I admit it – I was in a store looking to buy Grave of the Fireflies when I saw the DVD for Iria. I bought it because it had an interesting writeup on the back and it was a whopping 162 minutes. I figured I would get a quantity over quality movie.
I was pleasantly surprised. The animation was done well, the sound rocked when played at 250 watts per channel, and this afterthought purchase actually had a decent plotline.
Iria, the lead character, starts out like a little sister just waking up to the hardships of life. She is (happily) in her big brother’s shadow, and she has been partially protected from the evils of the universe. She has some normal quirks of a girl her age, and she has a temper. This sets her apart from the cold, Terminator-like tough women that you normally see in anime. As she progresses through the movie, you can watch her develop mental and physical toughness while still catching glimpses of the little sister. There is one brief nude scene, which actually detracts from the movie. To me, it almost appeared to be a concession to the male-dominated anime market. This is unfortunate, since I believe more women would enjoy anime without the “bit tits and bigger ammo clips” mentality. My teenaged daughter loved this movie, and it didn’t have silly cutsey ponys or fuzzy aliens.
This DVD is broken into chapters. If you’re going to watch all 162 minutes, it tends to become distracting. I found it broke at good spots to refresh your cappuccino and get some snacks. The music during the breaks was catchy and bouncy. The sound was excellent overall, and the stereo separation of the effects sounded great with surround-sound. The voice talent was well above par, with the English voice talent for Iria giving a spirited performance.
The video overall was average, with some bland, generic backgrounds at times. Some of the artwork was very well done, and the characterization and mechanical devices were enjoyable. The overall continuity was solid, with no breaks in styles or gratuitous CGI intrusions. The plotline had some interesting twists, at times keeping me guessing as to the outcome of a situation, which was a refreshing change. Characters that looked like trouble ended up being allies, and some characters ended up being slime. This movie even had a computer named Bob, so the slackers of the world should buy it on that point alone.
Overall, I recommend this DVD to round out the breasts/mecha anime in your collection.