- Newfoundland, Canada
- I've been a big anime fan for about 10 years or so now. My five all-time favorite animes at this point are, in no particular order... Puella Magi Madoka Magica, El Hazard: The Magnificent World, Love Live!: School Idol Project, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. However, there are hundreds of anime shows that I like. The main purpose of this blog is to provide meta-commentary on anime, and the anime industry - to try to cast a critical, though appreciating, eye upon this entertainment genre that I believe has tremendous potential, but can also be easily wasted. I have always been a fan of animation in general - in the 80s, I grew up on western cartoons like He-Man, She-Ra, Transformers, and G.I. Joe. Through out the 90s, I was a hardcore comic book fan, for the most part. I'm also a big fan of Star Trek. Right now in my life, though, anime is my principal entertainment passion.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Number 8: Lina Inverse!
Top Ten Countdown - Number 8: Lina Inverse
Moral Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Supporting Quotes - "Where monsters rampage, I'm there to take them down. Where treasure glitters, I'm there to claim it. Where an enemy rises to face me, victory will be MINE!!!!!"
"Just you wait! I'M GONNA EAT ALL THE FOOD IN THAT CITY!"
AMV showcase video here.
The Lina Inverse image above, done in captivating, coruscating, computer graphics, is truly a case of a picture saying a thousand words... and then making those words violently explode into feverish flickering embers that leave you in lustrous awe as they rain down upon you. As they do so, you are tremendously thankful that you are not the antagonist that Lina just burnt to a crisp with her imposing incantation, especially given her voracious appetite that could lead to her eating that antagonist as shish kabob over an open flame. ;)
Well... not really. While Lina's ability to consume food puts her in a class with Goku of DBZ fame, I'm fairly certain that she's not a cannibal. This is small comfort for her enemies, though. Lina's nickname says it all... "The Enemy of All Who Live."
This nickname is not due to Lina being outright evil, per se. Rather, she is adventuresome and seemingly cares less about collateral damage than former US Vice-President Dick Cheney does. She quests for excitement and gold and knowledge, and will engage in some questionable activities to gain it... let's just say that if a bandit has a choice between running into Lina Inverse, or running into Marvel Comics' anti-hero Frank Castle, the punishment provided by the Punisher might very well be the less painful of the two horrible fates for him to choose between. ;)
Don't believe me? Maybe this picture will change your mind...
Not exactly what you'd want to face in a dark alleyway, huh? You just have to love that scarlet sparkle in her eye that foretells of how some poor sap is about to be dripping scarlet red blood. ^_^;
Mind you, Lina's darker and self-centered side is rarely a serious commentary on what a protagonist should be, and frequently serves simply to provide regular bouts of comedy that hit with all the force of Lina's regular physical bouts with a colorful and impressive array of foes ranging from Rezo the Red Priest to Gaav the Demon Dragon King to Hellmaster Phibrizzo to Valgaav. At the same time, though, it does serve to make Lina an unusual character... and yet, at the same time, perhaps easier for many to relate to than more self-sacrificing protagonists.
There's little question that Lina is chaotic, as she does not respond well to authority at all. She's not completely lawless, perhaps, but 'free-spirited' barely begins to describe her approach to life.
And, in my view, Lina gradually runs the gamut from very close to chaotic evil at the beginning of the first twenty-six episode Slayers anime, to eventfully becoming very close to chaotic good by the end of the third twenty-six episodes Slayers anime, known as Slayers Try. For the most part, though, she's pretty chaotic neutral.
To be precise, she can be a very selfish person in smaller matters, but when her world is hanging in the balance, she puts her selfishness aside to pull out all the stops in order to stop the Big Bad of the heated moment. When the going gets tough, Lina gets Dragon Slaving it! So, in larger matters, she is a heroine of renown, albeit with all the subtlety of a nuclear warhead, which is the approximate firepower of her top two or three spell attacks.
So, with all of that being said, why is Lina Inverse my eight favorite anime character of all-time?
Well, I've already touched on some of the reasons. She, and the anime series that she's a part of, is frequently a match for the likes of Ranma ½ in the comedy department. And like Nabeshin of Excel Saga says, 'explosions solve everything!' :D Lina is simply a lot of fun. Her less-than-noble side can raise eyebrows at times, but it's probably no worse than what Haruhi Suzumiya is...
Speaking of Haruhi, it could be argued that Lina is a lot like what Haruhi would be, if Haruhi was a black mage (with slight red mage abilities) in a Dungeons and Dragons like fantasy world with its own unique laws of magic, and hyper-powerful races, and dark deities of sorts. In fact, Lina's relationship with swordsman Gourry Gabriev often makes me think of Haruhi's relationship with Kyon, and Lina's typical entourage has the balance and complimentary feel of the SOS Brigade.
