Manga: Arachnid

From bottom to top: Alice Fuji, Gokiburi and Yoriko Tajima
Alice Fuji does not have a fun life. She's spent the last few years being tormented and abused by her drunken uncle, whilst her unusual mental disorder and dearth of social skills have led to poor grades and a complete lack of friends at school. Then a mysterious assassin kills her uncle, press-gangs her as his apprentice, and subjects her to Training from Hell for a few weeks before trying to kill her when her recruitment application falls through. Now she's got an ever-increasing price on her head as she fends off one murderous, arthropod-themed lunatic after another, and the only allies she can turn to are the slightly less murderous arthropod-themed lunatics.

A manga written by Shinya Murata since 2009 and published on Gangan JOKER, Arachnid provides an unusual take on the standard shonen Fighting Series, with an interestingly deranged cast and a wide variety of exotic fighting styles. There's also a spinoff prequel named Caterpillar, which focuses on an assassin named Imomushi who has her own troubles within the Organization a year before Alice became involved.

There's a character page here.

The main series has been licensed in France since April 2015. Not to be confused with the 2001 spanish horror film Arachnid. Also, for Murata's other takes on people fighting with animal abilities, see Jackals, Vaia'n Maiden and Killing Bites. Yū Sasuga's Terrafor MARS also deals with this concept.

Arachnid and Caterpillar contain examples of:

  • Academy of Adventure: A polite way to describe Alice's school. A less polite (though somewhat more accurate) description would be 'death-trap crawling with murderous psychos'. The trope is enforced by the Organization boss, who requires the assassins to fight each other and kill Alice while inside the school. There's even a large incinerator in there to dispose of anyone killed in this bloodbath.
  • Action Girl: Alice and virtually any other female assassin.
  • Aerith and Bob: A girl named Alice and a bunch of people with fake names and who are codenamed after insects.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The narrative exposition on paraponera clavata ants (aka bullet ants) in Caterpillar states they're so danguerous a group of army ants would avoid fighting a single one of them. The exposition on dinoponera ants in Arachnid is practically copy-pasted, except the paraponeras are the ones fleeing.
  • Animal Motifs: ...or rather, an insect motif, each for every assassin. Alice, however, gets a handful of different spider species motifs for the sake of versatility.
  • All Men Are Perverts: With or without the Queen's Rule brainwashing, few men in the story aren't always harassing women and trying to rape them.
  • Almighty Janitor: Shidemushi seems to be one. Suzume Bachi worked as a mailman before he got promoted to front man of the Organization.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Yoriko asks Alice if she, a kind person who wasn't able to kill a bully like her, could really be a murderer. Alice had killed two people in self-defense by then, but lies to preserve their friendship. She feels guilty about it until she confesses the truth to Yoriko.
  • Armor Piercing Response: When Kuramoto is talking to Alice about her issues with bullying, Alice insists her troubles are no big deal when compared to people who have it worse. Although she seems to disagree with Alice's reasoning, Kuramoto still protects Alice from being raped, at her own expense, while saying the same. The truth is that she deeply resented Alice for being so forgiving to people who have mistreated her.
  • Asshole Victim: Alice's uncle in the very first chapter.
  • Attempted Rape: Alice from her uncle in the very first chapter, and then Oki from Hibiki's thugs in Chapter 12. Gets much worse later, when the the entire student body of Alice's school gets brainwashed into raping people.
  • Badass:
  • Batter Up: In chapter 12, some of the people working for Hibiki are holding Nail Bats. It's rather amusing that one of them has a Nail Golf Club. Even more amusing when Alice swings it at his face.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: Sasori turns out to have a long mechanical scorpion tail attached to her back. How was she even hiding that, anyway?
  • Big Bad: "Army Ant" Sara Kurokawa claims she's the boss of the Organization. But she is a decoy who follows Kuramoto's orders. And Kuramoto isn't the boss either. "Swallowtail Butterfly" Yanagi Akiho fills this role in the prequel.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Dinoponera has extendable needles inside her gauntlets, which have the immensely painful effect of her namesake's sting. Paraponera and Suzume Bachi also use this weapon type.
