by Carl Kimlinger,

Slayers Revolution

Episodes 1-4 Streaming (dub)

Slayers Revolution Episodes 1-4 Streaming (dub)
Having run out of land bandits to abuse for cash, Lina Inverse turns her ill temper and massive magical powers (and even more massive greed) on bandits of the water-trotting variety. While out pounding the bejeezus out of pirates, she and loyal but now swordless sidekick Gourry Gabriev are accosted by Inspector Wizer, a policeman of sorts whose name and shrewd look belie a brain of purest mush. It turns out that Lina is wanted for the crime of being Lina (a crime that even her most devoted friends agree is quite heinous) and Wizer is intent on bringing her in. Lina being Lina, as the warrant states, she proceeds to blow the hell out of his kingdom. Until she discovers that she's being framed for the crimes of someone else—a furry little...something with magical powers to rival hers—and directs her decidedly unhealthy attentions towards the fuzzy interloper.

If there is such a thing as classic stupidity, Slayers is it. A longtime staple of the mid-90s anime boom, it garnered a considerable following while remaining unremittingly and unrepentantly brainless. Which was, in large part, why it was fantastic fun. And still is. After a decade of moldering in the tomb o' has-been anime, the franchise's creators have deemed the silly beast worthy of resurrection. If the decision smacks of pointless nostalgia-wallowing, well, just remember: there was never any point to begin with.

Like any resurrected corpse, Slayers Revolution shuffles along some at first. You can almost hear it mumbling "brains..." as it clumsily reacquaints us with its cast via stand-and-deliver introductory speeches, and you can clearly feel it lurching, stiff with retreating death, as it wastes precious time spoofing Jack Sparrow and smiling indulgently as its main characters run through their signature shtick. It continues stumbling right through the introduction of smart-talking, nauseatingly cute magical rabbit-thing Pokota. And then almost immediately redeems itself by beating the snot out of him. It isn't long thereafter that the series regains its fleet-footed irreverence, and it never once looks back. Sight-gags both familiar (the series' very peculiar mermaids) and brand-new (Lina punching Wizer into the sky while cuffed to his wrist) fly fast and thick, and much fun is had with Lina and co.'s decidedly un-heroic behavior as the series runs through several exceedingly frivolous stories about petnapping and shoddy Lina-made "tanks." Yes it's repetitive, yes it's meandering, and yes you can actually feel it killing your brain cells, but it's also hilarious—particularly if you have a soft spot for any of the characters—and it doesn't try to be anything it's not. And that excuses a lot. Plus, under all those breast jokes there is a plot, albeit a well-disguised and likely uninteresting one.

As exactingly as the series replicates its old charms, so too does it replicate its old look—shiny CGI veneer aside. Which is to say that it looks really cheap. Animation is poorly controlled and downright ugly at times, character designs constantly shift proportions and facial features, and action is rendered via stills and movements made affordable by constantly MIA backgrounds. And then there's the hair, flapping in the wind like the badly-looped pelts of dead muskrats. In a word: sloppy. The backgrounds by contrast are crisp and vibrant and fantasy-ish, the colors are bright and clean, and the magical displays are genuinely impressive; hinting that perhaps the series' quality-control issues are more intentional than they appear. But even if they aren't, Lina and Amelia's major old(ish)-school cuteness is recompense enough.

Backgrounds aren't the only things appropriately fantasy-ish, there's also Osamu Tezuka's (no relation) score. When not buried beneath bickering leads and exploding towns, it hits a number of fantasy-ish tones: sinister orchestral atmosphere, ascending action instrumentals, that thing that fantasy scores do when they're panning over fantasy landscapes. There's also a lot of dippy comedy music and the occasional musical joke (that "level-up" note it hits when Gourry finishes a meal). Mostly, though, it's just buried. As with Slayers series past, actress Megumi Hayashibara (Lina) bookends each episode with a pair of reasonably solid pop tunes.

To fully avail themselves of the franchise's nostalgia value, Funimation delivers an odd treat for Slayers old-timers: Central Park Media's original dub cast (or as near as can be managed), reprising their roles ten years after the fact. A random act of kindness on the company's part, and one that pays off handsomely. Funimation's dub is a very pleasant surprise. The years have been kind to Lisa Ortiz and her cast-mates. Each easily thrashes their previous performance, and ADR directors Michael Sinterniklaas and Marc Diraison (the guys behind Right Stuf's superb Ninja Nonsense dub) provide a steady and, when the mood takes them, inventive guiding hand, delivering a smooth English version that communicates with ease the series' light charm.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and perhaps the only thing separating this from its many contemporary imitators. Though to know that, you'd have to be free of its steely grip, which I'm not. As it stands this is as fine an opportunity to revisit your old Slayers friends as you'll likely find. So say hi, grab some grub and sit back and enjoy wasting your life away with the whole crew of fantasy fightin' failures. There's twenty some odd episodes to come, and with luck they'll be as mindlessly amusing as the seventy some odd that came before.

Production Info:
Overall (dub) : B
Story : C
Animation : C-
Art : C+
Music : C+

+ As fun as Slayers ever was.
As lazy and frivolous as it ever was.

Director: Takashi Watanabe
Series Composition: Jirō Takayama
Katsumi Hasegawa
Michiko Itou
Jirō Takayama
Yasunori Yamada
Hajime Horinouchi
Masato Jinbo
Yuta Maruyama
Hiromichi Matano
Makoto Moriwaki
Takuya Satō
Kouichi Takada
Takashi Watanabe
Episode Director:
Noriaki Akitaya
Masato Jinbo
Yuta Maruyama
Kunitoshi Okajima
Michita Shiraishi
Makoto Sokuza
Daisuke Takashima
Unit Director:
Takuya Satō
Takashi Watanabe
Music: Osamu Tezuka
Original creator: Hajime Kanzaka
Original Character Design: Rui Araizumi
Character Design: Naomi Miyata
Art Director: Shinji Kawaai
Chief Animation Director:
Naomi Miyata
Takao Sano
Kyota Washikita
Animation Director:
Ryotarou Akao
Hideo Amemiya
Nobuhiro Arai
Yuki Imoto
Tetsuya Ishikawa
Mitsuharu Kajitani
Mayuko Kato
Jun Kawai
Tetsuya Kawakami
Fumiko Kon
Tsuyoshi Konakawa
Sonomi Norimi
Kazuhiro Ono
Hong Rong
Konomi Sakurai
Takao Sano
Isao Sugimoto
Natsuko Suzuki
Akira Takeuchi
Toshiya Washida
Mechanical design: Mitsuharu Kajitani
Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami
Director of Photography: Yutaka Kurosawa
Shinichi Ikeda
Yuji Matsukura
Gou Shukuri

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