Much like her brother Gren before her, Iria wishes to become a master bounty hunter. While in apprenticeship, she tags along with Gren and her mentor Bob on a rescue mission in space. The Karma has been hijacked, and the trio of bounty hunters are called to rescue the crew and the cargo. Little prepared were they for the arrival of a mysterious presence of unknown origin and unfathomable power. Where did this seemingly-unstoppable creature come from, and how are the events aboard the ship tied into its purpose?
summary by Kain
Highs: Mix of sci-fi and historical Asian world is original and enchanting; I love that opening theme; Iria is one tough chick
Lows: No character development whatsoever; story is overly linear and offers nothing in terms of surprises
To call this “The Terminator, anime style” would sum it up pretty well. In general, that’s a compliment. Iria: Zeiram the Animation is filled with eye-popping action sequences (and at times stunning animation), with the added suspense of the seemingly unstoppable Zeiram lurking around every corner.
Anyone who has read my other reviews knows I place character development and personality high on my anime priority list. There’s nary a trace in this OVA series. Therefore my first impulse was to relegate it to the likes of Ghost in the Shell and Dragonball Z, but something kept me from doing so: atmosphere.
The scenery and character designs were truly unique. While primarily futuristic in nature, there were elements of medieval Chinese folk art and clothing. It doesn’t sound like it works on paper, but trust me it does. I also like how the series handled the Zeiram character by keeping him in shadows and not revealing too much about his character, thereby adding a certain fearsome mystique. I have yet to find a person who dislikes the bounty hunter Iria, who is voiced by the always-excellent Hisakawa Aya (Skuld from Ah! My Goddess).
If you like your action with a dash of spice then order up this tasty title. Don’t expect a groundbreaking plot. Do expect a nice way to eat up some time.
Highs: Nonstop excitement; incredibly innovative designs
Lows: Condensed and concise
I would have thought fighting the same bad guy for three hours would end up being repetitive, but with Iria: Zeiram the Animation, it is the exact opposite. Based on a live-action movie by Amemiya Keita, the design of Zeiram, the said bad guy, and the weapons/gadgets employed to fight it are so interesting and inventive (with a retro-futuristic duality similar to Wings of Honneamise), you just cannot wait until they fight it again. Thankfully, you do not have to wait very long for that to happen; Iria: Zeiram is almost constant action done right. It consists of diverse choreographies with smooth animation and almost no still shots. Since the series is not exactly recent, one cannot expect eye-popping graphics, but detailed artwork in backgrounds and characters goes a long way.
With all that fighting, there is little room for character development, but they still manage to put up enough to flesh out the main characters and give them interesting personalities and motivations. As if it was in a tight corset, extra episodes would have allowed this anime to breathe a bit better and given it a chance to be less rushed. There was plenty left to know about Zeiram and its origins at the end of this OVA series, but I guess chances of a sequel are getting pretty slim, even as a second Zeiram live-action movie was released after the anime.
I was afraid that, like a few other action-oriented series, the token comic-relief characters would suffocate the atmosphere and ruin all the suspense. In Iria: Zeiram, everyone seems to know how to behave, letting the dramatic situations be dramatic and the action uninterrupted, all the while making us smile and laugh when the timing is right. Other than that, it’s oohs and ahhs from start to finish in this incomplete but highly addictive series.
Iria: Zeiram can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.