The Simple But Powerful Warmth of Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut’s Ending Sequence

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut’s relaxing ending credits of Lev driving Irina in his motorcycle evokes a mood of warmth and nostalgia.

WARNING: The following article contains minor spoilers for Episodes 4 and 5 of Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut, available on Funimation.

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut can be a dark show. The fictional UZSR uses vampire Irina Luminesk as a test subject to examine the effects of space travel on the human body. Her only human friend is cosmonaut candidate Lev Leps, who oversees her progress as she trains for the journey. The other cosmonauts treat Irina as nothing more than an object, and the UZSR space program is content to execute her once she stops being useful to their cause.

Despite this, the series’ end credits sequence has a warm, nostalgic mood. It achieves this with its slow, gentle ending theme and subtle animation of Lev driving Irina through a wooded road in the night. The scene is one unbroken animated sequence that moves through various perspectives but has no cuts.

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The perspective is initially positioned behind Lev’s green government-issue motorcycle. Irina sits next to him in the sidecar. As he drives, Lev glances in Irina’s direction and she looks away at the trees. At this point, there is a lens flare against the setting sun. Lev looks briefly at Irina and back. The perspective zooms in slightly, and the sky darkens. Irina looks at Lev and then back, her head slightly askew. Finally, Irina looks up again. It’s unclear whether she is looking up at Lev or the night sky.

The perspective shifts to focus on Lev, then pans up to reveal the outline of a spacecraft in the stars. The white outline makes the ship resemble a constellation. The outline is then filled with color, and the ship blasts off towards the moon. The fact that the scene is one unbroken shot makes it feel like a moment captured in time, adding to the feeling of nostalgic memory.

The outline of a spacecraft resembles a constellation in the Vampire Cosmonaut ED.

The subtle glances between Irina and Lev, never quite catching each others’ eyes, emphasizes the possibility of a slow-burn romance between the two. It’s easy to imagine Lev consistently looking at Irina to check up on her and Irina only looking at Lev when she’s sure he won’t look back, even though these motivations are never explicitly stated. For someone with as terrifying a mandate as Irina, awkward, familiar relationship moments like these would be relative moments of calm, and this feeling is extended to the audience

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Both characters are wearing thick, wooly hats, obscuring their faces. This makes it even more impressive that Arvo Animation conveys so much personality in their movements without relying on facial expressions. Adding to this is the way both characters’ hair and clothes ripple endearingly in the wind — another finely animated detail.

The ambiguity as to whether Irina is looking up at Lev or the stars at the end of the scene speaks to the respect she has for both. In Episode 4, “A Promise By The Lake,” Irina reveals that she has wanted to go to space since even before being held captive by the UZSR. In Episode 5, “Training Separately,” Irina tells Lev, “You’re about the only human I think isn’t bad,” much to his pride.

This shows that space and Lev are both important to Irina, but her lifelong dedication to wanting to go to the moon means that the ambiguity of the scene elevates Lev’s significance a great deal, emphasizing the strength of their unique relationship. These hints of a potential romance are another reason why the ending feels so warm and comforting.

Irina looks up in the direction of Lev and the night sky in the Vampire Cosmonaut ED.

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The warm, comforting mood of the ending is encouraged by the ending theme song “Arifureta Itsuka” by singer-songwriter Chima. After some appropriate sci-fi radar noises, gentle acoustic strumming and nostalgic harmonica accompany Chima’s slow, lullaby-esque singing. When the drums kick in and Chima’s vocals become more balladic and poppy, the song retains its relaxing feel. The song is an especially strong choice because of how it meaningfully contrasts with Ali Project’s characteristically frantic opening rock song “Hi no Tsuki.” If the breathless pace of “Hi no Tsuki” could be said to represent Irina’s fear and determination, perhaps “Arifureta Itsuka” represents her comfort around Lev.

An anime about a vampire going to space may seem like an outlandish premise, but Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut works because it takes this concept seriously. This grounded, low-key ending sequence is just one example of how Arvo Animation uses subtle personal drama rather than high-concept fantasy imagery to tell its story.

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The Simple But Powerful Warmth of Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut’s Ending Sequence