Slayers Season 4 Set (Slayers Revolution) - Mania.com



Blu-ray Review

Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 59.98
  • Running time: 312
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 1080p
  • Disc Encoding: H.264/AVC
  • Series: Slayers

Slayers Season 4 Set (Slayers Revolution)

Slayers Season 4 Set (Slayers Revolution) Anime Blu-ray Review

By Chris Beveridge     September 29, 2010
Release Date: October 26, 2010


Slayers Season 4 Set (Slayers Revolution)
© FUNimation

Sad to say, but Lina's chest doesn't get more impressive in high definition.

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.

The Review!

Audio:
FUNimation's lossless presentation of Slayers Revolution is good if a touch surprising in some ways. The set has both languages tracks in Dolby TrueHD, the Japanese in stereo and the English in 5.1, so we get a good lossless presentation. There's invariably differences in presentation between languages but it's interesting how they come across here. The Japanese track generally feels louder, a rarity in general, but it's more of a full feeling to it without much in the way of placement. The English 5.1 track isn't quite as loud but the dialogue is more firmly placed with the characters, giving it a better sense of presence and conversation when it happens. It's not as overpowering because of this as well and ends up feeling more natural. Both tracks are good though, solid and clean with no dropouts or distortions, but the 5.1 mix is the one that makes out with a more natural presentation.

Video:
Originally airing in 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is split across two discs in a standard high definition format of nine/four, with the first disc being dual layered and the second single layered. This was the first Slayers TV series in widescreen and given a source upscale to high definition, two things that really gives it a much strong visual presentation than anything that came before. The encoding for it is pretty good and I was impressed to see the opening sequence in particular get such a high bit rate with it being mostly in the high thirties (and the PS3 registering it going into the lower 40s, which is definitely possible with the way the format is designed). Colors were very vibrant when I saw the DVD version and here it's even more appealing while maintaining a much stronger and solid look to it. There's a lot of richness to the presentation here which lets the show really shine, especially since a lot of character animation doesn't have a lot of detail. Letting the colors draw the eye works wonders and this presentation looks great.

Packaging:
Slayers Revolution get a good package that mirrors what we saw in the DVD release which in turn kept things similar to the first three DVD season that FUNimation put out. The set is in a standard thin slipcover with a single blue Blu-ray case to hold the two discs. The slipcover and the discs have the same kind of gold ornate framing around them that we saw on the DVD editions which I liked since it gave it a touch of elegance. 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. There's a bit more open space 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 single sized Blu-ray case which uses the same kind of framing and artwork as the front of the slipcover. The back cover is also the same as the slipcover's back cover while the interior artwork is a bit different. It's here that we get the additional piece of artwork from the DVD release that has Lina and Gourry together looking all chipper on the right side while the left side breaks down the episode numbers and titles for each disc. This makes it nicely reversible if you want to keep the slipcover and retain that on the outside but use a different piece once you take the slipcover off. No show related inserts are included with this release.

Menu:
The menu for Slayers Revolution is pretty decent as the bottom strip has the main navigation piece which also doubles for the pop-up menu during playback. It takes some of what we see in the cover with the framing along the sides of the navigation and a clean look all around. The central artwork portion uses some good pieces of the characters that lets them stand out nicely along with some upbeat music that helps to set the atmosphere just right. The additional framing on the left and right sides just gives it a little more of an elegant feel that I think works pretty nicely FUNimation's continuing to branch away from using just clips from the show as the focus point and I'm definitely enjoying that. While the menu uses a good number of clips here, it's not taking up the entire screen and doesn't dominate. I'm also liking that they're shifting away from tiny navigation pieces that are harder to read. Everything looks good here, loads smoothly and is problem free. The only problem here is the usual in that it doesn't read our players' language presets.

Extras:
None.

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.
 
In Summary:
I originally went into Slayers Revolution with a lot of trepidation on the DVD release but found myself thoroughly enjoying the show more than I did the previous three seasons from the decade before. This Blu-ray edition takes the really strong look of the show and allows it to pop even more with its vibrancy and design. It’s really interesting to see the changes in things over the years, from watching the original full frame series on this TV set and setup and then seeing how a new series is done. Everything here is just taken up so many notches to such a great looking and fun show that it’s positively infectious.
 
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 Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment

 

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.

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