Iria: Zeiram the Animation
Nineteen-year-old Iria was already a pretty good bounty hunter in her own right, capturing and delivering baddies with the best of the full-fledged bounty hunters around. All she needed now was to get the government's approval and become a full-fledged bounty hunter just like her older brother Gren, the best bounty hunter in the quadrant.
So when Gren received a special assignment to go a remote starbase to rescue the mayor from terrorists, Iria felt she had to come along to both practice her skills and watch her idol in action. Little did either of them know that the terrorists had loosed an invincible biological soldier known as Zeiram, and that even the best bounty hunter in the galaxy and his sister together are no match for his strength. Barely escaping with her life, Iria suddenly has to fend for herself against a government who will stop at no end to make sure the truth about Zeiram never gets revealed and Zeiram himself, who for some reason has picked Iria as his next target. And whatever did become of Gren after Iria left him on the base...??
"Iria" is a solid technical execution that fails to live up to the rest of itself, resulting in an overwhelming sense of mediocrity and "been there, done that."
In terms of technical performance, there is really little to complain about. The art and animation, while nothing exceptionally eye-popping, are rather well done, and employ some truly unique machine designs -- a sort of Ancient Far East meets Federation technology. Action is well-conceived (if a bit unbelievable in places), and the doo-dads and gadgets employed by Iria in her battles would make Batman develop an inferiority complex.
The character design is rather well-done, too, especially in Iria's character design: fully independent and competent, yet fully human as well. The dichotomy of her deadly capability and vulnerability as a person is a refreshing change from the plethora of vapid, sugar-coated, one-dimensional female "heroines" that so pervade anime who seem to survive on the sole merit of their cuteness.
However, the best character designs and art will not save a show with a deficient plot, the main malady "Iria" suffers from. The main story (lone force against a seemingly unstoppable monster) is derivative at its very best, and the writers do little if anything at all to try and set this title apart from others of its ilk. It's not that you know exactly what's going to happen next, it's that you find yourself not really caring. Even with the nice action and art and Iria herself, I found myself getting bored at times with no plot-food for the brain to chew on during the quiet bits. Some major oversights can be found in some of the suppositions (how come the whole military firing on Zeiram never found his weak spot when a kid with a slingshot does?), and the last battle insults the viewer with its idea of a surprise ending. What's a decent anime without a plot? Not too much of an anime, unfortunately.
The net sum? I did have some fun watching this title, but not overmuch. Some folks might like it more, but on balance, there's much better stuff out there, so try before you buy. Nice T-shirts, though.
Recommended Audience: The typical action-violence and language you'd expect in a sci-fi thriller fighting a giant monster. Some semi-graphic deaths of some of Iria's pals, and some non-graphic shots of some street urchins being wasted by gunfire. One brief nude scene with Iria in the shower, but nothing terribly alarming.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (6/6)
Iria: Zeiram the Animation © 1994 Crowd / Bandai Visual / Mitsubishi Corporation / Banpresto
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