Slayers: Movie Box (Thinpak) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 285
  • Aspect Ratio: Mixed
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Slayers

Slayers: Movie Box (Thinpak)

By Megan Lavey     September 21, 2005
Release Date: September 20, 2005


Slayers: Movie Box (Thinpak)
© ADV Films


What They Say
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. From Hajime Kanzaka, creator of Lost Universe.



The Slayers Movie Box contains 285 minutes of Slayers goodness, including not only Slayers: The Motion Picture, but also the standalone Slayers: Return, Slayers: Great, Slayers Gorgeous, and Slayers: Premium.



The Review!
Audio:
For the primary viewing session, I listened to this show in its original Japanese language with some spot-checking on the English side. There is some distortion that occurs on the Japanese track of Premium, where the music suddenly is overwhelming then drops back too much once the dialogue is added in. One of the things I enjoyed about listening to the dub is that it managed to partly correct the characterization slaughter done on Amelia in Premium.

Video:
The movies span from 1995 to 2001, so there is quite a range of quality from those years. All come across well on my screen, the colors are crisp and clear and the animation in Gorgeous and Premium is beautiful. The first three movies especially are done in a much better style than the corresponding TV series running at the same time, showing the bigger budgets alloted for them. We get computer effects introduced for Premium, as seen in both Lina's spells and the increased special effects Gourry gains for his sword fight under the sea in that movie.

Packaging:
The five movies are condensed into ThinPaks and placed into a box that fans will either love or hate depending on their take of the series. It utilizes both of the Japanese DVD covers that exist for Slayers Premium. On one side is a shot of Lina and Gourry snacking on octopi while walking side by side. The other side is a shot of the full Premium cast with the exception of Naga. Here, we have Ruuma with her octopi (one of which is Xelloss) with chibi versions of Zelgadiss and Amelia behind her enjoying a snack. The prominent feature other than Ruuma is Gourry, who is also snacking on octopi while Lina chases after him. The spine has chibi versions of Lina and Naga. It's bright, colorful and fits the nature of this series completely. The discs themselves are the original covers resized to fit the ThinPaks, which means that Slayers: The Motion Picture has its original cover back - not the Essential Anime cover.

When I first saw the box, being a big Lina/Gourry fan, I was completely delighted. However, it's a bit deceiving. Premium is the only movie to feature the TV series cast. The other four are the adventures of Lina and Naga, so one would think that ADV would choose to go with artwork featuring those two. However, with the upcoming Funimation re-release of the Slayers TV series, having the movie box feature the one disc with the TV characters could prove to be a wise marketing move as fans who are unfamiliar with the movies may recognize a connection of sorts with the TV series. No matter what the reason was, I still love the box.

Menu:
The menus for the individual discs are simple and easy to use, featuring the artwork from the disc covers and the selections in a half-circle around the art. These are exactly the same as on the original release.

Extras:
The Slayers movies did not have very many extras to begin with, but they all made it to the ThinPak version with them intact. These extras include video commentary for Slayers: The Motion Picture and Slayers Premium, as well as a behind the scenes omake done by Crispin Freeman for Premium. I am not a big dub fan, but I did enjoy listening to Crispin and admiring how he crossed the country just to reprise his role as Zelgadiss from the Central Park Media dub of the TV series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers
Unlike watching one of the TV series, it's almost impossible to lump all of these movies together and judge them as one work. So I'm giving each movie an individual summary and grade.

Slayers: The Motion Picture - B+
After relieving some bandits of their loot, Naga drags Lina off to Mipross Island, a place renowned for their hot springs. Lina would like to enjoy her vacation, but she keeps getting a series of dreams where she sees a young boy and woman in the beginnings of a romance. At the same time, she comes face to face with a Mazoku, Joyrock, who is utilizing the people of Mipross Island to feed his appetite for fear and anger. It's through the dreams, and the mage behind them, that Lina is convinced to go change the past - not just to defeat Joyrock, but according to the mage, this battle has a heavy stake in her future as well.

This movie was funny in all the right places and is a great tie-in to the TV series, and in fact is pretty much the same mix of comedy, action and drama that Slayers Next is. It is one of those movies that can be watched on its own, but having seen the TV series and being a big Lina/Gourry fan, I really enjoyed the foreshadowing of future events that takes place here, right down to the jellyfish theme running rampant throughout the movie. The Essential Anime print of this movie was used, meaning that Naga's name's been restored from Nahga and the spell names are accurate - unlike some of the later movies. The one problem with this movie is that 2/3s of it is paced well, but then it suddenly speeds up and races through the climax of the movie. It really needed to be a 90-minute feature rather than a 66-minute one. I would had also have loved to see Lina question how this would affect her future more, or a visual (like a shot of Gourry in the ending montage credits) that illustrates how Lina going back to the past changed her future. I saved this movie to watch last and I'm glad I did, because it is the second-best out of the entire box.

Slayers Return - C
This is the weakest movie out of the bunch, simply because the plot is not memorable and even Lina and Naga aren't very funny themselves in it, especially when compared to Great. Lina decides to help a young woman whose village is in trouble in order to get a chance at a mysterious Elven treasure left behind in the village. Naturally, Naga decides she wants the treasure for herself and makes a grab at it. The movie tries to take itself too seriously at first, which causes the resulting humor later on to fall flat. I finished this movie simply to finish it, and like the fourth movie, it'll be something good to have on as background noise.

