The gang is all back together again with a fairly tight and solid new season that hits up the fantasy-comedy genre just right.
What They Say
Lina's on the run from a government inspector who's ready to put her away for good. Her crime? Just being herself! The guy's hot on her tail, but a tiny creature that actually has a tail might be Lina's biggest problem. Pokota's a powerful little furball, and his path of destruction is getting pinned on Lina. With so much explosive magic between them, you know things will go boom when they face off. But there's more to Pokota than anyone knows, and if Lina's gang can get to the bottom of his habit of blowing stuff up, they could end up with an awesome new ally.
Contains episodes 1-13.
FUNimation has a pretty standard setup here for its audio design with a good bilingual presentation. The original Japanese track is in stereo encoded at 192kbps and it hits up the forward soundstage in a very good way with a solid and engaging mix. Some stereo shows don't have much to offer but this one feels like it has a bit more impact and oomph to it. The English mix gets the bump up to 5.1 and that has a more full feeling to it while adding a good amount of oomph and impact to it as well above and beyond the stereo mix. The dialogue has a cleaner and stronger feel with more distinct placement in the few scenes overall where it's really noticeable. Both mixes are pretty good overall and left a positive impression as they play out.
Originally airing in 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is split across two discs in a standard seven/six format that works well and is pretty standard for FUNimation releases at this point. This is the first Slayers TV series in widescreen and the first for the property in several years and the result is that we get a very appealing show with lots of vibrant colors and smooth looking animation. Even when the first series came out it felt like it was older but here the show looks very new and modern while still adhering to the original designs. The transfer captures this very well with what's a very clean looking piece where the character animation is solid and there's little significant noise and no cross coloration and very little line noise during panning sequences.
Slayers Revolutin get a good package that mirrors some of what we saw in the previous three season box set that came out last year with its framing and general look. The set is in a standard thin slipcover with two slim cases inside to hold the discs. The slipcover and the discs have the same kind of gold ornate framing around them that we saw on the box set release which gives it good continuity. The front of the slipcover looks good with the core cast of characters there with really bright and good looking designs set against a black background. The back of the slipcover is done up as a wanted poster using some hilarious artwork of Lina that really helps her reputation. The taglines a bit longer than usual overall but it sells the show just right as does the main summary paragraph itself. A few shots from the show are included to remind us that Xellkos appears in here as well which gives the show a bit more of a hook.
Inside the slipcover we get the two slim cases which uses the same kind of framing as the front of the slipcover. The first volume has a great standard shot of Gourry and Lina together against the black background which allows the character artwork to stand out even more vibrantly but not overly so. The second volume puts Lina and Amelia together which is nice but I would have preferred to see her with a certain someone else named Zelgadis. The back of the covers are the same and they use more of the framing while having a large sheet of parchment which has text just along the top half with the episode numbers for that respective volume. The covers are fully reversible with different pieces of artwork that came from the Japanese releases that have a few pairings of the characters. No show related inserts are included in this release.
The menus for this release are cute and work well as each disc has a different piece of full screen artwork with a parchment laid over part of it where we get the illustration of Lina with the navigation next to it. The caricature piece still amuses me a lot since it's so spot on for her look. The navigation itself is very simple since there's not much here outside of the show but it all works well and flows nicely. The combination of the instrumental music and the full color animation pieces come together nicely and it sets the mood for the show pretty well. Unsurprisingly, the discs don't read our players' language presets and default to English with sign/song subtitles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I have a love/hate relationship with Slayers.
Eleven years after Slayers Try went off the air, the franchise has returned with a thirteen episode season called Slayers Revolution. During the time between the two series there were still a number of manga specials and light novels coming out, one series of which ran through 2008 when this series came out. Add in some of the OVAs and movies that came out after the TV series ended as well and there's certainly been no lack of Slayers material for the Japanese fan. With FUNimation's rescue of the original three seasons it was practically a given that they would get this release as well. Having marathoned all three seasons just last fall to prepare for this season, I was ready for anything they'd throw at me.
Except to learn that I'd like it a lot.
Slayers Revolution picks up after some amount of time since we've last seen the cast and most of them have gone their own way to their own things. Gourry and Lina have run into a real problem where they've realized that they've practically decimated the entire bandit population in their wanderings. So in order to make sure they have plenty to hunt in the future, they've opted to move on to hunting down pirates which they practically giggle about when we see them on their latest run in with a ship of them. This attack is watched from afar where we see that Amelia and Zelgadis have come to find them as they have a man named Wizer Freion with them who has asked for Amelia's help to find them. It's a cute reunion when everyone gets back together but it turns awkward when it's revealed that Wizer is there to arrest Lina.
