Synonyms: Alien 9
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jun 25, 2001 to Feb 25, 2002
28 min. per episode
R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
L represents licensing company
Score: 6.791 (scored by 4116 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
action alien school sci-fi
SynopsisYuri Ootani, a girl who has been afraid of aliens, has been chosen to be on the alien party with the class president Kumi Kawamura, whose only intention to join the alien party is to get out of presidential duties, as well as Kasumi Tomine who is perfect at everything she does, including fighting all the aliens that come in their way. But can they defeat a massive alien who has already abducted Kasumi?
Related AnimeAdaptation: Alien Nine
Characters & Voice Actors
Alien Nine is what you get when you crossbreed saturday morning cartoon and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Sixth grader Yuri Ootani is a timid, melancholic girl and a bit of a crybaby – and deadly afraid of aliens that land on their schoolyard on frequent basis to wreak havoc. Unfortunately Yuri’s classmates chose her for ”Alien Party”, a team whose primary objective is to capture said aliens. To make matters worse Yuri and her fellow team members – the reliable and somewhat stoic Kumi and the cheerful ”ms. Perfect” Kasumi – must adjoin with symbiotic aliens known only as ”Borgs” if they wish to succeed in their mission.
On superficial level of story synopsis and the cutesy OP there’s nothing in Alien Nine that sets it apart from saturday morning cartoon with somewhat weird (yet paradoxically also fairly generic) setup.
Rarely are the first impressions more deceptive than with Alien Nine.
Alien Nine is a world, a world deeply immersed in flow of surreal symbolism and superflatism, a world imbued with feelings of anxiety, confusion and disgust filtered through lenses of young girl’s nightmare. It is an emotional experience more than a proper narrative (that never comes to an proper end in anime version anyway), one that will linger on viewer’s mind for a long while after the end credits for final episode have rolled.
What most characterizes Alien Nine is a sense of ”schitzophrenia” in how everything from story and characters to music and visuals are handled. The round, big eyed character designs bestow every character (even adults) with cute and innocent looks. Then these cuties go through everything from gory, genuinely dangerous encounters with outlandish beasts to psyche shattering mindrapes. Yuri spends most of the encounters terrified out of her mind, reduced to a sobbing, curled ball. By the end of the show all girls have gone through their share of empty eyed staring with clothes soaked in alien blood.
Needless to say narrative treats what they go through on daily basis as the most mundane everyday activity in life of grade school aged girls – in fact they should be happy with their esteemed position. Hell, they even get to skip classes when aliens are roaming the corridors! It’s not only the adults (from teachers to parents) and her partners that offer cold shoulder to Yuri – even the music, cinematography and art direction with its naive pastel color palette and very structure of narrative conspire in creating coldly calculated facade of being normal kids show.
At best show treats girls with apathetic empathy, at worst with wicked glee. It's as if the only one who truly sees how *wrong* it all is is the viewer who cannot in any way influence what happens on the screen.
The general approach of the show to expose and explore hidden, disturbing aspects and irrationality and senselessness of your average kids show (alien spaceships frequently crash on schoolyard and no one bats an eyelash. Instead of army aliens are dealt by grade schoolers mingling consciousness with terrifying, symbiotic aliens they wear like helmets. No adult ever gets worried for the kids etc...as absurd as all this is how exactly is A9's universe more surreal and less sensible than one where 10 year old school dropouts with infinite funds travel across the land in order to catch powerful beasts and fight each other with them?) wouldn't work if it wasn't for the great characters. Fortunately Alien Nine is blessed with extraordinarily nyanced and memorable cast that goes through more development in four perfectly paced episodes than most heroes and heroines manage in 26.
In addition to our main trio (whose developing dynamics - especially those between Yuri and Kumi with possible hint of "romantic two girl friendship" - are fascinating watch and offer most of the few moments of solace girls get) cast includes Megumi Hisakawa, teacher and advisor who acts as supevisor and leader of the Alien Party. She isn't actively hostile (in fact her behaviour is usually friendly in tone) but disturbingly lackdaisical and uncaring for wellbeing her subordinates. She also gives off impression of being much more than she shows and as such is character most steeped in mystery. Another notable character is Miyu Tamaki, Yuri's good friend and the only character in the whole show that offers any real emotional support to her in the beginning of the show.
