Lina Inverse returns in the first of a set of prequel films and OAV series', this time with her amazingly well endowed sidekick Naga.
Lina 'Bandit Killer' Inverse, a cute dark sorceress with a bottomless stomach is travelling around in search of fame wealth and food. Thanks to a group of highwaymen she is re-united with her sometimes friend/rival/sidekick Naga 'The White Serpent', who is quite the physical opposite of Lina, being tall, busty and wearing next to nothing at all as her regular outfit. Thanks to the highwaymen they find two tickets to the legendary hot springs of Mipross Island, and Naga, being something of a connoisseur of such places, drags Lina along. Unfortunately the entire island is cursed to be stuck in time and Lina and Naga are drafted in to help return the place to normal after encountering lots of strange people with an unhealthy obsession for jellyfish. Add in a crazy frog called Joyrock and things really heat up for the less than heroic pair.
The first of the Lina and Naga stories gets underway and is very much in the Slayers theme. The setting and storyline is far more condensed than I am used to thanks to the Slayers TV series' but that doesn't hinder this film in the least. Underneath the regular Slayers exterior however is a much more subtle collection of situations and comedy. Where the TV series' were a combination of serious D&D style stories, slapstick humour and situation gags this takes a gentler approach that fits together very well as a single theme as opposed to the somewhat disjointed feel of the TV versions. I do prefer this approach, particularly because in the limited time they have to tell the story.
As with all the other Slayers material this one is for the older children and up. There is less violence than the TV series' but when it's there it feels more hard hitting. Again Lina's dragon Slave spell has been re-worked in both the subtitles and the dub to tone down the idea of Lina pledging her self to darkness, and most of the spell have had their names re-worked both in dub and subtitles, but left unchanged in the original Japanese. The 'Blam Blazer' becomes 'Explosion Array' for example.
Naturally for a feature film the animation is very nice looking and I thoroughly approve of the drawing style used, Lina's hodgepodge of clothing fitting her younger age. Strangly though she does tend to act more maturely than in the TV series'. The magic spells in particular are very nice on the eyes but, while the designs for the main cast are superb, some of the supporting cast are almost resigned to super deformed status which I found very strange.
You don't really need any knowledge of Slayers to enjoy this movie since it is all played out very naturally and you find yourself just accepting the situations because of the film's atmosphere. Many people have said that if you are unsure about getting the Slayers TV series' then you should try this first. It is certainly a good introduction to the Slayers universe but the feel and sense of humor here is far less overt so it is not necessarily given that if you like this you will like them, and visa versa. The film doesn't really stand out as a must buy but it is eminently watchable, and I found the appeal doesn't get lost with time.
If you have read my other Slayers reviews you will know that I generally have no love for Slayers dubs. Coming from ADV instead of Central Park Media the cast is different, but since Lina is the only character appearing from the TV shows it is hardly a big thing. The dub this time round is a mixed affair. My main gripe is that Lina's voice is too hard to make out some of the time. The writing on the other hand is very nice and there are some great additional lines, especially for Joyrock who is probably my favourite dub voice here. A Mazoku with the line 'Thufferin' thuckatash' alla Sylvester the cat has to be worth a listen! Naga's actress gets her obnoxious laugh just about right and hams up the part wonderfully. The whole thing is rather tongue in cheek and is generally a mixed bag slightly better than usual.
In the end I find myself being able to recommend this provided you do not expect it to be the be all and end all of anime. It isn't particularly deep or ground breaking, it's just a very fun film.