iriya… of the sky…

Iriya and Asaba

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Despite my steady diet of giant robots and meido harem comedies, I’m a sucker for a certain type of romantic story. Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu (Iriya of the Sky, Summer’s UFO) hit that spot nicely. The premise of Iriya is not anything new… an ordinary guy falls for an extraordinary girl, who has the power to save or destroy the world only she is reluctant… scared… apathetic… or all-of-the-above, and they struggle to love within the dystopic world that they are given. The list of series with a similar premise is staggering. The first anime-related post on this blog — way back in 2002 — was called, “The Last Love Song on the Planet,” and, ironically, it wasn’t the first nor the last.

Iriya no Sora is a six-part OVA based on a four volume novel by Chiba Saeko. The story starts off no different than any typical shounen harem comedy. The male protagonist, Asaba, sneaks off to swim in the school pool at night only to find the female protagonist, Iriya, already there. Only Iriya can’t swim… Asaba saves her… and he teaches her how to swim. The next week, Iriya joins his class, and the two go through the typical routine: she trips and falls on top of him; he trips and falls on top of her; the girl next door type has a secret crush on Asaba becomes bitchy towards Iriya; “Onii-chan no baka!” from the jealous little sister; etc.

But there’s always something going on in the background that Asaba only gets glimpses of. Why does Iriya get nosebleeds? Why does her “older brother” call her everyday at noon? Why does her hair change colors suddenly? What is this “war” that everyone is referring to? There’s a balance to this genre, and it’s similar to Sagara training the rugby team one day and tracking down terrorists who are into squirrel pr0n the next, but somehow Iriya no Sora managed to nail this balance. Just the right about of schoolyard romance elements. Just enough harem elements. Just enough big picture. At one point in the story, we go from a ramen eating contest to Iriya getting half a dozen syringes stabbed into her chest to Asaba knifing himself and it seemed like any natural progression of events. The entire story is moved by the characters as everything revolves around Asaba and how he tries to have a relationship with Iriya.

The art and animation quality for this OVA is top-notch. It resembles the digital animation style seen in Hoshi no Koe only Iriya is significantly smoothly and has more animated movements. There’s also a huge purple motif to the scenary and clothing. The sound, on the other hand, is not very memorable, and it’s generic ballad muzac. Blah. A killer soundtrack would have been nice icing on the cake.

Overall, I tremendously enjoyed the series, and it counters my belief that the anime industry is slowly becoming a heartless and soul-less sequel factory like Hollywood. Definitely highly recommended to anyone who wants to enjoy some solid writing and beautiful animation in their anime.

Hit more for spoiler-filled discussion. I highly recommend not reading the spoilers until after watching the series.

Lots of screencaps on the last page. Click on the 2 to avoid the spoilers. (Sorry, had to resort to pop-ups due to scripting issues.)

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About Iriya and Asaba

Very similar to Saikano, Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu ends with Iriya making the decision to fight one last fight — not to save mankind — but to save Asaba, which is no different than Chise’s last hurrah which left only Shuji alive. There is one major difference for me… I ended up hating Chise and Shuji by the end whereas I felt sympathic towards the more likable Iriya and Asaba. As the ordinary guy who met the extraordinary girl, Asaba ends up being roughly fifty-thousand times more likable than Shuji… Asaba isn’t perfect, but he has his heart in the right place. (I’ll overlook the incident where Iriya almost gets raped because Asaba was too busy reading Maxim.)

Halfway though episode four, Asaba became very frustrated that he’s, well, ordinary and blows up at Iriya thus making her go into her repressed memory mode… it had the main benefit that shows that Asaba does want to take care of Iriya, but he knows he’s not able to. Definitely a gripping moment as it highlights just how helpless he thinks he is, but he’s not helpless. He holds Iriya’s emotional well-being in his hands, which comes out wonderfully as Iriya just breaks down afterwards and also at the final climax of the series when Asaba becomes the Hitomi to Iriya’s Van Fanel.


The side benefit is that when Iriya started acting out her past, it ended up being a great storytelling device. For example, we learned that she snuck into the pool and that she only requested to go to school because, “someone I like is there,” and are also introduced to Erika though this device. Though, who Erika is and how Iriya became a pilot in the first place isn’t 100% clear (I get the feeling the novels flesh out more of the UFO fighting parts), it’s enough to explain why the military wanted to nudge Asaba and Iriya closer together. For the majority of the series, we see the relationship through Asaba’s view, and now finally we see Iriya’s.

Through her eyes, we see the small things that Iriya did like steal Asaba’s mechanical pencil, waiting three hours early for a date, etc. and how they portray her innocence and how foreign love must be for her. But she wants to succeed, as evidenced in how she took up Akiho’s iron stomach challenge even though it meant Iriya would be in trouble with the military and in how, during the air raid drill, Iriya only takes Asaba into the shelter. She was like a more selfish Belldandy crossed with an Osaka.

Flying High

One of my favorite scenes was when Iriya “dances” in her UFO with Asaba on the ground. Whole sequence reminded me of Hoshi no Koe, and if Studio Ghibli ever made a movie about UFO pilots, it would have a scene like this one in it.


Though her eating contest with Akiho takes a nice second. I had GTO flashbacks then.

One Last Note…

Finally, for more information about the novels themselves, check out Lunar Scribbles as he posted spoiler-filled summaries of them.

Lots of screencaps on the last page.

5 Responses to “iriya… of the sky…”

  1. Well i love this show too, from wat i’ve seen so far but i dont know anywhere I can Download it! And i dont have money to buy the DVDs and even if I did I wouldnt know where to buy it! HELP MEH!

  2. Start learning how to use bittorrent…

    Look for it in

  3. type in devotion. Search next and look for iyirya’s devotion video. Click on the artist and you should see a list of the anime your looking for.

  4. I love this anime, though I think there are to few of this kind of anime. All those harem animes just make me so sick.

  5. there’s something about the main protagonist that annoys me. RIght at the pool in the beginning, why the hell was he so rude and so aggressive with everything. Its not even the regular rudeness but rather its the kind that makes you think, “given the situation why the f is he acting like that”

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