Slayers: The Motion Picture (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, February 08, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, February 08, 2000



What They Say
Enveloped in mists, the island of Mipross has been shrouded in mystery since the dawn of time! Now, two mighty sorceresses will attempt to pierce the veil of secrecy and silence that has hidden the horrible truth about Mipross from the eyes of men for hundreds of years! Join the short-statured and even shorter tempered master mage Lina Inverse and her over-endowed associate Nahga the Serpent as they untangle find themselves ensnared in a deadly web of intrigue and danger in the wildest, most incredible SLAYERS adventure of them all: Slayers: The Motion Picture!

The Review!
Slayers: The Motion Picture has arrived and it marks the debut of Lina Inverse on DVD in region 1. How does it stack up? Better than Lina, as Nahga might say...

Thankfully, the video is presented in it's original 1.85:1 widescreen framing. The quality is very good and will definitely challenge your black levels on your set if it's not properly calibrated. The blacks and dark colors are very well conveyed and the smidgen of vibrant colors scattered throughout are well balanced with very little bleeding. There were a few minor instances of line noise, such as on portions of ships masts and the like, but nothing uncommon throughout many DVD's these days. The only thing that would make this video better would be an anamorphic print, but then we'd run into some other troubles that I'll bring up later.

The audio is pretty decent, though it's just a stereo mix as that was all it was originally presented it. There's hardly anything at all coming out of the rear speakers, but the front soundstage is fairly well used. It's not a wide mix by any stretch, but dialogue is clean and clear in both languages.

The menus are well designed as we've come to expect from the ADV releases to date. It's not as active as recent releases since the menus were designed early on, but each selection is quickly accessed. As with other recent releases though, the only problem I've run into is with the language selection section, where the language you choose doesn't indicate any kind of change after you select it. Minor quibble, but one worth commenting on and hopefully tweaking in future releases.

The only problem that I've noticed on this disc won't affect the majority of people who will buy it, but rather a smaller (yet growing) group; widescreen TV owners. The subtitles (which are presented in the older font ADV used, with slightly thinner borders and thicker characters) are split across both the video and into the widescreen bar as well. What this means for these folks is that if they want to watch it with subtitles, they can't zoom in on the picture or stretch it to fill their screen but will instead have to windowbox it. Thankfully though, with as few movies that come out in region 1, this will rarely cause a problem, but it's something that should be kept in mind when acquiring newer theatrical releases and planning their DVD release.

In terms of extras, there are a few on this release. In addition to the normal previews for upcoming titles slated for DVD, there is couple pages of bios on the characters (handy for first time viewers), a slideshow and three Slayers mix trailers. Unfortunately, two of the trailers will cause problems on people who have surround sound systems. The first two, Jelly's Mix and Latin Lingo Mix, the audio may be inverted to just the rear speakers with absolutely nothing coming out of the front speakers. The Slayers OVA Mix works fine.

When Slayers was originally released in the U.S., I had picked up the first TV volume on VHS to check it out, since it was priced low. At the time, the show didn't keep my interest and I continued buying the laserdisc releases at the time. Since then, I've heard lots of good things about the show and looked forward to this movie when ADV announced it was coming out.

After watching this movie, I'm not disappointed at all. The movie takes place early in the career of main character Lina Inverse and her "sidekick", Nahga the Serpent. They travel to the island of Mipross in search of some of the worlds best hot springs. Mipross, it seems, can only be reached once a year when the nearly impenetrable fog allows passage. So right there you know there's something funky with this island.

From the instant they land on the island, they end up in various fights and hired to help save the island from some unspeakable evil, though the only thing they know about this evil is it has something to do with a frog.

Silly? Yep. The movies from what I've been told tend to be sillier than the TV series, but the balance struck in this movie works well and was quite enjoyable. There's hardly anything in terms of character development, but that's not the point of this movie. Both main characters are fun to watch and their spells are a hoot. And there's just something eye-pleasing with Nahga's outfit, so watching that for 75 minutes wasn't much of a chore.

Slayers: The Motion Picture is a good introduction for those who haven't seen any, and for those who've been waiting for Lina to hit DVD, a great way to start. Very recommended.

An addendum about the transfer from ADV:

"Slayers The Motion Picture (and also Crystania) was not an anamorphic release and no true anamorphic film master of this feature exists. Like most animated features SLAYERS TMP was shot on standard 35mm Vista (using a flat, not anamorphic lens, as the aberrations of a non-spherical lens introduces a number of difficulties in the photography process) which was subsequently matted for release on 35mm film. Keep in mind that ADV’s original release of this title was on home video and all the masters we currently possess are digital video masters, not actual film prints or negatives. To produce an 16X9 anamorphic DVD of Slayers TMP would have required either A. digitally “zooming in” on the video master and then compressing the resulting, resulting in an equal or greater loss in quality to having your Widescreen TV do the same thing in reverse for you at home or B. acquiring an original 35mm negative and/or master positive and completely re-doing the telecine transfer using an electronic “anamorphic” process to create a new video master, which would then have to re-synched manually to match the existing soundtracks. The latter would not only have been extremely expensive, but would have delayed the release of this title for at least another 6 months. Factoring in the relative scarcity of potential customers with 16 X 9 monitors, it was our decision that the difference in sales would not be enough to justify the additional costs, which would have had to be handed down to the final consumer, not to mention yet another extended delay of the release.

On the other hand, for all future releases where we do have access to the film masters of widescreen productions, such as Spriggan and the Gamera films, we are already taking steps to insure that the finished version will support a true 16 X 9 compressed version."

Features
English Language,Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Spanish Subtitles,Character Bios,Slayers Mix Trailers,Slideshow

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Slayers