So, I love anime and for a long time I kept that little smidge of information to myself because the fan base of anime was so damn embarrassing in the United States. It’s not easy to bring it up in a conversation with someone who is unfamiliar with anime because their immediate reaction is, “So…like Dragonball Z and Naruto? Do you dress like them?” There is so much more to anime than just DBZ, Naruto, and Bleach. We don’t all dress up fanatically and we don’t always say believe it after every sentence. I refuse to say I’m an “Otaku” simply because it’s a negative word that anime nerds have morphed into something that it’s not. It’s a negative Japanese term used to describe sociopaths and people who have no life.

Now, my little quirks aside, from time to time I’ll review what I consider some of the better anime series that maybe you haven’t heard of because “certain” other titles seem to clog the stream a little. Maybe you’ll agree with me sometimes, maybe you’ll think I’m just a nerd, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll even give some of these titles a look. I won’t only do series, I’ll also cover some of the better anime movies.

So, what’s first on tap? Well, since this is the first edition of this I have to go with something classic, something that is the crème de la crème because it’s what got me into anime. The first anime I ever saw, Iria: Zeiram the Animation.

It was released in 1994 and I saw it on Sci-Fi, no I will not spell it SyFy, when they used to show a different anime movie or series every Friday. It is a prequel to a live action film…but let’s not talk about the live action version because it makes the Power Rangers look like cinematic brilliance. Before I begin talking about the plot, the story takes place in a sort of Cyber Japan setting. They have space ships and laser weaponry but a lot of the vehicles and some of the wardrobe seem to pay homage to a feudal Japan aesthetic.

The story revolves around, surprise surprise, a young girl named Iria that is striving to become a bounty hunter like her famous bigger brother Gren. During one of their missions they are assigned to rescue a hi-jacked spaceship’s unknown mysterious cargo, but just their luck…the cargo is actually a rampaging legendary alien being known as Zeiram that is known for being rather hard to kill, so much so he’s been called immortal. Gren manages to hold off Zeiram long enough for the spaceships self destruct to be activated while Iria manages to escape with a few survivors. However, when Iria spots Zeiram again on a remote planet she wonders if her brother Gren could have also survived the massive self destructing ship. Iria must now find a way to stop Zeiram from destroying everything while also looking for her beloved older brother Gren.

It’s a pretty cut and dry story of the up and coming bounty hunter against the seemingly indestructible monster but there is a certain charm to it. I found myself falling in love with each of the main characters because their character design was just really well done. The whole series is only six episodes but in that short time you actually gain quite the affinity for these characters and there really is a certain sadness when bad things happen to them. There is also quite a bit of action and at times it can be a little on the unrealistic side, but it’s anime…it doesn’t have to be realistic!

The artwork of this series is really well done considering this was 1994, even by today’s standards it’s very clean and well done animation. You aren’t going to be getting any fancy CG because at this time period no one was really doing it or really perfected it, but that, in itself, adds a certain charm to it for me. Like I said before, the wardrobes are very stylish and unique. Iria’s outfit is very detailed and looks exceptionally well conceptionalized and executed. This series made me think hair beads were so awesome and stylish, just…trust me.

Also, all the high tech gadgets and weaponry Iria and her bounty hunter friends employ are a huge plus for this series. They may seem a little unbelievable, but in the world of anime that is half the fun. For instance, Iria has a special half wing blade that slides out of the back of her outfit that allows her to glide along wind currents and safely descend to the ground if she ever happens to fall off a building.

All in all, this is a pretty exemplary action anime that really never got much attention because at this time Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z, long running and popular mainstream anime, were getting all the attention. Also, it was only six episodes so it couldn’t get anything besides what it got…two weekends on Sci-Fi. But, for what it is, Iria: Zeiram the Animation is a really good anime that I bought the second I saw the special edition tin at SunCoast. Yeah, I said SunCoast, it was that long ago.

You might have to do a little searching for this one because I believe it is out of print, but eBay and Amazon can probably save the day. I guarantee you won’t find this at your local DVD store.

Now, this series obviously holds a special place for me because it was the anime that got me started on the entire genre. So, I’m not going to rate it because I have a certain degree of biased attached to it. But, I still highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good action anime.

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