The Slayers Evolution-R (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 3, 2010 by Dennis Amith
The fifth season “The Slayers Evolution-R” takes the series up a notch over the last season with a more darker, more action-driven storyline. If you have dedicated yourself this long to the “The Slayers” series, there is no doubt you will find “The Slayers Evolution-R” to be a much more exciting than “Revolution” and the best looking season for “The Slayers” yet!
Image courtesy of © FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
BLU-RAY TITLE: The Slayers Evolution-R
DURATION: Episodes 14-26 (Duration: 312 Minutes, 2 Blu-rays)
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment
RATED: TV 14
Release Date: September 21, 2010
Original Story: Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi
Directed by Takashi Watanabe
Series Composition by Jiro Takayama
Character Design: Naomi Miyata
Art Director: Shinji Kawaai
Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami
Director of Photography: Yutaka Kurosawa
Producer: Gou Shukuri, Shinichi Ikeda, Yuji Matsukura
Animation Production by J.C. Staff
Featuring the following voice talent:
Megumi Hayashibara/Lisa Ortiz as Lina Inverse
Yasunaro Matsumoto/Eric Stuart as Gourry Gabriev
Hikaru Midorikawa/Crispin Freeman as Zelgadis
Masami Suzuki/Veronica Taylor as Amelia
Colleen O’Shaughnessey/Yumiko Kobayashi as Pokota
Akira Ishida/Michael Sinterniklaas as Xelloss
Takehito Koyasu/Liam O’Brien as Rezo
The magical mayhem of The Slayers Revolution continues in The Slayers Evolution-R! With the original cast of The Slayers back together for the first time in over a decade, Lina Inverse and her crew are reunited and doing what they do best – saving the world by almost destroying it!
Lina’s gang and their new ally Pokota are hot on the trail of the Hellmaster’s Jar! It’s no ordinary piece of pottery: it holds the soul of Rezo the Red Priest. Opening the vessel and resurrecting Rezo is the only hope Pokota has of saving his kingdom’s people. With masked assassins, headless knights, and shifty Xellos in the mix, one thing is certain: destruction is guaranteed!
I can easily remember watching “The Slayers” when it first appeared on television in Japan, catching the premiere of the series at an anime convention and watching the main Japanese voice actress Megumi Hayashibara promoting the series in America and singing a song from the series. And then the release of the series on VHS and owning multiple copies just to get a subtitled and English dubbed version because I enjoyed the series that much.
It’s hard to believe but nearly 14 years later since “The Slayers” debut as a light novel by Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi (which the duo has since released 50 light novels), the series has received a manga treatment, two OAV series, five movies, countless video games and for anime series, there have been a total of five seasons.
With the series having had its release in the US from Software Sculptors and Central Park Media, “The Slayers” series received back in August 2009 with its first major collection from FUNimation Entertainment with “The Slayers: The First Three Seasons” which consists of Season One: The Slayers (April 1995-Sept. 1995, 26 episodes), Season Two: Slayers Next (April 1996-Sept. 1996, 26 episodes) and Season Three: Slayers Try (April 1997-Sept. 1997, 26 episodes) for a total of 78 episodes included in this collection.
With the series going on a decade-long hiatus, the fourth season was released 11 years after the third season and titled “The Slayers Revolution” (aired between July-September 2008) which was released by FUNimation Entertainment. The fourth season features the first 13-episodes and is now continued on Blu-ray and DVD with this latest release of “The Slayers Evolution-R” (the fifth season) which comprises of the final 13-episodes which were aired between January-April 2009 (note: The manga is still ongoing in Japan).
“Slayers Revolution” is directed by Takashi Watanabe (“Casshan: Robot Hunter”, “Y’s II”, “New Fist of the North Star”, “Ikki Tousen”), screen composition by Jiro Takayama (“The Slayers” series, “Angel Links”, “Wings of Rean”, “El Hazard: The Wanderers”), character designs by Naomi Miyata (“Kino’s Journey”, “Revolutionary Girl Utena”, “Sakura Wars”) and music by Osamu Tezuka (“Shadow Skill”, “Popotan”, “Lost Universe, “Akazukin Cha Cha”).
The series revolves around the character of Lina Inverse, a powerful sorceress who has a love for money and eating a lot of food. Everytime she tries to help a village (for money), somehow, she ends up destroying it and thus, has a reputation of being a destructive and evil sorceress. She is accompanied by Gourry Gabriev and sometimes by Zelgadis Greyswords and Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun during her adventures for more money, food and fun.
