Slayers: The Book of Spells - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • 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: 29.99
  • Running time: 94
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Slayers

Slayers: The Book of Spells

By Chris Beveridge     November 21, 2000
Release Date: November 21, 2000


Slayers: The Book of Spells
© ADV Films


What They Say
Slayers: Book Of Spells contains the three episodes: The Scary Chimera Plan, Jeffery's Knighthood, and Mirror, Mirror. In the annals of fantasy there is no mage as feared, no sorcerer as powerful as the fiery redhead Lina Inverse. And when the exceptionally well-endowed Naga the Serpent accompanies her, the forces of evil will find there's nowhere to hide. Now, for the first time, their original three adventures will be available. Join Lina and Naga as they thwart a plan to create the ultimate chimera, with Lina as one of the heads! Struggle with them as they attempt to turn the effeminate son of a noble family into a man deserving of appointment to the Royal Guard. And double the trouble, and the fun, when our intrepid heroines take on a rouge magic user with a mirror that puts his enemies in reverse.

The Review!
After my review of the Slayers TV series, one might find the gradings at the top of the page to be a bit odd. Well, call me odd, but I really enjoyed watching these OVA's. And not just because of the large melons that Naga carries around.

Honest.

Audio:
The Japanese and English tracks on the disc are pretty much spot on for what you'd expect. Each is presented in stereo and have pretty clean and clear dialogue. There's a few solid moments of directionality, but otherwise it's a good stereo presentation.

Video:
The transfer for this disc is pretty good overall, but there are a few things worth noting. The first episode is definitely the poor one of the bunch, but not exceptionally so. There's a fair amount of grain throughout it, but it's pretty much only a problem during scenes that are dramatically one color, such as a room cast in red tones. There's a bit of grain throughout the other episodes in places, but not really distracting. When the first episode ends and the second one begins, the quality difference is fairly noticeable. The only other real problem is during some of the camera panning movements where interlacing effects take hold and cause a bit of shimmering. Rainbows are practically non-existent on this disc.

Packaging:
While not an overly eye-catching cover, it's got its qualities in presenting the two main characters in fun poses. Heck, any cover that makes Lina look like she has something resembling a chest, especially when next to Naga, is a good cover. The back cover gives you another eye-full of Naga as well as a few screenshots of the menus. Summary is pretty spot on without giving it all away and the disc specs are pretty fairly listed.

Menus:
The menus are pretty basic, with no animation but at least varying music playing in the different menus. Access times are pretty fast and everything loads the proper submenus. As a plus, ADV discs continue to read player default settings (at least on mine) so I rarely have to visit this section of their menus.

Extras:
This is gonna irk some people while others are going to have flashbacks. The production portfolio has two sections for each OVA. Character conceptual artwork and background artwork. When you go into each of these sections, you get the piece of artwork. However, unlike most discs, there is no "background framing" image that the artwork sits in. The entire screen is taken up with the artwork. Most image galleries that have the framing image artwork are essentially different menu pages. I don't recall the cost for each of these menus, but they do add up after awhile. The only real difference between this and normal galleries? You advance by pressing play, essentially frame-stepping. You can't go in reverse either. This basically reminded me of my old laserdisc days of stepping through hundreds and hundreds and hundreds more of stills. But that's just me. I wouldn't want to see it on a regular basis though.

Content:
Created after the first season of the TV series aired, the OVA's take place before the TV series and focuses on Lina and her travels with Naga. So there's no Gourry to be found here at all. And with an OVA budget, the animation is noticeably better as well.

The three episodes are also self contained so they're not dependent on each other nor is there any indication of an overall plot for them. It's essentially Lina and Naga running around saving the day.

But for some odd reason, I really found these more fun. And not just because of Naga's immense tracts of land. She definitely adds something different to the chemistry with Lina though. Even though they take place earlier than the TV episodes, Lina seems more mature and more self-assured in herself than there. I almost feel as if the first season was more a partnership with Lina and Gourry where Lina and Naga almost feel more like a buddy picture.

The episodes themselves have some very funny moments throughout. All in all, the first one is probably my favorite one. The elder mage, backed by a bandit that Lina crossed, tries to get Lina merged into a Super Chimera of some sort. Lina naturally won't have any of this, but the mage takes matters up a few notches by having ten clones of Naga go after them. There is simply nothing like the scenes with this large group of Naga's all laughing in a way only Japanese women seem capable off. I was rolling from that.

The other two episodes are a good spot of fun as well. Jeffrey's Knighthood has some great moments when a proud mother hires the dynamic duo to help her idiotic son become a Royal Guard. This episode is kind of all of the place in terms of encounters and how Lina and Naga interact with the idiot, er, I mean Jeffrey. About halfway through the episode I wanted them to put him out of my misery. The end result though is fun when everyone gets together for one big fight.

The final episode, Mirror, Mirror, has some scenes that will be hard to forget. An ancient artifact is discovered to exist, and the Magic Users Association sets out to retrieve it before it falls into the wrong hands. What is it? A Shadow Mirror, a device that allows the wielder to create a perfect shadow image of their target both in terms of skills and experiences. But for some reason it seems to invert their personalities. I never thought I'd see Lina that way.

Considering that these were originally released on VHS as two tapes (one 30 minute episode on the second tape no less!) this is an exceptional bargain and a solid package overall. If you're a Slayers fan, you'll be happy. If you want fan service, you'll be exceptionally happy.

As my wife put it, "Those can't move independently like that you know."

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production Portfolio,Original Trailers

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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