The Beginner’s Guide to Anime, No. 46 – Iria


There are plenty of really popular anime series around, or at series that are popular with anime fans but are not known to the general public. Sometimes it’s good to see a series which is more cult-like. One that’s short and not mainstream, but may be of interest to some people.

A typical series is Iria, a six-part sci-fi Original Video Anime (OVA) that was released in 1994. The series is actually known by the full title of Iria: Zeiram the Animation, with this Zeiram being a 1991 live-action film that the anime is based on. This film is not released in Region 2, so this at first might put you off watching Iria, but the anime is actually a prequel to the film, so it is not a spoiler, and you can then watch Zeiram with a better understanding of it.

Iria is the name of the anime’s title character. She is a bounty hunter of somewhat masculine appearance, most noted by the beads she wears in her hair. She works on a distant planet, acting as an apprentice to her older brother Glen, alongside jaded hunter Fujikuro and under the orders of Bob, an agent for their organisation called Ghomvak Security & Investigations.

Iria, Glen and Bob are given a job that involves rescuing the high-jacked crew of a spaceship called the Karma. When they arrive they eventually discover that the high-jacker is something called Zeiram. Zeiram is a seemingly immortal, indestructible alien. Iria tries to help the victims, but in the mist of it all Zeiram attacks and starts to eat Bob. Iria escapes the scene, but as she flees she witnesses the Karma being destroyed, taking everyone, presumably including Glen and Bob with her. The rest of the series follows Iria’s attempts to discover if Glen really did die, as well as trying to figure out a way of stopping Zeiram from causing more destruction.

This sextet of episodes does have some things to commend it. One is the soundtrack. Both the opening theme; “Tokete Iku Yume no Hate ni” (“At the End of the Melting Dream”) sung by Yayoi Goto, and “Yume wa Toi Keredo” (“Although the Dream is Far”) sung by SAEKO are performed wonderfully.

The animation could be said be criticised by some anime fans for being “typical of its time” in terms of slightly poor appearance in this day and age. However, surprisingly, the art style was actually inspired by the films of Terry Gilliam, like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, according to The Anime Encyclopedia by Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy (a book I strongly recommend, listing just about every anime ever made. The latest edition of which is currently being written and expected to be released later in 2014).

The same encyclopedia I should point also criticises the English dub. The subtitles in the latest UK release of Iria at times also have their own issues. At points the subtitles are slow and appear somewhat later when the characters are speaking. At other times the subtitles appear on screen too quickly because more than one character is talking. For some reason they do not show two separate discussions simultaneously.

Iria makes for a short and yet fun series. While there might be better known and better made anime, it has its plus points.

Iria is released on DVD by MVM Films.