New anime for April ’09

The Slayers: Vol.4

Running time: 150 mins approx.
Classification : 12
Distributor: MVM
Region: R2 PAL
Video: 4:3
Audio: Japanese 2.0, English 2.0.
Subtitles: English.
Release Date: 6th April 2009.
RRP: £15.99

Rezo the Red is back from the dead and if Lina wants to find out how he pulled it off, she’ll need to discover the way into the heart of his cunningly concealed secret laboratory. The problem is that her guide’s the biggest chicken on the planet… literally. With trouble hot on their heels, can Lina’s entourage of magical misfits battle through all adversity, defeat Rezo and save the world… again?

Episode list:
Ep 21, UPSET! Gourry vs. Zangulus
Ep 22, VICE! The One Who Was Left Behind
Ep 23, WARNING! Eris’ Wrath!
Ep 24, X-DAY! The Demon Beast is Reborn! X-DAY Yomigaeru Majuu!
Ep 25, YES! A Final Hope: The Bless Blade
Ep 26, ZAP! Victory is Always Mine!

Well, that’s it, the final volume of the original series is finally released on DVD. With this, Slayers fans are one step closer to that elusive “full” collection. Well, until the two new Slayers series’, Slayers Revolution and Slayers Evolution-R, make an appearance on these shores that is. It’s been a fun trip down memory lane; the animation was somewhat unsophisticated, the jokes corny and the voice acting frantic, but all in a good way and just the way we remembered them. There aren’t many shows that can still be both as funny and as weird as this almost 15 years after their first outing. With all 26 episodes packed onto 4 volumes coupled with some heavy discounts on offer from the likes of Amazon and Play, Slayers Volumes 1 though 4 are great value releases to add to your collection.

As with the 2 previous volumes, there’s no extras to be found here. Instead we get 6 full episodes and that still sounds like a good trade off to me.

The Slayers: Vol.4 is available from Amazon, Play and other major retailers from 6th April 2009 and you can find our previous reviews of this series here and here.

Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, Volume 6

Label: MVM
Certificate: 12
Running time: approx 100 minutes (inc extras, yes, there actually are some this time!).
Region:R2 PAL
Audio: Japanese or English
Subtitles: English.
Release dates: 6th April 2009
RRP: £15.99

While Maia’s still no closer to finding out the truth about her past, she’s at least sure that the fragmented memories she has of a long lost brother are real. What’s more, there’s a chance that the mysterious stranger who seems to be protecting her from the shadows could actually be her erstwhile sibling. When she becomes so distracted from the job at hand that her inattention causes a colleague to be badly injured, her superiors at Nereids cut her loose. No longer able to rely on her friends and former team-mates, Maia begins to unravel not just the truth behind the secret of Daphne but how her forgotten past may be the key to revealing everything, something the authorities will do anything to avoid. Will a century old government conspiracy be too much for one young woman to take on alone or will her former comrades at Nereids come though for her right when she needs them most?

Comprising episodes 20 through 24, this release completes the “Government conspiracy / Maia’s memory loss” arc, ties up the loose ends and give us a nice feel good ending to this series. While this show never gave, nor promised, anything that’s going to set the world on fire it’s been pleasantly enjoyable & mindless fun none the less. Most of the episodes were quite silly while rarely going too far over the top; the dub cast were generally good, even though Maia’s dub actress could be a little irritating at times, and the higher than average (in it’s day) animation quality was maintained throughout. By no means life changing stuff but there’s definitely worse ways to be spending your weekends than with five cute girls in bikinis who like blowing stuff up, kicking arse and saving the day.

After a rather disappointing (read as “practically nonexistent”) turn out from the previous five volumes in the extras dept, Volume 6 pulls it out of the bag with not just one but two full-length bonus episodes.

Volume 6 of Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is available from 6th April 2009 from all good retailers such as Amazon and Play. Our reviews of previous volumes can be found here and here and here.

Hellsing – Ultimate Volume 4

Label: Manga Entertainment.
Release date: 6th April 2009
Certificate: 18
Running time: 54 mins approx
Video: 16.9 anamorphic
Sound:English 5.1, Japanese 5.1
Subtitles: English.
RRP: £14.99

Brief synopsis:
Against Sir Integra’s better judgement, an envoy from the Vatican’s Iscariot Division is invited to a Roundtable conference chaired by both the Hellsing Organisation and Her Majesty, the Queen of England. Millennium’s leader, Major Max Montana, sends his messenger boy to crash the party and to deliver to the Hellsing organisation, and to Alucard in particular, a declaration of war. As their opening salvo in this soon to be glorious battle between the Last Battalion of the Third Reich and the mighty British Empire, Millennium capture the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, the flagship of the Royal Navy, The message is clear; “Come take her back, if you can”.

If I had to sum this volume up in a single phrase then I think I’d go with “Hellsing: The incredibly gory musical”. There’s singing, there’s blood, there’s gore and there’s more blood, lots and lots of it. At some point between my writing of the review for Hellsing Ultimate Volume 3 and it being published on this site, the BBFC upgraded the classification for that volume up from cert 15 to cert 18 and it now seems that volumes 1 and 2 have had their certifications pushed up as well. This time, for volume 4, the BBFC aren’t beating around the bush and have slapped it with an 18 cert right from the word “go”. The thing is, even as a fan, I’ve got to agree with them, as this release is truly the stuff of nightmares, both visually and conceptually. Even our so-called “hero” is cruelly sadistic, viciously amoral and excitingly dangerous. Actually, I’m rather surprised that the Daily Mail hasn’t already started a campaign to get this series banned from our shores. Each subsequent Hellsing Ultimatevolume seems to be taking great joy in upping the ante, both gore and shock value wise, which is leaving me wondering quite what they’re going to do for a finale.

With all this you’d be forgiven for thinking Hellsing is all about the gore but you’d be wrong. Underneath all the blood and guts is a surprisingly clever story drawing on everything from ancient myths & legends, classic literature, Hollywood movies and even old operas. It’s telling that the character of Rip, a sharpshooter for Millennium armed with “magic bullets”, is so fond of the German opera “Der Freisch├╝tz” as, if you liken her to the character of Kaspar from that opera then her ultimate fate at the hands of the embodiment of the devil, in this case Alucard, is all the more inevitable.

While I’m on the subject of both Rip and opera, it’s nice to see that for once when choosing a dub actress for a character who’s required to sing, the ADR Director has chosen an actress who can actually perform. In fact, as has become one of the hallmarks of this series, this volume is stuffed to the brim with an impressive score moving almost effortlessly from light techno to rousing opera to sweeping orchestral and then back again. To compliment this impressive score is the equally impressive animation quality and very competent dub cast. However, if I was going to complain about anything (and I will) it’s that several of the German and English accents in the dub version are becoming such ridiculous parodies that it’s hard to take them seriously. But then, maybe that’s the ADR Director’s crafty plan to keep both the censors and the flaming torch wielding “think of the children” crowd at bay as it’s been proven again and again, you can get away with saying almost anything if you do it in a silly enough accent.

The first three volumes of Hellsing Ultimate were impressively loaded with extras and this volume certainly keeps to this tradition. There’s a full-length commentary track, an interview with Walter’s dub actor, another with Rip van Winkle’s dub actress, textless end credits and a promo video.

Hellsing – Ultimate Volume 4 will be available on DVD from most online and high street retailers from 6th April 2009. As usual, both Amazon and Play, are currently offering this volume, and also the previous volumes (our reviews of which can be found here and here), at some heavily discounted prices.