Iria: Zeiram The Animation - Reviews

ThePatches's avatar
Nov 28, 2010


Back in the late '90's, I approached anime purchases as an exciting gamble. Armed only with a fistfull of cash earned from long hours as a soccer referee and unbounded enthusiasm, I would go to the video store and buy something, based only on attractiveness of its box art. In this magical time filled with VHS tapes and blissful ignorance, Iria: Zeiram the Animation by chance, drawn in by is short length and comely heroine. While not a masterpiece of storytelling, animation, or sound, it does everything a good OVA should do: transports you to another world, gets your heart racing, and comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Iria: Zeiram the Animation traces an arc that roughly maps onto the Alien trilogy (there was a fourth movie, I'm aware. It doesn't really count). It starts with a tense, suspenseful first encounter between Iria, her brother Grenn, their friend Bob and the invincible monster, Zeiram, on a marooned ship in a remote part of the galaxy and ends in a final showdown between the young bounty hunter and the creature in the heart of one of the most densely populated civilized planets. Unlike Ripley, however, Iria and her brother possess a diverse arsenal of bounty hunting weapons which they unleash on the monster. The various shields, guns, swords, and traps add some much-needed excitement to the hunters' encounters with an invulnerable foe. In addition, the plot keeps Zeiram on hand as often as possible during each installment to help preserve an atmosphere of danger which is so vital to a successful monster flick.

However, the OVA oversteps its bounds a little when it messes with chronology and pauses for a few introspective moments in the middle--the sudden temporal jumps and pauses for reflection ruin the atmosphere a touch and spin several threads that never find resolution. That said, when the action comes back, the scope of events elevates, turning the tempo from intimate cat-and-mouse to that of a full-blown war by he show's end. In addition, the predictable story comes to a reasonable conclusion--which should be considered icing on the cake when compared to the less final wrap-up of a title like Ruin Explorers or Dragoon.


Though the show itself doesn't quite match up to its promotional materials, Iria: Zeiram the Animation looks pretty darn good, even twenty years later. Of the many attractive visual elements in the OVA (not the least of which is the catsuited and slinky Iria herself), the technology and environments stand out the most. The city of Taowajan weaves rustic charm into its big-city feel with its distinctive umbrella-shaped buildings and Chinese fashions; the sense of place that accompanies these design choices pay off in spades when everything goes up in flames during later episodes. In addition, the rich color palette prevents the visuals from appearing washed out, even if they can be on the dark side from time to time. However, it's in motion that the OVA shows its virtues. The show's many action sequences unfold with admirable fluidity and very few reused frames. Good "camera work" and the panoply of weapons draw the viewer into each set-piece despite the fact that they all focus on some showdown between Iria and the monster.


My affection for the English dub track dates back to when watching any anime was a novelty and it has no small hand in the nostalgia I associate with the show. However, the dub does do a number of things better than the original Japanese language track. Stacie Lynn Renna's Iria has a steely timbre to her voice that rings truer to the character than the slightly more feminine interpretation put forth by the her Japanese seiyuu, Aya Hisakawa. Along similar lines, Terry Muus brings a less bratty reading of Kei to the table, which makes warming to the urchin considerably easier. But the best performance of the OVA goes to Gary Suson, who plays Bob in the dub. His detached delivery and vague hints of emotion match perfectly to the senior bounty hunter's role as mentor and voice of reason.

The OP theme has a similar feel to the '60's classic Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy, appropriately accompanied by a mashup of pinups and action shots. Its wandering melody and mournful lyrics will likely prevent it from finding its way onto many playlists, but it sets the tone perfectly for the otherworldly aventures contained in the OVA. In contrast, the power ballad that each episode closes with is completely forgettable, along with the well-suited but unoriginal music scattered throughout each installment.


Like a good number of women in '90's anime, Iria doesn't need a -dere to define her personality. Though she starts out shrill and petulant, her combination of real skill paired with a growing sense of responsibility transforms her into a sober young woman by the end of the OVA. For a short spin-off from a live-action movie, the varied interpersonal situations and even development comes as a nice surprise.

