Label: MVM Entertainment
Running Time: 168 minutes
Release Date: 1st July 2013
Release Type: DVD
Iria is a six episode series that serves as a prequel to the live action sci-fi movie Zeiram. However, despite the series’ connection to the live action movie, it is perfectly watchable as a standalone series and requires no prior knowledge to the sci-fi franchise to have an understanding as to what is going on in the TV show.
The story is centered around Iria, a rookie bounty hunter who prefers to run into a firefight head on before thinking situations through. After recently loosing her brother in his failed attempt to destroy the immortal space monster Zeiram, Iria is forced to track the deadly beast down and prevent it from inflicting further terror on the neighboring planets. However, as Iria sets out to settle her score against the indestructible beast she gets herself caught up in a government plot which is attempting to harness Zeiram’s power and use him as a bio-weapon. Will Iria get her revenge and set things right, or will the government and Zeiram kill her for trying?
Despite not looking dissimilar to other sci-fi series from the 90s, Iria manages to hold its own to some extent. The series’ weapons and various inventions are all interestingly designed and I found Iria’s homeland’s culture that consisted of a mix elements from the east and middle east to be quite interesting. Characters also support a certain cultural flair in their aesthetic, granting them some originality in their design. The beads Iria attaches to her hair and the cloaks and robes others wear also add to the series’ interesting sci-fi, multicultural look.
However despite all of the series’ original elements it does feel quite generic at times. All of series’ enemy designs look as if hardly any thought was put into their construction, and Zeiram himself is a really forgettable villain. As most of Zeiram’s actions are left down to the fact that he is a raging immortal space monster, a lot of the destruction he causes is made to feel pretty meaningless. Furthermore whilst the series’ protagonists are all likeable for the most part, they do not tend to act logically – this is strongly shown in the lack of emotional scarring Iria and her partner Kei show after loosing family members and friends in their battle against Zeiram.
Whilst the series attempts to rescue itself from becoming generic by occasionally looking at the importance of friendship, Marxism and government power struggles, the fact that all of these themes are only occasionally looked into can make the show feel like a confused mess at times and hardly grants it any originality.
The series is only made more generic by its English dub. The dub is really poorly produced and to some extent rids the series of any emotion. The Japanese dub on the other hand is actually quite good and can make the series rather enjoyable. Aya Hisakawa – the voice actress who played Yuki in Fruits Basket and Sailor Mercury in Sailor Moon – plays Iria and gives quite a good performance and some emotion to the character. There are also really good performances from the likes of Masura Ikeda (the voice of Yatterman) and Shigeru Chiba (the voice of DBZ’s Garlic Junior). The series’ orchestral score also makes the series more emotional and is a joy to listen to, unfortunately however the opening and closing themes do not really fit in with the mood of the series and haven’t really aged particularly well.
Iria’s animation quality is mixed. Whilst it can be surprisingly good at times it can feel poorly produced and rushed in others. This sense that the series was a bit rushed is furthered by the poorly crafted backgrounds the series has. Cityscapes aren’t particularly impressive and don’t really add anything to the show’s atmosphere. Whilst the series isn’t the best looking of its genre from the decade, its animation has arguably aged quite well and the interesting inventions and character designs the production team came up with for the series can make Iria a joy to watch at times.
Iria is not a must see series from the 90s that you should immediately go out and buy. Furthermore all the series’ interesting and compelling factors are generally undermined by its generic ones. If you’re a big fan of Zeriam and 90’s sci-fi though, then this release may appeal to you. Iria isn’t particularly memorable or impressive, but it’s a fun show that has its moments.