But this time, they encounter a small creature named Pokota that knows how to use the “Dragon Slave” whose village was put into a stasis. His village was struck by a sickness in which humans were sickened by an illness called Durum which changes their appearance. So, to prevent the village from Durum, a magical wizard put his village in a deep sleep until a cure is found. But with the durum sickness now gone, Pokota needs the wizard to wake everyone up.
So, In order to revive his village, he needs to find a man who helped save his village once before, to use his magic. Unfortunately, the man is Rezo, the Red Priest. The enemy of Lina and friends and the man responsible for turning Zelgadis to a chimera. Despite the bad things that Rezo has done, Pokota believes Rezo is a good man who saved his village.
But with Lina and friends wanting to see if Rezo is indeed alive (when he is supposed to be dead), they are willing to help Pokota. For now…
The main characters of “The Slayers Evolution-R” are:
Lina Inverse – A powerful sorceress who loves money and food. She is very sensitive when she’s around other women that are more bustier than her and tends to have a short fuse. Whenever she’s in battle, her spells tend to do more damage than she thinks. But because of the sheer amount of destruction that she’s caused, the rumors have spread throughout the country and people tend to fear her and make her out as an evil person when she’s not.
Gourry Gabriev – The marvelous swordsman who wields the sword of light. He also has a bad memory and is a powerful magic wielder but doesn’t remember being one. So, he joins Lina on her adventures as her personal bodyguard.
Zelgadis Greywords – A powerful sorcerer who is a chimera made of a rock golemn courtesy of his ancestor Rizo. Known for his green face and purple, wiry hair and is half demon and human. He looks desperately for a stone that will change him to a human, even if it means losing his chimera powers. A stoic, no-nonsense character.
Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun – A young miko and also a princess. Her dream is becoming a hero of justice and thus, had joined Lina and Gourry in many adventures. Very naive at times and believes almost everything that people tend to tell her. She also knows that Lina and Goury tend to use her for her money.
Xellos – A high level Mazoku and a priest of the “Greater Beast Zelas-Metallium”. Also known as Beastmaster Xellos and is literally a frienemy of Lina and friends. When he seems like he’s helping, he seems to have some sort of ulterior motive.
Pokota – An animal-like creature who has the ability to use great power like Lina. A former human who searches for Rezo to awaken the people of Taforashia.
Wizer – A special investigator who is on a hot trail pursuing Lina Inverse to arrest her for being Lina Inverse.
“The Slayers Evolution-R” comes with the complete season, episodes 14-26 on two Blu-ray discs (note: The Blu-rays utilize the number scheme of Evolution-R beginning at episode 14). Here are the spoiler-less summaries of each episode:
- EPISODE 14 – Newcomer! A New Journey – Lina and friends on an adventure to find Rezo and meet a woman named Nama who’s soul is embedded in a suit of armor (and has lot her memory).
- EPISODE 15 – Oh My Head! Where’s My Head? – Nama joins the team and together they look for a magical jar that Rezod has used to turn Pokota to a creature and they meet Hans, another knight who’s soul is embedded in it (but is missing his head) who said he has a hellmaster jar like the one they are looking for and will give it to them if they can find his head.
- EPISODE 16- Partner! Sharing Mind and Body? – Lina takes on a man who has magical power over animals.
- EPISODE 17 – Quality Time! A Homelife with Love? – The fish lady returns and claims that Gourry is the father of her fish children. Being the gullible guy he is, Gourry to want to raise his children.
- EPISODE 18 – Raider! The Voice from the Darkness – Zelgadis and Lina take on a dragon. Meanwhile, something happens to Nama and an episode with Xellos and Mr. Zula.
- EPISODE 19 – Seek! Who’s Being Targeted? – Mr. Zuma instructs Lina and friends that they must go to a village and protect a merchant named Radok who is being targeted or else someone will die.
- EPISODE 20 – Townscape! Because it’s Manmade! – Lina and friends await in the village to protect Radok from whoever is trying to kill them.
- EPISODE 21 – Uncover! The Exposed Darkness! – The merchant is tired of waiting for being targeted and thus will go on an adventure to prompt the assassin to make its move. Zuma’s identity revealed.
- EPISODE 22 – Voice! What’s Inside the Jar – Lina becomes the owner of the hellmaster’s jar, but now the group must figure how to destroy the seal of the jar.
- EPISODE 23 – Wisdom! Seek the Time that Will Never Return! – Zelgadis steals the jar from Lina in hopes to get his body back.
- EPISODE 24 – Xeno! The Price of Revival! – Pokota takes the jar and wants to resurrect Rezo.
- EPISODE 25 – Yesterday’s Memory! Days Regained! – Rezo is resurrected.
- EPISODE 26 – Zero Hour! The Destroyed One! – Shabranigdo, the powerful being of evil and the source of power of Lina’s “Dragon Slave” is revived.
