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Slayers Revolution: Season 4(TV) (2008)
The original cast of Slayers is reunited for the first time in over a decade in Slayers Revolution - a totally new season full of the magical mayhem that can only happen when Lina Inverse and her crew pull into town. Lina's on the run from a government inspector who's ready to put her away for good. Her crime? Just being herself! The guy's hot on her tail, but a tiny creature that actually has a tail might be Lina's biggest problem. Pokota's a powerful little furball, and his path of destruction is getting pinned on Lina. With so much explosive magic between them, you know things will go boom when they face off. But there's more to Pokota than anyone knows, and if Lina's gang can get to the bottom of his habit of blowing stuff up, they could end up with an awesome new ally.
For more about Slayers Revolution: Season 4 and the Slayers Revolution: Season 4 Blu-ray release, see Slayers Revolution: Season 4 Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on November 22, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Slayers Revolution: Season 4 Blu-ray Review
The return of Lina Inverse...
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, November 22, 2010
Most anime fans possess at least fringe knowledge of the Slayers universe, and the myriad of media crossovers the series has successfully leaped in the past two decades. Spanning over 45 volumes to date, Slayers began as a light novel series written by Hajime Kanzaka before becoming a three season (78 episodes) anime series produced between 1995 and 1997. The 13-episode set I'm evaluating today (Slayers: Revolution) is a continuation of that original run, though knowledge of prior events is rarely a prerequisite to an understanding of this specific story arch. Airing during 2008, the series is the first part of a two-season production by the same studio that completed the three initial seasons back in the 1990's, with Slayers: Evolution rounding out the storyline. Stay tuned for a follow-up review of the subsequent Evolution release in the next couple days.
Sorceress extraordinaire Lina Inverse is up to her usual tricks, scouring the land for wealth and fame while taking every opportunity to challenge her longtime companion Gourry to an eating contest. She's never found a mission she could pass up, and never been faced with an adversary she couldn't overcome. One day, while attempting to avoid capture by a bothersome state investigator, Lina encounters a small furry creature with the ability to cast spells almost as powerful as her own. In the process of pursuing the creature and attempting to clear her name with the man hell-bent on arresting her, Lina stumbles across a mystery involving the appearance of armored magical tanks throughout the land, and their destruction at the hands of the strange fluffy sorcerer named Pokota. Eventually teaming up with the yellow furball, Lina and her misfit crew set out in search of those responsible for the production of the magic tanks, and discover a dangerous compatriot of Pokota's who's attempting to resurrect a monster named Zanafarr. Knowing this monster could signal the destruction of every village throughout the land, it's up to Lina Inverse to call forth the power of the "Dragon Slave" and put the beast to rest.
Prior to this review, my exposure to Slayers was limited to the first 26-episode series, which I viewed almost a decade ago. As a result, I'm a bit clueless when it comes to a complete understanding of the Slayers mythology, which would likely enrich the experience of following the updated adventures of Lina and her crew. Regardless of that tricky element, I'll attempt to muddle my way through an analysis of the pros and cons I experienced during my recent viewing, and remain as objective as possible along the way.
Beginning with the positive aspects of Slayers, it's safe to say this is as light-hearted as anime comedy gets. Sure there are dramatic elements thrown in to spice things up from time to time, but when 90% of the series remains firmly grounded in jokes, antics and juvenile name-calling, it's rather difficult to take anything very seriously. This essentially translates into a show that never requires much deep thinking, and should be viewed as a guilty pleasure among fans with an acquired taste for outlandish Japanese humor.
The second strength worth noting is the creativity found in the fantasy setting of the show. You're never quite sure what era the clothes and architecture are based on, providing additional freedom when it comes to introducing technology, sorcery or weapons throughout each episode. After all, they managed to incorporate a "lightsaber" in a story that has magical tanks attacking villagers armed with spears. To take it a step further, the abstract setting provides greater flexibility in creating the atmosphere of each town the characters travel to, lending greater variety than what's typically acceptable among straightforward anime productions.
Unfortunately, this is one series where it's easier to point out drawbacks over successes. First and foremost, Slayers is destined to leave little residual impact on the viewer, making it a somewhat cheap experience. I know I mentioned the comedy as a strength just two paragraphs back, but it also tends to be the downfall of the experience as a whole. Not only is it difficult to care what happens to various characters (especially since none of them ever seem to be in any real danger), but many individuals seem to possess little value in the overall story arch. The villains are numerous and ineffective, the heroes are interchangeable and slightly annoying, and the circumstances each side are placed in seem superficial and irrelevant by series end. What this eventually amounts to is an experience I'll likely forget within a matter of days and show little interest in revisiting down the road.
The other negative aspect in this modern extension of the Slayers universe is the reliance on a core understanding of character relationships. Approaching the series as an outsider, I found it difficult to catch up with the terms and jokes that often permeate each episode, though I'm sure longtime fans will adore such references. Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of enjoyment to be had if you're new to Slayers, but it's wise to go in knowing a few topics will fly over your head.
Slayers Revolution: Season 4 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 21Mbps), Slayers: Revolution arrives on Blu-ray as a high-definition upconvert of non-native source material. As a result, the improvements over the prior DVD versions are subtle in comparison with an HD-produced series, making the appreciable gains minimal. Among the primary upgrades, fans will notice increased strength in the richness of the color spectrum, creating a bold, bright picture that rarely delves into murky territory. Black levels also acquire a reasonable boost in depth (though there are still a handful of shots that appear a bit washed out), and contrast differentiation is respectable through the lion's share of the production. Unfortunately, the area where perfection is destined to elude us is in the appearance of mild stairstepping on diagonal lines and an underlying lack of crisp texturing in the animation. Throw in the occasional appearance of edge enhancement and slight banding, and you begin to realize this won't be one of the visual highlights in your growing anime collection.
Regarding the animation itself, Slayers has always incorporated a simplistic formula that screams low-budget television anime. Several updates have been made over the years, but we're still talking about a production that pales in comparison with the growing attention to style and detail often found in modern anime. This works to Slayers advantage when we consider the nature of this upconverted release, since it's easier to forgive source related imperfections when they're not sticking out like a sore thumb. In the end, long-time fans won't find anything off-putting about the animation itself, but newcomers to the world of anime should recognize this is far from the pinnacle of artistic design.
Slayers Revolution: Season 4 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
On the audio front we have a lossless rendering of the Japanese stereo mix as well as a lossless surround (5.1) track for the English dub. Both versions offer little room for complaint when it comes to clarity and volume balance, but those hoping for an immersive experience should maintain tempered expectations. This is a given on the Japanese side of the coin, since the original source material is restricted to the primary 2 channels in the front sound stage. There's an effective use of separation between these two channels, but it's impossible not to feel a bit underwhelmed during several of the more robust action sequences. Switching to the English language track, you'll immediately notice a higher degree of open sound design that correlates with the 5.1 split, but unlike some of the more recent dub tracks on FUNimation series, we have an underlying reliance on front channel effects. This isn't as bothersome as it could be on a more impressive anime release (Eden of the East for example), so the presence of an average audio experience isn't likely to frustrate most fans.
Slayers Revolution: Season 4 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only extras included on the discs are textless opening/closing songs, and a collection of trailers for other releases from FUNimation.
Slayers Revolution: Season 4 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Though I'm only halfway through the complete 26 episode story arch (continued with the Evolution release), I'm struggling to find enough value to justify a purchase recommendation. I'd have no problem supporting a one-time rental if you count yourself among those with an interest in Japanese comedy, but anyone new to anime would be advised to look elsewhere.
The Slayers Revolution: Other Seasons
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