Slayers Try (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, April 10, 2001
Audio: My impoverished setup doesn't allow me the luxury of good stereo sound, but from what I could tell there were no serious errors. I watched the Japanese track only.
Video: Central Park Media has bungled this category before, but the video here is quite good. Some dot crawl and blurriness from time to time, but overall above average for them.
Packaging: CPM learned from their hatchet job on the Slayers Next Collection; the Try box looks much better in all areas. They even tried to make the spines match this time, and did well enough. The keepcase art is MUCH better than in the Next box--- actually I think some of the keepcase art would have worked better on the cover; it looks more professional even though the same artists probably worked on it. The green box doesn't hurt- makes the collection stand out on shelves. Nice liner notes, guys. Superman can read them without any trouble but I have to buy clear keepcases. Yay.
Menus: OK, CPM, the 'upcoming releases clouds' and the unskippable logos need to go now. Please get rid of them. They make me feel like I'm playing a $9.99 Playstation game. Replace that disk space with chapter stops. Usually I boot the disc, stop it, and hit Play again to be able to access the menu right away, but I shouldn't have to cheat to avoid seeing the Software Sculptors logo for the 900th time.
Extras: I always enjoy character design galleries, and the inclusion of the sliced scene from the old Slayers VHS collection was a nice touch (though I don't see why it happened in the first place). The Meet the Cast feature isn't anything special, and the Behind the Scenes feature is great for anyone who watches dubs; they're welcome to it. The comics ad is pretty much just that. The extras on DVD-ROM sound good, but I still don't have one.
Content: I have always been entertained by Slayers in the past despite its "Fantasy Lite" reputation, and its infrequent references to elements of Dungeons & Dragons still amuse me. The first two TV series took one format, which was mostly 'load up the first 80% with slapstick, and the last 20% with the Really Serious stuff (where characters risk death and blood tends to flow).' I was expecting more of the same from Slayers Try, only to discover shortly in the series that this was not the case.
That's not to say the whole slapstick premise of Slayers has vanished; it's still here, and still manages to pop up in even the most ominious situations, but this time it actually serves as a support to the story instead of being the whole point of the story itself. This time, instead of saving most of the heavy plot elements until the end, they show up in Try in a big hurry. Oddly, most of the really goofy stuff is packed into four weird (67,68,69,70) episodes just after the midpoint of the series, it's almost as if the writers were trying to isolate it to give the story more room in the other episodes. Plus the characters are much more interesting this time!
Lina Inverse, Gourry, Zelgadis, and Amelia haven't changed all that much, but three characters make everything much more detailed: Filia Ul Copt, Valgaav, and Xellos. Martina from Slayers Next, who had next to no importance to the story except comic relief (in a series that was mostly comedy anyway!), is gone, and is replaced by Filia, who is MUCH more important to the storyline. Filia is a gold dragon in human form (someone somewhere at TV Tokyo has been reading Dragonlance), and is the most powerful member of the main cast outside of Lina, although when in dragon form she tends to look like a very large Charizard in comparison to other gold dragons, and tends to wimp out when she should be thrashing bad guys. I thought she was the coolest character in the series, and the way the other characters interact with her drives the story better.
Valgaav, servant of the quite dead Demon Dragon King Gaav, appears early in the series and makes things very interesting very quickly. At first he appears to just be another powerful thug out to 'get Lina,' but he soon proves to be a much more detailed and in depth character. He's by far the best antagonist Slayers has had, and his true nature really lends a lot to the greatly expanded storyline of the Try series. He also serves to introduce his 'boss,' Almayce, who is one of a race of beings that are setting up the whole conflict introduced in the series. Finally, Xellos -yes, the same Xellos who spent most of Slayers Next drinking tea and eating ice cream- really changes things when he begins to 'act his alignment,' in the D&D sense. He is, after all, a malevolent extra-planar creature, and makes sure everyone knows this time-- although Lina still pushes him around when she feels like it.
Everything in Slayers Try seems to be better. I'm not sure if this is because different writers handled the series, or if old ones just tried a new approach, but whatever the case, it works very well. The animation is better. The music is used more appropriately. The series doesn't just 'bring back' characters for no reason; Sylphiel stays home this time and Prince Phil only appears momentarily-- and uses the ones it has much better. The Lina/Gourry thing is pretty toned down here in favor of other things, perhaps because Gourry has a less important role (he still gets all the best punchlines). Instead there are other forms of character development: Filia's merciful attitudes toward the extremely evil Valgaav, Xellos' vicious loyalty to the Monster race, the mission of Almayce's comrades, the history of the Dragons, and the story of Valgaav's servant, the beastman tinker Jillas. Even Lina's sister is mentioned several times, though of course, she's never seen...
I think people like me who have enjoyed Slayers before will really appreciate what Slayers Try has to offer, and people who didn't like the approach of the first two series will find themselves liking this one much better. The series is still Slayers in every way, yet it manages to be much different at the same time. Considering this was a relatively low-budget TV series, I went in expecting more of the same and to be merely amused; instead at the conclusion I was surprised to find that I had enjoyed it as thoroughly as any of my favorite anime.
Philips Magnavox TP2784C 27" TV, Pioneer DV-414, Monster S-Video cable
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: D
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Central Park Media
Running time: 600
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2