  • Blade on a Stick: Kabutomushi wields a halberd with enough strength to shove people far away and make craters on the ground.
  • Blade Run: Dinoponera sits on Kabutomushi's halberd when Kabuto first tries to attack her, then hangs on it to avoid being smashed into the ceiling. Later she also walks on the halberd's pole, too.
  • Bland-Name Product: Kahen Rider. i.e., Transforming Rider instead of Masked Rider. Later on, "Sailor-Force" is shown.
  • Blunt "Yes": Hibiki when Alice asks if he had a "deep relationship" with Kumo. Oki then bluntly asks if he is gay. He confirms it but then he backpedals.
  • Bottomless Magazines: There's no concern in-story about whether there is a limit on the thread from Alice's Kumoito.
  • Bowdlerise: The magazine version of Chapter 51 had a scene about how Sasori murdered her own parents, tearing them open and leaving the organs exposed. This got blacked out in Volume 11. Volume 12 has a case of No Swastikas on chapter 55 where the symbol is gone from Hitler's uniform when he is briefly used to illustrate the idea of charismatic brainwashing.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: At one point Oki is controlled by Digger Wasp, who gives her a dominatrix outfit and has her believe he is Alice. Oki doesn't seem to notice how unusual "Alice"'s orders (such as torturing her friend Yoriko) are and gladly follows them while not actually being any crazier than she already is. Meanwhile, Sara leads and spreads mindless zombie-like students around for them to overpower and rape her enemies.
  • The Brute: "Sand Cricket" Riokku.
  • The Bully: Yoriko is terribly cruel to Alice in the early chapters, to the point Alice considers killing her, but after the first encounter with Sasori, Yoriko has to keep Alice with her for protection and the two begin to get along.
  • Carnival of Killers: The "Arachnid Hunt" in the main story sets a prize on Alice's head that increases every time one of the participating assassins is killed. In the prequel, Imomushi is also the target of one. The people attacking her carry a series of envelopes with details on how her sister Mika was killed.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Alice's "I have no choice but to kill" when she or her friends are in grave danger.
    • Oki's excited "It's great to be hated!" when she's gloating.
    • Sasori's "A scorpion has three friends" pre-torture speech.
    • Dinoponera's "If it's you, maybe you can become my friend" when she has good expectations about her opponents. She's also prone to muttering "mai mi thang!" ("no way!" in thai) over and over when panicking.
  • Characterization Marches On: When Dinoponera is first seen wandering around Alice's school, she looks rather quiet and serious, but then her stoic look from the last panel of chapter 35 became a smug grin on the Volume 7 release and suddenly she's all smiles.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Everybody in this series is a "perfectly ordinary" human. You may need to remind yourself of this repeatedly.
  • Chekhov's Gag: When Alice is feeling bad about being all hurt and bandaged up with an eyepatch, Yoriko and Oki tell her she looks stylish and cute. Sara was introduced at around the same time. Later it is shown she does have a right eye and wears her eyepatch as part of an Evil Makeover. Subverted in that the circumstances of that reveal are far from funny.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Oki is able to secrete oil as an evasion ability. Much later Kabutomushi explains she taught her to subtly do it when in trouble to leave a trail behind her for Kabuto to follow.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: "Scorpion" Sasori.
  • Child Soldier: Some characters are shown to have been trained by the Organization since they were small. Among them, Dinoponera was the toddler doing mercenary work in war zones.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Alice, courtesy of her Disability Superpower which is very befitting for a spider-themed string user.
    • Amenbo knows how to inflate like a balloon to avoid drowning. You read that right.
    • Kabutomushi can survive even seemingly lethal attacks to the heart thanks to her implanted exoskeleton armor.
    • Being an experienced mercenary, Paraponera gives Imomushi a lot of trouble.
