Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu

Title:Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu
Sky of Iriya, Summer of UFO
イリヤの空、UFOの夏 (Japanese)
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: CHIBA Saeko
INOUE Kazuhiko
KAMIYA Hiroshi
Music - TAKAKI Hiroshi
"The war has already begun. It was just that nobody noticed." Late one evening, on the last day of summer break, Asaba Naoyuki snuck into the high school swimming pool for a swim, where he first met Iriya Kana, a very shy girl with strange disks embedded in her wrists. Asaba spent that evening teaching Iriya how to swim, at least until some strange men arrived to take her away.

The next day, Iriya transfers into Asaba's class at Sonohara high school and with some difficulty, the two start a friendship (not exactly to the delight of tomboy Sudo Akiho, Asaba's classmate and childhood friend). Iriya appears to be protected by a number of strange friends who have some ties to the Sonohara military base located nearby, a base that is rumored to be involved with UFOs and Foo-fighters and has been the target of interest for the Sonohara Electromagnetic Newspaper Club (where both Asaba and Akiho-chan are members) for quite some time.

Animation by Happinet Pictures & Toei Animation.

[OVA, 2005, 6 episodes, 27 min]

4min Special Opening Sequence - YouTube Video
Episode Details 
1, 2, 3, 4
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 8 9 7 9 7 7 Ggultra2764 [series:985#1552]
(Rent-/ Watch+)

I heard of some folks calling this series Saikano-lite which got me curious enough to check it out. While this OAV isn't a depressing roller coaster ride of emotions like Saikano, it did have a pairing I could better cope with in the form of Kana and Naoyuki. Kana was a mysterious girl from the start of the series whom we try to get a sense of who she is as the show progresses. Like Chise, Kana is put in the position of saving Japan from hostile forces. But Kana wasn't timid and a clutz like Chise, which made her a better character to relate with. Naoyuki is in the position of Shuji from Saikano who is trying to make sense of who this strange girl is. Being around Kana proves to be a coming-of-age lesson for the boy throughout this series. The first half starts off rather lightly as Naoyuki and Kana's bond develops with Naoyuki's sister and classmates being comic relief to lighten things up.

Unfortunately, the OAV format was a big problem in devoting time towards slow developments and providing depth. Secondary character depth was limited and events later in the series felt rushed due to the limited amount of time that 6 OAV episodes could give. And like Saikano, Iriya no Sora is riddled in plot holes regarding the details concerning the war that is being fought, the technology being used, and the alien beings that humanity is up against. I also couldn't help but compare some of the developments that went on in the second half of Iriya no Sora to Saikano's second half making me question the title's originality.

Visuals were okay, though not too extraordinary for an OAV. Character designs looked a bit plain and while the scenery had decent quality, I thought I was watching a TV anime title instead of an OAV. The best of the artwork came from the CG-animated spaceship designs that looked quite slick and moved very fluidly in the air. But with romance being the main focus of this series, these ships aren't seen too often. Music was perhaps this show's best aspect full of intense and mellow music tracks that do well to complement the mood of each scene in this series.

Iriya no Sora UFO no Natsu was an okay title for me to see with its coupling. But I can't help but compare it to Saikano in both its premise and its flaws combined with the limited amount of time the OAV devotes to developing all the characters.

Last updated Friday, June 12 2009. Created Friday, June 12 2009.
Rent Stretch [series:985#628]
(All episodes watched):

Expect a strange, disjointed technique of storytelling, and a story closer to a teen romance than a battle-to-save-the-world, and you should have a good time. Going in, I was pretty sure that this Iriya girl would turn out to be some sort of an alien, but by the end of the first episode it was fairly clear that she's more of a counter-alien, i.e, a member of some sort of secret organization that defends earth against UFOs. I was frustrated at how little was revealled during the first episode; clearly something strange was going on, but more and more weird stuff seemed to happen with very little of it being explained. It seemed like this show would only tell fragments of the whole story and expected the viewer to either deduce everything else, or somehow already know it. My problem was that based on the opening catch phrase "The war has already begun. It was just that nobody noticed" I assumed that this war was somehow being kept completely secret from the general public. In fact, it gradually becomes clear that everybody knows there's a war on, they just don't know who the real enemy is. This explained why people shrugged off the curtails on their personal liberties; that is, why everything seemed so normal in some ways, and so odd in others. I wish this had been made more clear. The timeline bounces back and forth, and I began to wonder what was real and what represented dreams.

This is a confusing show; a show which enjoys being confusing, and actively strives for it. Clues to the secrets behind Iriya are being rationed out in a manner which leaves the viewer always hungry for more, and the effect is to intrigue rather than frustrate. That makes it a little less confusing for me to say that I really enjoyed it. Right from the start my interest was grabbed and never let go of. The mood early on seemed sweet as Asaba and Iriya met late one night at the school swimming pool. Episode two was fun as the show took a romp down the comedy path (though even this confused me even more as to what exactly the focus of the series would be-drama? comedy? something else?). The excellent character designs and artwork were also a big plus. The tone becomes tragic towards the end; some things are never explained (the desert playground?), and not until the final episode do we get a fairly complete explanation of what's really going on. Not everything made sense to me (like Asaba's treatment of Enomoto aboard ship), but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps, however, knowing so little until so late made it difficult to completely identify with Iriya. Still, I'm surprised that a show of such quality and such a handy length has yet to be R1 licensed.

