The fate of the world rests, several times over, on a spunky sorceress and a dim swordsman who make a lot of unusual friends. The poor world…
What They Say
In a time of fantasy and magic, a band of misfits stumbles from adventure to adventure - and occasionally saves the world!
Lina Inverse, a spunky sorceress with a penchant for destruction, is joined by dashingly dim swordsman Gourry, driven young Amelia, and stoic Zelgadis on a journey spanning the realms. In lands where darkness reigns, they will be light. In lands where doom threatens peace, they shall be saviors. Yes, when evil arises, Lina and her ragtag crew action for the forces of good - and if fame, fortune, and food should fall their way, even better!
They're heroes. They're rogues. They're just looking to make a buck. They're the slayers!
Contains episodes 1-78 - all of Slayers, Slayers Next, and Slayers Try!
Slayers has a bit of an unusual audio makeup to it depending on which language you prefer. All three seasons are listed as being stereo presentations, encoded at 224kbps, and the sound pretty good with no real issues. It’s not exactly the most dynamic show to begin with, but everything is clean and clear and has a solid sound to it when it plays out. The oddness comes in the English language tracks, owing to what was done in the past, as the first two seasons are listed as two-channel mono while the third is listed as an actual stereo mix, again, all encoded at 224kbps. These are older dubs and don’t have quite the technical polish of more recent ones which doesn’t give it the best feeling, but all the mixes are decent and there aren’t any real problems with them.
Originally released in 1995, 1996 and 1997 respectively, this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Each season has twenty-six episodes spread across four discs in varying configurations of 7/6/7/6 that gets the job done. Slayers isn’t that old by this point, but it is a traditionally animated show and some of that does become apparent more so in the transfer. The earlier episodes more than the later, there’s some visible natural film grain that plays into the background noise and minor blocking. Each disc ranges around 2 ½ hours each, so there’s plenty of space for everything and a decent mid range bit rate. Slayers in any of its seasons isn’t going to look phenomenal and FUNimation put together a decent looking release overall. It mirrors what we saw with their individual season releases as well so there’s already an established view on how these look.
My biggest fear with this release was that with twelve discs, we’d probably get a stackpack. Thankfully, we got something a bit better with a digipak that uses a slide down slipcover to hold it all in. I would have preferred a side loading one just to keep it all together better though. The slipcover is pretty simple, using actual material from the show itself, as the centerpiece is of Lina using her magic to cast a big spell. It’s framed with an old book feeling with some ornate edges to it which works really nicely in giving it all definition. The back of the slipcover has a wanted poster on which we have the classic logo along with the four primary characters that are in each season. The summary is very simple, as is to be expected, and we get a few more shots from the show to round it all out. Technical information is pretty minimal but fits in with the FUNimation standard. Inside the slipcover we get the 6 plastic trays that hold two discs each wrapped with a simple thin cardboard piece done up as a menu. It mirrors what the main slipcover is like as it breaks down the episode numbers and titles by season and disc for all three seasons. It’s not the best as you can’t even see half of the second season or any of the third season unless you take out the final two discs of the third season. And there’s no breakdown of the discs extras anywhere to be seen.
The menu design for this release makes its ties to the cover art as each season has a different dark color to it but uses the ornate nature with the edges to frame it. The bottom third of the menu provides for the navigation against this design while the top section has a different piece of artwork or each volume that’s relevant for that particular disc in some way. There’s little to each disc that doesn’t have any extras to it, not that the extras add all that much to the navigation. Submenus load quickly and navigation is a breeze. FUNimation’s discs still don’t read player presets and that hasn’t changed here as it defaulted to English language with no subtitles for me on all of these discs.
The extras for this release are pretty minimal as there wasn’t much to bring over from the old CPM releases to begin with. Each season has what available clean opening and closings there are and the second season has a music video as well. The most interesting extra, at least from a curiosity standpoint, is on the first set which has the first episode presented in multiple languages in the extras section only. Sadly, it has no English subtitles so you can try and listen along while understanding it, but hearing the show in a variety of languages beyond English and Japanese has always been fascinating.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on quite a few light novels, which in turn spawned four seasons of anime, several OVAs and short movies as well as a few console games, Slayers is definitely one of the granddaddies of anime. It's that rare franchise that grew naturally over time, built up a solid following and really played its popularity well. The anime series, originally licensed and released by Software Sculptors, was one of the early holy grails of releases that got fans into anime because it was so accessible, especially since it fed into the fantasy realm which tabletop gamers could get into. After changing hands to Central Park Media and then to FUNimation, we now have this set that comprises the first three seasons in one mega set. We've looked at the show in the past in its various original forms, as well as the seasons as they've been re-released, so we'll take a short form look at them here before talking about it overall.
