Coming of Age in the Extraterrestrial Biopunk Dystopia
- Episodes: 4
- Genre: Sci-Fi, Psychological, Horror, School
- Airing Date: June 2001 – February 2002
- Studio: J.C.Staff
Alien 9 is one of the most truly unique, twisted, and flawed anime of all time. As underrated and obscure as it is, it’s rightly considered a cult classic in all its awkward early 2000s OVA glory. This series is certainly something worth checking out for fans of unusual anime that deconstruct typical tropes, as Alien 9 was one of the earlier examples of this, focusing on the slice-of-life and magical girl genres specifically.
The story is set in an alternate “future” version of 2014 where hostile alien encounters have become commonplace on Earth. So much so that it is a regular public safety hazard. To help combat this, schools have formed “alien parties” made up of students who are paired with strange frog-like, symbiotic creatures called borgs to subdue and capture dangerous aliens.
Alien 9 follows timid sixth-grader Yuri Otani, who is forced to be part of her school’s alien party by her class despite being terrified of aliens herself. She is joined by girl-genius weirdo Kasumi Tomine and serious-minded student council president Kumi Kawamura. Donning their borgs, roller skates, and an assortment of nets and capturing gear, the girls do their best to perform their alien hunting duty but soon learn that things are not as simple as they first seem.
Eccentricity - What Alien 9 Gets Right
What stands out most about Alien 9 is just how odd everything is. The series makes great use of juxtaposition to add to the off-kilter atmosphere permeating the show, most noticeably with its superflat, moe (albeit non-standard) character designs mixed with the disturbing situations and symbolism in the story. This aspect of juxtaposition with its themes of coming of age, identity, and loss of innocence, works together wonderfully with the bizarre variety of alien lifeforms, disjointed musical score, peculiar pacing, and unclear character motivations to make Alien 9 a surreal, often uncomfortable, and decidedly different experience.
Emulation inaccuracies - Series’ Shortcomings
First and foremost, Alien 9 simply does not have a proper ending as it only adapts the first half of Hitoshi Tomizawa’s short manga series (which itself doesn’t have the most conclusive finish). If unanswered questions drive you crazy in a bad way, this might not be the show for you. Likewise if you have a low tolerance for character trauma, as this series packs a lot of tears and violence in its four short episodes. Character actions can also feel annoyingly obtuse and illogical or simply random at times. Although this adds to the strangeness, it might be frustrating for some. In general, Alien 9 is somewhat of a polarizing anime that is not for everyone. It should be approached with an open mind and reasonable expectations for a niche early 2000s OVA series.
Altogether, Alien 9 is very much a mixed bag; but one with such a unique flavor that it deserves to be experienced anyway. While its animation might not be that amazing and its story is inconclusive, this series boasts extremely creative creature designs, a surprisingly strong soundtrack, distinctive biopunk aesthetic, and explores coming of age in a legitimately novel fashion that, in some ways, captures the many complicated feelings associated with that time better than any conventional story could. While perhaps it seems a little deeper than it actually is due to its unorthodox presentation, Alien 9 remains a fascinating work of art that is wholly its own thing and well worth a watch if you’re down with a lot of weirdness.
If you end up enjoying the anime, we highly recommend checking out the manga as it fleshes out the story and is a similarly unique read itself. Tomizawa’s Milk Closet shares a lot of similarities as well and might be worth checking out if you’re looking for more.
As always, we hope you enjoyed this article, especially if it leads to finding a new favorite or starts an interesting discussion. Please look forward to future delves into obscurity and more of all things anime at Honey’s! Leave us a comment or question below and make sure to be careful around sunflowers, drills, and yellow knives going forward. Until next time!