This titanically thundering troupe typically spoofs the familiar protagonist teams of the sword and sorcery subgenre of fantasy, but also succeeds in carrying over many of the most beloved and endearing of the characteristics of that subgenre, which I myself have always been a big fan of. This makes the Slayers anime franchise a bold and brash revamping of action-packed fantasy, and one which offers charms as powerful as those typically wielded by Lina herself.
This has enabled Slayers, and its more prominent cast members, to remain favorites of mine well over a decade after this anime first aired. Slayers is truly one of the classics of anime, and Lina Inverse herself is a big reason why. Of course, being part of such an enjoyable and long-running anime with few flaws of note is part of why Lina enjoys this spot on my Favorite Anime Characters list.
What also helps Lina Inverse earn the eight position on my Top Ten Countdown list is the fact that her rougher edges enjoy a nice ying and yang affect with the more inherently good-natured cast members like the morally sound Gourry, and the effortlessly cute and cheerful white paladin Amelia Tesla Seyruun. These are the knights in shining armor (and shining Sword of Light, in Gorry's case) to serve as a fitting contrast to the destructive black mage Lina. Collectively, they are greater than the sum of their parts, and create a protagonist team that's both fun to watch, and deserving of cheers.
Lina, however, is the indispensable core of that protagonist cast, and this is what rises her above the rest of that cast for me, as wholly splendid as it is. That, plus a few other key points...
1. Lina's character design isn't a particularly sexy one. But, in a way, that's part of its appeal to me. Slayers differs markedly from most recent anime in that it relies very little, if at all, on sexual fanservice. From being well-dressed from head-to-toe, to having a flat chest that becomes a running joke through out the anime, Lina is a remarkable main female protagonist that relies on everything but sex appeal to sell herself. In other words, she stands on her own two feet as a character, and impresses with her competence in battle and her zany personality and her breathtaking attacks. The character's appeal lies deeper than visuals alone.
That being said, it is an aesthetically pleasing costume that Lina wears, in my view. It suits the sword and sorcery feel of this anime eminently well, I think. The gem-embedded shoulder pads, the purple cape, the white gloves and boots, and the entire color pallet is presented in a way that catches your attention with out being too jumbled.
2. In some ways, Lina Inverse is a magical girl. Certainly, of the common anime character archetypes, that is the one which Lina is the closest to. Compared to most magical girls, Lina's aforementioned competency is startling and rarely ceases to awe. In particular, Lina provided excellent leadership for her team in piecing together a tactically superb multifaceted attack that proved sufficient to defeat the fearsome facsimile foe, Copy Rezo. This totally terrific team effort was great to watch, and made for an original approach to the typical anime climax fights of the time, where brawn and exponential power curves and training tend to trump all. Ahhh... but some may say here that Lina's power is so great that it is in the same overdone vein as those 'other' exponential power curve animes. While I can understand and respect that objection, it fails to be sustained due to the following factor...
3. Lina pays a price, and there's a great danger in using her most powerful attack, the Giga Slave. This, along with Lina's frustration over not being more well endowed in the chest region, keeps Lina from being an overbearing Mary Sue. The price that Lina paid was the rough upbringing foisted upon her by her sister Luna Inverse; such a rough upbringing it was that Lina is actually terrified of her sister; Lina's sister is, oddly enough, about the only person that truly frightens Lina. As for the Giga Slave, it is similar to Galactus' Ultimate Nullifier, in that it's an almost certain one-hit slaughter for the person on the receiving end of it, but if it isn't discharged perfectly it could kill the user herself... if not the universe as a whole. This facet of the Giga Slave plays out nicely in the climax to the second twenty six-episode Slayers anime, Slayers Next. All-told, Lina's power level appears fairly static, and while it does include virtual nuke level attacks like the Dragon Slave, Lina does appear to have a 'hard cap' put on her power levels, which in my view adds a certain degree of drama and suspense to her battles and feuds.
4. Lina's repertoire of attacks did tend to be pretty scant and hence repetitive for awhile, until the following came along...
The Ragna Blade. A slicing energy blade attack with all the potency of the Dragon Slave, but localized to within a giant blade of dark pulsating energy. Simply put, this is one of the most awesome attacks that I have ever seen. Such a pity that Lina didn't use it more often.
So, there you have it... the reasons why this famous anime character comes in at 8 on the list of my Top 10 Favorite Anime Characters of All-Time!
Why didn't she make it higher?
Well, again, she isn't the most admirable of protagonists. There are people with many of her strengths, but none of her drawbacks, higher up on the list.
Still, Lina Inverse is the prosperous prodigious phoenix of anime, arising time and time again, to enliven and bring joy anew. Her luminous orange locks, and her cute chipmunk face, provide a form to this anime phoenix that is immistakable. So, while Kamina is an immortalized diamond, and Tatewaki Kuno is a rapturous rose, Lina Inverse is a phoenix that refuses to be put down...