    • Dinoponera's "Concentration Driving Force" ability gives her heightened senses comparable to Alice's. And while it is mentioned Alice's senses can't save her from sufficiently fast attacks, Dinoponera is agile enough to avoid practically anything.
  • Creepy Centipedes: "Caterpillar" Imomushi, "Centipede" Mudake and "House Centipede" Geji.
  • Creepy Cockroach: Oki is creepy in a perverted kind of way.
  • Cute and Psycho: Most of the girls in the series.
  • Cute Bruiser: Oki, Kabutomushi, Geji and Dinoponera. Alice has her moments, but she mostly uses string tricks to fight.
  • Damsel in Distress: Early on, Oki fakes kidnapping Yoriko to bait Alice. But later Yori is captured by the Sand and Digger Wasps to be tortured by a brainwashed Oki. She tries to stay out of Alice's fight against Dinoponera, but Dinoponera jumps behind her anyway to get a reaction from Alice. When Alice reunites with her later, Yori is attacked by Sasori.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Riokku and Dinoponera.
  • Darkest Hour: Chapter 61. Yoriko has been killed and practically everyone has been captured by the student mob or is missing. And Kuramoto began the mind control process on Alice, who still doesn't have a clue of her true intentions.
  • Death Seeker: Kumo trains Alice so she could kill him.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Oki is brought along by Alice after being defeated. It helps that Oki turned out to not have kidnapped Yori and just wanted to make Alice her slave instead of killing her.
  • Deer in the Headlights: Alice is shocked when Kumo tries to kill her at the beginning, but then she jumps to chomp his neck off. She later becomes feared for being able to avoid being completely frozen even in such dire situations.
  • Decoy Protagonist: You know that cool looking assassin that keeps Alice in his house? Alice kills him at the end of the first volume.
  • Disability Superpower: Alice's "Congenital Excessive Concentration", which causes her to single-mindedly concentrate on the most inconvenient things. With training, though, it allows her to enter a kind of Hyper Awareness state and formulate battle strategies in seconds, and serves as arguably her greatest weapon.
  • Disappeared Dad: Alice has been told that her father died before she was born, but Kirigirisu reveals that he's actually alive. The father turns out to be Suzume Bachi.
  • The Dragon: Suzume Bachi to the Organization boss, Sara Kurokawa. But she turns out to be a decoy who serves Kuramoto. And Kuramoto is not be the real boss, either...
  • Dynamic Entry: Hibiki is fond of arriving from out of nowhere with a Rider Kick. Later he gets on the receiving end of Oki's dropkick.
  • Enfant Terrible: Digger Wasp.
  • Evil All Along: Kuramoto spends most of the story being friendly to Alice, but turns out to be the mastermind behind the Arachnid Hunt.
  • Exotic Eye Designs: Alice's pupils and Dinoponera's irises ripple when they concentrate. Sometimes they get both effects at once when they're angry enough.
  • Expy:
    • Shinya Murata's Jackals already had a spider-themed assassin with a Razor Floss weapon in Turis Spider, who aside from being blonde and older than Alice looks similar to her, down to having the same height and weight.
    • Geji is pretty much the cute and cool assassin Tomoko Kuroki would daydream of being. The extra content of volume 8 freely admits this with a parody chapter focusing on the traits they share and a sketch of Geji by the author which is literally Tomoko.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Sara wears one over her right eye. Alice wore one while recovering from the battle with Hibiki, but then she looked cute rather than powerful.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Kamakiri acts like this before attacking Alice.
  • The Faceless: Alice's mother during flashbacks, until chapter 48.
  • Flash Step: The faster characters frequently appear out of nowhere behind each other. And they usually look away from the target, just to look cool. They do have insect motifs, after all. It's later exaggerated in chapter 48, in which Alice practically teleports around Dinoponera, who insists in trying to hit Alice from behind.
  • Forehead of Doom: Yoriko's hairstyle.
