Mania Grade: C
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- Audio Rating: B-
- Video Rating: B-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: All Region DVD
- Released By: Central Park Media
- MSRP: 129.99
- Running time: 600
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Slayers
By Chris Beveridge
September 16, 2000
Release Date: September 16, 2000
What They Say
© Central Park Media
Welcome to a world where magic reigns and monsters lurk behind every corner. Into this land of deadly dragons and menacing magicians comes our heroine – Lina Inverse, a cute, fire-ball throwing sorceress who steals from the wicked and gives to herself! Along with Gourry, a handsome but dumb-as-a-rock swordsman, Lina challenges the forces of not-so-goodness as she seeks truth, justice, fame and gold...The Review!
Slayers is one of the few shows that people have been waiting on for a number of years, and rightly so. Back in 1998, the first 13 episodes were announced in a 70$ box set and people were excited, what few of us there were at the time. Due to various licensing issues, the set had to be cancelled. But now it's finally come out and Central Park Media has placed the entire first season in one four disc box set.
Slayers contains both the English and Japanese audio tracks. Your enjoyment of this set is going to depend heavily on two things; what language you like and how your equipment is set up. If you like the English track, you'll enjoy the audio on this disc without issue. If you prefer the Japanese track, you're not going to be as happy. Due to some technical issues, the Japanese audio track will either sound a bit hollow/tinny or have a slight echo or you won't have any sound at all. On all of our equipment (across three different setups), it played without issue, so we're only going to rate based on this and not on things that we can't quite recreate. The Japanese audio sounded decent, but you could hear a bit of an echo and a slight hollowness to it. The worst area was on disc C with the opening songs. They sounded deeper and more indistinct than the other discs did. Dialogue is primarily through the center channel as well as a lot of other effects, with only some of the music and other effects being used in the left and right speakers. The audio basically sounds all right, but it won't win any awards.
The video side is a bit of a mixed bag as well, especially early episodes. The series was originally released back in 1995 and doesn't appear to have had a really high budget. This in itself isn't a problem, but when transferred to DVD it has some shortcomings. Most noticeably early on is pixellation/graininess along the edges of characters and a shiftiness in the background. As the animation itself improved through the series (and especially on the fourth disc), things did pick up quality wise in the video as well. But for the most part, the bland and pale colors and the minimal backgrounds won't make this a stand out show. We did spot check the first disc on our uncalibrated 19" set and things did look better there, mostly because the problems aren't being amplified by the HDTV's line doubler and the general lower quality of the set.
With this being the first full on box set from CPM, I was really curious to see how they'd do it up. Thankfully they didn't go the route of something unique and difficult to deal with. The set is essentially four keepcases inside a cardboard box. The various pieces of artwork used throughout looked good (though the tan background contributes to a somewhat lackluster feel). The main problem with the packaging is the keepcases themselves. Besides being of a lower quality, they're black. Black? What's wrong with that you say? Remember that CPM uses the back side of the inserts to provide chapter listings, voice actors and other bits of information. You're back to pulling the insert out to see what's there. The individual discs themselves are all pretty well set up with information and summaries. There is a notice that the disc is part of a collection and is not be sold separately, and unlike the Magic Knights Rayearth box set, there's no individual UPC codes. I do hope that CPM sells these in single format someday so those who don't want to try a box set will get a chance to check it out.
The menus definitely continue the traditional style that CPM has set for itself. There's usually a sizeable bright image of one of the characters throughout the set on the main page which is offset by the main selections. Access times to the selections are very fast and everything seems to work spot on. We had no trouble with the menus at all.
As of this writing, we're leaving the extra rating blank as we haven't had the time to go through them. All of them are included on the DVD-ROM side of things on the fourth disc, so unless you have a DVD-ROM player, you won't see them anyway.
Slayers is an immensely popular series, both in dub and sub form. It's gotten high numbers since its initial release and through the subsequent two seasons that have been released in the US. Our first experience with Slayers was when Software Sculptors released the first tape. I'd heard a lot of good buzz about it and I can usually get into fantasy anime pretty easily.
I made it through the first fifteen minutes of the tape. I didn't touch the tape again until I sold it on EBay late last year. Suffice to say I did not find much allure in the show way back then.
The first season of Slayers brings the introduction of several characters. First and foremost is the series heroine, Lina Inverse. She's a 15 year old spunky, greedy and always hungry sorceress. If there's money to be made or food to be eaten, she's there. Just don't comment on the size of her chest or her age.
After ransacking a group of bandits in the first episode, she meets up with Gourry Gabriev, your typical somewhat clueless do-gooder swordsman. The two fit together like hand and glove as a team. Gourry's one of the better swordsmen out there and he decides to help Lina along in her journey only to get tied up rather heavily in the plots that follow.
The first major villain that they meet is Zelgadis. A young man who was turned into a golem-hard body and wields shamanic power, he's trying to acquire the Philosopher's Stone from Lina, who inadvertently acquired it while beating the snot out of some bandits. Zelgadis is a pretty interesting character overall, though he gets a bit hamstrung by the plot.
We also get introduced to Rezo, one of the wisest men of the current age, who is also known as the Red Priest. He's rather powerful yet subdued and tries to enlist the help of Lina and Gourry in stopping Zelgadis, who he reveals is out to raise an evil entity.
Later in the series we also get introduced to the young ally of justice, Amelia. She's got the same kind of spunk as Lina but she's a bit more clueless at times and can be an absolute and utter klutz. She does manage to get in some great lines though and is one of the few characters that actually develops over the course of the series.
Towards the final arc of the show, as Gourry and company travel to his homeland, we meet Sylphiel, a young cleric who is very much in love with Gourry. Of course, he doesn't know about it. She's fairly cute and interesting, but her overall impact in the show doesn't really allow for much development as she's introduced just as the final arc gets underway.
Watching this set was a real chore and took nearly a month to do. Actually, it took us a month to get through the first two discs and we made a concentrated effort to watch the final two discs on one day. The one main failing that I have with the show is that after the course of twenty episodes, there's absolutely no difference between the two principle characters, Lina and Gourry, from the beginning of the show to the end of it. Almost all of the secondary characters grew and changed where as they were static. All that changed for them was that they fought bigger and nastier villains using the same powers that they had from the get go.
For a lot of it, we didn't find Lina and her antics all that funny either. I realize that this will cause me to lose my fan club membership to Megumi's legions of fans. Getting from episode to episode felt like a chore. The other big failing to me was that the final arc was essentially a repeat of the first arc, just with bigger stakes and more secondary characters involved. The same kind of powers were involved and the villain had the same goal.
Just too much repetition. That really sums it up. The episodes that I thought were the best were those that are considered the filler ones in the center of the series, where things are kind of scattered and all over the place. The episode with the characters trying to get a boat was hilarious, with Gourry dressed up looking like a somewhat manly Sailor Moon. The wedding episode also had some really good moments.
I'm glad to have finally season this series, but it may have been better off in single disc format. I know I felt overwhelmed by having so much at once and it showed off more of the shows flaws in the repetition department. But I know I'm in a minority for this.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.