This is for all the misfits out there. You who have been stepped on, brushed aside, ignored, misunderstood, despised. You who have risen to the challenge, tumbling through the lanes of life, falling and getting back on your feet over and over again. You the underdog - this is your story.
A pair of alien brothers are sent on an undercover mission to investigate the merits of planet Earth as a possible future home for their kind. In three volumes we follow the duo's quest to adapt to modern-day Tokyo living, playing witness to all their escapades - from the tiniest gaffs down to the dangerous
and the illegal. There's no shortage of action in the way of car crashes and sci-fi superpowers, but equal if not more focus is devoted to their clumsy navigation of the social / dating scene - to hilarious effect.
The ostensible star of the show is younger brother Fuyunosuke, whose good looks and winning ways (in human form) stir up a sensation wherever he goes. However, the real driving force behind the plot is older brother Natsutarou with his well-intentioned ineptitude. Along the way we run into a few side characters, each going against the grain in their own way. We steal glimpses into their psyche and insecurities as they rub shoulders with the protagonists. At times the formula can seem clichéd and somewhat lacking in depth, but the motif it underscores is a powerful one: the search for identity, belonging, and human connections.
Art-wise, the character designs reveal hints of retro Western comics - the main duo could probably fit in on the cast of Archie or Scooby Doo without a hitch. Faces are more baby-fat than angular, and readers in search of eye candy will have their hopes dashed (sorry, folks). The cityscapes, on the other hand, are where the illustration really shines. Every street scene is meticulously done, and I could almost feel the colorful, bustling vibe of Tokyo leap out from the page with each turn. Different districts, from Ikebukuro to Harajuku, are skillfully depicted, creating a kind of virtual tour of the city. It's a shame that the series hadn't gotten a longer serialization, there's real potential there of a wealth of places and topics left unexplored.
All in all,「Tokyo Alien Brothers」embodies the shounen archetype - an action-adventure story that makes us laugh and feel at the same time. Between the humanity of aliens and the alienation of human beings, one can't help but pause in contemplation: what exactly is it that makes us human? Perhaps the answer doesn't matter. For at heart this is just a poignant tale of brotherhood, a cup of tea that warms your soul at the end of a long day. And it's alright if you scald your tongue on the first sip - to err is human; we live and learn.
So here's to the misfit in all of us.