Alien Nine is a stunning and evocative little series with tons to offer in each of its attempted facets. It commands the reader's attention with a starkly idiosyncratic approach to visuals, appeals to the emotions, makes you care for its characters and gives you plenty to think/cheer about.
One of the first things I noticed when I began reading was the nuances in visuals, namely, the juxtaposition of intentionally crude, cutsey character designs with frighteningly detailed, angular, gross images of alien's and their appendages. The effect this dichotomy creates remains consistent throughout the series, as the violence is never suppressed; Tomizawa pulls no punches in his depiction of the endeavors of grade-school girls and their battles with aliens.
Speaking of school-age girls, the three central characters are quite different and, thankfully, have some substance that only grows as the series goes on. Each girl starts with their own personality and reason (or lack thereof) for joining "the Alien Party." As the series goes on, each girl sees some truly dramatic changes in character, some psychologically, some physically... and watching these changes, how they come to be and what events they inspire, is what makes Alien Nine a compelling page-turner.
I think the manga's greatest strength, though, when considered with its characters, is the events. This is "Things Actually Happen: the Manga." Character development and arcs, plot revelations, subtle/not-so-subtle explanations of occurrences, it has it all. In keeping with this technique of moving of the story inexorably forward, the theme of body horror becomes quite important and it isn't cheaply depicted at all. There's plenty of terrific spectacles in the manga; I found myself thinking/saying multiples times; "holy shit, that actually happened!," or, "did she really just say that?" You'll focus on the images, as that effect/dichotomy I mentioned earlier in the writing is consistent but it's really about what's happening. In other words, it looks damned cool but focus on what the characters are doing and saying and the effect is dramatically improved.
Alien Nine is a criminally under-read piece of work and a stunning narrative application of the "Superflat" art form. It's story is just as important as its art and visuals, and taken together they make a powerfully memorable, evocative team.read more
There's nothing unusual about Elementary School 9. It runs a trimester calendar year for grade 1-6 students, and like other schools in Japan, Elementary 9 receives near-weekly visits from animalistic aliens, which need to be captured and contained. But of course, this job falls onto the young shoulders of Elementary 9's “Alien Party.” At the start of every school year, one sixth grader from each homeroom is elected to serve their final year of elementary on the Alien Party. For the skittish Yuri Otani, having to corral alien creatures while donning rollerblades and putting a symbiotic alien on her head totally sucks. Unable to leave the party, she's encouraged by her mom, one friend and her alien-catching partners.
Alien Nine has a lot of neat little things going for it; intriguing character designs, some really cool alien concepts (such as the “Yellow Knife” and the “Borgs”) and a pace which never drags. Each volume covers the (often traumatic) experiences of Yuri, Kumi and Kasumi through a single trimester. Midst the alien confrontations are quiet character transformations and fun interactions between Yuri and her Borg partner. Many of the panels in Alien Nine are free of dialogue, meaning that chapters can fly by if you don't slow down to appreciate the visuals.
Compared to the warm colors (and lacking the psychedelic tunes) of the OVA adaptation, Alien Nine's black and white manga art is bleak and carries a much darker tone. The character designs are quite unique, with big ears and nicely-rounded faces, but Alien Nine is a bloody and slimy affair (most of the carnage befalling the various alien species). When interviewed by Central Park Media for the English publication, creator Hitoshi Tomizawa interestingly noted, “I think that the brutality was too blatant, which is something I regret now.”
But Alien Nine has more than blood and gore. Tomizawa crafts plenty of cool ideas and fun scenes into this short work. At three volumes (four if the 2003 volume of Alien 9 Emulators is included), Alien Nine can easily be read in a single day. If you can stomach some alien entrails and a rather bizarre, yet well-executed premise, go for it.
Written originally for: http://34fp8jlk987669.blogspot.comread more