Another movie, the 4th, set in the slayers world. It's relatively short and a somewhat strange mix of elements. It's entertaining enough, but I don't think it's going to be treasured by many
Meet Lina Inverse the beautiful (but noticeably non-busty) and brilliant (but short tempered) adventuring sorceress. While still a young girl she has mastered some of the greatest magics the world has to offer and now wanders the world seeking fame, wealth power...as well as entertainment and huge servings of food. After all, a growing sorceress needs her lunch(es). She's a wonderfully complex character and deservedly popular amongst the anime community.
Her companion in these travels is not the same team as the TV series as these stories take place as a prequel to those stories. Instead she gets the overly well endowed, minimally clothed sorceress Nahga. Nahga considers herself Lina's greatest rival, Lina jokes about her being a side-kick, with the actual truth falling somewhere in between the two. The one thing that's certain is that while Nahga's magical power is huge she's not nearly as perceptive as Lina. Nor is she as careful in how she uses it, and considering that Lina is of the `oops, was that your city?' school of responsibility this should be regarded as terrifying.
Because in this land magic can be very potent indeed. Monsters and demons exist and combine both brains, brawn and extreme levels of magical power. The land itself is full of good adventuring stand-byes such as ancient relics, mysterious magics and hidden secrets. In other words there's always lots of opportunity for a wandering adventurer to do good...and perhaps grab a bit of loot on the side.
Two young girls in an unfamiliar city far away from home, sampling the local delicacies. Although since these two are Lina and Nahga the chance of something unusual happening seem very high. And indeed they watch, in surprise, as the towns-people retreat into their houses. It seems it is time for the regular invasion of the red dragon horde, although in this case it makes the mistake of interrupting Lina and Nahga's lunch. And even dragons are clever enough to know not to annoy Lina.
Naturally our two hero's rush to respond to this threat...by hiring themselves at exorbitant rates to the ruler of the city. Although both select a different ruler, as it turns out the city is gripped in the total non-crisis of one of the least serious civil wars ever recorded. But is it possible that behind the seemingly comedic disruption of the kingdom lurks a more serious, and powerful, force with a far more serious intent?
The first time I saw this I considered it the funniest of the slayers movies. However on further viewing I became much less pleased by what I saw. This movie has some lovely set piece routines, indeed the whole plot is largely designed to set up some action and comedy, but it lacks a lot in the way of direction. It began to feel like the creative team were just going through the motions, producing something fun and entertaining with precious little in the way of depth. Not that this is an unfamiliar feel with many of the slayers movies.
On the positive side there are some lovely scenes in the comedy and action department. The basis of the `civil' war is classically silly and there's some wonderful dialogue. There's also some beautiful physical comedy and lots of parody of many a cliche fantasy plot. And Lina, as the voice of reason, gets to play the straight-woman in a plot and cast much weirder than she. Her relationship with dragons in general, and the nature of her `fame', also come into the story and are fairly amusing. The king, and the `black knight' also get extra credit for being wonderful parody characters.
The show undergoes a change roughly mid-way through the show. Once the comedy of the civil war runs out of steam, and Lina gains the upper hand, the `secret' force reveals itself. Powerful and deadly the mood immediately, but not entirely believably, changes to a far more grim and serious mood. This guy is quite possibly more powerful than Lina and his plan is driven by darkness and hatred. Danger and a well directed magicians battle takes over the show, while the vast majority of the comedy sneaks off the stage. Although, after the action conclusion, there is a touch more comedy to link them together.
So, as a show it is perfectly enjoyable. It helps a lot if you know the characters, since Lina does not get much character time or development even though she is at the core of many of the jokes. It also helps if you're familiar with fantasy in general and anime fantasy in particular. However even without this knowledge this is still a very enjoyable anime. Some of the comedy is pretty cool, the situation is delightfully silly and the action segment is imaginative, atmospheric and fun to watch. However I think most will find it to be lacking in lasting appeal. Once you've seen the jokes and the action you'll find the simple story and limited character, and a general lack of `heart', make further viewings less pleasing than the one before.
The animation is a real mixed bag. This is a movie and some of the elements reflect this. Notably some nice coloring in the early section and some cinematic effects and camera shots. The final villain in particular looking quite impressive and spells getting some nice flash on them. However the characters, and a lot of the action, look a lot like slightly improved television quality animation. As such it is good, but for a movie it's generally quite unimpressive. The voices are solid, with Megumi Hayashibara putting in another solid performance, and I didn't notice anything of great interest in the music.