Iria/Iria: Zeiram the Animation


Tstsuro Amino
Scr: Tsunehisa Arakawa, Tetsuro Amino
Des: Ryunosuke Otonashi, Masakazu Katsura
Ani: Ryunosuke Otonashi
Mus: Yoichiro Yoshikawa
Prd: Bandai
Length: 35 Minutes, x6 Episodes
Released: 1994
Resources: The Anime Encyclopedia 2001 Release

Bounty hunter Iria and her associates are charged with rescuing hostages from a deep-space cargo vessel, only to discover that they are already dead. Her brother Gren dies from defending her from Zeiram, and unstoppable bioweapon with a carnivorous noh mask built into his head. As the vengeful Iria chases Zeiram across a marvelously well-realized alien planet, she sees that she has been framed in a conspiracy and has accidentally obtained a pendant containing an incriminating data chip.

Featuring excellent music, wonderful designs inspired by Terry Gilliam films such as The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1998), and a rare anime character design job for VIDEO GIRL AI - creator Masakazu Katsura, Iria is an excellent science-fantasy adventure with a truly alien feel, let down only by a mediocre English-language dub.

The series is a prequel to Kita Amemiya's live-action movie Zeiram (1991), in which Iria, played by Yuko Moriyama instead of anime's Aya Hisakawa, pursues Zeiram to Earth. Set three year earlier, the anime is mercifully free of mundane constraints of the live version (which primarily took place in deserted Japanese street), leaping from vast space freighters to alien worlds and cities full of bizarre technologies. More characters are introduced, and the handful of rubber monsters in the original are replaced by an army of clones, causing a degree of carnage that would bankrupt a live-action studio. The franchise continued in its live-action format with Zeiram 2 (1994) and Zeiram 3 (1997), directed once more by Amemiya. He would also direct Moon of Tao (1997), also starring Moriyama, which moved the general look and feel of Zeiram to an unconnected historical-fantasy setting.