Iria's supporting cast doesn't offer as much meat, however. Whether it be the lovable rogue Fujikuro or the spunky kids Kei and Komimasa, nearly every other character serves merely to offer contrast to the engaging lead. But tiny quirks in each of the lesser players keep them from becoming completely flat. Fujikuro proves to have some hidden mettle, Doctor Touka shows that he's got more than brains alone on his side, and Kei graduates quickly from annoyance to sidekick through several demonstrations of competence.


From where I sit, Iria: Zeiram the Animation is something of a classic. The OVA has an excellent sense of self and thus manages to tell a (mostly) coherent and complete story within its six episode run without leaving too many loose ends unresolved. If you find yourself in the mood for an attractive, action-packed sci-fi adventure from yesteryear, you could do a lot worse than this show.

6.5/10 story
7.5/10 animation
6.5/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
Toothygrin's avatar
Sep 23, 2018

 My only complaint about this show, is that there needs to be more of it. A whole series, would have been great. Hell I would of even settled for a Manga.This had such a vibrant world and it just feels like everything about it was cut short. It does end a arc. But What happens after. What other adventures are out there for Iria and Kei. To be perfectly honest this series had the potential of being a Sci-fi Slayers. But it just sadly ended half formed. I feel as though this is the start of a story we will never see. 

This is what I wrote on a amazon review for the series, I feel as though I should go more in depth here. 

First off the OVA dragged on, more then it needed. Zeiram didn't need to be this unkillable monster and by the end of the series it turns out that well it's not. 

I ended the series feel as though there was more to the story. Kei going through the hardships of becoming a bounty hunter. Hyjinks and nonsense. Whole stories that have nothing to do with Zeiram. All left at a dead end, and forgotten. This could have been a great somewhere in the vien of desert punk, slayers or daphne in the brilliant blue.

7/10 story
9/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
8/10 overall
ashskullz's avatar
Mar 30, 2024

as big fan of this series i love what they done with this arc.
they delete all comedy content from the manga and make minor changes, and what we see now is masterpiece.

the ost in this anime is Fire ,and this arc no doubt is fantastic I LOVE IT.

this anime is always known of wonderful animation back days, this arc is worth the wait
this gorgeous animation is in next level.

at this point we all know all the old characters and how great they are.
for the new enmy so far they only 5 eps we can't talk too much here.
but for what we see is well done characters.

with 4 to 6 chapters adapt per episode and what we see until now make the story phenomenal.

overall 10/10
Reviewer’s Rating: 10

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
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bunda6662's avatar
Mar 1, 2023

This OVA was fairly average overall. The storyline was weak and uninteresting, and it didn't offer anything new or original. While the animation was good, it wasn't particularly outstanding and felt like a typical production for an OVA. I did notice some reused assets, such as the snow effect used in a previous anime's rocket launcher scene. Surprisingly, this snow sequence was the best animated part of the OVA.

Unfortunately, the characters were not very likable or charismatic. The children's storyline felt clichéd, and despite swearing friendship, the characters didn't seem to care much for each other, as revealed in a specific scene. The best thing about the OVA was probably the character design, which resembled Masakazu Katsura's work in Video Girl Ai, even though he wasn't involved in this project. The sound quality was surprisingly good. The rain sound effects were very realistic, and at times I even thought it was raining outside.

Overall, the OVA is watchable, and you won't dislike it, but it's definitely hard to love.

5/10 story
6/10 animation
8/10 sound
5.5/10 characters
5.5/10 overall
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theywalkamongus's avatar
Oct 27, 2018

Interesting character designs, vehicles designs, and unique settings can't save this anime. I started this series thrilled at Iria's character design but bad writing, worse english dub, predictable characters ruined it for me. Worth a watch for some 90's nostalgia but I would save your viewing time with something richer.

3/10 story
5/10 animation
2/10 sound
5/10 characters
5/10 overall
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