It's hard to deny that Slayers is one of the most successful anime franchises to spring from the 90's. Aside from Tenchi there are few shows that can claim to have multiple series and a plethora of movies from this era. With that being said it's hard to deny that Slayers is certainly worn. It has been around the block a few times and by now chances are good that most everyone interested in the show have had the opportunity to check it out.
Well, I say that by now everyone who was ever interested in the show has most likely watched it but maybe I'm wrong. There could possibly be a new generation of Slayer fans out there just waiting for someone to re-release the show. Or, quite possibly, maybe you're like me and haven't seen the show since it was originally released on VHS. Whatever the case, FUNimation's boxed set is definitely worth a look.
Containing all 26 episodes from the first season of Slayers in one fell swoop FUNimation's collection does justice to this fantastic series. These episodes aired in Japan during 1995 and were successful enough to spawn the sequel series Next and Try. Slayers also went on to receive five feature length movies and a three episode OVA. As you can see that's not chump change. I suppose at this point, if you're uninitiated, you're probably wondering, "So what makes Slayers tick, anyway?"
To be honest there are many components that come together for this show and make it as enjoyable as it is. First of all the writing is a cut above with some fantastic humor, dialogue, and plotlines scripted throughout this season. The characters and world are also well-crafted so right from the start there is a certain chemistry and familiarity. For its time the animation was also very good, though admittedly by today's standards it appears much older than it actually is. All in all Slayers was an iconic show that proved to be entertaining even in this day and age.
The show begins by introducing Lina Inverse, a sorceress extraordinaire who is a famed bandit killer, possesses immense magical power, and has the underdeveloped flat chest of a thirteen year old. She spends her days seeking treasure, eating, and taking on jobs for gold coins. Generally speaking she is a good guy, er... girl, but isn't exactly the most careful person in the world when it comes to blowing things up. In other words to employ, know, befriend, or go up against Lina Inverse is to invite a lot of pain into your life.
At the start of Slayers Lina raids the bandit camp of the Dragon Fang gang. She jumps in out of nowhere, starts throwing fireballs, and generally makes a fine mess of things. When the smoke clears she's long gone with some loot in tow but a few of the Dragon Fangs followed her into the forest for an ambush. Just as she's about to make toasted marshmallows out of the bandits a knight in shining armor jumps into to rescue her.
Gourry isn't your typical swordsman. He's naïve to a fault and tends to rush headfirst into battle despite odds and chances of survival. That being said he's also really good with a sword and tends to come out on top with whatever scrape he finds himself in. After he dispatches the bandits he notices Lina's flat chest and bemoans his fate regarding the fact that he just rescued a kid instead of a babe. These jokes continue through most of the series though gradually the two become very close as they travel together.
More interesting characters continue to show up as the series progresses. One of the items that Lina grabbed has a certain magical charm attached to it and soon enough we discover that it could be a key component in the resurrection of Shabranigdo. If you can't figure it out by that explanation then you should know that Shabranigdo is a really, really bad guy and he shouldn't be resurrected.
Villains in the show come in the form of monsters of varying degrees and a guy named Rezo, the Red Priest. Initially a character named Zelgadis is portrayed as a villain as well but it is soon revealed that he desires to stop Rezo and become human again. Zel joins Lina and Gourry before too long and they stick with each other for the remainder of the show. Toss an annoying Princess named Amelia into the mix and you have a main cast of characters that is diverse and works well off one another.
The twenty-six episodes in Slayers' first season generally follow a plotline throughout its course. The focus changes now and again during the show and many episodes are episodic in nature but for the most part things are very fluid from start to finish. With that being said the nature of the gags and jokes in Slayers makes it a series that shouldn't be watched all at once. Yes it's funny and sure it's endearing but if you saturate yourself with too many episodes you'll begin noticing the flaws. They aren't very big, mind you, though they do make the series feel a little long in tooth before it should.
At the end of the day Slayers is a great show that is about as classic as anime gets in the fantasy genre. If you consider it a spoof on something like Dungeons & Dragons you'd be on the right track. I do have to say though, that out of all the fantasy anime out there Slayers feels unique. Even now, over twelve years later, the show is still a lot of fun. In many ways it's timeless with an enjoyable formula and endearing characters. As I said earlier, if you have never seen this show then FUNimation's collection is something that you must pick up.
With the original video production of Slayers taking place over twelve years ago you know going into the DVD that you have to take that into consideration. This show is older and it is going to look that way no matter how much work is done on it. Many colors appear faded, there are traces of dirt here and there, the picture jumps from time to time, and traces of compression crop up as well. With that being said FUNimation did a good job in regards to restoring the picture of this classic series. Scenes appear cleaner than I recall and all around the palette seems to have been spruced up a bit. This was a rich looking show when it was released and it's nice to see that the picture quality has been improved somewhat to meet today's standards. Even so there's no way around the age, worn appearance of the source material.
Like the video quality it's safe to say that the audio noticeably wears its age. The English language track is presented in all the un-glory that Mono has to offer while the Japanese track comes with a 2.0 stereo output. While I may find the English dub endearing I have to say that the Japanese selection won me over with the better sound quality. The dialogue and sound effects are clear and concise though I felt both tracks were a little too muted. Again, this probably comes from the age of the material though I can't help but shake the feeling that FUNimation could have spruced things up some more.
The bonus material for this boxed set of Slayers is kind of paltry compared to what could have been included but I suppose we should take what we can get. There is a nine minute clip from the first episode with a selection of languages to watch it with, some clean animations, and FUNimation trailers.
Slayers is classic anime. There's no way around that fact and there's probably no otaku out there that would deny it. The show features loveable characters, a fun sense of adventure, a great sense of humor, and a plot that attempts to avoid clichés. In many ways Slayers is as enjoyable today as it was in 1995 when it was originally released. With that being said watching all of the 26 episodes from the first season together did wear down my appreciation. So many jokes are rehashed to closely together and the pattern of storytelling hardly ever changes.
Despite its flaws though, Slayers is a show that deserves to be in anyone's collection. It is a virtually timeless fantasy tale that will win you over within the first few minutes, only proving that it gets better as things progress. Highly Recommended
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