and Slayers TRY would always be remembered as that weird one with Filia and Valgaav and all the melodrama we never asked for. And that was how the franchise ended...until 2009, when Slayers Revolution was announced, of course, and a whole new can of worms came along with it. Even though TRY is clearly the weakest series under the Slayers banner, it's still required viewing if you've made it this far. Just be prepared to cringe and groan a lot during the second half.
Final Score: 5 out of 10. Slayers TRY may be well-made technically, and it may come with a few welcome additions to the franchise, but excessive melodrama and a boatload of characters to keep track of ruins any fun that could have been had.