Slayers: The Book of Spells Essential Anime Collection - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Slayers

Slayers: The Book of Spells Essential Anime Collection

By Chris Beveridge     February 08, 2005
Release Date: January 25, 2005


Slayers: The Book of Spells Essential Anime Collection
© ADV Films


What They Say
Join Lina an Naga as they thwart a plan to create the ultimate chimera. Watch as they attempt to turn the effeminate son of a noble family into a man deserving appointment to the Royal Guard. And double the trouble when our heroines take on a rogue magic user with a mirror that duplicates his enemies in reverse!

The Review!
Three separate episodes provide ninety minutes of amusement as Lina and Naga thumb through the Book of Spells.

Audio:
The Japanese stereo track was used for my primary viewing session; there were no noticeable distortions or other problems. Dialogue, music, and effects were balanced quite well, but the track lacks the punch more modern titles have. The English audio track fares a bit better, as the 5.1 surround track provides a bit more ambiance in the rear soundstage.

Video:
For a title from the late 1990s, the video has held up remarkably well; the print did not seem to suffer from any dirt, scratches, or other defects. The digital transfer did not present any problems giving the release a solid picture from start to finish. While the colors and detail are decent, they feel subdued and not as vivid as more modern titles which is to be expected.

Packaging:
Naga and Lina are poised for action on the front cover; the series title is above them, and the "Essential Anime" banners grace the very top and bottom of the cover. The back cover features a shot of Naga and Diol along with the requisite summary, disc specifications, and production information. There is one small error as the runtime is listed as seventy-five rather than ninety minutes. It is not the most striking of covers and comes off a bit plain especially when it bears the "Essential" moniker.

Menu:
The menu features the cover shot with a piece of the theme song looping in the background. There are no transitions delays between menus, but the highlight color used for the menu text was barely distinguishable from the color used for the unhighlighted text.

Extras:
The first extra on the disc is a fifteen minute slideshow of production sketches from each of the three episodes. Music loops in the background through the whole sequence; while the sketches are interesting to look at, you will likely find yourself fast forwarding to speed up the process. The other extra on the disc is a set of trailers for the Slayers movie and other OVAs.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally released under the title Slayers Special, Book of Spells contains three distinct stories set well before the events of the first TV series. A young, brash Lina Inverse travels throughout the country in search of treasure and a good meal; accompanying her on the journey is Naga, a sorceress whose skills are mostly in the field of managing to defy gravity and stay tucked neatly into a skimpy outfit.

The pair's first adventure has Lina meeting with a strange alchemist named Diol; Diol has a modest proposal for Lina. He simply wants to remove Lina's head and fuse it with parts of dragons and demons to form a super chimera. Lina staunchly refuses causing Diol to unleash his most horrible creation against her -- ten clones of Naga. Lina's initial reaction to this horde of laughing monstrosities is amusing, but the remainder of the episode is Naga and the clones running around laughing. While it is funny for the first few minutes, it becomes a bit stale especially since nothing else really happens for the remainder of the episode.

We move quickly into the second adventure which finds Lina and Naga being hired by a mother to help her son Jeffrey become a knight. Jeffrey turns out to be clueless, clumsy, and an all-around mama's boy. But heaven help the person that speaks ill of Jeffrey for they will find themselves on the business end of mama's hammer. This becomes the running gag for the episode as Jeffrey bumbles from one confrontation to the next.

Finally, Lina and Naga are hot on the heels of Lagan, the vice president of the Magic Users Association. Lagan is searching for the powerful Shadow Reflector, a mirror that can create a duplicate of any opponent. It copies their powers, memories, and strengths but gives the shadow a completely opposite personality. The Association has placed a two hundred gold coin bounty on Lagan's head, and our spunky duo is out to claim it.

They eventually catch up to Lagan but not before he obtains the Reflector and turns it against Lina and Naga. This turns out to be the funniest bit of all three episodes, as we find that the exact opposite of Lina and Naga's personality would be. There is also a classic moment where Naga's most prominent set of assets almost spell disaster for her.

While Naga provides plenty of fan service and gives Lina a great comedic foil, there just is not much substance to these three episodes. It feels like the writers had a bunch of left over gags and concepts from the first TV series and decided to just slap them together piecemeal. You will find yourself laughing at various points in each episode, but the gags become a bit too repetitive as they are the only thing propping up the plot.

The end result is amusing but does not leave much of an impression beyond the novelty of seeing Naga and her ten clones laughing their heads off while twenty-two globes bounce about and seeing the exact opposite of Lina and Naga. They may be forgettable episodes, but there are worse ways to spend ninety minutes on a lazy afternoon.

In Summary:
Heavy on eye candy but light on plot, the trio of Slayers Special stories is amusing but not memorable. There are plenty of laughs to be had throughout, but the stories lack the substance that makes the rest of the Slayers series entertaining even after repeated viewings. While worth a rental, it is difficult to recommend this title as "Essential" to anyone beyond the die hard Slayers fan.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles, Production portfolio

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable

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