P.S: Kudos for the subtle parody of Tamiya plastic models.

Last updated Monday, October 06 2008. Created Thursday, September 25 2008.
Unevaluated Forbin [series:985#1573]
Drama : Med
Comedy : Low
Action : Med
SciFi : High
Ecchi : Med

I want to say Saikano light but I don't have enough info yet. The drawings are nice, more realistic. I love the part where Akiho introduces herself to Asaba's parents like it's some marriage meeting.

Last updated Thursday, August 04 2005. Created Thursday, August 04 2005.
Buy 10 10 8 10 9 10 Devil Doll [series:985#752]
[Score: 92% = Buy+, Top 5 anime series and my favourite anime about War. Other recommended War animes: Seikai no Senki, Ima Soko ni Iru Boku]
  • Drama: High (increasing towards the end of the series)
  • Comedy: Low (some scenes in episode 2)
  • Action: Med (with occasional violence coming out of nowhere)
  • SciFi: Med/High (military technology plays a certain role)
  • Ecchi: Low/Med (the ending scene of episode 1)
Now what is it? Science-fiction (more for the designs than for the storyline), anti-war parable (with violence and gore when necessary), action thriller, romantic triangle story, teenagers at school, even a little comedy at times (but no fan-service except for maybe one scene)... there's a bit of everything in it.
For me, the background story was most important (just like in Shin Seiki Evangelion) because it glues everything together: If this story works, then the characters have a good chance to be plausible. And they do. I am almost shocked how great this series turned out to be in the end, after the disappointing second episode. This isn't just a Saishu Heiki Kanojo lite as I believed at first; while telling a similar story, it is better in almost every aspect IMHO, while not being as detailed about the romance as well as the events in the war (having only half the playing time of Saikano).

So where do I put the "10" ratings?
  • Art, because of the marvellous colors for landscapes and sunsets, and the faces are nice as well (just Iriya looks slightly weird at times).
  • Animation, as there's a lot of movement in here and the way they make you forget it's an anime is astounding;
  • Music, because of the awesome orchestral score of the suspense scenes of everthing from episode 3 onwards (Akiho and Iriya, Duffle Bag, Elopement, Love Letter, Military Train, Moon Reflecting In The Pool, Pantomime, Ticonderoga, Time Suspense, The Last Road, Transfer Student); and
  • Episode Story, for the way the directing was made, catching the audience by surprise over and over again. Scenes like the folk dance in episode 3 (be sure to listen to the music there as loudly as possible) coming right out of nowhere, the brawl in episode 4, the phone call at the bus stop in episode 5... these scenes can make your heart race when you watch them for the first time. And look at the ending scenes cut of episode 3 ("baka") - you can't get a greater contrast between two scenes, and still... it works perfectly.
Slight downgrades for "Series Story" because of the silly-funny UFO club members taking away so much time from episode 2; several of the side characters (such as Asaba's sister or the club president) contribute not much, except for unnecessary comical elements. But note how little I have to complain.

All of the important characters are interesting and plausible, while probably not as deep and developed as in longer dramas (but their immaturity is actually essential for the story!): Fragile Iriya is acting very much according to her situation, Asaba is acting like the male audience would like to believe they're able to in his situation (only to find out that being a hero isn't that easy if you don't even know the rules of the game), and Akiho-chan... she's more than the fifth wheel as well.
But why do I consider this anime to be so much better than the much praised Saikano? Because this time the story works. You'll get plausible answers for each and every important question - and there are many questions, more than you'd believe until even half-way through the final episode. Iriya's character development may be shocking at times - but you'll learn the reason for it. Enomoto's attitude and actions appear confusing - but in the end you'll understand each and every move of his. Erika's role remains a mystery - until you learn what happened before. Even Shiina will surprise you when you expect this the least. Everything is done for a reason. I've rarely ever seen an anime story with such a convincing ending before - maybe the only one being Haibane Renmei. Had the series lasted for twice as many episodes I'd asked for some more "integrated" way of answering the questions - with only six episodes they did the right thing here.

I strongly recommend this short series to anyone who's interested in a heart-rending drama with action elements that still provides enough content for the brain. Just ignore the silly elements of episode 2 - otherwise you'll miss a truely great experience. I guess you'll have to take the perspective of the one character who almost dies in the end as to fully do this story justice - and you'll only be able to do so during the second viewing.

Last updated Friday, June 06 2008. Created Sunday, March 13 2005.
Unevaluated Jan-Chan [series:985#967]
Having only seen the first episode, this series appears to be very interesting and holds a lot of promise.

More later.

Opening Theme:
#1: "Forever Blue" by Chihiro Imai
Ending Theme:
#2: "Himawari" by Chihiro Imai

Last updated Thursday, March 10 2005. Created Thursday, March 10 2005.

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