animefringe december 2003 / reviews

Slayers Special: Lesser of Two Evils
Format: right-left manga
Production: CPM Manga / Hajime Kanzaka / Tommy Ohtsuka / Rui Araizumi
Comments: For the D&D geek in everyone.
Animefringe Reviews:
Slayers Special: Lesser of Two Evils

Slayers is simply too cute to dislike. In the world of manga, there are currently two flavors of the humorous fantasy series available from CPM Manga. There's Slayers: Super Explosive Demon Story, which follows the events of the TV series. SEDS features Lina (the young, but terribly destructive sorceress) and Gourry (the older, and yet terribly dim master swordsman) as they travel together along a continuing storyline. Slayers Special has a much simpler structure. It's just a collection of one-shot short stories that sometimes are only an excuse to set up a really good slapstick gag. SS stars Lina again, but also throws into the mix Lina's rival and companion, Naga the Serpent.

Based on a series of novels (which really need to get translated and domesticated soon), the tone here is much akin to Robert Asprin's M.Y.T.H. series of fantasy novels. Slayers never dares to take itself seriously, exploiting every possible opportunity to make fun of some venerable aspect of fantasy fiction.

For those of us who like fantasy (whether it's fantasy novels, films, manga, or anime), Slayers is one of the funniest comedy series ever. For readers who aren't familiar with the world of the fantastic... Well, I'm sorry, but there's nothing that can help you. Your only hope is to get a high-paying job that doesn't require the use of your imagination. What a miserable existence that would be! Good thing I don't have a high-paying job.

I've reviewed Slayers manga before, and while we usually like to move onto newer things here at Animefringe, I decided to revisit this series for a couple of reasons. First of all, I don't think Slayers gets the attention it deserves - read it! More importantly, Lesser of Two Evils is the first book in this series to be printed to read from right to left. But wait, there's more! The original sound effects were left intact, as well, keeping the artwork as close to the source material as possible. The price may still be the same (*cough cough* high *cough cough*) price as before, but I'm a big fan of unflipped manga that maintains the Japanese sound effects within the panels. Translations of the sounds are placed in smaller text off to the sides of the Japanese text, which is fine by me.

Technicalities aside, this remains a great and entertaining series to read. Character designs are very energetic and cartoonish, and while busty women are the norm in the world of Slayers, fan-service isn't horribly common. If anything, busty women are usually presented just to keep the running gag of Lina's woefully underdeveloped chest going strong. Seeing as over-inflated characters abound in fantasy works (check out any of Boris Vallejo's art for a good example), having a petite, flat-chested girl as the primary heroine is a great touch. Naga's a great foil for Lina, and she shows time and time again that her greater height and significantly more massive upper body doesn't equate to greater skill, intelligence, or strength.

As the focus of Slayers Special is merely humor, there's never much of a plot to dive into here. However, I never found myself getting tired of the random situations that Lina and Naga stumble into, and I'll certainly pick up the next volume when it arrives. In fact, I do believe it should be available right about now...

So, don't forget - if you've seen The Lord of the Rings and would like to read something that presents a less dire fantasy setting, then you must check out Slayers. I'd hang around to convince you more, but I have to get the new volume now. Let's hope it's less expensive than the last one!