They're back, and about to bring their own little brand of chaos to a whole new part of the world – time once more for Lina, Gourry and friends to sally forth and make people wish they'd never met them. And as usual for a new season, there are a few new faces to add to the mix, too…
What They Say
The Slayers are back and this time they are in search of fame, fortune and foreign food, so Lina Inverse sets sail for the new world! Just who told her idiot companion he could steer? After the ship capsizes magnificently, Lina and friends scarcely have time to enjoy a decent meal before they're faced with a horde of demons and beast men. Feels like home already...
53 - Majestic? Hoist Sails for the Journey!
54 - Doubtful? A Letter From Home!
55 - Where'd That Arrogant Guy Go?
56 - On the Move! He's Out for Revenge?
57 - A Wild Rumour? You Can't Have Smoke Without Fire?
58 - Wandering Around? The Runaway Shrine Takes a Trip!
Audio for both the Japanese and English language tracks is presented in 2.0 stereo. I listened to the Japanese track for most of the disc – there's fairly limited use made of the soundstage. Dialogue is clear and easy to pick out, and there were no apparent dropouts or other problems.
There were two versions of Slayers released in the US – the original release by Central Park Media, and a remastered version released more recently by FUNimation. Most people would have been expecting MVM to release the remastered version, but it appears that's not the case as there are no FUNimation credits on the disc, only CPM ones. The video itself is reasonable for its age – presented in 1.33:1 full-frame aspect, it's a little on the soft side but otherwise in reasonably good condition, with little in the way of obvious nicks or scratches. However, the opening and closing credits include hardsubbed song lyrics in both English and Romaji, and the overlaid episode titles used on the original CPM release (which I have here for comparison) are also present.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
Menus are a mostly-static affair, with this volume featuring Lina and the gang along with Valgaav in a small image off to the left of the menu, with options for Play Feature, Episode Selection, Extras and Setup on the right, The opening theme for this season plays alongside. There are no transition animations between the various screens, making it all quick and easy to use.
Along with galleries of screenshots from the show and production sketches, there's a 12-minute 'Behind the Scenes' featurette looking at the recording of the English dub (which includes a few short interviews with the VAs for the lead characters), and further confirmation that MVM have served us up the old CPM version of the show: a piece of "bonus footage", which is actually the short epilogue scene which was meant to be an after-credit scene on the final episode of season one. Way back when the show was first released on DVD in the US, CPM opted to leave the scene out, but after a fandom backlash placed in on the first disc of TRY for completeness. Nearly ten years later, we're now getting the same treatment. Boo.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
A pillar of light has appeared in the sky following the disappearance of the Monster race's barrier around part of the world, and the kingdoms that had been contained within it are now racing to find out what exists in the outer world. Lina's more interested in the pillar itself, which is believed by some to be a portent of doom - so when she receives an offer from an unusual woman named Filia to pay her handsomely to take her to the pillar, it certainly catches her attention. But Filia has a test for them to pass first, to prove that Lina's as powerful as her reputation would have you believe.
Meanwhile, the forces of the Monster race seem to be on the move again, with Valgaav, a former servant of the now-dead Lord Gaav, now working for a new master in gathering a number of highly-powered magical weapons. Gourry's Sword of Light is one of the weapons on his list – and going after Gourry also gives him the chance to try and avenge the death of his former master…
Right. A new season of Slayers usually brings with it accusations of "more of the same", and on one level that's certainly the case – the usual gang of heroes is here, still over-eating and over-reacting to every perceived challenge, while Xellos is still skirting the fringes of the story while never being quite clear whether he's working with the good guys or the bad guys. That aspect of the series hasn't changed since day one, and from what I've read doesn't change evern right up into the new Slayers Revolution series – so if that's the aspect of Slayers that drives you up the wall, then you can stop right now, TRY isn't going to work for you, either.
But there are some new aspects. First up, with the barrier around the known world now gone, Lina have a whole new area to explore – an area that hasn't had access to the same sort of magical power that those living inside the barrier had, which gives the gang's travels a slightly different dynamic. Their magic marks them out as real heroes to the people they're meeting now, while Lina and the others are also having to learn how to deal with the sort of weapons used where magic doesn't exist – namely, guns and explosives. That these things are there is a nice touch, but I have to say that not as much is made of the changes that the outside world brings as there could have been – a lot of the time, the locations and people feel much the same as they did in the first two seasons, and it's only occasionally that you remember that things are meant to be slightly different.
Low-ranking villain Valgaav doesn't help in drawing the distinction, either – the name for starters is a dead giveaway to his former connections, so it's no surprise at all that he soon starts laying into Lina and the gang. His new boss, Almayce, appears to be a different kettle of fish, though – he only makes brief appearances during these episodes, but he's clearly going to be the true villain of the season and seems suitably powerful and menacing for the role. I'm already wishing we'd seen more of him, as he's far less annoying than Valgaav is.
The best character of TRY, though, is new arrival Filia, who has a few surprises hidden up her dress (starting with a tail, and a very heavy mace) and a klutzy, over-sensitive approach to life that makes her a joy to watch. In a show that goes out of its way to make its characters funny to watch (and not always succeeding), she's a real highlight, and brightens up most scenes she appears in. Watch in particular for any scene where she's paired with Xellos, as the two really don't like each other and that dislike plays out in very comic fashion.
Overall, then, Slayers TRY is a genuine case of "the same, but different – a little". There's not enough new here to change the opinions of anyone disappointed by the first to seasons - they'll still want to give this a miss. Fans of the series won't be disppointed, though, as there's a fairly successful attempt made to keep the show fresh without losing the aspects that make Slayers what it is. If you enjoyed the first two seasons, then this one is well worth a look.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Behind the Scenes, Bonus Footage, Image Gallery, Production Sketches.
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.