Slayers Next Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B-
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: NA
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe/Japan
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £15.99
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Slayers

Slayers Next Vol. #4

The fate of the world is at stake! Plus - a little wuv

By Bryan Morton     September 18, 2009
Release Date: August 03, 2009


Slayers Next Vol. #4
© MVM Entertainment

There's a moral to this volume of Slayers: watch out for the little guy.  And don't mess with things you don't understand. And love will conquer all.  Wait, that's three morals already – and I'm sure you'll find more once you've watched it yourself…

What They Say
Lina is drawn into a cataclysmic showdown with the Demon dragon King! Luckily, she's got a lead on the location of the original Claire Bible. After all the disappointments of the past few adventures, will she be so eager to take on yet another perilous journey, with only a slim chance of success? You bet!

Then, Gourry is kidnapped by the Hellmaster himself! Lina struggles desperately to find him in a city of ghosts. Time is running out, and Lina must follow her heart and risk everything...

Episodes Comprise
47 - The Thousand Year Old Truth! The Traitorous Dragon King!
48 - The Stolen Sword of Light! The End of the Demon Dragon King!
49 - The Menacing Swordsman! A Journey of Reunion!
50 - Sinister Trap! The Mysterious City of Ghosts!
51 - The Souls of the Dead! Lina's Final Decision!
52 - Go to NEXT! And Then Again...

The Review!
Audio:
Audio for both the Japanese and English language tracks is presented in 2.0 stereo.  I listened to the Japanese track for most of the disc – there's fairly limited use made of the soundstage.  Dialogue is clear and easy to pick out, and there were no apparent dropouts or other problems.

Video:
There were two versions of Slayers released in the US – the original release by Central Park Media, and a remastered version released more recently by FUNimation.  Most people would have been expecting MVM to release the remastered version, but it appears that's not the case as there are no FUNimation credits on the disc, only CPM ones.  The video itself is reasonable for its age – presented in 1.33:1 full-frame aspect, it's a little on the soft side but otherwise in reasonably good condition, with little in the way of obvious nicks or scratches.  However, the opening and closing credits include hardsubbed song lyrics in both English and Romaji, and the overlaid episode titles used on the original CPM release (which I have here for comparison) are also present.
 
Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
The main menu is a static screen, with Hellmaster, Lina and Gourry providing this volume's group image while the show's opening theme playing over the top.  Options are provided for Play, Episodes, Extras and Setup.  There are no transition animations, so it's all quick and easy to use.

Extras:
After a few volumes bereft of goodies, this volume finally serves up a few treats, in the form of a 15-minute 'actor interviews' video, featuring Lisa Ortiz (Lina), Veronica Taylor (Amelia) and Crispin Freeman (Zelgadis).  There's also a small (7 images) art gallery featuring the cover artwork used on the Japanese release of the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Battle rages above the mountains as Saygram and Xellos do battle, while Kilgasia leads Lina - and her unnoticed hanger-on, Martina - into the Claire Bible, where Lina hopes to find what she needs to defeat Gaav.  If she can just stop Martina from getting in her way.  The Bible's interior is a veritable maze, where the unwary can become eternally lost and with Monsters hiding round every turn - so it's not the sort of place to be careless.  While journeying through the labyrinth, though, Milgasia reveals a little about Xellos' true power - and why even he, a great golden dragon, is afraid to be near him.

But if Xellos is to be feared, what then of Xellos's master, the onimously-named Hellmaster?  Gaav (no pushover himself) is about to learn all about Hellmaster's power at first-hand, as he turns out to be closer to hand than – and has plans in hand that are far more deadly than anything Gaav had been scheming…

It's been about five years since I last watched these episodes, and in that time I'd clearly forgotten a lot of the smaller details of them.  Like just how much trouble Hellmaster would turn out to be – with Gaav very much appearing to be the Big Bad of the piece, Hellmaster kind of sneaks unobstrusively onto the scene, before making his move and turning things on their heads and the season heads towards its conclusion.  All of which makes my worry about the confrontation with Gaav possibly taking far too something of a false worry – he's out of the picture quite early into the disc, as the gang soon have far more troublesome things to deal with.  That's a good thing, as Gaav never comes across as more than a big bully…  Hellmaster, on the other hand – now here's a villain who knows how to be evil.  He's got the power, the plans, and the destructive nature that all Monsters possess by nature – and he's going to use them, in the way that's as entertaining (for him) as possible.  All while having the appearance of someone who wouldn't hurt a fly – and that's the first of the three morals I mentioned in the introduction.

As for the other two…  Lina's encounter with the Claire Bible (far more of a living entity than a book) teaches her the dangers that come with using powerful spells such as the Giga Slave, dangers that she never even knew existed that really do put a dampener on any enthusiasm she may have had to use them again.  Drama demands that she has to, of course, which brings us to the idea that love will conquer all – a moment that will have fans of the Lina / Gourry pairing, so far deprived of any sign of real romance between our two heroes, screaming at the screen in both joy and frustration.  But let's not spoil the ending.

Along the way, there's the return of some familiar faces, as a return to the city of Sairaag brings Gourry's long-time rival Zangulus into the fight, along with Sylphiel, newly powered-up with a Dragon Slave of her own.  Who says Lina gets all the fun.  The citizens of Sairaag will be rueing the day they ever heard of Lina Inverse, though, as that's two seasons where the city has played host to the final battle between good and evil, and suffered heavily as a result – but it's always nice to see old minor characters come back into play, as it shows the series does try to keep some continuity between seasons.

In summary:
Put it all together, and it's a good ending to the season – probably better than season one's.  Once again it's the fate of the world at stake, with the added bonus of a little mushy stuff for the more romantically-minded, and it manages to remain entertaining throughout – something Slayers doesn't always quite manage.  Good stuff.  Now, onto TRY…

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Actor Interviews, Cover Art Gallery

Review Equipment

Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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