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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: C+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: �19.99
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterbox Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Slayers

Slayers Return

By Dani Moure     February 23, 2004
Release Date: March 15, 2004


Slayers Return
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
The cutely indomitable Lina Inverse and the quite inexplicable Naga the Serpent are in trouble all the way up to their eyebrows once again!

What starts out as the simple task of ridding a village of some villains turns into a full-blown fiasco when Lina and Naga (gasp!) realize their spells won't work. An ancient elf-made weapon, a would-be world conqueror and a plot with more twists than a twisting factory: this Slayers adventure is sure to have you tied up in knots with laughter!

The Review!
The ever-popular Slayers return in their second theatrical outing, which proves to be a very amusing adventure.

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. I also spot-checked the English dub, and noticed no problems. From what I heard, the dub was very good, with Cynthia Martinez nailing Lina, and Kelly Manison being an excellent Naga. She doesn't quite nail the evil laugh, though, which just has to be experience on the Japanese track, as performed Maria Kawamura; it has me laughing out loud almost every time.

Video:
The video is a solid transfer for the most part, that looks good but won't blow anyone away. Presented in 1.85:1 letterbox format, the print is fairly clean and free from nicks and dirt, but there's a bit of grain present. The transfer is also not quite as sharp and clear as some more recent shows, which is probably to be expected. Unfortunately, the subtitles aren't entirely within the picture, meaning that if you zoom in on a widescreen set, they'll get slightly chopped off.

Packaging:
The front cover is quite eye catching, with Lina, Naga and Saleena all getting a good segment of it. Lina is winking over on the right, while Naga takes the centre in her skimpy and revealing outfit that is sure to please fans of the series. On the left is Saleena, in an interesting pose that reveals her cleavage as much as possible. The fitting logo appears across the top of the cover. 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 definitely fits the show.

Menu:
The menus are nothing particularly exciting. The main menu is static with the cover image of Lina taking the right side of the picture, and the various selections on the left. Sub menus are all static, too, with fast access times.

Extras:
The only extras, if you can really consider them that, are trailers for the four ADV Slayers releases due this year; this movie's trailer, plus ones for Slayers Great, Slayers Gorgeous and Slayers Excellent. Unfortunately, like a few of ADV's older shows that are only just being released, this disc is lacking extras-wise.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Slayers is yet another franchise that I'm only now getting to experience for the first time. I've heard so many different reactions to the series that I was quite looking forward to trying it out myself. With 78 episodes spanning three TV series under its belt, the creators went to the well to keep the franchise alive, with numerous movies and OVAs produced. Story-wise, these all take place before the three TV series, which helps when it's your first dip into the Slayers universe.

The story of Slayers Return is pretty straightforward. After a brief scene foreshadowing some evil goings on, we join Lina and Naga at an inn, eating some food. Almost immediately, Naga gobbles some of Lina's food and starts on about not letting food go to waste. A boy listens on from the seat behind, and runs off quickly with Lina's luggage. A fireball later and the building is decimated, with Lina standing victorious over the robber. Except she's actually standing on top of Naga, while the thief runs away. An injured young girl then approaches, begging Lina for her help before collapsing in Lina's arms.

When the girl wakes up, she reveals that her village was taken over by a group with demons, who forced the villagers into labour. She managed to escape, and now wants Lina's help, since it'll take authorities a month to get enough reinforcements. Lina eventually accepts, with payment in the form of food, and Naga tags along because, well, she's part of the story. Arriving at the village of Biaz, they decide they need a strategy. But Lina reflects on some stories she's heard about this village and its magical history - that long ago, a village of elves apparently gave something to its headmaster.

The villagers are being made to dig, and Lina wonders what they're trying to find. Soon, the three ladies are faced with the lieutenant of the organization and his group of monsters, whom they swiftly defeat. The girl brings Lina and Naga to her father, who turns out to be the headmaster of the village and tells them about the elves and what they left behind (namely, a bracelet). Of course, Naga puts on the bracelet to see how it looks, but it won't come off. The group then set out to find the headquarters of the person who's causing all the trouble, and they eventually arrive at the barn, but the fun doesn't end there.

The story continues with some amusing twists and turns, such as how the big fight ends up not being a big fight at all, and the main bad guy failing miserably at his attempts to be evil. While plot twists explained away by comedy can often feel forced and contrived, in this film they actually work well and come off as funny as they should. Of course, there aren't exactly many layers to the story beyond such twists, with the plot being pretty standard fantasy fare involving elves, evildoers and secret treasure.

While the story of Slayers Return is hardly anything to shout about, it's a great device for the characters, who completely shine throughout. Despite the short running time of just over an hour, within a few minutes I was already endeared to Lina and Naga, and their amusing antics. Naga in particular is absolutely hilarious at the best of times, coming out with witty lines and great retorts for most of what Lina has to say (and she also has a side-splitting laugh). Lina also has some great moments, such as the scene at the beginning of the movie when she's standing on top of some rubble, but Naga is underneath. The pair play off each other really well throughout the film with great chemistry; their banter really is enjoyable to watch.

The other characters come off quite well, at least as you would expect in a movie such as this. Saleena seems to hope for the best once she sees what Naga and Lina are really like, and it ends up being quite funny as she watches them and we see her reactions to what they're doing. The bad guys are all put in amusing situations, with the leader being a total lost cause, who exaggerates everything to make it sound as evil as possible when it ends up being, well, not really bad at all. His gang of thugs even gives up on him, in a most amusing scene where Naga ends up inadvertently starting a fight which ends up being pointless in the end, anyway. And as for the golem and the monster at the end, well, you really have to see the pair to appreciate them.

The movie also benefits from a good budget, with some nice animation in there, and the character designs all look quite nice (including plenty of cleavage, especially on Naga), though it definitely has that 90s look, which has since made way for the "shinier" feel that a lot of newer shows have. The music is decent enough if not really outstanding, but the soundtrack fits the show as well as is needed.

If I had only one small gripe with the release itself, it'd be that I do feel the retail price is a little on the high side. While I appreciate the costs inherent in bringing shows over to the UK, especially in bilingual format, this show did have a reduced price for its US release because of the shorter runtime, and it'd have been nice to see that reflected here. Still, hopefully it won't put anyone off from trying this highly enjoyable show.

In Summary:
Despite its shorter run time, Slayers Return is still immensely enjoyable, and actually manages to be a complete story that doesn't totally alienate those who have no prior experience with the series. It's a hilarious little movie with endearing characters, that definitely has me looking forward to seeing more of what the Slayers series has to offer.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Slayers trailers

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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