Slayers Season 5 Set (Slayers Evolution-R) (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Release Date: Monday, February 07, 2011
Not sure whether to feel disappointed or not – Slayers does what it does well, but the story ends up a bit of a letdown that only fans of the original will get, and when the show seems half comedy, half story, you’re not sure where to put your foot down...
What They Say
The final 13 episodes from the fourth season of the 1990s Japanese anime series. Lina Inverse is a fire-throwing sorceress who spends her life robbing the rich. As Lina and her crew search for the Hellmaster's jar, they arrive at a village that is being harassed by a headless knight named Hans. Episodes comprise: 'New Comer', 'Oh My Head!', 'Partner!', 'Quality Time', 'Raider', 'Seek', 'Townscape', 'Uncover', 'Voice', 'Wisdom', 'Xeno', 'Yesterday's Memory' and 'Zero Hour'.
As what is becoming standard in my set reviews now, I decided to actually review both audio tracks by watching part of both discs in Japanese and in English. The English track has a 5.1 Dolby Surround Audio track whilst the Japanese is the standard 2.0 Stereo Track. The audio seemed fine, this seemed to occur in the original Slayers Evolution review that I felt the sound was quite weak for a Dolby Release – this has improved significantly to the point where the Japanese track now seems much weaker. Because of this however, it does make an excellent viewing for English fans, especially for fans of the original dub, with mainstays Lisa Ortiz, Eric Stuart, Veronica Tylor and Crispin Freeman once again reprising their original roles, with little to no delay regarding audio to subtitles.
Like the original Revolution, the video is mostly quite good in terms of vibrant colour, taking the old school showcasing of Slayers and bringing it into a very vibrant palette – and there was no problems regarding transition with subtitles. However, two major problems occurred that I need to address when viewing Disc 2 – first, it took 3 attempts to play as it crashed on my DVD player twice. I tried it on both my PC and second player as well and it did the same on my PC, and once on my other player. I’m hoping this was basically due to niggles and because this was a test disc, because it would be a major problem on the release (which is out now so if someone can say if they’ve had this problem, let me know). The second problem was that there was some obvious watermarking – more obvious than not because of the improved animation and colour scheme. I’ve noticed this on a few of Manga’s releases, but this was the one where it was really obvious. Again, I’m guessing test disc working out the in’s and outs, but it did make for a more annoying experience watching than I hoped.
There was no packaging for this test disc.
The menu is basic, set on a green/red speckled background with the Slayers, where you can select on both discs Play All, Set Up, Episodes and Extras - audio selection is easy as is extras, the episode select screen however is a bit more awkward than normal as not only is the fact you can't select any of the scenes, but you have to navigate each episodes by clicking on the right or left button, rather than what I feel is an easier option in having all the episodes on one screen and then selecting it – it does have a nice colourful images of both discs of Lina on the format.
The only extras on the collection were the textless opening and ending, (whilst welcomed are standard) and some trailers for X and Samurai Deeper Kyo.
Slayers Evolution was a great return to the franchise after such a long time – returning old characters, returning voices in both languages, and actually managing to hold my attention with a good plot combined with its usual coming timing. However, in this sequel (some say it’s Season 5, other say it’s the second half of Season 4) whilst it does what it does well with comedy (and the returning of an old favourite...kind of) it does regarding Slayers knowledge perhaps more though than Season 1 and a lot of the finales regarding the plot for me were really disappointing.
It’s hard to review the first half as the first five episodes basically revolve around a new plot away from how Evolution concluded, with Pokota trying to find Rezo to restore his village. However, whilst the fact he’s currently with Lina’s gang, we get an interesting character named Nama, who is looking for her as her soul has been forged into demon’s armour, as Lina’s group are helping Pokota look for Rezo’s Hellmaster Jar. These two plots get intermixed together for these five episodes, which to be fair is probably the strongest part of the series for a few reasons. One – most of the comedy elements, where Slayers shines, hits here, whether it’s finding the missing head of a headless horseman, Zelgadis being molested (don’t touch me there indeed) or just the interactions between Amelia and Nama – which, whilst not spoiling anything, is one of the highlights of the series, because veteran Slayers fans will understand a) who Nama really is and b) why a lot of the interactions make more sense. With this knowledge, I really enjoyed the series overall, but at the same time really bringing in a major weakness of this season that you really need to have knowledge of the original series (and in this exchange, some of the movies as well). Granted, the Slayers series was released in the UK in between March and May 2010 however they were releases that seemed to have been ignored in the shops because I only realised this when researching (I didn’t get any test discs for the original series and I watched the original releases from the US).
