Teenagers make up the bulk of anime’s protagonists. It doesn’t matter what genre you’re into, you’ll likely be watching a lot of shows about people in the range of 13-18 years old. While I can enjoy such shows perfectly well, it does certainly pique my interest whenever I stumble upon an anime that stars a cast of adults instead. Slayers was an example of such and a show I much enjoyed… until it turned out its protagonist was actually 14.
Lina Inverse is a tough woman; a sorceress who has journeyed all across the world, accumulating power, knowledge, and renown. She has become one of the strongest people alive in her time and that has made her famous (and feared) across the known world. On top of that, she is also cunning and intelligent. She is a fierce negotiator who sells the loot from her adventures for a high price and negotiates directly with royalty, nobles, and wealthy merchants for her quests. Despite her small stature and equally short temper, she has all the makings of an adult character. Yet still, she is only 14 at the earliest point in the story and ages to be around 18 by the end of the series’ final season.
The story makes a specific point of mentioning Lina’s age, but it doesn’t do so at the start. I was left to draw my own conclusions and figured Lina would be in her early-20s, making it quite a shock when a random bandit blurted out that she was 15 midway through the TV series. I found this very unbelievable and must admit that I felt a little betrayed. Was the writer so desperate to pander to a young audience that logic and common sense could be so casually thrown out?
Remember: Lina is already a world-renowned celebrity in the prequels. This means she supposedly traveled to the far corners of this world, mastered advanced magic, developed her business skills, acquired absurdly expensive gear, and studied the world’s cultures and history… in a year or two? That’s absurd and doesn’t add up at all. I could buy into the idea that she is unbelievably gifted, but even then the transition from village girl to effortlessly slaying dragons is a step that should take at least a few extra years.
The way other people treat Lina doesn’t make sense either. No employers ever seem surprised when a teenager tries to take on their quests and she’s treated like a respected person everywhere she goes, even if people don’t recognize her. There’s never an innkeeper wondering why a strange knight is travelling around with somebody’s teenage daughter, for example. More importantly, assuming that Lina is 14 in the prequels means that 20-year-old Naga the Serpent has a rivalry with a little girl, who she frequently taunts for not being as sexually attractive as herself. Heck, even in the Slayers TV series, that means everybody treats Amelia like a little kid… even though she is only a year younger than Lina.
I would’ve been fine with Slayers being a fantasy show about a teenage sorceress. Please don’t interpret this article as me accusing those darn young people of taking Slayers away from me or anything. My problem is that the author cynically insists Lina is a teenager, despite everything else in the story suggesting otherwise. It attempts to appeal to a specific audience by suggesting a character is like them, even though that character embodies few—or even none—of the characteristics or experiences of that audience.
A wasted effort that only serves to make an otherwise great character very improbable and slightly off-putting. Teens who enjoyed Slayers would have still liked it if Lina was a more realistic age, seeing as most of her friends are listed as being 20 or older anyway. Amelia would then have been the youthful representation within the party and we’d get to see her grow up and become a more valued companion across seasons, without that development having to live in Lina’s shadow.
If all else fails, author Hajime Kanzaka could have just not bothered to fill in these blanks at all. People could just enjoy the series and imagine for themselves how old they believe these characters are.