Slayers: Great Review
What can I say about Slayers that hasn't been muttered in vexation at least once before? The thing is, I really like fantasy animé... in fact, it would be safe to say that I generally prefer it to science fiction animé because of the latter's tendency to drag mecha into the equation. And yet the more I watch of Slayers the more disillusioned with it I become.
The fundamental problem seems to be that (at least in these longer offerings, as I haven't yet had a chance to see more than a few episodes of the original television series) there's never any real innovation. The principal characters (Lina Inverse and Naga the Serpent) never develop. At its heart, the plot is always precisely the same... which might be vaguely bearable if only the formula around which each instalment of Slayers is constructed wasn't so bloody uninspired. And as for the jokes... well, they weren't precisely 'uproariously' funny the first time around, but after the umpteenth repetition they have grown genuinely stale. (I mean, honestly, how many times do the writers think they can wring a smile out of poking fun at Lina's 'flat chest'? Or pointing out that our heroines are – shock, horror! – gluttonous and greedy?)
Whilst Slayers has long held pride of place for 'comedy fantasy animé', unless there's some really cracking stuff over the course of the TV series to compensate for these lacklustre films I can't comprehend why. Meanwhile, genuinely clever and vastly more creative series like Gokudo go relatively unnoticed by the viewing public. I ask you, is there no justice in the world?
Anyway, this is yet another in the long line of hour-long features rolled – in cookie-cutter fashion – out of the Slayers mill. The story is one you could write yourself in about five minutes (make that one minute if you've seen any other Slayers film before), and mainly consists of Lina and Naga: 1, trying to extort some kind of reward out of a young woman they saved from a accident; 2, discovering that her father is a renowned craftsman (in this instance, of golems) and scheming to turn this to their advantage; 3, getting drawn into a power play between local political rivals; and 4, ultimately fighting each other in an all-out sorcerous battle that accomplishes nothing more than a great deal of random destruction. Roll credits.
Unlike other Slayers productions I've seen, Slayers: Great is presented in a standard aspect ratio of 4:3, which I suspect will make it look like an extended TV episode to those of you who have seen any of the original series... albeit an extended TV episode with incredibly high production values. The video quality of this DVD release is really excellent, the only actual flaws with the picture being ones inherent in the original animation and not at all to do with the pristine encode, which certainly does the show justice.
As is almost always the way with Slayers, the animation here benefits from a nice, broad palette – the colours are vivid and never drab, from the red of Lina's hair right down to the more showy spell effects. Lines are crisp and exhibit little or no cross-colouration (even in vertical pans) and backgrounds and areas of solid colour don't succumb to macroblocking at any point, as far as I can tell. It's a really nice picture... perhaps better than the show deserves. Oh, one small problem concerns the subtitles; although they are large enough to get the job done, they are presented in yellow with a fairly thin outline, which means that a lot of the time (particularly during the early daytime scenes), they're very hard to read against the white(ish) backgrounds.
As is now standard for animé DVDs, this is a bilingual disc featuring the original Japanese soundtrack and an English dub version, both in Dolby 2.0. I haven't exactly been 'wowed' by the audio on other Slayers productions, and this one is no exception. Still, there's nothing actually wrong with the stereo presentation here, even if it is pretty utilitarian. Just don't expect your rear speakers or subwoofer to get a workout if you have a surround sound system.
Slayers Great seems to employ very few special effects when it comes to sound, and I didn't notice a lot of left/right directionality cued in with the fight scenes, either. The music is alright but nothing to sing about (no pun intended), and the voice acting pretty standard too, with the exception of a stand-out performance by Megumi Hayashibara as the Japanese Lina.
Menus & Extras
The main menu on this disc has a (probably unintentionally) retro feel to it, harking back to the late 90s when DVDs could get away with completely transition-free static menus that merely took a single bit of cel art and dropped a few button icons around it in Photoshop. At least all of the disc menus do feature music looping beneath, and the scene selection menu is actually animated, so some small effort was made in this department.
It's a shame, then, that not a lot of effort was put into digging up some special features to go on this disc. The closest we come to extras here are ADV promotional materials, including a section dedicated specifically to Slayers, with trailers for Slayers: Gorgeous, Slayers: Return, Slayers: Excellent, and – in a nice bit of self-reference – Slayers: Great. There are also previews provided for You're Under Arrest, Louie the Solider, Queen Emeraldas and King of Bandit Jing.
I honestly can't recommend this DVD to anyone except rabid Slayers completists, and even then only with serious reservations. The problem isn't that the show is awful, but rather that it's the same thing you've likely seen many times already. If you've never seen a single jot of Slayers before, you may well enjoy it... but even then, there are better Slayers films out there than Slayers: Great. I'm afraid the nicest thing I can say about this disc is that it has really solid picture quality.
Last updated: 26/04/2018 03:38:12