Nov 13, 2019
I've talked about JC Staff's Slayers franchise quite a bit. And by quite a bit, I mean thrice with reviews of The Motion Picture, Great & Return. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's a largely comedic fantasy tale about a powerful sorceress who stops rampaging monsters, grabs treasure wherever it glitters and claims victory over her foes. Along with a colourful cast of companions. So, is this film as good as the others we've looked at?
So, we open with Lina and Naga sitting in a town square, enjoying some tacos, when everyone around them starts panicking and running indoors. They find out
why when an armoured girl appears with dragons. Lina fends her and her dragons off only to find out that her father rules the town and they're fighting over a raise in her allowance. That moment when you realise you suck as a parent. Naturally, both Lina and Naga are brought in on opposite sides for the promise of gold.
The biggest weakness of this film is that it does hit some of the same beats as Great did. That on featured a father and son building golems for opposite lords in a dispute while Lina and Naga took opposite sides. To be fair, the reasons for parent and child fighting were different and the way their dynamic plays out is different, but the basic story lines are pretty similar. Another, more minor gripe is that the imagery accompanying the ending credits has a segment with Lina flipping a coin that's pretty close to the same as the scene that Great had in its.
The strength this has is that the humour is at a very high level with most of the gags landing very effectively. This film also demonstrates the ability this franchise has to introduce a big threat and have a cool action sequence, but also add in a bunch of comedic elements during the fight that make it tonally fit perfectly. The reveal of the ultimate antagonist is also very cool.
In terms of character, the strength of these films has consistently been Lina and Naga's dynamic. They're similar and distinct enough that you can both understand why they keep one another company and why they drive each other crazy. I can really buy them as friends. Hell, I'd buy them as lovers of the "old bickering couple variety" if that had been the route they'd taken. And their dynamic really shines in this film at the point where they're working in combination and you can see them communicate intentions without saying a word.
The side characters also follow the same pattern as the ones in the last film. They aren't complex, but they're quirky enough for some good gags and to make them memorable.
JC Staff has consistently done a great job with the artwork in this franchise. It features some strong visual gags, well designed characters and some really good action sequences. My biggest complaint about the action sequences is that some of the scenes in them are a bit too clichéd. For instance, it has that scene where two opponents run at each other, it pauses for a moment and then you see the result.
Hayashibara Megumi & Kawamura Maria are amazing as ever. The actors for the film exclusive characters give strong performances as well. You can't really fault Hikami Kyouko, Kamiya Akira, Takiguchi Junpei or anyone else in that regard. The music is pretty great. Hayashibara Megumi's ending song in this one is Raging Waves, which is fantastic.
There's still none to be had. Yeah, they could make Lina and Naga work as a couple, but there are no hints of that.
Areas of Improvement:
Vary the film plots more. I get that every writer has a "thing" but it's going to get a bit tired if we keep seeing parent/ child squabbles as a central plot element.
Lose the action scene clichés. I'm sorry, they just don't work all that well.
A different ending gag. I get that they vary it slightly, but it's close enough to the same thing that it doesn't work all that well when you've seen the film before it.
This is a pretty great film and definitely worthy of the franchise. Ultimately, my complaints with it are more minor nitpicks than serious, enjoyment affecting problems. So, I'm going to give it an 8/10. If this franchise is your thing, you'll enjoy this film. If it's not, at least look up the song Raging Waves by Hayashibara Megumi.
What did you think of this review?