As it turns out, there's a big issue going on around that area these days as someone who can cast the Dragon Slave spell has been destroying the Magic Tanks that the country of Ravinagald has been acquiring for defensive purposes. Wizer is a special investigator for the country of Ravinagald and has been sent to bring her in since she's the only one really known to use this spell and everything fits her normal mode of operation. Lina's not keen on the idea and she does get some backup from her friends when a Magic Tank does arrive on the scene in the town and something else ends up destroying it. That something else turns out to be a rather powerful sorcerer in a very cute little animal body named Pokota. Pokota is almost like a miniaturized cute version of Lina as he has the same attitude and deals with things in the same way by going all out. Of course, Wizer is knocked out when all of this happens and that helps to kick off a minor back and forth chase between the two of them. Lina at least has some of her friends back at her side as they try to figure out what Pokota is up to.
In previous Slayers series, there was less of a formal break in the middle but there was always a halfway mark where a big event happened. It's a bit more distinct here because of the titling but it's also more distinct because the story itself feels tighter. The initial premise of discovering who is doing the things Lina's being blamed for turns into something larger, especially when Xellos wanders into the scene. It turns out that there's a marquess named Gioconda in Ravinagald who is responsible for a lot of what's going on as she's stolen the Magic Tanks from Pokota who actually developed them and a fake Sword of Light that has Gourry drooling a whole lot. With Wizer still sort of tagging along, Lina gets used by him to deal with a few side issues, such as a sorcerer who is stealing pets to make new chimera, that invariably end up tying to the main story itself.
And that main story is really quite strong. As Pokota slowly becomes an accepted member of the group, we learn about the country of Taroshina which disappeared into the mists over ten years ago. The country had been hit hard by the Durum plague of which there was no cure at the time and Pokota relates how a sorcerer came and saved them by putting the survivors in a seal until such a time as a cure could be found. To protect them and to seek out a cure, the sorcerer gave Pokota and Duclis chimera like bodies to carry out those duties. Over time, the two have now ended up on opposite sides because of political issues related to what happened when the plague first struck and how other countries helped. Or didn't help depending on the point of view. What makes the whole situation both strange and amusing is that it's revealed that the Red Priest Rezo was the sorcerer who save the country and that his death should have released the seal, yet it hasn't. Lina and the others are a little gunshy about revealing that they actually killed Rezo though to Pokota for obvious reasons.
Slayers Revolution does follow a fairly traditional story structure model with the basic introduction and setup and then more serious elements as we start to understand what's going on. The show is surprisingly light on what could be considered fluff or filler material as there are only two episodes involved in the journey to the marquess that could be considered that somewhat. The larger fight at the end does bring in a new big epic kind of hard to defeat demon from another dimension but similar to past seasons it lacks the kind of serious importance to it because you know that it's just a sort of half-season bad guy to be dealt with, at least for now. But overall, the structure of the season works really nicely in getting the gang all back together and having a legitimate reason for everyone to be where they are, including getting Xellos involved and having a trip back to Seyruun so we can see Sylphiel and Amelia's father.
One of the things I was most curious about with Slayers Revolution was how my perception of it would be changed by having something more modern than any other past incarnation. The previous TV episodes certainly were part and parcel of the time they were created but I never cared much for the visual design of it. The OVAs and movies had a feel that I liked better which partially attributed to why I liked them more. With the show now in widescreen and animation done by JC Staff, the use of the original designs done to current animation really makes it a more vibrant, fluid and attractive show. The characters leap off the screen in a way they didn't before and the settings look great. It has a richer and more alive feeling to it that makes the antics work better and the characters personalities stronger because of it. The animation here went a fairly long way towards improving my view of the series.
I went into Slayers Revolution with a lot of trepidation. After revisiting the first three seasons last year and finding it didn't improve my view of it, something I've had happen with other shows, I figured I was in for more of the same. Time has been good to the Slayers franchise in general though as JC Staff has made this season quite engaging with a solid story that works on a number of levels as new details are revealed and we see how it all ties together. The scripting is solid, they avoid overdoing the gags when you take in the season as a whole and the animation has breathed new life into the series. I won't say I loved it, but it's definitely leaps and bounds better than the first three seasons that I thought ran their gags into the ground and has paper thin stories with too much filler. Slayers Revolution is pretty tight overall and it tells a good story that keeps your attention while having fun. Definitely recommended.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania is the premiere online destination for fans of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and anime entertainment. It is the largest community offering profiles, video, science fiction movies, sci fi TV, art, sci fi comics, photos, cheats, blogs, science fiction books, forums and feedback. Mania offers insider entertainment industry info and original content for science fiction, fantasy, and horror entertainment genres including: video games, comics, gadgets, movies, television, toys, music, books, DVDs and more.