a.k.a. Iriya’s Sky, Summer of UFOs
After spending his summer watching for UFOs, Asaba Naoyuki returns to school the night before classes resume and has a chance meeting with a mysterious girl at the pool. She hesitantly tells him her name, Iriya Kana, before a man claiming to be her brother shows up with armed men to collect her. From then on, Iriya joins Asaba’s class, though she is strange, sickly and leaves early often. As Asaba and Iriya are drawn closer together, Asaba begins to realize that there is more to Iriya and her illness than meets the eye.
summary by Liegenschonheit
Highs: Clean artwork; nicely paced storytelling; compelling characters; flawlessly integrated CGI
Lows: Obtrusive comedic relief
When I first heard the title of this anime, I envisioned scenes of aliens invading the earth and the typical sci-fi epic battles with lots of action, laser guns and exploding spacecraft. Luckily, I was way off the mark. Instead, Iriya no Sora is a finely tuned love story that tells a neatly packaged tale in just six short episodes.
Although a lot of six-episode anime come out feeling rushed and unfinished, six is the perfect number for Iriya no Sora, allowing the story plenty of elbow room. The pacing is slow enough to give plenty of details, but moves quickly enough to never get bogged down and drag. With the exception of a few misplaced comedy relief moments, this anime stays on track and every episode forwards the plot without any wasted scenes. The characters also mesh well with the story and are especially interesting because they all seem to act like real people instead of contrived characters. Seiyuu speak realistically and do a very good job conveying emotion, especially in the case of Iriya. In fact, the only large flaw in this anime was those few untimely comedic moments featuring the only over-the-top characters in Iriya no Sora: the Chairman and Asaba’s younger sister.
Though the art in Iriya no Sora isn’t anything spectacular, it is very good and remains consistently clean throughout the anime. Bright, elegant colors of daytime scenes are contrasted nicely with cooler, dusky tones in darker ones. The animation is on par with the art in quality and consistency, and the only time this anime falters is with repeated usage of the same cells. However, that problem is a rare exception rather than the rule. Most impressively is the flawless way that the CGI art meshes with the traditional art. It is put together so well that in some cases it was only by watching the same scene more than once that I realized I was looking at CGI.
Iriya no Sora is an anime that seems to have slipped in under the radar, which is a shame. While most newer anime seem to be disappointing, this anime shines. Sweet without being sugary, dramatic without melodrama, it defies categorization as shoujo or shounen. Truly, this anime is something that most viewers won’t want to miss.
Iriya no Sora can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.