Slayers Premium (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, May 07, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2004
What They Say
Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev have teamed up again along with their friends from the original Slayers TV series to save an indulgent village from the wrath of an underwater nemesis. Lina thinks spending a little time by the seaside will afford her some much needed R&R, but little does she know the action is about to begin!
After accepting their much awaited reward of seafood delights from a fishing village, Lina and Gourry discover that the village food supply has been cursed. Whoever eats the food loses their ability speak in anything but a bizarre aquatic language. Lina must brave the perils of the deep to get to the bottom of this mysterious hex on humanity.
And what would Lina say about the feeling Gourry is trying to tell her - if she could only understand this strange tongue?
The Slayers gang gets back together for another story but this time they bring both casts together, sort of. So after almost four years, I once more get to experience the TV cast.
For our primary viewing session, and for all Slayers material essentially, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. As an added treat, it was done up in 5.1 as well. The track is actually nicely immersive; not overwhelmingly so but there's plenty of material from voices, music and sound effects being thrown to the rear speakers and giving the whole show a bigger feel. We spot checked the English 5.1 mix as well and things sounded just as good there. Overall, this is a solid sounding disc with some good effects used around the soundstage with clear dialogue and no noticeable dropouts or distortions.
Originally released in theaters in 2001, Slayers Premium is presented here in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. So basically, this is Slayers done up visually and aurally to my dreams. While past movies were all done in traditional animation style, this one is the first one to use more modern digital techniques to it, which results in a somewhat different looking Slayers as the colors are much more vibrant and the usually bland backdrops are more striking and stand out more. The colors used here are very vibrant and looks great. Cross coloration and aliasing are both very minimal and the transfer overall looks very sharp and pleasing to the eye.
The cover artwork for this release really gives you clue quickly as to the different nature of this particular movie with the characters almost looking super deformed here, or even a bit childish if you want. I actually find it to be quite cute, especially the Xellos and Zelgadis pictures and the way Lina looks like a "Teenage Lina". Now there's a series. The back cover provides a few minor shots from the show that don't really sell it all that much but there's a couple of detailed paragraphs that go over the plot and what to expect. The usual production credits and the very useful technical grid make up the remainder of the cover. The insert uses the character artwork from the front cover but with a different background. The reverse side is just a simple listing of the discs features and previews available on the disc.
The menu design is the same as past OVA/movie releases with the character artwork on the right side while a circle with selections lined along it goes down the center of the screen with it all set to some of the music from the show. The layout is simple and easy to use with fast access times and quick loading menus.
There's some extras on here dub fans and fangirls are going to love. First, there's a commentary track to the episode with Cynthia Martinez and Crispin Freeman. It seems like since I met him I can't get away from him now. It's an amusing commentary though it's mostly just the two talking and joking about the show and showing their love of it. The other extra is a twenty minute video interview session with Crispin Freeman done by the director Sandra Krasa. The discussion may be a tad long in some ways, but in others it seems like the two could have probably gone on for a few hours talking about all the Slayers and Slayers related things that they wanted to. Fans of Crispin will definitely enjoy this piece. Amusingly, my eighteen month old daughter was fascinated by Sandra's red boots.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After I had finished watching the last of the TV series material back in 2000, I was quite happy that I had survived it and that there wasn't anymore of it to come. Unlike the TV series, I enjoyed the OVA and movie releases a lot since it typically had a smaller cast and it had Naga, which for some strange reason I just find amusing to no end based on how she and Lina play off of each other.
After a few movies and OVAs, they decided to do a new one but this time bringing in the TV cast to perform and having Naga be involved as well. So the movie starts off with the usual bit of Lina and Gourry eating in a restaurant at a seaside town. They've got themselves a great huge sushi boat and are just going to town with it until they get to the special delicacy of the town, the octopus. The fight over it goes on and on until one of them wins, but their prize isn't exactly the best thing. The chef's staggering out into the room trying to find out if they ate the octopus yet and to try and stop them. Unfortunately, Gourry's already eaten it after his victory over Lina, but it's not too much of a victory. Anyone who eats the octopus lately seems to develop a strange speech pattern and speaks in some gibberish, completely misunderstood by everyone else.
Apparently an ancient sealed evil was released within the past day or two and has started to spread to anyone who eats the octopus. Lina cringes at this since she was hired to help out in hunting something down out in the ocean but her spells were so strong she unsealed some ancient evil that's now using the small race of octopuses as its minions. The little guys are now infiltrating the city (looking like Jawa's no less) and setting the stage to gain their revenge on humanity for eating them. With the spell place, they capture the essence of frustration and confusion that's caused and that will free their guardian protector who will then crush the humans. Crush the humans!
So Lina finds herself now recruited to try and help a young white mage to try and learn the spells necessary to help return people to normal, Gourry included, and to deal with the plot of the octopuses. As usually happens in the TV series frame of storytelling, Amelia and Zelgadis end up coming into town (Amelia in search of delicacies!) and even Xellos finds his way to the area to check things out. Naga's role is best kept quiet though it's quite amusing when she does show up, though I had hoped for more interactions between the groups. This OVA really does play out much like an extended TV episode with a bigger budget. The character designs tend to err a bit more on the slightly cartoony but also with more wild takes to them. The change from traditional to digital animation works rather well here and I think it manages to breathe new life into the characters and give them a new vibrancy.
The plot itself is pretty standard fare, though the intelligent octopuses are hilarious to watch at times, especially the most intelligent one that leads them with his little tuft of hair on his head. While the earlier OVAs and movies have almost always set things up so that Lina and Naga fight, this one manages to avoid that (though it is set up!) so we get more time with the TV cast and dealing with their own particular quirks. Zelgadis comes across pretty well here with the added detail to him. Amelia tends to look much the same while Gourry looks a bit young and, like Lina, a bit more cartoony.
When Slayers Premium originally came out, it was much reviled by hardcore fans for a number of reasons, mostly relating to the design and probably some sense of a poor lack of closure since this is supposedly the last of the Slayers material to come out. With it being a few years and my never being a huge Slayers fan to begin with, I found this movie to be very entertaining and it had me laughing quite a lot. It had most of the elements I liked from the OVAs and my distaste for the TV material wasn't there since this is just a one-shot and the repetition that bothers me simply isn't here. When all is said and done, Slayers Premium actually gets me to wanting to see some new Slayers done up today in this style. I really enjoyed this movie a lot and had a great time watching it. Give me more!
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Commentary by Cynthia Martinez (Lina) & Crispin Freeman (Zelgadis),Behind the scenes with Crispin Freeman
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2