Slayers was one of the first shows that I watched and next to Tenchi it's probably the one that stuck with the most. The personality of the characters, the jokes, and the slapstick brand of comedy drew me in and along with the fantasy setting it made itself stood out from the rest. Thankfully I'm not the only one who enjoyed the show, however, since five seasons have been produced to date.
The show's license has been passed around and it's one of those old-time series that even made it onto VHS with a dub-only release. Thankfully times are difference and now that FUNimation is all on board with supporting Blu-ray they're revisiting the bizarre beautiful world of Lina Inverse. The fourth and fifth seasons are now available via an SD remaster, and today we're looking at the latter, Evolution-R
Not familiar with Slayers? No problem! Basically all you really need to know is that the show is a comedy-action-fantasy anime. It takes place in a world where magic, dragons, and monsters take the center stage and caught in the middle are those with magical abilities and those without. It's a world where heroes and villains rise and fall, and Slayers focuses on the exploits of one band of heroes in particular.
Everything revolves around a flat-chested mage named Lina Inverse, who is capable of great compassion and destruction. She keeps her eye on riches and is more than eager to do something to turn a profit or fill her tummy. Early on in the show she's paired up with a dimwitted knight named Gourry and eventually becomes friends with Zelgadis, the cursed Chimera, and Princess Amelia. There are several other characters along the way, but for the first few seasons they are the mainstays as far as the protagonists are concerned.
If you've seen the series then you're already well familiar with the history of the characters and plot. I'll refrain from busted out a diatribe about each of the prior seasons and what happened to whom. Instead I'll just say that a guy named Rezo brought back the Dark Lord and cursed Zelgadis, which is kind of important to note considering in Evolution-R the Slayers gang is searching for a jar said to contain Rezo's spirit.
Joining Lina and company in Evolution-R is a stuffed animal creature named Pokota, who was introduced in the previous season, Revolution. Pokota was cursed by this same jar, Zelgadis wants it for Rezo's spirit, and the gang has been asked to destroy it by Ozzel. The mystery abounds in the early parts of this season, and that's really when this release is at its strongest.
The first handful of episodes of Evolution-R follow the Slayers as they search for the jar in futility. There's a dead-end at every turn and they really seem to get nowhere. Then some filler episodes strike. This episodic filler has been the Achilles heel of Slayers since the very first season. It's pointless, frustrating, and just plain silly in many respects. As far as what's here, it's good for a laugh, but the season is much better once the storyline gets back on track.
I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that this season of Slayers does turn out to be pretty damn good. Just like the other seasons it leaves you wanting more, and that's a mark of quality few shows can hope to achieve. You should have seen the rest of the series before digging into this one, but if you already have them on your Blu-ray shelf, then by all means Evolution-R is recommended!
Slayers: Evolution-R is presented on Blu-ray with the SD Remaster with a resolution being upconverted to 1080p. The results are mixed, to say the least. Like other FUNimation endeavors of this sort, the picture quality suffers from some edge enhancement and jagged lines. The quality is better than the DVD in some respects, but a remaster of this sort can only be taken so far. Still, the show is attractive with solid colors, a vibrant palette, and the production of the series is pleasing enough. It won't be the most gorgeous piece of animation in your Blu-ray lineup, but Evolution-R is still good looking.
FUNimation also took the extra step to up the quality of the audio. Dolby TrueHD tracks are included for the original Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 soundtracks. The quality of both selections is very good with some improved fidelity over the DVD. The 5.1 track definitely offers more of a punch than the 2.0, however, the difference is marginal and only noticeable at certain points. A solid outing for sure, but again it's not something that will give your home theater a workout.
Not much to talk about regarding bonus features for this Blu-ray release. The standard inclusions (trailers and clean animations) are all you're going to find here.
Slayers: Evolution-R is an easy recommendation for anyone that enjoyed the other seasons of the show and haven't had the opportunity to check out the fifth. Is it worth the upgrade over the DVD release? In all honesty, not really. The show is definitely good, though it has some minor flaws, but the quality of this Blu-ray isn't vastly superior to the DVD. The picture may be a little sharper and the sound is a little better, but in the end the differences don't make the double-dip worthwhile. If you are looking to buy the show for the first time, however, I would say this is the version to get. Consider the series strongly recommended!