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Slayers tries not to use sexuality as a crutch, but when the heroine's main incentive for completing her mission is to obtain bigger breasts, it's more than a crutch, it's a wheelchair.
Sexual humor has always been a staple of Slayers, which started as novels, turned into a series of OVAs and TV shows, and inspired a second generation of magical characters.
Meet Lina and Naga the Serpent, one of anime's best odd couples. Naga is a busty, flirtatious strip tease. Lina is a more shy, serious spellcaster. Naga drinks so much, she's bound for Alcoholics Anonymous. Lina eats so much, it's a wonder she's so thin.
Lina wears modest spellcaster clothing. Naga ... well, that's not an outfit, it's a few strips of leather.
In Slayers: The Motion Picture Lina is having strange dreams, which show a young swordsman battling against demons. Someone is leading her to a far-off island, to save a village and write a different ending for a pair of lovers.
Upon arriving on said island, Lina and Naga are attacked repeatedly by different sorcerers, each with a squid atop their head. Eventually they must face the demon behind it all, Joyrock.
This is a decent flick, with good animation. Night feels real, the ocean looks great, and that bust ... well, remind yourself it's anime.
Slayers: The Motion Picture manages to be silly, fun entertainment, and only drifts to the serious side of things when it must. The characters are easily likeable, and the movie includes a great script. Here's a few of our favorite lines:
"Would you like to choose the form of your destruction, small-breasted one?"
"You. The bimbo in the black leather."
"Naga, what are you waiting for!?" "The DRAMA!!!"
The battles are a tad ho-hum at some points, but very engaging at others. These sorceresses for hire mean business, but also act like it's party time during life and death struggles.
Plot wise .. well ... did we mention Naga's breasts? In a short 60 minutes, a lot happens with only the bare minimum in the way of explanation. Our main complaint was that time travel was thrown in toward the end, and became the driving force as Slayers: The Motion Picture hurried toward the conclusion. It seemed forced, like the only way everything could be explained was by opening a time portal and throwing the women through it.
But it's a minor distraction, because when you reach the end (and make sure you sit through the credits) you realize you had a good time watching this movie. Just make sure you fast forward through the part where the gaunt spa proprietor comes out wearing a Speedo. Yuck.
Widescreen presentation, 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This is a dark film, not in tone, but in terms of color-balance: Lots of excellent, deep blacks, and in the few vibrant reds and greens you run across, there's no bleeding and minimal fuzziness. You spend more time in night than you do in day, but both are done very well. The ocean has a great feel if you're watching this on a big screen.
Japanese 2.0 and an added English Dolby Digital 5.1, which is given to every one of ADV's titles that get Essential Anime status. As much as it may kill those of you (like me) who always watch their anime in Japanese, take the English track for a spin. TONS more comes through in the rear channels if you're utilizing surround sound, making explosions, water, and everyday sounds more crisp and enjoyable. In fact, the voices of Naga and Lina are arguably better than the original Japanese actresses. Blasphemy, I know, but other than Naga's forced laugh, they sound superb. In fact, ADV went back and retranslated for the Essential Anime release.
This is one of those anime titles that for some strange reason has English and Spanish subtitles. I've met exactly one person in my years of watching anime who actually utilized Spanish subtitles on an anime DVD.
ADV likes to do commentaries and interviews with its English voice cast on its DVDs, and the commentary track with the two voice talents for Naga and Lina and English dub producer Matt Greenfield is funny. They don't point out too many unknown plot points or animation insights, so unless you have a lot of free time, just pass it up. It's a neat conversation, but one more geared toward behind-the-mic and behind ADV discussions. There's also character profiles and six ADV previews.
It's not a ploy to get you to double-dip on a classic anime title. OK, maybe it is, but when ADV gives one of its titles Essential Anime status, they do it for a reason. Slayers: The Motion Picture is a great title from a well-loved franchise. If you already have the 2000 version, you could probably do without the new one, even with a more accurate translation. If you don't have this title, then it is most definitely Recommended.