Top 20 Anime: #18

Type: Original Video Animation
# of Episodes: 6
Produced By: Bandai Visual, Production Reed, Media Blasters

Sometimes all a series needs is a distinctive style. Iria got it's place on my list for exactly that. As much as fans would prefer to think otherwise, OVAs are generally just testing ground for potential television series. Pilots, really. Eien no Aseria and Gunsmith Cats are examples of how to do this incorrect and correctly, respectively, but they are both examples of this. There's far more story to both of them, but neither saw animated adaptations past the initial handful of episodes.

Iria, possibly, may be different. To my knowledge, there's no manga for it and visual novels were not common back then, and it watches like a film. It's the story of the title character (Iria) dealing with an exceptional case that's a remnant of the days when she worked with her brother, and her battle against the "ultimate being".

The story itself is nothing special. It's not especially predictable, but there are no big plot twists, and the plot itself doesn't stick out in my mind even though I saw it only a few years ago. (I watched other series that made it onto this list around the same time, and their stories I recall.)

But like I said--Iria's not on here for story. It's on here for...well first of all, it's on here for the main character. Seeing this anime as a child is probably the reason why I love kick-ass female protagonists so much. Iria stomps her way through challenge after challenge with each episode with a seemingly endless amount of weaponry, gadgets, and ingenuity, despite her opponents almost always having superior firepower (and occasionally invulnerability >_<).

The other reason it's on here though, is it's setting. In the same way that CB combines westerns and space opera to create the first "space western" (the only space western...but hopefully that will change), Iria combines pre-Industrial Revolution society (with both Native American and Chinese influences) with science-fiction aesthetics to create a unique look that I've never seen anywhere else.

The opening gives a glimpse of what I'm talking about; it feels like more work went into developing the setting than everything else. The weapons, the transportation, the houses--everything has a distinct, coherent "feel" to it that immerses viewers into the world. Above all else, the world is why I wish Iria became a television series. I would love to have had more time to explore the inner workings of this universe, to be shown how and why things developed this way.

But that could just be me. A lot of people love this series, and this is probably one of the strangest reasons anyone has ever cited. (I bet you want to watch, or re-watch the series to see what I'm talking about though, right?) Either way, Iria's a good watch; it's 80's animation at it's finest and one of the best space action series to ever be released.

Top 20 Anime:
19. Seitokai Yakuindomo
20. They Are My Noble Masters


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