ADV Films // 1995 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // October 14th, 2004
One's cool, one's HOT! One's busty, the other's NOT!
Slayers is definitely an anime essential -- it's the perfect blend of goofy humor, down-and-gritty magic dueling, and D&D-style adventuring. The 1996 Slayers The Motion Picture, which was originally dubbed at ADV studios in 1998 and remastered into a 5.1 surround track for the 2004 Anime Essentials collection, stands up as an excellent representation of the series. The original video animation (OVA) productions for Slayers tend to be a little more silly and irreverent than the series, and The Motion Picture is no exception. There is plenty of humor, colorful characters, fighting, and adventure to go around, and it's a great story that has no filler and is well told.
I never miss a chance to see Lina and Naga together. Even when the story isn't so hot, this dynamic duo certainly is. The way they play off each other is priceless, and I love the formula: Start off on opposite sides, end up working together, hilarity ensues. In Slayers The Motion Picture, Lina is just starting out; she doesn't yet have her band of mates, and she isn't quite as world-weary and jaded as she is later in the series. She's still in it for the money and the spoils, but she'll occasionally do something just because it's the right thing to do. Naga, Lina's self-proclaimed rival (and a somewhat less adept mage) is looking to make a name for herself, one way or another. It is there that the story opens.
After fighting off a group of bandits, Lina is attempting to enjoy a shoreside repast when Naga bounces onto the scene, raring for a fight. Once she realizes who she is working for, they are quickly dispatched, and Naga realizes they have tickets to Mipross island and the rare and legendary hot springs there. She drags Lina along for their steerage-class boat ride to the island. Meanwhile, Lina is having strange recurring dreams about a young boy and an elf girl that he is smitten with. Not only that, but once she gets to the island, she has to fight off waves of mercenaries bent on making sure she never discovers how the dreams end. Of course, this doesn't pose much of a challenge for Lina, who has an arsenal of deadly magic at her disposal -- oh, and of course Naga can summon sea cucumbers to fight for them (don't ask). Lina just wants to know who is sending all these creeps. When she finds out that her dreams are about events that happened long ago, and are actually being sent to her by an old man who may have the location of a secret river that can enlarge her...uh, natural beauty...she decides to take up his quest and fight an ancient evil, so that the island can be released from the magical enchantment that shrouds it in mist for most of the year.
It's quite a tale and, at just under an hour and a half, a tightly paced movie. Make sure you have your snacks beforehand, or put it on pause if you need to walk away. There is plenty of humor, with Naga swaggering about and claiming her superiority (while unleashing an impressive-looking but wildly imbalanced stone dragon on the town, which staggers into buildings willy-nilly under the weight of its massive head), and firebrand Lina being the butt of several jokes about her...um, petite endowments. Slayers is well known for its irreverent and mischievous look at the world of adventuring magic users and warriors, and maintains that cheeky sensibility here, poking fun at the usual clichés while delivering some fairly meat-and-potatoes magic battle scenes.
As suggested by the title, the animation and sound quality are of motion picture caliber, and the image here is nearly flawless, with very crisp colors and deep blacks. It is delightful to see, as some of the other Slayers OVAs haven't been as sharp. Sound quality for the English dub is clear and robust, although the 5.1 surround is nothing special, with mostly voices and some ambient noise being mixed into the back channels, and most of the action happening in front channels. The 2.0 Japanese track does not come across as well; it is more muted, with quieter voices. The English subtitles were re-translated for the Essentials release and overlap the widescreen box a little, instead of being shown in the black bar area.
There aren't many extras with this release, but it does sport one of the better anime commentaries I have heard to date. English dub director Matt Greenfield takes part, along with voice actresses Cynthia Martinez (Lina) and Kelly Manison (Naga). The usually manic Martinez is much calmer in this commentary (perhaps due to the influence of Greenfield?), and there is quite a bit of background and voice-acting-related commentary here, making this an essential listening experience for fans of voice acting. Greenfield mentions that Slayers The Motion Picture was the first time Cynthia Martinez had done any voice acting, which surprised me, since she gives such a strong performance. Naga's famous laugh is also discussed, and I actually enjoyed it much more in this first attempt than I did in some of the later Slayers OVAs. In addition to the commentary there is a set of character bios, which are a great place to start before viewing the movie, as they fill in some essential background info on the characters that both new viewers and fans of the series will appreciate.
Slayers The Motion Picture is a great introduction to the series, and definitely earns the "Essential" label. It's very tongue-in-cheek and goofy, and if you are okay with that, you'll probably have a good time. On the other hand, if the idea of burly men dressing up in mushroom suits and blonde braids in order to hypnotize unwitting victims is just too weird, perhaps another anime would be for you. However, you'd be missing one of the more laugh-out-loud installments of the Slayers series.
Review content copyright © 2004 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Japanese)
* English (signs only)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary with Director Matt Greenfield and Actors Cynthia Martinez and Kelly Manison
* Character Bios
* ADV Previews