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Anime Reviews: Slayers Revolution-R
This final Slayers adventure is a fun treat for fans, but it comes with tedious filler episodes and unforgivable retcons in its first half.
Title: Slayers Revolution-R a.k.a. Slayers Revolution and Slayers Evolution-R
Production: J.C. Staff
Series Length: 26 episodes
Air Dates: 7/2/2008 to 4/6/2009
Age Rating: 13+ (mild violence, mild language)
Summary: While on the search for a new sword to replace the Sword of Light, Lina and Gourry run into Zelgadis and Amelia, who are on a quest of their own to find a way to undo Zelgadis' chimera transformation, in the country of Ruvinagald. Before long, Lina finds herself under arrest by detective Wizer Frayon, for the serious crime of being Lina Inverse. And if that wasn't enough, he's brought a prototype magic tank to assist him in his arrest. And if that wasn't enough, the town is leveled by a stuffed animal-looking character, using Lina's signature spell: the Dragon Slave! Talk about a rough reception.
The Good: Massive improvements to art and animation; the main cast is as funny as ever; new characters; the second half
The Bad: The first half pretends major events of past seasons never happened; no new music; more tedious filler
The Ugly: Duclis
Originally marketed as 2 separate series in Japan, Slayers Revolution-R was an immense sigh of relief and a source of joy for every Slayers fan out there. The situation: It's 2008, you love Slayers, and it's been 11 years since TRY ended, but that's when you hear that the gang is coming together for another adventure and you lose your mind like it ain't no crime. And then you realize millions of others are also simultaneously losing theirs. This new series was a pretty big deal in the anime circles, let's just put it that way. So, loaded with a new production company with a sizable budget and high expectations, just how does Revolution-R fare?
Well, for starters, Slayers Revolution-R has a budget whereas previous seasons didn't, making it very nice to look at. Sleek artwork coupled with new spell effects and fluid character movement is definitely a welcome and long-awaited sight for long-time fans of the series. Even the character designs got a few new eye-pleasing tweaks.
Also, the characters! Man, it was great seeing Lina, Gourry, Zel, and Amelia on a brand new adventure with their personalities intact, bouncing off each other just like we remembered after their 11-year hiatus. The voice actors all assume their roles as if they'd never left, once again forming an invincible combination of great character voices and great acting to make the experience as immersive as it's always been. The English version's great, too, especially since they got rid of David Moo and gave Xellos a new voice actor, Michael Sinterniklaas, who slides right into his role like he owns it. And then there are the new characters, including the always-funny detective Wizer Frayon, the almost-as-reckless-as-Lina-with-spells stuffed-animal-looking Pokota, the bumbling disembodied suit of armor named Nama, and the intimidating assassin Zuuma--each one of them adding new laughs or great action. Unlike its predecessor, Revolution-R takes full advantage of its new cast members and uses them wisely.
Where this series succeeds the most is during its second half (the Evolution-R arc in the original Japanese), where the plot threads begin to tie together and critical information is revealed, including the secret to Zelgadis' cure, and a certain squinty-eyed purple-haired priest (no, not that one) makes his grand re-entrance. This all leads to a climax well worth the long wait, and a new satisfying conclusion to the franchise. Unfortunately, where the series fails the most is during its first half (the original Revolution arc), in which the directors decide to make it so the two critically-important Sairaag story arcs of Slayers and Slayers NEXT never happened. It was all a dream. Or something. Also, the extremely stupid-looking Duclis serves as a bland and non-threatening antagonist, seemingly only there to fulfill the antagonist role for no real reason. And if you couldn't tell Duclis would be a villain just by looking at him, you're doing it wrong.
Now, let's talk about where Revolution-R got lazy. Firstly, there's almost no new music; maybe only a track here and there 20 episodes in, but other than that, it's all reused from the 90s trilogy. This was excusable back then because they integrated an equal number of new tracks and they were produced all at the same time. After an 11-year hiatus, you'd think new music would be an obvious first thing to work on, but all we really get is new openings and endings dutifully written by Megumi Hayashibara, with the standouts being opener "Plenty of Grit" and second ending, "Sunadokei."
Secondly, the filler. Just like TRY, we have several uninspired filler episodes which have zero relation to the plot that make the pacing unbearable. Oh, what's this? Lina and Pokota compete in a village competition to roll balls up a hill? How droll! Amelia gets suck inside Nama and they masquerade as a legendary hero? Oh, you! Gourry encounters a fish woman who claims he's the father of her two children? Why, that's positively wacky! Oh wait, don't we have some terrifying evil to combat? Eh, I'm sure it's not important. I want to know if Gourry sired fish children!
When all's said and done, Slayers Revolution-R isn't a bad series. It just didn't live up to 11 years' worth of expectations and it played loosey-goosey with past story arcs. For Slayers fans, this is definitely a must-see, if only because it exists. For newcomers, ehhh, maybe check it out if you want a fun comedy to tide you over for a weekend. For what it's worth, it could have been a lot worse.
Final Score: 6.5 out of 10. Sloppy retconning and useless filler episodes taint this otherwise satisfying conclusion to the beloved Slayers franchise.