Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut: Irina Faces a Vampire’s Worst Nightmare for Love

WARNING: The following article contains significant spoilers for the first 11 episodes of Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut, currently streaming on Funimation.

A key element of Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut has always been Lev Leps' childhood dream of going to the Moon. In Episode 11, Lev finally gets to go to space. His vampire friend Irina's uncertain fate after her own anonymous launch proves to be a distraction for Lev, who ultimately decides to return the favor from her spaceflight and try to communicate with her via coded messages.

Irina is awoken in her room in the Sangrad research facility by cheers in the street and looks out the window to see a crowd chanting Lev's name. The sunny image is displayed in a blown-out, overexposed black and white style that makes it resemble an especially dramatic panel from a manga. Anya bursts in and tells Irina that Lev has successfully made it to space. Irina runs to the roof to take in the public announcement and its response, but if she wants to hear the broadcast in peace, she'll have to brave the Sun.

A parade celebrating Lev's first space mission in Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut.

When Lev saw the Earth from space, he remembered the way Irina described it and agreed with her assessment: the world looks like it's wrapped in a blue veil and the stars look like chervil flowers. Even though Irina herself talked about nastoyka to get Lev's attention in space, she seems more offended that Lev is copying her words than touched that he is trying to talk to her. When the announcer repeats Lev mentioning chervil flowers, Irina indignantly shouts, "You didn't even know what a chervil was!" This is amusingly in character for the outspoken, confrontational Irina, but her outraged reaction soon takes on a more tragic dimension as she tearfully begs to know why he has chosen the words he has.

When Irina makes it to the roof, she is almost blinded by the Sun, covering her eyes with her arm and sweating as she staggers past the towels drying on the roof. It has always been part of Irina lore that sunlight does not necessarily kill vampires, but does weaken them and easily give them heatstroke, as Anya explained to Lev in Episode 1. The pace of the scene slows to a series of still images fading into each other, which not only reinforces how overexposed the image appears but also how much Irina is struggling to move.

Irina braves the sun in Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut.

All becomes clear when the announcer shares Lev's closing message: "Let's celebrate this great achievement with kholodets." Irina remembers the kholodets that she made for Lev before they parted and her expression changes to a pained smile. She finally realizes that this was Lev's way of not only communicating with her but sharing her experiences of space with the public. Irina's desire to brave the terror of the Sun to understand the meaning behind Lev's words shows how important they are to her, and is especially meaningful given how the series rarely engages with Irina's vampire biology, instead focusing on the ostracization she receives because of it.

At this moment, Anya rushes out to the roof and covers Irina with a towel, bringing her back into the stairwell and away from the Sun. She commiserates with Irina, reminding her how unfair it is that this is the only way people will know anything about what she achieved. Anya poses this as a series of questions: "It's painful, no? It's sad, no?" It's as if she is trying to draw an emotional response from Irina, letting her know that it's okay for her to be disappointed that she is receiving no acknowledgment for her contribution. Anya also reminds Irina that she and Lev will always remember her hard work.

Irina smiles through the pain in Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut.

Irina cries in Anya's arms, wailing loudly as the citizens celebrate around her. This reaction may seem unexpected from the aloof Irina. She told Lev in Episode 4 that all she wanted was to go to the Moon and that she didn't care what happened to her. After returning to Earth in Episode 8, Irina dismissed the space program's applause to criticize the comfort and temperature of her capsule. Perhaps the contrast between Lev's support and her anonymity brought the issue into focus for her, or perhaps her feelings are compounded by her uncertainty about whether or not the space program will let her live.

Irina risked her health to step out into the Sun and experience the coverage of and reaction to Lev's first space mission. Was it truly just because she thought Lev was stealing her words, or was it because she cares so much about his progress? Her smile when he references her kholodets could be relief that there was a reason for the words he chose, or it could be joy that Lev is still thinking about her, even as he gets closer than ever to achieving his dream. Lev's promise to celebrate the achievement seems like a message for all of Zirnitra, but it is really a direct message to Irina. Lev knows that Irina's position is not secure, but he wants her to know that he is determined to see her again, safe and sound.

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