And we move forward in time into 1993 after not having a new film from the Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness, and look here! Another anime! But this time it’s actually a season of a series, a mini-series if you will, six episodes of animated goodness from Japan. What will it give us regarding horror? Let’s see.
It’s not usually common that I watch this much anime, specially not a full series in the midst of watching so many horror films, even if I love the genre and the format, is one that requires attention and commitment. Sadly, due to many reasons, I’m not in the position of having an allotted spare time for long watches, like full anime series, OVAs and whatever it is that comes my way. Anime is a dedication project, and at one point I was about to enter into that wormhole of content, but film took over and its breath of variety actually made me a better person, or so I think. So, I was surprised and overjoyed when I found that I was forcing myself to watch six episodes (a full season!) of an anime for the October Overlook Madness. Now I had an excuse and it was… actually very fun!
‘Iria: Zeiram the Animation’ is actually a prequel of a live-action film made in Japan called ‘Zeiram’ (1991) that was a sort of cult hit, which guaranteed the making of several spin-offs and this short animated series (less than three hours when you binge it, like I did). The series itself focuses on a bounty hunter called Iria, who always seems to be interrupted by her brother when collecting the criminals that she’s after. All of this is set in a context of science fiction that gets mixed with the gunfire that the bounty hunters use and the horror of the monsters that appear, the Zeiram, blood-sucking, flesh-tearing creatures that are weaponized by some evildoers.
The series itself moves along pretty swiftly in its first four chapters, moving from location to location, giving new angles and challenges to Iria as she tried to recover her friends and try to make a true name for herself as a bounty hunter, even if she’s still considered an apprentice. It’s in the second-half of the series that a sort of inertia sets in, when the story feels its need to close, and so it puts together a mutated creature: Iria’s brother (or is it his clone?) mixed with a Zeiram, who chases the protagonist like Nemesis does in the video game Resident Evil 3. The idea is incredible, and it works from moment to moment, but overall the last two episodes are fixated in one place and thus lose some of the amazing adventurous momentum that the first three or four had.
Regarding the horror, which is what made this series earn this spot on the list and the October Overlook Madness, is scarce and mostly based on the Zeiram, which are incredibly well designed and do some heinous stuff. But it quickly turns into an action set-piece with which we can see Iria shoot and move around trying to defeat the monsters. Overall, not memorable enough for it to become a classic, but still a good time when you want a low-stakes anime that’s short enough to binge on one afternoon.