The gang is on a quest to find a particular jar before Rezo can be resurrected, which could possibly bring Shabringdo back as well. It's like old home week on Slayers.
What They Say Lina's gang and their new ally Pokota are hot on the trail of the Hellmaster's Jar! It's no ordinary piece of pottery - it holds the soul of Rezo the Red Priest. Opening the vessel and resurrecting Rezo is the only hope Pokota has of saving his kingdom's people. With masked assassins, headless knights, and shifty Xellos in the mix, only one thing is certain: destruction is guaranteed!
Audio: FUNimation's lossless presentation of Slayers Evolution-R 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 Evolution-R 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 classic feeling. The front of the slipcover looks good with Lina and Rezo both wielding their powers with very different expressions to them set against a black background, not that you see much of it because of the amount of character artwork. The back of the slipcover is done up as a piece of parchment where there's a brief summary and a lot of pictures and some character artwork. The previous set did things as a wanted poster while this one wants to show off things from the show itself. The remainder has the very small print production credits and a clean technical grid that lists everything clearly.
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 by herself reaching outward set against a whole lot of black space that's kind of surprising 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.
The menu for Slayers Evolution-R 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.
The only extras here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequence found on the second volume.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers) I'm still in shock that I liked the Slayers Revolution season. I'm in even more shock that I really liked it and it turned out to be my favorite of all the seasons. And unfortunately, that also includes this one. Evolution-R isn't bad though and I still found it to be better than the first three seasons, but it feels a bit less defined overall as it's not quite as tight or as much fun overall compared to Revolution. Still, the cast has a good deal of fun overall here and it does a nice job of cleaning up the remaining storyline from the previous season and working through some of the bigger ties that go all the way back to the beginning of the first season.
This season plays around some basic ideas as we learned a lot about what was going on in the previous season about Rezo and what he did to Taforashia where Pokota came from. With the promise, or threat, of Rezo being revived, the show takes on the focus of having Lina and the group trying to hunt down a Hellmaster's Jar. As in Hellmaster Phibrizzio from much earlier in the series overall. The Jar was what was used to transfer Rezo's spirit between bodies and Pokota needs it back so he can make his own transference. But it's not that simple as Pokota's body as Posel is what Rezo was intending to revive himself in so he could go forward and do the good that he often does do. Pokota would like nothing better than to deny him that, but Rezo's revival in that body is what will break the seal on his kingdom and free everyone within. Albeit with a disease, but one that can now be treated.
Slayers Evolution-R spends about the first half of the show working through the chase for the right Jar. It's fairly straightforward and mostly episodic as we see them going to different towns and investigating different rumors and tales. Early on in their quest they pick up someone to help them in the form of Nama, a young woman who is essentially a spirit bonded to a suit of armor that's just a little bit ditzy. Lina is eternally frustrated by her and the way her memory works as she forgets key things until the last moment, so Lina often slaps her around a lot. Or rather, she slaps around the helmet a lot and tries blowing her up, though that has little effect on her due to the way a Jar was used on her to get her into this form. Nama is a fairly comedy driven character and her interaction with Lina is fun, but you really don't miss her once she disappears about halfway through the season.
The season has to real main focuses in addition to the hunt for the Jar. The first is the plan for revenge that Zuuma has as he's doing his best to take down Lina. Xellos is quite interested in him since he apparently has a Jar that may be Rezo's, which is in turn under the protection of Ozzel as time goes on. Ozzel takes on a more significant role this time around as she's traded between owners here and there as Zuuma manipulates her for his own goals, but with Ozzel being a puppet of Rezo, everything she does is for his goals as well. Zuuma's story and some of the trickery her runs was pretty sub par until we get to the crux of it and the time spent with Abel and his father really made a lot of things about the subplot fun.
The big part of the series revolves around the revival of Rezo himself since you know that it will all come back to him. I really did not care for the Rezo character in the first season in general, from his demeanor to his overall motivations for everything he did. That he was a container for something so very powerful made him dangerous, but as it turns out, the real danger all along was Lina. Rezo's return comes in a couple of different forms before it takes over as the big epic boss battle during the end run of the season, but what we learn from him is that when he was alive before, witnessing what Lina is capable of is what really made him nervous and worried in his own way as he saw her as a true power to be reckoned with. Considering how many big evil's she's dealt with over the seasons, well, not many people will deny that aspect of her.
At the end of this season, there's one thing that really sticks in my mind that does separate this show from a lot of others. And that's that the show really hasn't grown that much in one way that most series do. When it comes to magic, Lina and the main group haven't found themselves continually getting stronger and more powerful spells. Of course, part of that is because Lina has started off with the Dragon Slave and then the Giga Slave, which featured some really big complex issues, but there hasn't been a push for her and others to become even more amazingly powerful. There's an upper limit to the power they can have and it seems like they've already hit it for the most part and they have to be creative instead when it comes to solving problems. Or dragging out the Giga Slave when nothing else comes to mind. I love this aspect of it because they don't continually pull new major epic spells out of their asses.
While the visual and audio presentation of Slayers Evolution-R is pretty solid and on par for what we saw with the previous set, the plot isn't as solid as the previous season while some of the comedy falls a little flat at times. The core cast of characters is what makes it fun though and they're in good form here as Lina fears something bigger may be at stake with Rezo's revival. There's just something about the story here that doesn't come across as compelling for awhile and when we do hit Rezo's arc, it loses some initial steam because of the way Rezo seems so senile. It's certainly not a bad season and I like it more than the first three, but I keep finding Slayers Revolution to be my favorite among the five seasons overall. What says the most, especially considering my history with Slayers, is that this season and the previous does leave me wanting to see more made and hoping it happens. I'm definitely glad for the bump in overall quality that we get with Slayers in high definition, though I can certainly understand why many will pass on it because the DVD sets came out just this past spring with no notice of a Blu-ray set in the offing. But with the way licensing works, it's little surprise that if we're going to get a staggered release, we won't know about it until it happens after the initial DVD release. And that's the troublesome game that FUNimation has to play because people will start holding off and it could impact said potential Blu-ray release. For those that missed the previous sets, this is definitely the way to go.
Features Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 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.
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