Slayers Great - A
This is my favorite movie out of the entire bunch and I couldn't stop laughing. Lina and Naga save a young woman (voiced by Ah! My Goddess' Kikuko Inoue) from a runaway golem and discover that her father is a master creator of golems. This has both girls dreaming of all the riches that could be made off of one of the golems. But, to Lina's surprise, the father finds her an inspiration and wants her to be a model - which suits her just fine. This ruffles Naga's feathers and the two of them get into a fight as Naga goes off to side with the golem maker's son in a huge match of two golems where the golem makers have built a gigantic, but very cute, version of Lina and a gigantic, but very accurate down to the jiggling breasts, version of Naga. As for the two sorceresses, they wind up becoming the so-called core of these creatures. The result is absolutely hilarious and leads to a good ending with a few surprises.

Slayers Gorgeous - B-
Lina and Naga get involved in a bitter family feud...all for a raise in the spoiled princess' allowance. I spent half of the movie rolling my eyes at the entire situation, as well as Lina. The best part was when Lina and Naga were pitted against each other, resulting in Naga tossing a chunk of ice with a frozen frog embedded in it at Lina, Lina destroys the ice but winds up with the frog in her hair. Eventually, it finds a comfortable home between Naga's breasts, which I'm sure it enjoyed. Another high point is seeing Lina's Dragon Slave fail. Since this movie comes before the TV series, Lina has yet to utilize the Giga Slave in anything other than practice and does not know the Ragna Blade spell yet - the only two in her arsenal that are more powerful than the Dragon Slave in the anime canon. From that point until the end (about the last 15-20 minutes), the movie suddenly takes an upswing and gets very interesting. This was my first exposure to Naga and it's nice to see her and Lina working together. It's a different type of partnership from what I've grown used to seeing when Lina's with Gourry, and it works. This movie is good for if I want to have something running in the background and not have to pay full attention to it.

Slayers Premium - B-
After four movies of Lina and Naga, it's a jolt to pop in a disc and suddenly see the cast change, as the TV series crew consisting of Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadiss and Xelloss make their big-screen debuts with this 30-minute film. The animation is gorgeous, and Lina, Amelia and Zelgadiss are drawn more like their manga/novel counterparts than the anime. The plot is simple - Lina and Gourry are in a seaside town after completing a mission where Gourry manages to bring in most of the haul and Lina blows everything up. As his reward, Gourry gets a huge platter of the day's catch, including one of the famous octopi the area is known for. When he eats it, he gets cursed to speak octopi language and his among the dozens of others to be afflicted and the two have to find a cure. They encounter a young woman named Ruuma, who like the young woman in Return, begs Lina to save the town.

This plays out like a filler episode of the anime, with appearances by the entire TV cast and even a cameo by Naga at the end (though she actually turns out to be important to the resolution.) There's a lot of good little moments in this movie. The first few minutes covering Lina and Gourry's expedition, fight over the food and Gourry getting cursed are hilarious. The first battle under the sea is absolutely gorgeous to watch. The second battle featuring Lina's signature Dragon Slave is also beautiful and leads to a very fitting end.

However, the good moments are balanced out by the ones that don't work. More screentime is given to Ruuma, the girl who wants to aid the octopi and the octopi themselves rather than to the initial Slayers cast. As a result, if you blink, you'll miss Amelia, Zelgadiss and Xelloss (as Zelgadiss grouses on the R2 drama CD, two minutes, 13 seconds and six scenes.) Amelia's characterization takes a severe hit as all of her bad qualities are amplified by 10 in her short amount of screentime, and there was really no point to having Xelloss in the movie other than one hilarious moment when he uses his staff to literally knock information out of one of the octopi. I also discovered that for me, the movie wasn't that rewatchable. If definitely has its high moments, but the enemy isn't very interesting, so I found myself scanning quickly through the octopi scenes and most of the Ruuma ones. But it's enough to make me wish for a fourth TV series based on the recently concluded Knight of Aqualord manga that uses this style of animation. Because despite the mediocre plot, it was good to see the TV cast together again.

In Summary:
The five Slayers movie run the gamut of what the series has to offer and actually serve as a good taste of the series for someone who is not familiar with it. For those who have seen the TV series and not the movies, it's a good insight into Lina's adventures before she met Gourry and an additional one featuring the TV cast (from my guess, Premium is set between the second and third TV seasons.) What makes this works is that Naga is quite different from anyone else in the Slayers fellowship. Her power is roughly at Lina's level and the two of them complement each other very well as friends and adversaries. These are nice to watch if you don't want to immerse yourself in something that has a long and engaging plot and need either a laugh or something on in the background. However, there is a progression from the first movie to the last, as Lina is 13-14 in the first four movie and is around 17 in Premium. It's very small, but you can see that she has matured in that time based on the similar setups for Return and Premium, where Lina is asked both times to save a town. Lina hedges in Return until she learns there's a possible treasure and takes the job. She accepts immediately in Premium without asking for an award, because she has a personal stake in this. Even though the movies aren't part of an overall story arc, it's always nice to see character growth.

Features
Japanese 2.0/5.1 Language,English 2.0/5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Spanish Subtitles (Slayers: The Motion Picture only),Commentary with Cynthia Martinez (Lina) and Kelly Manison (Naga) and English Dub Producer Matt Greenfield (Slayers: The Motion Picture),Commentary by Cynthia Martinez (Lina) & Crispin Freeman (Zelgadis) (Slayers Premium),Behind the scenes with Crispin Freeman (Slayers Premium)

Review Equipment
Emerson 27" TV, Sony DV-NS425P Progressive-Scan DVD player, Yamaha receiver, Sony speakers.

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