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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Slayers

Slayers OVA Collection

By Chris Beveridge     January 11, 2008
Release Date: October 23, 2007


Slayers OVA Collection
© ADV Films


What They Say
In the annals of fantasy there is no mage as feared, no sorcerer as powerful as the fiery 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 Review!
Combining the Book of Spells and Excellent releases, the Slayers OVA collection covers much of what is better termed The Naga Years.

Audio:
Across the six episodes on this release, the audio is presented in its original stereo mix at 224 kbps. With the age of the OVAs and the general idea behind the sound mix, they aren't releases that are terribly in your face but there's a nice amount of bass to a number of scenes and as a forward soundstage mix it's pretty solid. There isn't a lot of directionality to it but overall it's a very clean and clear mix that's free of problems.

Video:
Originally released in 1996 and 1998, the transfer for the six OVAs on this release are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio. The OVAs are 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 on the Excellent disc 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 harkens back more to the feeling of the earlier ones as well as the TV series from the early 90's.

Packaging:
This release is done in a surprisingly thick double keepcase that almost makes you think there are more than two discs in here. The cover art is done in the same style as the Book of Spells and Excellent releases with the purple ringed background but it does use what appears to be different artwork for both Lina and Naga in comparison to what we've seen before. Both characters look good here and show off their assets nicely while letting you know just what you're getting for it. The back cover provides only a few shots from the show along the top and then goes into a decent summary of what the characters are like and the situations they get into. All six OVAs are listed by title and the discs extras are given prominent listing. The bulk of the other half of the cover is given over to production credits for both sides of the release while the bottom has the technical grid and required logos. The runtime for it is off however as it lists 150 minutes while the discs total 180 minutes, as each episode really is either twenty-nine or thirty minutes long. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu designs are the same as on the original discs. The menu layouts are similar across Slayers OVA releases in general as they feature a good shot of the cast using much of the cover artwork along one side while the selections ring down around them. Instant episode access is available from the top level and the navigation is simple and straightforward to use. 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. Both discs correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
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 and talking about their relationship with these characters over the course of the last five years. Each interview session runs just around five minutes. Also included is a production artwork portfolio and some of the original trailers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally released under the title Slayers Special, Book of Spells and then Slayers Excellent, this OVA collection contains six distinct stories set well before the events of the first TV series. A young, brash Lina Inverse travels throughout the country in search of treasure and a good meal; accompanying her on the journey is Naga, a sorceress whose skills are mostly in the field of managing to defy gravity and stay tucked neatly into a skimpy outfit. The only thing missing from this set are the movies, but I suspect we'll see a massive Slayers collection from ADV Films at some point, since it's the next logical progression for repackaging a series that's over ten years old now.

The pair's first adventure has Lina meeting with a strange alchemist named Diol; Diol has a modest proposal for Lina. He simply wants to remove Lina's head and fuse it with parts of dragons and demons to form a super chimera. Lina staunchly refuses causing Diol to unleash his most horrible creation against her -- ten clones of Naga. Lina's initial reaction to this horde of laughing monstrosities is amusing, but the remainder of the episode is Naga and the clones running around laughing. While it is funny for the first few minutes, it becomes a bit stale especially since nothing else really happens for the remainder of the episode.

We move quickly into the second adventure which finds Lina and Naga being hired by a mother to help her son Jeffrey become a knight. Jeffrey turns out to be clueless, clumsy, and an all-around mama's boy. But heaven help the person that speaks ill of Jeffrey for they will find themselves on the business end of mama's hammer. This becomes the running gag for the episode as Jeffrey bumbles from one confrontation to the next.

Finally, Lina and Naga are hot on the heels of Lagan, the vice president of the Magic Users Association. Lagan is searching for the powerful Shadow Reflector, a mirror that can create a duplicate of any opponent. It copies their powers, memories, and strengths but gives the shadow a completely opposite personality. The Association has placed a two hundred gold coin bounty on Lagan's head, and our spunky duo is out to claim it. They eventually catch up to Lagan but not before he obtains the Reflector and turns it against Lina and Naga. This turns out to be the funniest bit of all three episodes, as we find that the exact opposite of Lina and Naga's personality would be. There is also a classic moment where Naga's most prominent set of assets almost spell disaster for her.

While Naga provides plenty of fan service and gives Lina a great comedic foil, there just is not much substance to these first three episodes. It feels like the writers had a bunch of left over gags and concepts from the first TV series and decided to just slap them together piecemeal. You will find yourself laughing at various points in each episode, but the gags become a bit too repetitive as they are the only thing propping up the plot. The end result is amusing but does not leave much of an impression beyond the novelty of seeing Naga and her ten clones laughing their heads off while twenty-two globes bounce about and seeing the exact opposite of Lina and Naga. They may be forgettable episodes, but there are worse ways to spend ninety minutes on a lazy afternoon.

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 are 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.

In Summary:
It's been about eight years since we first saw the Book of Spells release and about four years since we first saw the Slayers Excellent release. Both shows are still pretty much exactly what they were then and they still entertain pretty well, depending on what you're looking for. The OVAs always played better for me as the shorter stories kept my attention better and had better pacing. While they are essentially filler pieces in a sense, not being attached to a TV series allows for more variety and less need to deal with a big picture. What makes it work the most though is the simple pairing of Naga and Lina. The two really have a great chemistry that I found lacking between the characters in the TV run. These six OVAs capitalize on that chemistry and bring it home every episode. While they won't draw in a lot of new fans with this new release, it's certainly good to have it all in one package. I just wish they had used a slimmer proper double keepcase.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Production Portfolio, Voice Actress Interviews

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 480p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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