It's hard to deny that Slayers was 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.
In case you missed it the show features Lina Inverse, a powerful and infamous sorcerer who travels the land killing bandits and looking for loot. She not only possesses great magical ability but the underdeveloped chest of a 13 year old as well. This makes her the butt of many jokes and the hits just keep on coming as she comes across a dashing swordsman named Gourry. The two teamed up to stop the dark lord Shabranigdo and in the process they come across other characters such as the demonic looking Zelgadis and the annoying princess Amelia. Once the cast was in place the show followed them from one adventure to the next and though the content got kind of dry at times it remained light and very accessible.
Not too long ago we received the opportunity to go back and revisit the original series as all 26 episodes were repackaged. Despite the formulaic content and now cliché subject matter, the series proved to be a hilarious romp through a fantasy setting. The adventures of Lina and Gourry were every bit as charming and classic as I had remembered from my days of watching the original VHS English dubs. Sure the show wasn't necessarily for everyone but otaku looking for older style anime would be hard-pressed to find another series as iconic as Slayers.
FUNimation once again brings us back to the world of Slayers with the second season known as Next. Unlike most shows that attempt to shake things up with the second outing, Slayers tackled the matter with more of the same pretty much. Lina and Gourry wander around as a dynamic duo, Amelia appears again, Zelgadis comes back into the fold, and all around the world seems to have remained the same despite being saved from annihilation in the first season. Quite honestly Next doesn't have a clear spot in the Slayers timeline and it really feels like a "continuing adventures of" kind of thing.
Now, let's just get it out there that I'm a big Slayers fan. I loved the original season and know most episodes backwards and forwards. That being said I never actually had the opportunity to get into Next back in the day so this was my first time. Maybe I was expecting too much or hoping for something different but I walked away nowhere near as enchanted with these episodes as I was with the first 26. The story didn't feel as tight, there was too much filler, and very little development made for a somewhat dry experience.
In the first season of Slayers Lina and the gang were trying to take down the aforementioned Shabranigdo. In Next they're searching for something called the Claire Bible which is supposed to be a powerful book. Naturally they can't let it fall into the wrong hands so they're out to find it for themselves! At first I found the quest derivative and boring with very little in the way of drama or substance. Early on in Next there were several filler episodes with random happenings and one-shot adventures.
As time progressed and Lina's company started getting closer to the Bible the story got slightly more interesting. Powerful villains were introduced and there was actually a sensation that they had to find the Claire Bible or else. The plot wasn't as strong as the original's but then again I suppose it didn't have to be. Fans back in the day just wanted more adventures with Lina and the gang and that's what Next offers. It's still a fun series that remains entertaining but it doesn't have a lot of depth and it's certainly not as good as the original Slayers.
If you enjoyed watching the first season of Slayers then FUNimation's release of Next will be right up your alley. Sure it's not the greatest show in the world and these episodes weren't quite as good as the original 26 but it was still a fun experience that got better as it went along. If you don't mind sitting through filler episodes and some anime clichés then you'll undoubtedly be entertained by Next. Just come expecting a light series and you won't be disappointed.
With the original video production of Slayers: Next taking place eleven 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.
An animated music video, textless animations, and collection of TV spots and commercials are about all you'll find here for extra features.
I thoroughly enjoyed the original season of Slayers and consider it to be one of my favorite shows. Maybe that has more to do with the fact that it was one of the first anime I watched than any actual quality, but I have to say that it's just a fun show all around. The second season Next carried the tradition of goofiness with more adventures from Lina's gang. The plot wasn't as good, the material wasn't as fresh, and the development wasn't there, but all around this season was still a good time if you appreciated the original. It's worth checking out but that recommendation isn't as high as the first season's.
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