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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Slayers
Volume 1


Starring (voice): Megumi Hayashibara, Yasunori Matsumoto and Bin Shimada
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 05 January 2009

Lina Inverse is your average sorceress and bane of bandits, putting them down where ever she finds them. Ok, so she keeps a little of the loot rather than returning it, a girl’s got to make a living. On one particular sortie against bandits a small, seemingly innocuous, statue comes into her possession which will change her world forever and place her on a path that may save the planet...

The Slayers (1995) is a parody sword and sorcery anime adaptation of a very popular manga, which in turn had been adapted from a series of light novels by Hajime Kanzaka. Anyone who remembers the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon show will be instantly at home here.

Due to its popularity the show ran for four seasons, spawning a number of OVA’s, films and computer games. As such the first six episodes, presented here, mostly exist to introduce the audience to the main characters and provide some background information about the mythology behind Lina’s world.

Looked at objectively this is the type of show that you’re either going to love or hate within the first episode. On the down side the line drawn animation is showing its age against some of the more flashier modern CGI stuff - not that this hurt Berserk, which had a very strong script, even if the ending was somewhat bizarre. Likewise fans of this show like it for its intricate plot, its desire to take the rise out of the conventions of sword and sorcery epics and mostly for the morally ambiguous characters.

The central character of Lina is not your conventional heroine. She’s pretty good with a sword but much stronger in the magic department, always happy to tackle bandits or help villagers, for a fee. She’s funny, arrogant and vivacious, often talking straight to camera, with what are considered either witty asides or annoying jokes, your choice here, it will all depends on your sense of humour and your knowledge of the genre.

In the first episode, Angry? Lina’s Furious Dragon Slave the conventions of the show are set out. Lina relieves bandits of their haul, keeping the troublesome statue for herself. Whilst making her escape she runs into Gourry, an exceptionally dim witted hero type, who insists on rescuing Lina, even though she patently doesn’t require this. He is big and blond, desperate to rescue a beautiful damsel, seemingly every inch a hero except for his intellect. The two team up to travel to Atlas city, becoming the first two of what will become the Slayers, but not before destroying a dragon which threatens a local village. In the process they manage to level the village itself, after which the two make a hasty escape.

Episode two, Bad! Mummy Men Aren’t My Type, and at the next village the possession of the statue starts to bring the pair unwanted attention, including the local shop owner trying to kill them both. Things go from bad to worse when the two are attacked by Zelgadis, the mummy of the story, and his troll henchmen Zolf, Dilgear and Rodimus, who want the statue back and are not in the mood to be turned down.

Episode three, Crash! Red and White and Suspicious All Over, and Zolf's boss, Zalgadis a chimera, who is part rock golem, turns up to try an negotiate the return of the statue. Lina, in her usual greedy mood, asks for an impossible sum for the object. On their way to the next village Lina uses her magic on the statue only to discover that it has some unusual properties. More attacks follow until Rezo, a blind priest, intervenes - saving the day and informing Lina that Zalgadis wants the statue to resurrect the Dark Lord Shabranigdu, a part of which is trapped in the statue. But who is telling the truth?

The final three episodes Dash! Run For It! My Magic Doesn’t Work, Escape! Noonsa, The Flaming Fish Man! And Focus! Rezo’s The Real Enemy, sorts out the good and bad guys with Zalgadis joining to increase the Slayers numbers and with the discovery of the statues purpose a quest for the group is created.

Given the age of the show it’s no surprise that the only audio options are 2.0 English or Japanese with subtitles and, given the pretty awful English dub, the show is preferably watched in its original Japanese. The picture is a little soft and washed out, but watchable with no signs of any print damage. For extras you get an art gallery, a sketch gallery and some trailers for other shows.

For all its faults, including some terrible jokes, the show has potential. Its popularity is hard to dismiss, though only time will tell if the mythology can be developed enough to stop it becomes typical fight of the week fare.


Charles Packer

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