Considering “The Slayers Evolution-R” was released 12 years after “The Slayers Try” (1997), one would expect a major update to the animation. And the animation and background art looks for this series is fantastic!
The anime series features a much more bolder stroke around the characters, a more vibrant color pallet and better shading and detail. Artistic backgrounds are fine but for a series such as “The Slayers”, typically there are a lot of closeup shots of the characters and when comparing this series to the first three seasons, it’s like comparing a new Mercedes to an older, normal car. There is a huge improvement in animation and artistic background.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to review the DVD version and if there was one thing I noticed, “The Slayers Evolution-R” looked a bit better than “The Slayers Revolution”. The animation and even the artistic backgrounds seem much better in “The Slayers Evolution-R”.
The series is presented in 1:78:1 108p High Definition and is an upscaled anime on BD release. The edge enhancement is still visible, as is the banding but the artifacts are not as evident.
But the series on Blu-ray does feature a vibrant color pallet and for a anime TV series, the picture quality does stand out quite a bit compared to the DVD release.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the audio, “The Slayers Evolution-R” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series is primarily front and center channel driven but I did notice how certain scenes, ie. large halls in which the sound is nicely echoed through the halls, especially footsteps through the halls, doors creaking through the halls, wood creeking, wind flowing through open spaces and I pretty much noticed more surround usage in this series compared to “The Slayers Revolution”.
Also, other ambiance such as crowds and music can be heard through the surround channels. Especially, the use of magic can be heard through the surround channels.
For the most part, the series is dialogue driven and dialogue and music is crisp and clear via lossless and even the Japanese soundtrack sounds much more richer and well-balanced. So, there is a definite difference audio wise compared to the original DVD release.
Subtitles are in English.
“The Slayers Evolution-R” comes with the following special features:
- Textless Opening Song – Textless Songs for “Front Breaking”.
- Textless Closing Song – Textless Songs for “Sand Clock”.
- Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers
“Slayers” will always be an anime series that I will always enjoy. I was heavily into the series back in the 90’s and I know there had been this lull of when I didn’t catch anything related to the series but just a few related films. But watching this series again, definitely brought back memories of catching the series at an anime con meeting, an anime convention, buying multiple versions to get the subtitled and English dubbed versions. I really enjoyed this series.
But it takes some dedication. Where a long anime series such as “Dragon Ball Z” can have a conclusion, the fact that this series has literally been on television or released in some format for the last 15 years, you really have to be a dedicated fan to following a series this long.
In fact, each season is a story arc in itself but for the most part, they are stand-alone episodes and typically the final three or four episodes is where everything tends to lead to a major battle. And despite these episodes being over a decade old, the anime still holds up today. And the fact that you can own all three seasons in a single box set for a great price is also another incentive.
“The Slayers Evolution-R” looks absolutely fantastic. The character design and backgrounds are full of detail and is vibrant of colors. Storywise, “The Slayers Evolution-R” is much better than the last season “The Slayers Revolution” in my opinion. I felt that “Revolution” was very Pokota-driven and in someways, was a more happy-style of storyline that seemed like a series targeted towards a more younger demographic. With “The Slayers Evolution-R”, the series gets much darker and even a bit bloody (especially during the Zuma storyline) and although Pokota is in this series, he’s not as prominent, which is a good thing. Of course, the humor and weird storylines is still intact with this fifth seasn, especially the episode with Goury and the fish lady which was really odd but it was a hilarious episode.
Overall, “The Slayers Evolution-R” should definitely please “Slayers” fans who want the humor, the action and battles that the original series was known for. It’s definitely a step-up from “The Slayers Revolution” and the animation and artistic backgrounds are fantastic. I also feel that the series also has a wonderful English dub and also Japanese dialogue as well.
It’s important to note that it does help to watch the original three seasons to get some background on the characters but because the animation back then may not appeal to modern anime viewers, you can start with “The Slayers Revolution” and watch “The Slayers Evolution-R” and still enjoy it.
The Blu-ray release of “The Slayers Evolution-R” is definitely a major improvement over the DVD version video and audio-wise. But once again, for those hardcore anime on Blu-ray fans who are expecting a lot, it’s important to remind everyone that this is a TV series and it’s not going to look spectacular when compared to an anime film or OVA. But still, if you have watched the previous three seasons of “The Slayers” and are now just jumping in, then the Blu-ray is recommended.
In fact, if you are not too picky and still want a humorous anime series, I still recommend checking out “The Slayers Evolution-R” because it is a humorous series and it’s just fun to watch.
If you are a fan of “The Slayers” and have committed yourself to watching and owning every season, I definitely recommend “The Slayers Evolution-R”.
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