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Entry updated 6 October 2021. Tagged: Film.

Film (1991 Japan; vt Zeram). Tōhō. Directed by Keita Amemiya. Written by Keita Amemiya and Hajime Matsumoto. Cast includes Yūko Moriyama. 92 minutes. Colour.

The titular Alien Shapeshifter, whose only vulnerable spot is its face, attacks planet Earth but is temporarily contained by the off-world bounty-hunter Iria (Moriyama) within a Pocket Universe called the Zone. They fight. Since the Zone looks exactly like a deserted copy of contemporary urban Japan, this allows for a genre piece that cunningly uses mundane locations with minimal expense, in the style of The Terminator (1984 US).

Arguably, it was the gamine and photogenic Ms Moriyama who was the real star of this creature feature, ensuring both the Anime spin-off Iria: Zeiram the Animation (1994), a prequel in which her character was voiced by Aya Hisakawa, and a live-action sequel, Zeiram 2 (1994), reimagining the antagonist as a bio-mechanical foe with an emphasis on Cybernetics. Zeiram 2 won a Seiun Award during a period of relatively low standards among Media-category voters, more forgiving towards domestic product in reaction to an onslaught of Hollywood effects movies – it is hardly comparable to the previous year's winner, Jurassic Park (1993 US). The anime version is notable for its combined popularity and lack of success in the Anglophone market, where distributors revealed it had been so heavily pirated that its legal release was pointless in many territories. In hindsight, it is hence an early harbinger of the early twenty-first century's intellectual property panic. [JonC]


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