Overall the cast is very sympathetic and likeable - Yuri despite her wussiness does not suffer from "Shinji Ikari syndrome" that would drive viewers to hate her.
Borgs, those heavily metaphorical and disturbing creeps, deserve their own mention. With wings and large mouths they look like mix between frog's and devilish humanoid head with flesh of "bellyside" (that gets pressed against girls heads as borgs are worn like helmets) giving uncomfortable cues of famous facehugger from Alien (1979). They can talk and the connection between Yuri and her borg is one of the focal points of the show: it's hard to blame the girl for fearing and being disgusted by her companion. Borgs feed off sweat of their partners (literally) and in one highly disturbing scene we see borgs licking girls naked backs with their snakelike, long tongues. And of course wearing a borg for long time might have unexpected side effects...
Formally OVA is a treat to watch: the simple and naive character designs and warm pastel colours are mixed together with striking, psychologically loaded camerawork and shot compositions while the dark greens of bizarre alien bodies and elements contrast the art of "human world". Staging of action is also given much attention and it pays off in excellent use of shadows and lights to set the mood for each scene. Increasingly regular "dream sequences" are executed with more subtetly in framing and designs than in most anime: they're not outrageous bombardments of LSD colours and wild camerawork and the subdued, mesmerizing surreality is always joy to behold. Animation quality is good - characters in particular are expressively animated - and CGI is well-integrated and never distracting. Music and soundeffects build the mood succesfully without calling much attention to themselves.
Your enjoyment for the show depends largerly on how much you can tolerate weirdness and "irrationality" (on literal level A9 doesn't make much sense at all, though this is very much intentional) of show and the fact not all questions are answered. Suffice to say that Alien Nine is rich in thematic subtext and highly symbolic (most of which is fairly easily comprehendable but no less powerful and fascinating) work and as such is not ment to be viewed on the most literal level anyway.
Nonetheless the narrative, characters and the disturbed, off-kilter mood of children's story gone wrong are all so strong and fascinating on their own that the anime *is* very enjoyable even without any kind of analysis or intellectualization. As such A9 is distant cousin of Mamoru Oshii's obtuse arthouse film Angel's Egg.
So, if you like mindscrew shows or simply want to see something completely different and unique I cannot recommend Alien Nine enough. It's one of the most overlooked works of last decade and a real hidden gem. However if you're the type that can't stand "unfinished" storylines or want piece of fiction that "makes sense" in general on every level Alien Nine most certainly isn't for you.
You know the way stories like to big-up what children can do? Those stupid adults, they can’t fight off these alien monsters. Give it to the children. We’ll set up a club, or pilot a giant robot, or gain magical powers, and then we’ll show those baddies what for. Occasionally though, along comes another show that subverts that formula (apparently the word ‘subversion’ is a dirty word in anime reviewing circles, but I can’t think of a better word and making self-important nerds angry on the internet is fun so I’m going to use it anyway) and demonstrates what would actually happen if you gave a child that amount of power and responsibility. Evangelion does that with mecha. Madoka does that with magical girls. Alien 9 does that with a little girl being chosen to fight aliens.
The story is set in a world where aliens are invading, of which they’re not doing a particularly good job of because they keep sending down the equivalent of dogs and bulls instead of laser wielding elite warriors. Or maybe they have no intention of invading, since they have aliens who sit on humans heads to protect them from monsters and helpfully lick their backs for them. Alien 9 is based on a manga that wasn’t completed when the anime was made, so not an awful lot is explained about the setting.
The important part is Otani, a 12 year old girl drafted in her school’s Alien Defence Team. She only got onto the team because nobody else really wanted to, which the club supervisor points out is surprising. I mean, you get off class when aliens invade. You get an awesome pair of rollerblades and a sweet hat. OK you have to fight off aliens in who are intent on ending your life and keep exploding with green blood everywhere, but that’s OK because your hat will keep you safe with its drill tentacle things.
