Back when DVD first came out there was precious little when it came to the anime side. Or the Hollywood side either for awhile. In 1998, anime DVDs started to roll out a bit more and Central Park Media was making a good push through various secondary outfits to get shows out to the fans since it was an ideal market. Instead of a dub and sub VHS tape, they could put out one DVD, mark it up a bit more and get in early on a potentially growing market. CPM was after all one of the companies that tried VCD and other forms of releases for their shows to see exactly where the fans were at.
In those early days, fans were given mostly one shot OVAs and specials, often revolving around popular violent properties or anime adaptations of video games. Those who wanted something more substantial had a long wait for the most part. But CPM teased and toyed with fans for awhile by promising to bring the first anime TV series to DVD with the series Slayers. Based on the massively popular light novel series which spans a few dozen novels, it was adapted into an anime series and even several video games back in the day. Add in a bunch of direct to video shows and you’ve got three seasons of a series that had picked up quite a following in the US. It’s arrival on DVD was one of those early signs of how the market could change since they were going to offer it in thirteen episode chunks, something that only in the last year has really become popular and common.
I had only seen a couple of episodes of the series prior to the DVD release on VHS but didn’t pay it much mind because I was more interested in other kinds of comedy at the time, and less so when it came to fantasy oriented comedies. But I was looking forward to taking in the DVD release and finally seeing what all the buzz was about. After all, with three seasons under its belt and all of them licensed, if the first set does well, we’d get the rest pretty quickly. Fans eagerly counted down the days to the release and suffered through a few delays until we got the final product in hand.
And it sucked.
Slayers and its subsequent seasons became the bane of my reviewing days early on. At a time when it was very easy to work through a single OVA or movie release or then onto TV series that offered three or four episodes at best, dealing with a show that churned out twenty-six episodes at a time was simply not pleasant. Especially when the material itself didn’t appeal to me. The flaws in the story, the design and execution became all the more apparent and I dreaded each subsequent season as it came out. With the second and third seasons, I even put up an episodic countdown counter on the main page so people could see how slowly I was progressing through something that was difficult to get through. Episode by episode, we got closer to writing up what that season was about and why it was just not our cup of tea.
Years later, we got re-releases of the series from FUNimation and ADV Films put out the various OVAs and movies, which are different beasts altogether. I managed to avoid the TV series releases though and thought my time with the Slayers franchise was over. But no, with it as popular as it is over the years and a few OVAs sneaking out once in awhile, it wasn’t long before Japan decided the world needed another TV series. With the primary light novel series at something like thirty volumes released, it’s not a surprise that they could muster together enough material for what’s being called Slayers Revolution and Slayers Evolution-R, two thirteen episode parts that make up a full season. FUNimation has licensed this beast with plans for release in 2010 and have recently announced the English Language cast for it. But if there’s anything my time with the franchise has taught me, it’s that the TV series will likely suck for much the same reason that the first three seasons did. And those reasons are:
10) Lina's Chest
We get it, she’s flat chested. A constant gag that sets Lina on a tizzy is that seemingly everyone comments about her being flat chested. When you have nearly every character making this observation at one time or another, particularly when she isn’t truly flat chested, it induces some eye-rolling. And it continues to propagate the stereotype of all female anime characters needing to be buxom to be appealing.
9) It’s Stuck
While there are countless stories, the anime itself is very much stuck on keeping Lina at the age she is and without progress. It’d not suck if we got to flash forward a decade and check out Lina in her twenties after she’s settled down a bit, possibly becoming grown up and fleshed out so to speak.
8) Food Fetish
The main cast needs to join overeaters anonymous. A familiar gag in many series (yes, Saiyuki, I’m staring at you), every episode seems to open with the group trying to find a place to eat or scarfing down mountains of food. There’s nothing like starting off each episode with a lot of gluttony.
7) Megumi Overdose
Because it’s all Megumi Hayashibara seems to do in anime anymore – I admit, I grew up in the anime world listening to her and she was all over the place with numerous roles. She does other things these days but continues to come back to work in the Slayers world whenever something new comes up. I’m sure it’s because she signed away her soul when she joined this cast.
6) Halfwits Galore
Half the cast is too stupid to survive in this world. While it’s understandable that Gourry can survive because of his, ahem, swordsmanship, that’s not exactly the best way to survive the world at large. And with his life attached pretty closely to Lina, it’s even more unlikely that he’d live very long, especially with how frequently she tosses out Dragon Slave spells. How Gourry isn’t collateral damage by now is beyond me.
5) Good Girls Are Bad
Amelia, oh Amelia... Really, the simply existence of this character is enough to cause any country to pass laws against vigilantism and helpful crusaders of justice. She’s someone you want to smack even before they start talking because you know nothing good is going to come out of there.
4) Wherefore Art Thou, Luna?
One of the possible fun parts of the Slayers universe never makes it into the TV series comes in the form of Lina’s sister Luna. There’s practically nothing that Lina fears more than Luna and not having that encounter happen is a real travesty. It’d be nice to see Lina stricken with fear for a real good reason.
3) Lack of Compelling Villains
So much of the series is made up of episodic adventures, often involving large amounts of silliness, that when we do get to the core storyline towards the end of each season, the villains lack anything really substantial. It’s also hard to make the transition for comedy-fantasy with a tinge of seriousness to something that wants to be more epic and grand with what’s at stake. Sometimes it’s helped out by the supporting cast, but more often than not there really isn’t anything threatening or captivating about the personalities that make up the villains of the series.
2) It's Naga-less
Naga was one of the elements that I found to be the most enjoyable about the OVAs. Besides her wonderful costume that brings about a lot of great eye-candy when it comes to cosplayers, she typified the kind of “anime laugh” that only a precious few have. She was also the perfect foil when it came to dealing with Lina, something that the TV series never had. She had problems with her companions at times during it, but none could be as dangerous and oblivious as Naga.
1) It’s Slayers. 'Nuff Said.
After watching three seasons of the show that total seventy-eight episodes, the franchise has a proven track record. While Slayers Revolution is expected to have a new storyline, it’s going to play to the same gags and goofiness that a lot of fans will enjoy and have fun with. But it’s these exact elements that are so grating and have been for years. One can appreciate what Slayers is and that its fans love it, but it’s a franchise that goes for the lowest common denominator in so many ways and plays it without any real effort or creativity that it leaves many looking at the timer for each volume, each episode, just to get a little closer to finishing out.
Maybe Slayers Revolution will be different. But I’m not willing to place odds on it!