Reviews of yesteryear: Slayers the Motion Picture

I was planning on reviewing the Valkyria Chronicles anime this week, but things have been rather hectic and I wasn’t able to finish it. I’ll just have to take care of that one next week. For you guys it’ll be up tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s talk about the Slayers. The Slayers is pretty well known to anime fans. It has over fifty light novels, five anime series, five films, two OVAs, video game adaptations and several manga. It’s by far Kanzaka Hajime’s best known and most influential work. When I initially saw the original anime, I hated it. See, my brother got several VHS’s of the English dubbed version, since all of us speak English and, supposedly, they were cheaper that way. The voice acting was terrible and hurt my head. I had to use ear plugs whenever he played the tapes since he’s an inconsiderate clod who put the volume up far too high. It wasn’t until later, when I tried the anime subtitled that I came to appreciate it and now I’ve got a Lina Inverse plush sitting on my shelf between Edward Elric and Sailor Neptune. I’ve rearranged my shelves a bit. Now she’s between Gunslinger Girl, Rico and Holo the wise wolf. Now, I obviously didn’t have time to rewatch the whole franchise or even just the first anime series. I did, however, rewatch the first film. So let’s take a look at Slayers: The Motion Picture.

The story is a prequel to the first anime series, and it’s competently written so it can stand on its own. As such, I won’t be going into any details about the backstory. The story follows the sorceress Lina Inverse and her friendly rival/sidekick, Naga the Serpent. They get discount tickets to a strange island famous for its hot spring. While there they embark on a quest to unravel the truth about the island and the unusual power affecting it. It’s what you would expect from the Slayers. The story is full of absurdity played up for laughs, action, some intrigue and absurd action. The plot is pretty straight forward, but it works pretty well. The only real issue with the film is that it should have been longer. It’s barely an hour and the story rushes through the important points as a result. It’s still hilarious, but it could’ve used more time to flesh things out.

The characters in this are a bunch of strange, silly people. They aren’t particularly deep, but they work exceedingly well for a comedic work. And their motivations and actions do make sense, which is better than some supposedly serious anime manage. Still, don’t expect deep characters with fascinating psychological aspects.

The art in this looks rushed. It’s in the general style of the rest of the series, but the colours look duller and the animation looks sloppier. It still looks okay, but not nearly as good as the regular series. I would criticise Naga’s outfit, but it’s clearly meant to be a parody of the “battle bikini” convention you frequently see in fantasy works rather than being designed for fan-service. Frankly, the satire works pretty well since it’s actual done in a deliberate and aware fashion rather than fan-service which attempts to excuse itself as a parody.

the vocal cast in this is excellent. Takayama Minami, Kawamura Maria, Genda Tessyo and, especially, Hayashibara Megumi all do really well in their roles. There is some exaggeration which can get tiring, but it’s used for comedic effect and, generally, works. The music is really amazing. the film is certainly an auditory treat.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. This doesn’t have yuri.

So, how does the first Slayers movie hold up? The humour works really well. The characters, though not deep, are fun. The acting and music are excellent. That being said, the art is only okay and the story is pretty rushed. It’s a quick, fun watch. My final rating is a 7/10. Check it out if you need a good laugh. If you want something with depth, look elsewhere. Maybe I’ll look at more of the franchise at another time, but next week is going to have to be Valkyria Chronicles.

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