The set up is very much like an awesome kids show where the children join a club and beat the smelly aliens. In reality though, when faced with these scary, angry, vicious aliens, Otani is petrified. Not simply frightened, but complete deadening fear where she can’t be calm as long as she has this post. The show really does drive home how much terror she feels towards aliens, to the point that she can’t function properly as a human being.
What the show probably does best is showing her interactions with other characters and how they treat her fear. Her teammates and friends think they can help her by being supportive, but that completely underestimates the extent of her fear. There’s that truly scrawpy moment where her feelings are channelled directly into the other two’s minds (I think it was through some kind of mindshare the aliens they wear on their heads enable? As I said, not much is explained about the world in this show) and the two of them collapse on the ground in utter terror. The subsequent looks on their faces when they see Otani again show how little they understood of her fear before then.
The club supervisor’s treatment of Otani is a stark contrast to Otani’s feelings. She treats Otani as though she’ll obviously eventually get over it if you just treat her normally, poo-pooing her requests to leave the club. She keeps hold of this idea that eventually she’ll be a good enough fighter by the end of the year when they ‘need them’ (for what reason they need fighters I don’t know, probably have to read the manga for that). It leads to these scenes where you’ll have Otani in a petrified state lying in a heap on the floor as her friends scream her name, followed by the supervisor balancing her pen between her nose and her mouth, being lightly scolded by the school principal for allowing the aliens in captivity to be killed.
Alien 9 does have some obvious issues, such as the one I’ve been alluding to frequently in this post. It’s only a 4 episode OVA and it’s part of a much longer manga, so very little is explained about the world. This also means there’s relatively little development of the characters, beyond them getting even more petrified as it goes on. To be honest though, this isn’t as much as an issue at I’m making it out to be. The story is primarily about how absolutely fucking petrified Otani is, and the show does a fine job of getting that across. The rest is just set dressing.
No, my real problem with this anime is that…well, I didn’t enjoy watching it. It achieves exactly what it sets out to do in portraying this character having her life deadened by fear of a role she has been pushed into, but the experience of watching that play out isn’t enjoyable. Otani is such a wimp at everything in life that it’s difficult to feel any attachment to her. The story has no emotional highs or pay-off at the end. It’s just deadening fear the entire way through. There’s plenty of anime that are gruelling and harrowing to sit through that I absolutely love. Berserk, Infinite Ryvius, heck even the two I referenced at the start, Madoka and Evangelion. Those anime have things like narrative arcs, character progression, thrilling visuals, humour (no, really), emotional payoffs. The gruel and suffering bring about these feelings, while Alien 9 doesn’t. It doesn’t even try to because it’s so focused on the feeling of fear.
Alien 9 achieves what it sets out to do. It’s definitely left an effect on me too, as proven by the fact that simply hearing the BGM when I went back to take screencaps made the hairs on the back of my neck rise. But the experience isn’t particularly enjoyable. It’s for a similar reason I don’t really have any intention in checking out the manga. As a short OVA series, it’s effective at getting that feeling across it’s supposed to be portraying, but I don’t know if I could handle any more without getting tired of it. read more
Both seem to have a cutesy art and all, but in reality they are much darker and cruel. Things like underage girls communicating with alien life forms and getting strange powers as a result.
Girls forming a contract with another being in order to fight off foreign 'disturbances' (aliens or witches). Both start seemingly light-hearted but turn dark pretty quickly.
Both involve young girls forming a pact to fight off invaders and protect the people. Both also appear to be aimed at an entirely different audience at first but get progressively darker and more depressing.
Take a handful of little girls and toss them into one horrible situation or another where they have to use powers that are not all sunshine and sparkles.
Alien Nine was Madoka before Madoka got made. Both are two Grimdark anime featuring little girls fighting for their lives. Alien Nine is darker.
Opening Theme#1: "Flower Psychedelic: Kasumi Tomine Version" by Noriko Shitaya
#2: "Flower Psychedelic: Kumi Kawamura Version" by Kaori Shimizu
#3: "Flower Psychedelic: Yuri Otani Version" by Juri Ihata
Ending Theme"rebirth" by en avant
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