IRIA: ZEIRAM THE ANIMATION (1994)

 

Format: 6 28-minute OVA episodes on two DVDs, commonly found in a single case

Rating: PG-13 (BN, AC, AL, GV)

Type: Sci-Fi Action

American Production: U.S. Manga Corps (originally), Anime Works (most recent release)

English Dub Production: National Sound (1996)

Japanese Production: Zeiram Committee

 

Grading

 

Premise:

B

Story:

B

Writing:

B

Character Design:

B

Animation:

B

Artistic Merits:

B

English Dub:

B+

Musical Score:

C+

Opener:

C-

Closer:

C

 

 

Humor Content:

C

Action Content:

B+

Drama Content:

B

 

 

DVD Presentation:

B

DVD Extras:

B

 

 

OVERALL:

B

 

Synopsis

      On planet Meese in the distant future, Iria is a capable Apprentice Hunter who looks forward to her next birthday, when she’s old enough to get her license as a full Hunter and officially join her brother in his trade. Before that can happen, though, her brother Gren is lost on a mission which brings them against an immortal, supposedly unkillable monster called Zeiram – which then keeps showing up wherever Iria goes. With help from allies she picks up along the way, Iria must find a way to stop the supposedly unstoppable Zeiram and thus put her brother to rest.

 

The Long View

      Iria ranks among the better sci-fi action anime. It creates a distinct future culture through its unique architectural designs, naming conventions, and technology base, such as long-range transporters and prismatic force fields that allow an apparently open-cockpit ship to go flying around in space. The Hunters of this world are basically sanctioned RPG-style adventurers, complete with an apprenticeship program and formal licensing process – an interesting concept. Like any good adventurer, the Hunters are highly-skilled professionals stocked with lots and lots of neat toys. Iria herself is no disappointment in this regard. She’s also cute and sexy (but not in an exploitive way) and quite determined. Zeiram, the monster, is fairly typical for your hard-to-kill monster-types, though its ability to absorb victims so that it can make clones of them and mimic their behavior suggests of an intelligence, or at least canniness, beyond that of a typical monster.

      The supporting cast for Iria fares reasonably well, though most of them are stereotypical. Bob starts out as one of Iria’s brother’s coworkers but becomes a computer program later on who tries to watch out for Iria, while Fujikuro is a rough, mercenary rascal of a Hunter who alternates between being concerned for Iria, treating her like a kid or nuisance, and hitting on her. He seems disconcerted by the fact that the little girl he once regarded as a brat and a pest has grown up to be an attractive young woman, though I may be giving the series too much credit here. Kei is the enterprising urchin girl (who passes herself off as a boy at first) who first meets Iria in episode 2 and becomes a regular beginning with episode 4. As one might expect, she takes after Iria in a lot of ways. Dr. Touka is the very clinical Zeiram expert who hangs around and occasionally interacts with the others during the second half of the series.

      The technical merits of Iria are good for their age, though they pale by comparison to the best recent efforts. The artistry is respectable, and the English voice work is solid. The musical scoring is nothing exceptional, as is the closer, but the opener is a disappointment; while the visuals aren’t bad, the song and performance (in Japanese) are. The writing, while stressing the action scenes, doesn’t get overwhelmed by them; there is actually a serious story here.

      The graphic content of Iria comes primarily from some bloody violence and an occasional bit of harsh language. There is one very brief scene of undefined nudity late in the series but no sexual content.

      As a final note, two live-action Japanese movie versions of Iria do exist, and I believe both are available in the States (though you might have to really look for them). I have not seen them, so I cannot comment on their comparison to the animation, but I have heard that their quality is strongly suspect.

 

DVD Extras

      The extras are included on a separate disc for the Special Edition (which is reviewed here). They include extensive art galleries, interviews with the creator and lead seiyuu, and various trailers.

  

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Iria

Renna, Stacy Lynn

Gren

Chris Yates

Bob

Gary Suson

Zeiram

Dave Siegel

Kei (or Kai)

Terri Muuss

Fujikuro

Andrew Thorson

Dr. Touka

Pete Zarustica

Puttubayh

Al Muscari

Komimasa

Jason Harris

 

 

 

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