Naga the Serpent
|First appearance||"Naga's Challenge" (白蛇のナーガ Nāga no chōsen?) (1990)[note 1]|
|Created by||Hajime Kanzaka (character)
Rui Araizumi (visual design)
|Aliases||Gracia Ul Naga Saillune (birth name)|
Naga the Serpent (白蛇のナーガ Sāpento no Nāga?) is a fictional character in the light novel, anime, manga, radio drama and game versions of Hajime Kanzaka's Slayers media franchise, first introduced in Dragon Magazine in 1990. She is also often known as Naga the White Serpent, which is a more literal translation from Japanese (白蛇JP, lit. "white snake"), and an early English version by A.D. Vision had her name transliterated as "Nahga". The name she is best known by is in reality an alias of Gracia Ul Naga Saillune (Japanese: グレイシア＝ウル＝ナーガ＝セイルーン Gureishia Uru Nāga Seirūn).
The character has great magical powers and an unstable but resilient personality. She is particularly obsessed with a fellow wandering sorceress and the central character of Slayers, Lina Inverse. While occasionally referred to as Lina's sidekick and traveling partner, Naga's arrogance and self-imagined rivalry made her just as likely to antagonize Lina during the course of any story. Naga is a few years older than Lina and takes great pride in her much more voluptuous appearance, but like her she has many character flaws, often played for comedic purposes. She was well received by anime critics and general audience alike.
Naga's Japanese voice actress is Maria Kawamura, and her English voice actresses are Kelly Manison in the OVAs and movies. In the anime series Slayers Evolution-R, Naga appears as a cameo character named Nama (ナーマ), voiced by Kawamura in Japanese and by Eva Kaminsky in English.
Naga's real full name is Gracia Ul Naga Saillune, making her the first daughter of the kingdom of Saillune's crown prince Philionel El Di Saillune and the older sister of Amelia Wil Tesla Saillune. She has one living uncle, Christopher Wil Brogg Seyruun, one deceased uncle, Randy Saillune, and a deceased cousin, Alfred Seyruun. Her grandfather, Eldoran Saillune, is the king of Saillune, although Philionel acts as a proxy ruler. Naga's mother was murdered several years earlier by the famous assassin Booley. The teenage (16 or 17 years old at the time) Naga immediately took revenge and killed him with the crown princess' original spell, Chaos String. After the funeral, the traumatized Naga found the outfit she currently wears inside her mother's closet, and shortly after this, she left home to learn the ways of the world and gain more magic powers. Naga still keeps in touch with her homeland and occasionally she is sent living expenses money through a messenger. All this was disclosed only in interviews with the Slayers creator Hajime Kanzaka, but was hinted in Naga's "White Serpent" nickname (a white serpent being the coat of arms of Saillune). In Slayers NEXT, Zelgadis states that Seyruun has a "runaway princess," also implied to be Naga.
Naga has originally planned to simply challenge to a duel and defeat the famous teenage sorceress Lina Inverse to inherit her supposed title of the "Invincible Dark Lord" (which Naga apparently invented herself). However, as the story progressed, her obsession with Lina has quickly became more complicated and in some ways even more irrational. Naga becomes associate with Lina, is traveling with her supposed archrival and aiding her in battle, yet also often turning against her whenever someone offers Naga enough gain from it. From her side, the cynical and neurotic Lina is often very abusive towards Naga and in total disregard of her safety even when they work together (such as repeatedly blowing her away with explosive spells or using her as bait for the enemy), but Naga almost never gets seriously hurt and usually just laughs it off, rarely seeing as a serious enemy even when they are fighting. On the other hand, both Naga and Lina also directly saved each other's lives on a number of occasions.
Despite Lina's mockery of Naga's skill, she is an exceptionally talented sorceress, and may, in fact, be Lina's greatest rival. According to Kanzaka, Naga and Lina are the mightiest human magic users in the world of Slayers and Naga actually has a larger potential magical capacity, while Lina knows the ultimate black magic spells (especially the devastating Dragu Slave).