  • Goomba Stomp: Dinoponera at one point almost impales Hikibi's head, but is distracted when she notices Alice is on the floor above her and just stomps Hibiki instead.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Dinoponera sometimes speaks in thai.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Some characters do use guns, but soon forget about them as focus is shifted to the assassins' weird insect-themed abilities and weapons.
  • Hair Antennae: Oki, as part of her cockroach theme. They even move while detecting movements around her. Oddly enough, she spontaneously gained those antennae just by identifying with a cockroach she saw back when she was an abandoned baby in a thrashed house.
  • Hammerspace: Kabutomushi hides her Kabuto Horn halberd folded in half under her shirt, but it's still far too big for it to make much sense. Then there's Geji who hits Oki with a heavy filled sock that she was still wearing on the previous page. And also Sasori, who hides a scorpion tail larger than herself under her coat. Hanakamakiri often pulls her scythes from out of nowhere, too.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Oki, after her Heel-Face Turn. It helps that Alice isn't remotely interested in having a slave, and just treats her as a friend instead. Sara also feels this way about Kuramoto.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Having fought alone in wars during her whole life, Dinoponera expected to find a kindred spirit in Alice, but becomes enraged upon finding out she only recently became an assassin and despite this was able to master her ability in a couple of weeks.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: For whatever reason Anabachi dresses Goki in a stripperiffic dominatrix costume after brainwashing her. A bonus poster features Alice and Geji in their own bondage getups, plus an unamused Kabutomushi in the background, if you ever wondered what they'd look like in those duds.
  • Heel-Face Turn: 'Cockroach' Oki, the Psycho Lesbian assassin, would be the most obvious example (and overlaps somewhat with High Heel-Face Turn), though Yori, the Alpha Bitch who befriends Alice after the latter saves her life, serves as a less extreme case.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: How Alice has killed some of the assassins thus far; Kamakiri (Praying Mantis) slits his throat with his scythes, Amenbo (Water Strider) is held underwater and drowned.
    • Water Strider held long enough underwater for help to arrive.
    • Despite her best efforts to defeat Alice, Dinoponera still gets tangled up and forced to stab her own leg.
  • Hot Springs Episode: The Febuary 2015 crossover between Arachnid, Caterpillar and Killing Bites.
  • Hyper Awareness: Alice, Oki, Sasori and Dinoponera have their own ways of feeling the environment around them and instantly countering any attacks.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Alice has been lonely and shunned by people, Oki doesn't seem completely ok with being alone and hated, and Dinoponera, who also grew alone, would like to meet someone she can symphatize with even though she's too deranged and picky.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Hibiki based his fighting style on the "Kahen Rider" series, training until he made reliable techniques out of the show's ideas. Riokku, on the other hand, took from that show an idea of surviving through brute force alone.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Chapters are named after dialogue or monologues said in them.
  • Idiot Ball: Alice comes to school on the day of the Arachnid Hunt completely unprepared, despite knowing from Sasori that something was going to happen on that day. Ironically, killing Alice while inside the school is a rule of their contest.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Dinoponera repeatedly impales people not necessarily to kill, but to have fun watching them scream because of her stings' "24 to 48 hours of great pain" venom. Alice gets stabbed all over her arms, legs and butt because Dinoponera was that much pissed off at the time.
  • Implacable Woman: Dinoponera steamrolls everyone on her way to meet Alice, completely unharmed by anything she couldn't block or dodge.
  • Improbable Weapon User: If an Organization assassin uses a weapon, it'll be an extremely weird one. Alice's Weapon of Choice, for instance, is the "Kumoito", or "Spider's Thread", a length of spider-silk with a hooked blade on the end that works rather like a cross between Razor Floss and a Grappling-Hook Pistol.
  • I'm Okay: Only five "insects" are dead by the 40th chapter, a few of the recurring characters even say so after getting back up from the ground.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: One scene has Imomushi stating she didn't necessarily come to Alice's school to fight her but is interested on the reward on her head. Cue awkward silence as Alice enters the room.
