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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: �19.99
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Slayers

Slayers Excellent

By Dani Moure     December 02, 2004
Release Date: November 15, 2004


Slayers Excellent
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
Naga and Lina find even more adventure, when Naga destroys a tavern with fire just to get Lina's attention. The villagers, not too happy with Naga's antics, demand payback in the form of a rescue. Later, Lina tiers of protecting Sirene Fitzmeier, so she sets up a fake kidnapping to put her in her place but a problem arises when she gives Sirene to the wrong kidnappers! Finally, Naga finds her own adventure as a fashion inspiration...

Includes the episodes:

1. Labyrinth
2. A Frightening Future
3. Lina-chan's Lovely Makeover Operation

The Review!
The latest Slayers adventures hit UK shores in this three episode OVA series.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track for my main review, and noticed no dropouts or distortions, and the track itself was a solid sounding stereo mix, with a bit of directionality. I also spot-checked the English dub, and noticed no problems. Again the dub sounded like a lot of fun from the portions I listened to, with Cynthia Martinez and Kelly Manison doing a great Lina and Naga respectively, though I still love the Japanese track, especially for Maria Kawamura's Naga.

Video:
The video quality isn't the best thing ever but it's about on par with previous releases. The transfer is mostly free from nicks and dirt, but there's still quite a bit of grain present though, which is quite noticeable. It's also not quite as sharp and clear as some more recent shows, which is probably to be expected, but it leaves it with a bit of a disappointing washed out look. It's not bad, just not great.

Subtitles are the standard ADV (older-style) font, in yellow with a black border; they're nice and easy to read.

Packaging:
The front cover follows the style of the past releases, with the same font used for the logo and the rest of the cover taken up by a nice piece of artwork featuring Lina and Naga smiling in a nice pose. The back has the blurb for the show, with a couple of screenshots and a quote from Cynthia Martinez. The bottom half is dominated by production credits, and ADV UK's standard bars of technical information. This cover looks quite nice overall.

Menu:
The menus are nothing particularly exciting, and really there's not much to say about them. The main menu is static with an image of Lina and Naga (with Steindorf behind) taking the right side of the picture, and the various selections on the left, with the theme tune playing. Sub menus are all static, too, with a different piece of music playing on each. Given how basic they are, access times are naturally nice and fast.

Extras:
Finally ADV break the mould of Slayers extras, so in addition to trailers for the other releases, we get a couple of short behind the scenes interviews with Cynthia Martinez (Lina) and Kelly Manison (Naga). There's not really enough time for either to go into much depth, but it's definitely interesting to hear how the two actresses approached their roles.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Slayers franchise chugs along with a straight-to-video series that is very nearly the end of the animated releases, with just a short feature left to go after this one. Overall, it's had its ups and downs both in terms of general quality and the laughs it provides, but I've definitely enjoyed this foray into the universe. While it's doubtful I'll run out and buy the three TV seasons (totalling 78 episodes) on the back of these, since the prospect of potentially repetitive comedy isn't hugely appealing, for what these movies are, they've definitely been an enjoyable ride.

With three episodes to play with, we get three stories that are both different and yet similar, in the formulaic sense, at the same time. The first episode opens, as is standard, with Lina eating. As she enjoys her meal though, the tavern she's in catches on fire, and on running out she finds that the culprit, standing on the roof, is none other than Naga. This leads Lina to reminisce about the very first time she met Naga, under exactly the same circumstances. She recalls how Naga initially set fire to a tavern she was eating in to get to her, and then after a lot of talk realised she couldn't actually get down from the top, and had to ask the townsfolk for help. They got Lina, guilty by association, and Naga to initiate a rescue from a Labyrinth, where several of the townspeople are said to have gone missing. But inside they find an evil menace " Steindorf the vampire, who seems to be a worthy foe, until he uses every clich� in the villain book.

This first outing is by far my favourite of the bunch, as we get to see the history behind Lina and Naga through their first meeting, and the interplay between the two characters is as perfect as it ever has been throughout these specials. The plot is also quite interesting and has plenty of moments for laughs. And, when the climax against Steindorf comes, it brings with it plenty of dramatic, yet comical moments and ends with one of the most hilarious transformations I've seen.

The second episode is also very enjoyable, and it has Lina being hired as a bodyguard for a rich girl called Sirene. Her gather hires her, but also gives half of Lina's payment in gold coins to his daughter to spend, which she happily does. She tries to get Lina in on it, but the poor sorcerer has none of it, and concocts a plan to get rid of her by having a group of men stage a kidnapping. Of course, things go pear-shaped and she is kidnapped for real by a man with some strange pleasures, which brings Naga into the story and leaves our unlikely heroes to go make the save.

"A Frightening Future" is a lot of fun, with some great character moments for Lina as she plays wonderfully of Sirene, who is the token brat and just so like Naga it's unreal, complete with evil laugh and all. The plot is silly, but also leads to most of the laughs, and I'm not going to complain about it because it was thoroughly enjoyable. The way the writers had Naga get into the mix was great and moved the story on well, and where it went from there was just hilarious, from the strange fetish of Alphonse and how he acts with Sirene, to Naga training the others in the ways of being evil (complete with the correct way to do the evil laugh). These first two episodes are definitely worth the asking price.

What lets the disc down is the third episode, which goes to the well one too many times, and while it has its funny moments, it just loses some of the spark the first two episodes had. Once again, Lina and Naga end up on the opposite sides of a conflict, this time though it's an absurd one between two fashion gurus, over who has the best designs. Yes, it's as silly as it sounds, but unfortunately it's not as good as the previous absurd outings have been. There are the usual fights between Tatjana and Marty (the two fashion designers), in which Lina and Naga step in and use magic, only for it to all go wrong, and the return of the golem. It just all ends up being a bit of a re-tread in this episode, and while that's not entirely a bad thing, as it does have some funny moments, it's not ideal and it just seems like the writers ran out of ideas so decided to follow the themes of past movies, leaving a slight smell of rehash behind.

The animation continues to be very good, and above your usual TV quality, and the music over these three episodes is some of the most memorable I've heard in the Slayers releases. It's never overbearing but is always ambient, and it only helps build the atmosphere.

In Summary:
While the final episode does let the OVA down somewhat, the first two episodes are really good and for fans will be worth the asking price alone. Excellent is a lot of fun with a lot of laughs to offer, along with a couple of well-plotted and highly entertaining stories. In terms of value, it's ADV's best release yet as you get more show and extras for your money, which is always a good thing. While the Slayers series is never going to change the world, Excellent is a great fantasy-comedy with a lot of entertainment to offer. For fans of the genre, I'd definitely have no problems recommending it.

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

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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