Iria: Zeiram the Animation
Iria: Zeiram the Animation is based on the live-action movie, Zeram (spelled without the "i"). I haven't seen the movie yet, so I can't comment on any similarities or differences. However, no knowledge of the movie is necessary for watching this sci-fi series.
Iria is young woman training to become a "Hunter". She accompanies her brother, Gren, and fellow hunter, Bob, on a mission to rescue a crew of a space transport that has mysteriously gone silent. Unfortunately, no one bargains on discovering the cause of the trouble: a powerful entity known as "Zeiram".
The first thing that hit me was the unique style. The technology is a cross between traditional Japanese style and futuristic sci-fi. The result is truly something to look at. The gadgets features are pretty neat, too. Iria employs many gizmos and widgets, and even her weapons held a few hidden surprises. And watching Fujikuro flying around on his Dempadan had me wanting one.
Character-wise, this series really shines. Iria is a tough, no-nonsense heroine who is very capable of taking care of herself. She's the kind of strong protagonist you can't help but root for. Her supporting cast is also pretty decent. I liked Fujikuro's tough-guy attitude even though he truly cares what happens to Iria (how else do you explain his presence in this series?). He may be a bit cliched, but it didn't bother me. Kei provides a bit of comic relief and fulfills the "snot-nosed kid" role nicely. Conceptual designs were also very good. Everything from Iria's outfit to Zeiram's menacing aura were well conceived and somewhat unique to behold.
The action featured isn't anything to get excited about. The battle between Gren and Zeiram was the only distinct action sequence I enjoyed, while everything else had the feeling of "been there, done that". Inconsistencies also popped up occasionally. In the second episode the local militia seems unable to locate Zeiram's weak spot, but a kid with a slingshot gets lucky on the first shot. But I guess the trained soldiers weren't, for they also demonstrate an uncanny ability to miss Iria even with sustained hails of gunfire.
Unfortunately, the plot is the weakest link in this series. Once you get past the second episode things become very tedious and predictable. I was able to guess every single plot device and was genuinely unsurprised during every plot twist and revelation. There is an attempt at some government conspiracy fluff, but this is forgotten in exchange for action later in the series. The whole thing boils down to the Iria versus Zeiram conflict which results in the lowest point in the series. Without spoiling the final confrontation, I'll just say that Zeriam was defeated far too easily.
While it may have its flaws, Iria proves to be rather fun to watch nonetheless. Heck, the nifty gadgets and unique style almost make it worth watching for those reasons alone (well, maybe not). If you're in the mood for action or science fiction, then Iria is worth considering.
The Verdict: * * * 1/2 (above average)
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