  • Insect Queen: Sara, who is Army Ant-themed, can dominate weak-willed people and is followed around by brainwashed minions. Turns out she's tasked with guiding them, but isn't the one doing the brainwashing...
  • Instant Expert: The defining trait of Alice's C.E.C. ability is not the "time-stopping" concentration, but this trope instead. She learned all the assassination skills Kumo ever knew in only two weeks.
  • Involuntary Group Split/Let's Split Up, Gang: When a bunch of assassins invade Alice's school to kill her, all she wants is to get her friends out of there, but they keep getting separated for a reason or another.
  • Irony: The two times Oki ordered an opponent to be her slave, she became enslaved instead.
  • It's Personal: Hibiki hates Alice because she killed Kumo. He doesn't realize Kumo forced her to do that.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Other than Kabutomushi and her implanted armor, most of the characters don't seem enhanced. But even when their tricks are just plain supernatural, they're able to do them because they somehow fit in their insect motif, without any further explanations other than "they did special training".
  • Japanese Beetle Brothers: Kabutomushi is a girly, intense and incredibly strong rhino beetle lady. No Stag Beetle-themed person has shown up in either story.
  • Justice Will Prevail: Having watched a little too much tokusatsu shows, Hibiki claims to fight for justice and love, and regards his opponents as evil.
  • Kiai: Hibiki repeatedly shouts "LOVE" while stomping people and Dinoponera laughs madly when pummeling faces.
  • Killing Intent: When in danger, Alice puts all her focus on how she can kill or at least terrify her enemies. Only Suzume Bachi gets her afraid enough to flee once.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Alice's father is implied to be one.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: "House Cricket" Hibiki and "Sand Cricket" Riokku.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The cover for Volume 11 depicts Sasori with her surprise scorpion tail. Volume 12's cover heavily hints at a big plot twist, but at least it had already been revealed in the end of the previous volume.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Alice pretty much stays in her school outfit.
  • Mad Scientist: Jigabachi, who installed the mechanic tail on Sasori.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: While bored from fighting Hibiki, Dinoponera suddenly stuns everyone in the corridor with a loud scream. She does it again later to escape after being defeated by Alice, but Kabutomushi isn't affected and almost crushes her.
  • Male Gaze: Lots of it.
  • Manly Gay: Hibiki.
  • Martial Pacifist: Despite her killing instinct, Alice would rather not kill people and fights only to protect herself and the few friends she has.
  • Mercy Kill: Alice does this to Kumo.
    • Caterpillar to one of Bullet Ant's victims.
  • Missing Mom: Alice's mother, who was Driven to Suicide after too much stress. Dinoponera's mother died from gunshot wounds while protecting her. And the assassins who served as father figures for them are both dead. Yoriko's mother died by childbirth and her father is always away. Oki was left abandoned in a trashed home as a baby before being taken to an orphanage.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: The battle between Alice's C.E.C. and Dinoponera's C.D.F. concentration abilities, which turn out to be partially the same thing. Dinoponera gets pissed off at how Alice can learn in a couple of days something she's been training for most of her life. Seeing how reckless Dinoponera is becoming, Alice unabashedly rubs on her face how easy it is to read and copy her.
  • Near Death Experience: This trope tends to trigger the killer in Alice, while Dinoponera is shown on a flashback awakening her own concentration technique to survive an ambush, at a very young age.
  • No Sell: Dinoponera seems immune to blunt damage. She gets blown away by a kick to the face and then just stands up with a smirk. After this she gets stomped countless times and just gets a bit embarrassed, without damage even to her clothes.
  • Not What It Looks Like: After Oki defeats Geji, she undresses her to take her clothes, since Oki had been dressed on a dominatrix getup by Digger Wasp. Alice, who didn't know anything, finds her doing this and gets disturbed. Because she's jealous.
  • Once More with Clarity: Some scenes involving Kuramoto are later retold from her perspective, showing what her true intentions were.