The plot basically ends when Xelloss, our favourite demon reveals that the soul jar that Nama finds is not the same one as the one that Lina wants – and then they learn that it’s in the possession of the assassin from Revolution, Zuuma, who is obsessed with killing Lina Inverse. Again, the main problem I had with this is there are a lot of plotholes – namely how he came a hold of it and why Rezo needs to transfer his soul into a jar. Even more confusing is when he basically disguises himself as a merchant named Raddock, who claims he is the owner of the jar, and basically hires Lina’s group to protect him. It leads to several backstabbing moments (including one with his son Abel) and some fight scenes...which end rather anticlimactically thanks to Xelloss. I did feel disappointed that what appeared to be an actual dangerous foe especially considering his role in Revolution was pretty much defeated so easily. Granted, it was Xelloss but his nature of doing what he wants and when, whilst one of his charms, did ruin this plot for me before the final arc, where he does allow Lina to take the jar despite his own misgivings and wants for the jar.
This brings in the fact again that knowledge of the original series (in this case, the first season) comes in as the return of Rezo The Red Priest...sort of...well, his soul in a jar needs to be brought back up to speed to try and save Pokota’s city. Now this fortunately is pretty much where this series still managed to get above a C grade for me. First of all, we get a great flashback episode involving Zelgadis and how he became a chimera and his feelings when Rezo tells him the information he least wanted to hear, you get to see a different side of Zel than you expect, and you do feel for the poor guy, When Rezo also reveals what Pokota has to reverse the plague, again – I always felt Rezo was by far the best of the protagonists of the Slayers series, and I’m glad he managed to return for this season, albeit differently.
The finale is also rather good – the tragedy and triumph that Pokota’s feels by saving his village but at a certain cost, and the return of Shabranigdo being still part of Rezo leads to a fantastic final battle, made even better with the return of my favourite Slayer’s song (from Next) ‘Give A Reason’ – there are some great moments (Amelia of all people seems rather badass with her use of the Ra Tilt and breaking her own arms blocking a god’s punch) throughout the Rezo ceremony, even some comic ones (when Rezo’s memory is hazy and he sends Lina’s group to find various items...which are used for very different purposes...).
However, overall I do feel a bit disappointed. I did like it overall a lot, but it’s over reliance of remembering the original series (released originally in 1995 remember as well) meant a bit more research for my aging memory. If you managed to only get into it due to the releases from last year, then raise this grade to B+ because overall, Slayers does what it does as good as ever – comedy and some great action sequences. However, a lot of the characters do get lost in the pile (in fact, pretty much all of Lina’s group, Lina herself even, seems to be overall overshadowed by Pokota who, whilst a well developed character, isn’t as fun as Lina or Gourry) and the ‘Nama’ angle had so much potential, which ended way too soon. However, it has some great laugh out loud moments, the animation is superb (CGI surprisingly works fluidly in an environment which I didn’t think it would work for) and the characters are as lovable as ever. It just should have been so much more.
Slayers Revolution-R is a series that fans will love – it does everything right that a Slayers fan would want – original cast, great humour, good actions sequences, some look into the characters psyche and a half decent plot...but unfortunately all the above with the exception of the comedy appears in glimpses. There was so much potential in bringing in some of the angles they were using, and it was sadly mostly wasted on throw away jokes and a character not as well beloved by the fandom. Recommended highly for Slayers fans – but suggests you watch at least the first season and some of the movies; otherwise a lot of the plot holes will confuse you.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 2 - Europe/Japan
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2