Season 1: Slayers
The opening season of Slayers introduces us to the core characters of Lina, sorceress supreme at age fifteen, as she spends her time traveling and defeating bandits for their loot so she can eat lots of food. She meets up with Gourry, a dim swordsman extraordinaire, and eventually befriends a man turned into a chimera as well as a young woman who loves justice far too much. The core group of four forms the basis of all seasons here as they deal with the demon lord Shabrnigdo that the Red Priest Rezo is trying to resurrect. Through the series the foundation is laid for how magic works, the specialties that each of the characters possess and the scope of what operates under the Lord of Nightmares in terms of the various dark lords. The world is at stake and this season clearly shows us why Lina is as highly feared as she is, and for more than just her voracious appetite.
Season 2: Slayers Next
The second season of Slayers takes what made the first one work and simply adds more to it. The core group of four reunite again rather quickly and they gain the addition of the popular character of Xellos, a wandering sorcerer type who is very mysterious. Dealing with a villain named Gaav and eventually a dark lord like Shabringdo named Phibrizzo, the end of the world is again at play and Lina has to figure out a way to stop it without actually causing it to happen with the only magic spell that can damage him – the Giga Slave. Xellos is the big catalyst in this season as his secrets are revealed as he brings a very different dynamic to the group. In addition to him, a childhood girl friend of Gourry's shows up in the form of a cleric named Sylphiel and there's also a really klutzy “evil” sorceress named Martina that's there for comedic effect. The season has a larger cast of supporting character that lets it get more complicated, but not in a a way that's compelling.
Season 3: Slayers Try
The stakes are upped in the third season of the series as the core group of four find themselves heading off to another continent when the barrier that surrounded them disappears. A whole new place is open to them and they're excited by the prospect of all sorts of new food to eat. Naturally, it's not all fun and games as there's a hunt on for Darkstar weapons, powerful weapons from another plane of which Gourry's Sword of Light is one of. Their journey has them meeting up with the Golden Dragons with the help of Filia, a young Golden Dragon herself that spends most of her time in human form. This season takes events from the previous two seasons and builds nicely on it even though it's in a new area as the victories that Lina has had impact events here.
Slayers in general has a very standard formula to it with each season, which is all the more apparent when you watch it in this format. Each full season is basically split in half with its story as it does some simple lead in material and then leads to a fairly good climactic battle with some resolution. After that they provide some silly material, such as cross dressing, dream episodes or things revolving around the pursuit of food before doing it all again by getting serious. It is a good formula that works even if it is repetitive because it lets the show have some really big moments at the halfway mark, rather than spending the whole time building up towards that ending. When Slayers works the epic side, dealing with Dark Lords, Monsters and dragons, it's pretty decent if somewhat campy at times as it explores its world. It's when it runs to the standard gags that it loses me, especially when you watch it in marathon form like this. As I've felt before, we get the point that they like to eat, that Amelia is all for justice and that Lina is flat chested. And that Gourry really is pretty damn dim. Maybe it works better an episode per week in that way, but here it's something that works against it.
When I first saw Slayers during its initial set of DVD releases, it was a real challenge to watch. So much so that I did an episode by episode countdown as a chore since each one was just difficult. Now, some ten years later, taking all three seasons in during the course of one week, well, that shows how much of a resistance I've built or how numb I've become. While there are things that bother me about the show, I also have to admit that it doesn't bother me anywhere near as much as it did during those first viewings. It wasn't quite the chore that it was then and I can actually find more of the appeal in it now. Slayers isn't a show that will ever win me over as a full fan that will rave about it, but it is one of those good classic franchises that continues to have fans for very obvious and well deserved reasons. This release from FUNimation puts it all in one really nice little package so you can just blast through it and get ready for the release of Slayers Revolution. And the eventual inclusion in a four season box set, right?
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, "Otome no Inori" Animated Music Video, Textless Songs, Japanese TV Spots
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.