Slayers Excellent -

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Slayers

Slayers Excellent

By Chris Beveridge     April 06, 2004
Release Date: March 30, 2004

Slayers Excellent
© ADV Films

What They Say
When Naga torches a tavern to get Lina's attention, the local townspeople demand that they make restitution by rescuing villagers lost in a labyrinth!

Then, after seeing no profit in protecting the pampered Sirene Fitzmeier, Lina arranges a kidnapping to teach her a lesson. Unfortunately, she hands Sirene over to the wrong kidnappers!

And, formal fashion designer Tatjana Dayward and unisex clothing maker Marty Lenford discover Naga and set out to make her the next fashion craze!

The Review!
The Slayers OVA series comes up with three standalone pieces here that all go back to the early days of when Naga and Lina first met and some of the subsequent early adventures.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. With it being so Naga-centric, there was no way I could avoid hearing the classic laugh that's haunted me for years. The track is pretty decent though about the same as other Slayers releases, which is mostly center channel based with some stereo action going on for some of the sound effects and music, but nothing terribly over the top. Dialogue was nice and clear throughout and we had no problems during regular playback.

Originally released in 1998 in three separate OVAs, Slayers Excellent is done in the traditional animation style and forgoes the digital wave that started really sweeping into the industry during that time period. This gives it good continuity with past releases in terms of the style and look of the show, with lots of earthy tones and a print that feels more film-like than other shows done digital at that point. Overall these episodes look good but there are moments where you can see some of the problems with the traditional style such as a fair amount of grain during the first episode and some less than solid blacks in a few areas as well. Cross coloration is surprisingly minimal and aliasing only crops up in a few areas. While it's only six years old as of this writing, the feel of the OVAs harken back more to the feeling of the earlier ones as well as the TV series from the early 90's.

Continuing with the dark backgrounds used on previous OVA releases, Excellent maintains that look and feel and provides some brightly colored characters in the foreground with Lina and Naga in their traditional outfits. These are pretty good looking pieces and even Naga's breasts don't become the focus here, letting the characters actually shine a little bit. The back cover has a few shots from the show and a couple paragraphs worth of rundown on some of the plots. The production information makes up almost half of the back cover while the bottom provides the very useful technical grid of information. I've become so much happier since these started to become standard for ADV releases since it allows me to find all the details I need quickly. The insert has a cleaner version of the front cover while the reverse side lists the features and technical aspects of the release.

The menu layout is very similar to other Slayers OVA releases with a good shot of the cast using much of the cover artwork along one side while the selections ring down around them. Each of the episodes gets its own play button and there's actually a few extras that are on this release unlike past volumes. Access times are nice and fast and the layout, while not the best, is functional and at least maintains continuity with the rest of the series of OVAs.

There's a couple of amusing extras here for the dub fans of the series with two separate interview sections, one for each of the lead voice actresses. Cynthia Martinez and Kelly Manison both get shown performing in the booth (that sounds dirtier than it is) and talking about their relationship with these characters over the course of the last five years. Each interview session runs just around five minutes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As said in past OVA reviews, I've found that I tend to like the Slayers OVAs over the TV series for the different character relationships. While I don't hate Goury, Amelia or any of the others, I much prefer the way just Lina and Naga end up competing with each other and the way they're friends yet not friends. These are people who you just have to wonder how they ended up in each others orbits and continue to spin that way.

Slayers Excellent goes to answer that question by providing the episode where the two meet and then some of the early adventures where they're together, be it by chance or choice. Their meeting is fairly simple but it does set the tone for the relationship. As most episodes open, it has Lina eating, only to be rushed out of the inn as the place is on fire. She wails over this, for not only is her meal ruined but so is all the jewels and goods she had procured before stopping here since they were in her room. But she has a chance for vengeance when everyone notices that there's a woman on top of the burning in claiming responsibility. Enter Naga, the sorceress who is determined to take down the most infamous of sorceress, Lina, and thereby become the ultimate sorceress champion. This is similar to the fame issue is how Lina reacts to it but otherwise takes up the duel with Naga.

Before they can really get to it though, they end up being sidetracked since they're both known to be of the magical persuasion now. To make up for burning down the inn and causing trouble, both of them are sent off to an underground labyrinth to deal with the creature under there that's been gobbling up the occasional citizen. So figuring this will square things and get her life back on track, Lina agrees and deals with Naga along the way. From here, their relationship really hasn't changed much over time. Naga does something stupid here and there, Lina acts very smart but ends up causing some trouble as well and both are highly motivated by the thought of making money and acquiring precious gems. There are some extra bits of comedy in this episode since the two of them are unfamiliar with each other and their powers and the way they work, but the synergy is there quickly.

The two episodes that follow bring the pair back together, though Lina doesn't expect Naga to show up for the most part, thinking she's gotten past dealing with her. One of the episodes has Lina escorting a well to do young woman to a summer villa for her father, ensuring her safety along the way from kidnappers. The young woman is a royal pain however and Lina decides to teach her a lesson along the way and pays off a band of men to kidnap her and hold onto her for awhile, making sure no real harm comes to her. While Lina goes off to enjoy a meal and a break from the brat, Naga enters the picture by coming across the band of men and messing with them, only to learn that they got overtaken by another group and the heiress is now being held by a powerful local mage. Lina doesn't react well to not only seeing Naga again but also to what the situation is like and puts her to good use. This lays the groundwork for the episodes that have Lina cleaning up from Naga's mistakes and having Naga completely oblivious to what she's done.

But if there's one thing that the Slayers OVAs do well, it's the over the top episodes. The last episode here covers that nicely by bringing the pair back together but on opposite sides. In this town, there's two big forces that are opposing each other over the most important thing of all ? fashion! One woman is convinced that the world of fashion must be proper and traditional, as the traditional styles are ones that have won out over time. Her competition though is for the flair and different, bringing out outrageous designs that you can't imagine people wearing. Both are at war with each other, a war that goes far beyond what one would expect of people like this. In an effort to end things, each brings on someone new to help them. The traditional side brings Lina onto their team while the outrageous side brings on Naga. That only makes sense considering what Naga wears.

And it's that image of the world wearing Naga inspired clothing that gets Lina to really take the fight seriously. This one builds up quickly with each side having an amusing array of supporters and powers, secret bases and massive golemns running around trying to win the day. It really goes over the top nicely without going too far or too long.

In Summary:
While I wish the OVAs looked better, they're definitely a product done by design and intent. What they're lacking in that area is more than made up for in the stories though as we get some good Lina and Naga adventures from their early days, seeing the quirks and tics that have symbolized their relationship forever more. These certainly aren't groundbreaking episodes by any stretch, but they're solid entries into the Slayers universe and provide a good mix of magic, action and comedy along with those massive bouncing breasts that symbolize Naga. Good stuff and definitely what the Slayers fan will enjoy.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Cynthia Martinez,Interview with Kelly Manison

Review Equipment
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.


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jnager 3/13/2012 8:57:16 PM

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