At some point in the future, aliens become entirely normal. Its not like they are randomly walking around the streets or anything (at least, not as far as normal people are aware), but nobody thinks twice about the fact that spacecraft seem to crash land on elementary school premises (and only elementary school premises) on a weekly basis, nor the fact that the schools keep the aliens caught on their grounds on their grounds. Even less seems to be thought about the fact that its down to the students to catch them.
Yuri Otani is in her final year of elementary school, and unfortunately for her she has found herself voted by an overwhelming majority to be her classes representative on the Alien Party, the group of students whose job it is to catch the aliens invading the premise. Her colleagues seem to be rather happier than she is about the situation – Kumi Kawamura is happy to take the position, as it means she’ll won’t have the hassle shes suffered in previous years of having been made class president, whilst Kasumi Tomine – genius girl with a serious brother complex – volunteered simply because it looked like fun.
Of course, things aren’t quite that simply, even though the girls aren’t quite aware of this. Megumi Hisakawa, the teacher in charge of the Alien Team, seems to be managing a lot more in regards to alien attacks than just the girls, and her drill-like hair suggests she might just be an alien herself…
The cute, flat-faced, big eared character designs and the twee, plinky-plonky xylophone and pipe music of the show belies how seriously messed up this show actually is. To say Yuri is neurotic is an understatement – she is utterly petrified of aliens, and she spends most of the show crying in terror. The fact that she has to wear a Borg – a symbiotic alien who feeds by licking off their hosts body sweat – on her head doesn’t particularly help the situation. The first episode actually seems innocent enough – Yuri is scared, but aside from some freaky dream sequences its not really to any degree a character in any other show wouldn’t get over. Its about half way through the second episode, when an hysterical Yuri literally massacres all the aliens the school has been keeping, when it strikes you just how messed up the show actually is, and that Yuri will never get over her extreme xenophobia.
Thats a lot of what makes Alien 9 so good – it certainly doesn’t look or sound like a show that would have any kind of depth to it, but that just makes the fact that it does even more effective. It manages to be cute and creepy at the same time, particularly in the final of the four episodes. The direction is simply brilliant, doing an amazing job of conveying to the viewer exactly how terrified Yuri is without her coming across as too annoying.
If there is anything bad to say about Alien 9, its about the ending – in that it just kind of ends. Whilst the manga does go futher, and they actually drop story hints into the ending credits here (including a glimpse of one of the main characters seemingly dead!), the place where it ends is as good as any. From this point onwards the manga started throwing about plot elements which, whilst changing the landscape of the world in which the series is set, aren’t really anything which can ever really be resolved. In reality, whilst she may get marginally better at dealing with aliens (and I mean marginally), Yuri is never going to get away from having to deal with them – her troubles simply follow her, and she is still terrified of them. Forever. There isn’t any resolution to Yuris plight, because there isn’t likely to ever be one, and any attempts to include one here would simply have come off as forced in the extreme.
Oh, and the animation is GREAT – it is an OAV series after all ^^;
I really can’t recommend this show highly enough.