Like Lina, Naga is extremely proficient in magic, being well versed in black magic and capable of casting healing spells and golem-forming and dragon-conjuring spells. Naga is particularly efficient at white magic, though she only uses it when absolutely necessary, and also specializes in shamanistic magic, especially spells of the earth and water variety. She enjoys creating golems (even if they usually do not turn out very well and sometimes go berserk and turn against her), has developed several of her own spells (including Bogardic Elm, Freeze Rain, Gu Ru Dooga, Mega Vu Vraimer, Void Breath and Vu Raywa), and her most common spells to use are of water/ice-based, especially Freeze Arrow (while Lina uses fire-related spells). Naga knows and can use the ultimate shamanistic and white magic spells (Ra Tilt and Resurrection), is able to stop living-dead powered via necromancy with a powerful Flow Break spell, and has learnt Levitation by just observing its use by Lina.
She also has a strange ability to control jellyfish, and is very skilled at hand-to-hand combat, as well as talented at art and cooking. Her swordsmanship is often the subject of question, as she carries around a large sword, yet never uses it. Naga's uncanny potential to survive apparently everything (like being blown away by a spell or crushed underneath) practically unscathed was at first very surprising to Lina, who has actually left her for dead on a few occasions, before she got used to it and began to take it for granted.
The novels describe Naga as a remarkably beautiful young woman with a distinguished appearance and intelligent eyes. Tall and well endowed, Naga is in a striking contrast to the diminutive Lina. She takes pride in being physically intimidating, preferring a menacing and revealing black leather outfit, which is as a keepsake from her mother but Naga also personally enjoys to wear it (though the exaggerated size of her spiked shoulder pads is so unpractical that Naga repeatedly and painfully jabbed them in her face when spellcasting). Naga's introduction in the novels describe it as an old-time 'evil sorceress' fashion style that, according to Lina, used to be popular centuries earlier.
She has an outrageously loud boisterous 'noblewoman laugh' (which Kanzaka said is similar to the laughter of Naga's mother) that most people in the Slayers world find unbearably obnoxious (to the point of rendering them physically powerless). The large sword that she carries around is just a prop purely for a show that can be possibly only used defensively for blocking, due to Naga's hemophobia after witnessing the killing of her mother; in effect, she has a severe aversion to the sight of blood which can cause her to faint.
Being a princess, Naga does not flaunt that fact that she is royalty (her heritage is never mentioned in any series and has only been acknowledged in interviews and supplemental materials), but the way she acts makes it quite apparent: when she stands before other members of royalty, she speaks to them as equals, while Lina will bow her head and speak only when spoken to. Many of her confident, arrogant and 'dramatic' poses and speeches are strikingly similar to those of Amelia or Martina, another Slayers princess. To her dismay, Naga, who believes herself to be Lina's "greatest and strongest rival," is often referred to as Lina's sidekick or "that other girl."
The usually dismissive Lina likes to compare Naga's irritating habit of following her around is akin to goldfish's trailing feces. In the words of Lina: "She might be a useless ally, but having her as an enemy can sure be amusing." However, Naga also often makes her very annoyed (even to the point of rage), especially when Naga makes fun of her small breasts, playing on Lina's physical inferiority complex and her envy of Naga's large chest size. Naga's massive ego, her selfishness and vanity, as well carefreeness and irresponsibility, massive appetite for good food, immense greed for money and magical treasure, frequent and excessive drinking of alcohol, and often displayed overconfidence and severe lacking in common sense mean she often gets herself, and Lina, into trouble.
Copies of Naga
After the events of Slayers Special, there are ten clones of Naga due to her participation in a chimera experiment of the wizard Diol. The copies are just like Naga (complete with the attire and the infamous laugh), minus the fact that they do not possess any of her memories and magical abilities. They also show up in the Slayers video games Slayers Royal and Slayers Wonderful.
Following the use of the Shadow Reflector by the sorcerer Lagen in the Slayers Special story "Mirror, Mirror," there is also a copy of Naga called Shadow Naga that does have her skills, but has a completely opposite personality (a kind and extremely modest girl). Kanzaka said that Shadows Lina and Shadow Naga will both just live a quiet and peaceful life.
