Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut’s Cathartic Finale Nails the Landing

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

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut's titular vampire may have been the first cosmonaut from the UZSR to make it to space, but she still has plenty of problems. Not only does she worry about the UZSR's "Delivery Crew" disposing of her now that she's no longer useful to their cause, but she is increasingly frustrated about not receiving any credit for her contributions to the space program. In Episode 12, the season finale, Irina's biomedical advisor Anya breaks her out of UZSR observation just in time to watch her human compatriot Lev Leps give a speech in the capital about his own recent mission.

Through the series, Lev has been caught between his loyalty to the space program and his unsung vampire friend. Irina fans have been waiting to see if Lev will risk his status as a national hero or even his life to earn the vampire the safety and respect she deserves. Lev’s choice and its explosive outcome are incredibly satisfying for everyone who has followed his and Irina’s relationship, presenting a meaningful climax to the story of her fight to survive.

Anya and Irina listen to Lev's speech, Irina cloaked in a jacket to protect her from the Sun. Lev's speech is grateful and supportive toward the engineers and his fellow cosmonauts, but he is obviously sticking to state-approved language. Lev thanks Supreme Leader Gergiev for being the first to "embrace and congratulate" him upon his return, and Irina tells Anya that she wanted to be the first to congratulate him. This is when proceedings become too heartbreaking for Irina to take, and she tries to leave with Anya.

An unimpressed Anya and Irina look on in the daylight in Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut.

Irina's disappointment is palpable, contrasted with the heroic fanfare that surrounds them. Suddenly though, Lev announces one more thing. He pauses for an uncomfortably long amount of time, staring at the Moon in the daylight. Some anime would provide a voiceover for Lev's internal monologue as he decides whether or not to acknowledge Irina, but there is no need here. The audience already knows that Lev has been struggling with this decision, and exactly why he has brought proceedings to a halt.

Finally, mercifully, Lev sighs and announces that he has "finally remembered" what he was going to say, revealing that "I'm not the world's first cosmonaut." In Episode 10, Viktor told Lev that he was a better candidate to be the first cosmonaut than Mikhail because he could make people smile and carry the dreams of the nation. When Lev pretends to have forgotten his words, the audience laughs gently at him. Lev is playing up to the same humility that makes him such a relatable public figure.

The anime understates Anya and Irina's reaction to the revelation by showing them jolt from behind as they leave: the audience is left to imagine the looks on their faces. Lev doesn't simply thank Irina; he says as much as he can to credit her and convince his human audience not to fear the vampire. Scenes from a community of dhampirs (part vampire, part human) in the United Kingdom of Arnack reacting in shock to the speech show how Irina's achievement could cut across the UZSR and UK's rivalry, suggesting fascinatingly that UZSR vampires now have a reason to celebrate that UK humans still don't.

Lev describes Irina to the crowd, referencing her most humble, endearing and human characteristics in order to get the people to understand that they have nothing to fear. When he talks about her fear of heights and low alcohol tolerance, he might be giving Irina too much attention, overcorrecting for his compliance in her dismissal. Even this is oddly heartwarming because it shows that as soon as Lev starts talking about Irina, he can’t stop. It helps that even the embarrassing anecdotes are endearing for the audience, making fans nostalgic for the events of previous episodes.

As Irina dashes toward the podium to take her place alongside Lev, a presumably well-meaning security guard stops her, and she loses her jacket. This contrasts with Lev announcing, "People of the world, honor her!" as the guard says, "Behave yourself, girl" to the vampire. Luckily, Anya lands a stunning flying headbutt on the guard as Irina runs to meet Lev on the stairs. The star-crossed cosmonauts are finally reunited when Lev wraps his uniform jacket around her, embraces her, and drops his amusingly oversized cap on her head to block the Sun.

Irina and Lev look out on a huge crowd in Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut.

Irina announces to a jeering crowd that Lev has shown her that not all humans are evil and that her new goal is to reach the Moon alongside him. Gergiev takes advantage of Lev's announcement to position the UZSR as a place where vampires are not discriminated against, unlike its UK rival. Even Gergiev's most relatively heroic move has a selfish political advantage. Later scenes reveal that the UZSR somewhat anticipated Lev's announcement, but this can't undermine his bravery in telling the truth or Irina's justified pride in her contribution to the mission.

Will Irina make it to the Moon? Will Lev be able to convince the UZSR to cooperate with the UK for the greater good? Will Chief Korovin manage to avoid having a heart attack? English-speaking fans will have to wait for the light novels to be translated or for a potential second season for these questions to be answered. Until then, this uplifting finale is the perfect place to leave Irina's story.

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