Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger says ass-kicking anime girls don't always kick ass, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.
Our reviews of Anime Essentials: Slayers The Motion Picture (published October 14th, 2004), Slayers Excellent (published April 29th, 2004), Slayers Movie Box (published October 20th, 2005), Slayers Premium (published June 3rd, 2004), and The Slayers: The First Three Seasons (published August 28th, 2009) are also available.
Dragons and Divas and Doom—Oh Yeah!
In her review of Slayers Excellent, which was her introduction to the Slayers universe, Judge Sandra Dozier "found the stories to be bland and even downright annoying." I thought perhaps Judge Dozier was being too harsh with Slayers, until I received my introduction to the franchise with Slayers Gorgeous. Yep, "bland" and "downright annoying" pretty much sums it up.
There are many things wrong with this movie based on the Slayers series, but nothing to get riled up about. In fact, Slayers Gorgeous doesn't summon much in the way of emotion, energy, or interest. I watched it, then moved on. I doubt it will have any long-term impact on my psyche.
The gist of Slayers Gorgeous is that two scantily-clad Dungeons & Dragons heroines are hanging around in a strange town, where they get sucked up into a father/daughter dispute and wind up on opposite sides of the conflict. I gather that the tall, buxom, annoying Naga is something of a sidekick-slash-rival of Lina Inverse, the short and smart one. I gather this because Slayers Gorgeous shoehorns Naga into the opposing side of the conflict in an obvious attempt to fit a previously established formula. There is little preamble to, or motivation for, Naga's desertion. In fact, much of the plot seems contrived to reference running jokes, such as Naga and Lina's staged duel. I wonder if fans of the series expect such references? It doesn't work at all in terms of pacing, storytelling, suspense, or other traditional forms of cinematic entertainment.
There were some amusing bits in the movie, but they grew stale as soon as Slayers Gorgeous tipped its hand. (Warning: Minor spoiler!) It sets itself up as a high-stakes conflict between powerful warlords, but we soon learn that the conflict is over raising the princess's allowance. As hilarious as that is, it immediately deflates the meager tension that has accumulated. Slayers Gorgeous mounts another grand assault with an enormously powerful dragon-god, but if you've paid even scant attention, you know how this will end. Smaller examples of forced jokes abound as well, such as Naga's mocking laughter. She does a bit where she shows the struggling princess how to attain the proper note of intimidating mockery. In the rest of the movie, we hear Naga's singular laugh repeated over and over in a shrill imitation of itself. After these first wan gags, subsequent riffs on the same themes fail to amuse.
That is a shame, because Slayers Gorgeous is all about amusement. There is little real tension or action to involve the viewer. Many of the "battles" feature armies walking around and then talking to each other over dusty patches of ground. Given the nature of the conflict, I'm not looking for Ben-Hur, but a semblance of gravity would work wonders. It fails in the titillation department as well. Naga has gravity-defying breasts, but doesn't flaunt them in any meaningful way. At the end of the day, I have to wonder why this was turned into a movie at all. The distinct lack of any dramatic events or themes of import makes it all feel like a disjointed episode padded with pointless conversation.
The DVD presentation is as lackluster as the movie. The sole extra is a poorly-aged trailer, which hypes up Slayers Gorgeous and makes it seem more interesting than it actually is. The sound quality of the disc is fine; every annoying laugh came through cleanly. The stereo mix has a solid feel with moments of real interest (such as marketplace bustle fading to near silence, with only the clack of a falling wooden beam to remind us of reality). The colors seem rather drab, but with anime it is hard to gauge intentions: Is that dragon supposed to be olive green? There was a fair bit of dust and a little overuse of edge enhancement. This transfer won't have you beaming with rapture, but it won't send you scurrying for cover either.
Naga and Lina are ordered to increase my allowance and then move on to the next town. Amscray before I use my gavel.
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