Naga makes an extended cameo appearance in the 2009 Slayers TV series Slayers Evolution-R as an animated suit of armor named Nama, who bears a striking resemblance to Naga in both mannerisms (including her laugh) and spell casting preferences. Nama was a treasure hunter (of whom only a Naga-like shadow was shown) who has lost a majority of her memories when her soul got enchanted into the living armor. While it is never directly shown or confirmed to the audience or the characters that she is Naga, Nama is perfectly able to perform the Pacifist Crush move along with Amelia, something only a daughter of Prince Phil would know how to do, and Xellos makes a comment that the name Nama is very close to her actual name, implying that he knows her true identity. During the course of the series, Xellos makes Nama's spirit return to her original body by destroying the urn that has caused the curse.
Naga has first appeared in the 1991-2008 Slayers Special series of light novels, which was later (from volume 30 onward) re-titled as Slayers Smash (an ongoing series since 2008). Like in the case of other Slayers novels, most of the Special series stories were first published in Dragon Magazine. Some of them were first collected in the Slayers Delicious series and some are subtitled as "Slayers Excellent" or "Slayers Superior"; some were also later re-published in the series Slayers Select. The Special series, which axis are the joint adventures of Lina and Naga, serves as a prequel to the main series (starting about three years prior to the first meeting of Lina and Gourry Gabriev) and is less serious in its content. She is the main protagonist of Slayers Special 3: Nāga no bouken ("Adventures of Naga") and is the titular subject of the 2012 bonus book Slayers Addition: Nāga Ijinden ("Legend of Naga the Great"); an exclusive "Slayers Gaiden" story of Lina and Naga was published in the issue #200 of Dragon Magazine in 2002.
Kanzaka was originally going to make Naga appear in The Battle of Saillune (volume 4 of the main novel series) but had a trouble to implement this idea properly. This led him to create the character of Amelia. Kanzaka said Naga would not appear in the main series due to Amelia being there, but the two actually meet in Slayers VS Orphen (a novel and CD drama crossover of Slayers and Sorcerous Stabber Orphen) where the masked Naga appears incognito and keeps her identity secret to Amelia. Naga and Lina also star in the first volume of the Slayers children's novel series by Nambo Hidehisa, where Naga's outfit was redesigned to be a bit less skimpy (wearing a miniskirt over her thong) by the artist Yuji Himukai.
In anime and manga
Naga is co-protagonist of the first four Slayers films from the late 1990s: Slayers: The Motion Picture (Slayers Perfect), Slayers Return (and its manga adaptation), Slayers Great and Slayers Gorgeous (the scripts for Return, Great and Gorgeous were also published in the book Slayers Original). She has the same role in in all episodes of both of the Slayers OVA series, Slayers Special and Naga-centered Slayers Excellent (the latter of which takes place before the events of the first Slayers film, 1995's Slayers Perfect, and in fact details Naga's initial meeting with Lina). A typical plot of Lina and Naga anime story features them as mercenary companions-opponents (that relationship being very fluid) meeting strangers who hire them against each other for their own purposes.
According to The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917, while the TV series "remained essentially asexual," "the absence of TV restrictions" allowed the fillmakers to "retain Naga from the [light novel] stories." Naga's Japanese voice actress Maria Kawamura has vocal parts in some Slayers songs. Kawamura said she had trouble breathing after recording sessions of Naga's laugh for the Slayers Special episode "The Scary Chimera Plan", which featured Naga's ten clones all laughing at once.
In manga, Naga appears through the early 2000s series Slayers Special. Some of the chapters are based on the novels and the OVA series and some are original stories. According to Manga: The Complete Guide, "the two bickering heroines go on dungeon crawls, work as maids and waitresses, search for 'bosom growth potions,' and fight the occasional bad guy."
Naga makes only a cameo appearances in the 2001 film, manga and CD drama Slayers Premium (as is the tradition with all of the anime movies and series published thus far, Naga does not actually meet or interact with any of the main characters other than Lina & Amelia) and in the 2008 manga The Hourglass of Falces. She also makes a possible cameo in the first season of the Slayers TV series (episode 17) and appears as Nama in the first six episodes of the fifth TV season, Slayers Evolution-R.
