Iria: Zeriam the Animation

Although creativity is highly prized in Japanese society, it's a not-so-well-kept secret that it's also completely acceptable to take someone else's work, perfect it, and claim the new version as your own. It's not considered plagarism unless the underlying technology, story, or concept is so prevalent that it is overriding to the new development. One can look at a lot of anime--like the recently reviewed Green Legend Ran--and see where the story came from. The same is true of Iria, a surprisingly good anime that still roots itself in "unstoppable villain" characters like the Terminator, the Aliens, and the Borg. It's just overdone. However, Iria does have a lot of things of merit going for it, enough that it is still enjoyable rather than a rehash.

At the start of the six episodes that comprise the show, Iria is an apprentice bounty hunter that works with her "big brother" Gren on various jobs. They are assigned to rescue the crew and passengers of a spaceship that's been the victim of a horrible accident, apparently. However, it's clear that the company who gave them the assignment has mixed feelings about it, since they try to stop Iria and Gren from even getting there. When they arrive, it turns out that a mysterious creature known as Zeiram has taken out the vast majority of the humans on board, and Iria is forced to leave Gren behind when he blows up the remains of the ship to try and destory Zeiram. That doesn't work, however, and over the course of 2 3/4 hours, we see Iria take on the apparently indestructable creature who may have caused Gren's death. But that's not all...the company who sent them on the assignment really wants Zeiram back, since they created him.

Some of this, you've seen before. However, the animation is very crisp and the animators do their best to keep the viewer involved in the story. Some of the stunts that Iria pulls are pretty spectacular, but I enjoyed it overall. It does have a few problems in that kids get involved in the second episode and thereafter. It's supposed to show an emotional bond, but the kids here are just annoying. The violence is realistic, meaning that it can be graphic, but not overly so. There's also some very brief nudity, but it is very low-key and unusual for anime. With 6 episodes on DVD for about $25, it's a good deal. Anyone who likes the above-mentioned sci-fi movies will find it interesting, as long as their expectations aren't too high.

Iria: Zeriam the Animation -- realistic violence, very brief nudity, adult language -- B+