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Mania Grade: B+

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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: 30
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Slayers

Slayers Premium

By Dani Moure     April 22, 2005
Release Date: January 17, 2005


Slayers Premium
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev have teamed up again along with their friends from the original Slayers TV show to save an indulgent village from the wrath of an underwater nemesis.

Lina thinks spending a little time by the seaside will afford her some much needed R&R, but little does she know the action is about to begin! After accepting their much awaited reward of seafood delights from a fishing village, Lina and Gourry discover that the village food supply has been cursed. Whoever eats the food, loses their ability speak in anything but a bizarre aquatic language. Lina must brave the perils of the deep to get to the bottom of this mysterious hex on humanity!

And what would Lina say about the feeling Gourry is trying to tell her - if she could only understand this strange tongue?

The Review!
The final Slayers special returns to the cast of the TV series for another special outing.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese 5.1 track for my main review, and noticed no dropouts or distortions. The track itself is solid, though the directionality wasn't greatly noticeable to my ears. The dub sounded like a lot of fun from the portions I listened to, with Cynthia Martinez sounding great as Lina, and likewise Crispin Freeman, who reprises his role of Zelgadis from CPM's dub of the TV series, sounded on top form. Having not yet seen the TV series, I can't comment on the recasting of the other returning characters.

Video:
The video quality looks the best out of all of ADV's Slayers releases. The anamorphic widescreen transfer is vibrant and sharp, with the bright colours coming across really well. The slightly washed out look that past releases had in places is noticeably absent here. I noticed no artifacting or other technical issues.

Subtitles are the standard ADV 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 Ruuma as the central focus, with Gourry, Zelgadis, Amelia and Xellos dotted around, and all the characters seemingly falling. The back has the blurb for the show, with a couple of screenshots. The bottom half is dominated by production credits, and ADV UK's standard bars of technical information. This cover looks nice.

Menu:
The menus are nothing particularly exciting, and really there's not much to say about them. The main menu is static with the front cover artwork taking up the right hand side of the screen, and the selections in the centre. There's a lot of empty space on the left side. Each sub-menu is static with a different image, and there's a different piece of music playing over each menu page. Given how basic they are, access times are naturally nice and fast.

Extras:
Given the running time of this feature, ADV went all out to get whatever they could piled on, and it's a couple of great features (for fans of the English actors, at least). First up is a commentary track with Cynthia Martinez (Lina) and Crispin Freeman (Gourry). It's a funny track that's really easy to listen to, and for fans of the dub it's a must to hear. I enjoyed it a lot. The other main feature is an interview with Crispin Freeman. He's one of the most prominent English voice actors around with a huge fan base, and I have to admit it was really interesting watching what he had to say. He talks about all sorts of things, from what it was like returning to Slayers after such a long time to his career in general. Again, it's a great listen. Rounding out the extras is a quick trailer for the show.

For those not interested in English extras, these won't be too relevant though and won't even go part of the way to making up for the running time of the feature.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Slayers specials have been really interesting for me to watch. As my first exposure to the franchise, it means I'm watching it in reverse to how it was originally released, but chronologically correct. At least until now. Premium breaks the mould set by the previous releases and instead focuses on the cast of TV characters, in what becomes something of a cast reunion. Naga is sadly (almost) nowhere to be found, but nonetheless this is an enjoyable adventure.

The story opens with Lina and Gourry eating some lovely octopus in a fishing village, only to find out from a few of the villagers that this octopus is cursed. Whoever eats it is left speaking some strange language that no one understands (except an octopus), and naturally Gourry has already swallowed some. A young woman called Ruuma comes to give him the bad news, but offers to help.

As it turns out, the octopuses underwater are plotting an evil plan. With the humans eating them as if they were a delicacy, they decide to take their fight back to the humans. Knowing Lina is there and on their side, they decide to unleash their guardian spirit on the townspeople (most of whom also end up speaking gobbledygook).

Zelgadis and Amelia join in on the action, as does Xellos, all arriving to help Lina and the townspeople. The group take their fight to the octopuses, but all hell soon breaks loose.

It's hard to really talk in much depth about Slayers Premium, in part because at its heart it's just more Slayers, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but also because it's so short. Clocking in at a mere half hour (when you take away the end credits), the story is pretty simple and quite tight, but also the kind of nonsensical one that you'd probably expect.

As silly as it is though, with octopuses threatening to destroy the humans and take over, it's also absolutely hilarious. Like a lot of comedies, Slayers is something that I think is best enjoyed in smaller doses over a longer space of time. Perhaps in part also because I haven't yet watched the TV series, I still don't tire of the jokes that the crew come up with, and the fact that it's with the TV cast that I've had little exposure to only helped keep things more fresh for me.

Lina comes off great here as the well known magic user that the rest of the group seems to be attracted to. She and Gourry play off each other really well and they have a real knack for the comedic timing. While I don't know the background between Amelia and Zelgadis, I found their antics extremely enjoyable, and though he didn't do much Xellos was quite good fun as well.

The villains come off really well, too. Yes, they're all octopuses, but that actually works to the show's advantage in a lot of ways, particularly from the comedy standpoint. Every time they speak initially, the fact that we're hearing a translated version is flashed up on the screen and even that made me laugh. The numerous lines from their leader and his delusions of grandeur just made the octopus antics all the more sweet for me.

I have to admit to one disappointment, though; the lack of Naga. She's been a real asset to the specials in the past, and it's a shame she's barely here at all, though her cameo is funny. In fact, I liked the way they played it up as though she may end up being the guardian, but then wasn't at all.

The animation is really good for the feature, and with it being the newest of them all it looks the best of the bunch in a lot of ways. The creators also discovered computer graphics for this outing, and get a fair amount of use out of it, including some Matrix inspired "bullet time" pans and some great water effects and fight sequences.

It's just a shame that it's all over so quickly, and therein lies the release's biggest problem " it's way too short for its own disc really, but it wouldn't be a problem if it was appropriately priced. But it's not, not in the slightest. No matter how many extra features are on this disc (a commentary and interview in this case), there's no way a full price, �20 MSRP is anywhere near good value for money. It's a shame for Slayers fans as they'll want this release, but unless they wait for a sale they'll have to pay a high price for it (and for comparison, the US release carried an MSRP of $14.98).

In Summary:
The content is hilarious and it's a great Slayers outing, that I'm sure fans of the TV series would find a nice swan song as this was the last animated show. Unfortunately, despite having some interesting extras it's just not worth the full-price ADV UK are asking for it. Very few shows would be, and this isn't one of them. So for fans, the show is a definite recommendation, and for anyone looking for a good fantasy comedy the same applies, but just wait until you can pick it up in a sale or something.

Features
Japanese Language (5.1),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Commentary with Cynthia Martinez and Crispin Freeman,Interview with Crispin Freeman

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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