Naga appears as a supporting player character Lina through the entire official series of the Slayers role-playing video games from the 1990s: Slayers for the PC98, Slayers for the Super Famicon (SNES, in a dual role including as a boss during the initial encounter), Slayers Royal, Slayers Royal 2 and Slayers Wonderful, at times interacting with some members of the main story party (often with Gourry), as well as in the doujin game Magical Battle Arena. She is also featured in the collectible card game Slayers Fight.
The first setting book published for the Japanese tabletop role-playing game MAGIUS RPG was Slayers RPG: Together with Naga (スレイヤーズRPG―ナーガ様といっしょ) that is centered around Naga and her antics. In this fast-paced, gag-based comedic game released by Fujimi Shobo in 1995, the game master-controlled Naga has her own party of player characters. It later saw a release of the collection of illustrated transcripts of play sessions.
Kawamura's songs for Naga were included in several Slayers soundtracks and the Naga-themed single CD A Skilled Rival Conceals Her Claws (能あるライバルは爪を隠す Nou aru raibaru wa tsume wo kakusu?) (KIDA-109) was released by King Records in 1995. A plushie of Naga was made by Banpresto in 1995. A small PVC figure was released by MegaHouse in 2003 and a 1/6 scale garage kit Naga figure scupulted by Kitahara Kousuke was released by Volks in 2012. A tiny figure called "Naga's golem" was also sold by Volks separately in a limited offer and is now available together with the main statue, and a small keychain figure of Naga was made by Toei in 1997. The protagonists of Cosplay Complex, Chako and Reika, dress up as Naga and Lina in the third episode of this 2002 anime miniseries.
The 2006 audio drama Slayers Kita Kaette EX #4: Kita kaette Naga!? provides a sort of a closure to the whole Slayers saga, with the retired Lina and Naga, now in their 80s (with almost all other characters already dead) and now vacationing together. After Lina revives the choking Naga (who meets her mother in a near-death experience), the two recall their past but their versions do not match, leading Lina to challenge Naga to a final fight as to decide who is right. The battle ends in both of them trying to cast top-level black magic spells (Naga's Dynast Brass and Lina's Dragu Slave) and breaking their own hips in the process.
Naga the Serpent has become a popular character both in Japan and overseas; writing in 1999, Dave Halverson called Lina and Naga "two of anime [medium]'s brightest stars in both Japan and the U.S." She was originally planned to star in only one short Slayers side-story ("Naga's Challenge"), but a very positive response from readers turned her into the franchise's major recurring character. In 2000, she won the "Best of Dragon Magazine" popular vote in two categories, including first place for the best supporting role in the magazine's history. Both Kawamura's original Japanese voice of Naga and the English dubbing by Kelly Manison were both acclaimed by anime critics.
According to Polish magazine Kawaii, "Naga is a definite favourite for almost all of male part of the [Slayers] audience." Helen McCarthy wrote in 2006, "Naga and her breasts have become three very popular characters in the series, and long-term fans of the series wait eagerly to see how the writers can explain not only her disappearance between the end of S[layers] Special and the beginning of the original series, but also why she is never even mentioned after the events of the videos." In 2009, Chris Beveridge of Mania.com listed the absence of Naga in the Slayers TV series as one of the ten reason it "will always suck," stating that "besides her wonderful costume that brings about a lot of great eye-candy when it comes to cosplayers, she typified the kind of 'anime laugh' that only a precious few have. She was also the perfect foil when it came to dealing with Lina, something that the TV series never had." Krzysztof Wojdyło of Polish magazine Otaku placed Naga first of his 2012 ranking of top ten buxom characters in all manga and anime, noting that how despite her "rather dark past hidden under her constant smile and somewhat psychotic behavior," she has still remained "probably the most fun and memorable character" on that list.
- A story originally published in Dragon Magazine 08/1990 (later chosen for Slayers Special #1 and adapted to the OVA Slayers Excellent #1 by being mixed with the subsequent story "Labyrinth").
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- BLASTER! I to VI. p.58. (Japanese)
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