|New Slayers: The Hourglass of Falces|
It is probably no secret that I have been a pretty devout fan of the Slayers franchise for a while now, and I have yet to encounter an adventure or a piece of adventure that has failed me as a fan. That is, until I sat down to check out one of the latest manga versions.
Now, like a lot of other great franchises, Slayers is one that has burst out of its own developmental bracket, and has moved way beyond its own realms. We've seen Lina Inverse and Co. take on monsters in the future, in alternate timelines of famous events, and even go at it solo a bit. But there has always been a level of expectation that has gone hand in hand with any of the fantastical journeys of the magical heroine.
In 2008 a new manga was published in Kadokawa Shoten's Dragon Jr magazine, and it just so happened to be yet another adventure of Lina Inverse and friends. This time however several things were added and altered which had me scratching my head before we ever even got to the table of contents page.
The new manga was entitled Shin Slayers: Falces no Sunadokei, or New Slayers - The Hourglass of Falces; though either way you slice it, it translated into a new adventure of Lina, and at first I was just fine with that.
I will admit that I have not kept up with every single adventure, nor read every single manga volume, or adaptation of some of the anime seasons; but I have kept a good over-view of the ever-continually growing universe of Slayers. At least enough to take on a few internet punks that try to get rowdy and argue facts.
The final thing that was a real shocker to me is that it was a dual effort by Asahi and original series creator Hajime Kanzaka, but I'll elaborate on that later.
The basic plot of the manga is pretty simple, Lina and company get shipwrecked on an island in the south of some place, and discover a quaint village nestled in the middle of the island filled with overly happy and giving people.
The fact that the slayers are there obviously means that something is about to go down, since it's impossible for them to simply find a nice vacation get-away spot and get some R and R. Something that is clearly pointed out in the manga.
The village is home of some big huge secret, and within a very brief time of our castaways being there, they are attacked by a magical gun wielding female pirate, that commences to terrify the town's folk to a stupor... literally!
Of course no pirate or villain will last long in the path of Lina, and the villains were soon dispatched, and of course, the slayers want her ship so they can get off the island and get home. Things turn from bad to worse when the fleeing Pirates are intercepted by a group of heavy-armed solder types, and the three groups clash at the climax of the first chapter.
So then what is my beef? I'll tell you.
In my time reading the novels and the manga, the one consistency about most things relating to Slayers is that it only has a minor amount of fan service; and by that I mean, the occasional bath scene here or there, and of course a big breasted secondary character sprinkled throughout the series to give Lina a more deeper hatred of her child sized bosom.
What we've not seen, at least not me personally is a surge of more modern fan service elements, and in less than two pages into The Hourglass of Falces, that is just what you get.
It's made known to us that all females in the House of Seyruun after a certain time must wear bondage style clothes, and to accommodate this soon to be wardrobe change, Amelia begins wearing a tight fitting blouse, and a short mini-skirt. In addition we have two additional characters named Luke and Millena--a horny dude with Millena on his brain, and Millena a voluptuous, bursting at the seams hottie--along for the ride and you soon begin to realize that this is not the same Slayers you thought you knew.
By the time I got to the end of the chapter, I had seen Amelia's panties at least four or five times, I saw Lina's crotch about four, Amelia getting her--much larger exaggerated--boobs fondled and squeezed by Lina, and at least three sultry poses from the various female characters.
I wasn't sure if this was a real honest to goodness manga I was reading or some screwed up in the head Doujinshi that a hyped-up hentai artist with rule 34 on his brain had concocted.
I'm not saying that a little ecchi in my manga is a bad thing, but what they--and I include Kanzaka in this debacle--have done is take a lighthearted group of characters and made them into flesh for the fans. I'll admit that seeing a new side or two of Lina isn't that bad, but when is this going to end, and how far are we going to take Lina? To the point where her and Amelia are having a three-some with Gourry while Zelgadis video tapes?
Is the story bad? Not really, the translations by Turtle Paradise are a joke though, and their grammar is so bad it makes me want to barf all over the screen when ever I see them clutter the talk bubbles with additional profanity; also something that wasn't so common in a good Slayers read.
In fact, the artist even went so far as to re-vamp--yet again--the look of the characters, and now instead of a teenage Amelia, we have a big titted skank that looks like she's gonna give a few blows-jobs in the back alley, while Lina looks like a crack-head... it's just, seriously not a good look for them.
So what is the bottom line here?
It's a piece of putrid crap, is what the bottom line is. I expected something more from the creators, and the fans. I didn't need to see such an abrupt about-face, and resorting to stereotypical fandom cliches is a low blow even for Kanzaka. If I had to guess, it was a deliberate attempt to bring Lina into the next decade; and we all know that only naked asses and giant tits are what sells.
Take this manga and throw it away. Just set the son of a bitch on fire, and pretend that it was a bad dream. Nothing about it is seemingly canon, and aside from just being able to have the characters on the printed page again, it's worthless.
Taking a good series, and re-painting it with ecchi fan-service is like painting a giant vagina on the statue of liberty... someone somewhere will think it's cool, but the parties responsible should have their asses stomped in.