  • Orphanage of Fear: The Orphanage Miki/Imomushi and Mika lived in. The employees beat Miki for making trouble at school and the director's daughter, who goes on to become the main villain, sexually abuses Mika for years in exchange for Miki not being sent to a reformatory.
  • Otaku: Hibiki and Riock are obsessed about the Kahen Rider show, and Dinoponera is rather disappointed that Japan isn't populated with magical girl warriors.
  • People Puppets: Alice can trap people with her threads to force them to move against their will. And if she happens to be paralysed, she can pull herself around too. She calls it "Marionette di Ragno" in chapter 49.
  • Posthumous Character: Kumo's commmentary on some characters' abilities is remembered by those who knew him.
  • Prequel: "Caterpillar" Imomushi's storyline.
  • Professional Killer: The insect-themed assassins.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Gokiburi sets a standard when she tries to make Alice her slave and orders her to crawl naked around the school. While she softens up from becoming good friends with Alice, villainesses Army Ant Queen and Ageha go further with the trope.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Alice fights her master and father figure Kumo on the top of a building. At the end of the Arachnid Hunt, she confronts her evil disappeared biological father, Suzume Bachi, on the rooftop of the Ouran High School.
  • Sailor Fuku: Dinoponera likely wears one to look like a Sailor Scout. The other girls don't anymore.
  • Scary Scorpions: Sasori revels in paralyzing and torturing people to death with her poisons.
  • Shadow Archetype: From her looks to personality, backstory and abilities, Dinoponera is pretty much Alice with a more physical fighting style and whose lonely background as a child mercenary made her mean and deranged.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skyward Scream: Alice after she kills Kumo.
  • Smug Smiler: A frequent expression on female antagonists such as Sasori, Geji and Dinoponera.
  • Smug Super: Each insect assassin is more arrogant than the last. They also tend to get messed up very badly by Alice, who herself has done epic boasts on how spiders are the pinnacle of arthropodkind.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Alice normally is a gentle and kind girl, but in battle she becomes much colder and creepier.
  • Strong Ants: Some antagonists are ant-themed. "Army Ant" Sara is helpless in battle but turns the entire student body of her school into her brainwashed minions. Dinoponera comes equipped with poisoned stings and is shown to be greatly strong, fast and resistent. The prequel has Dinoponera's foster father, Paraponera (Bullet Ant), being a difficult opponent to Imomushi who survives a grenade exploding in his face.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Alice can't swim. Good thing her sports teacher Shinobu is willing to help her learn, huh?
  • The Syndicate: "The Organization", which targets people they deem worthless to take over their commodities. They have much control over the world and are untraceable.
  • That Was Not A Dream: After Alice beings Oki home, she dreams about the roach girl sweating oil to bypass the sound detection of her thread and then shooting Yoriko to death. Alice wakes up to see that Oki really escaped from her with that bizarre method... but only to play with Alice's panties.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Alice may be determined to kill when necessary but isn't proud of that.
  • Too Powerful to Live: The excuse Kumo uses to fight Alice to the death.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Dinoponera to Bullet Ant, but she's adopted.
  • Un-Person: The Organization owns all records of their members' existances and is able to erase those if they die. Alice refuses to join them to avoid becoming this.
  • Use Your Head: Imomushi's main attack is to catapult herself head-first on enemies.
  • Webcomic Time: About forty chapters all happened in one afternoon. Still going.
  • The Worf Effect: Oki claims she's the fastest among the assassins, yet gets easily beaten when someone turns out to be more danguerous than her. Kabutomushi and Imomushi, as strong as they are, can't harm Dinoponera at all. Dinoponera goes on to casually slap around some other assassins only to also fall victim to this trope when she meets Sasori.
  • Yandere: Played for Laughs when, after befriending Alice, Oki tells her she would kill any boys Alice liked.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The disturbing sex-induced mass brainwashing that happens among the students during the Arachnid Hunt, with the Army Ant Queen as their leader.