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Keeping E.S. #9 safe from Alien Invasions: left to right, Kasumi, Kumi, and Yuri.
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Alien Nine is a science fiction manga and OVA about a trio of 6th-grade girls (Yuri Otani, Kasumi Tomine, and Kumi Kawamura) who are selected by their elementary school to become alien hunters. Donning special uniforms, with rollerblades and helmet-like creatures called Borgs that they wear on their heads, the girls are tasked with hunting down and capturing the marauding aliens that periodically threaten their school. What starts off as a straightforward cute action story turns disturbing rather quickly when one of them gets eaten by an alien, and suspicions about the teacher running the program and the principal arise.

Alien Nine consists of:

  • The original three-volume manga by Hitoshi Tomizawa that ran from 1998-1999 in the Seinen magazine Young Champion.
  • A JC Staff OVA released in 2001 that became a cult classic.
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  • A one-volume sequel manga released in 2003, Alien 9: Emulators.
  • Alien 9 Special, a nine-page single chapter that gives a (very) little bit of gap-bridging between Emulators and Next.
  • Alien 9 Next, a self-published 2015-2016 three-chapter sequel, with experimental computer-generated art. Currently ends inconclusively, suggesting that Tomizawa has or had plans for more.

Now has its own Character Page. Contributions are greatly encouraged and appreciated.

Compare its Spiritual Predecessor Parasyte.


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Tropes:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The drills. Not shabby for 2001, though.
  • Actor Allusion: The English dub includes a scene where a boy, voiced by Veronica Taylor, catches a bug and says, "We've gotta catch 'em all!"
  • Adults Are Useless: Deconstructed. The school administrators eagerly send pre-teen girls out to capture aggressive aliens, and their parents only wave them off, and tell them to continue doing their duty. Cue heavy physical and psychological trauma to the girls and regretful parents. Justified in the case of the school administrators: Emulators reveals it's all part of a Masquerade.
  • Alien Blood: It's dark green.
  • Alien Invasion: It's gone on for so long that people have elementary school-age defense programs against aliens incorporated into their everyday schooling, and establishes First Contact as a destructive event that implicitly killed a lot of civilians, if Hisakawa's offhand comment is anything to go by.
  • All Just a Dream: The Sunflowers put Yuri into a dream state where she imagines she's a part of the alien party, but she's groomed into killing humans under the impression, that they're the aliens she needs to fight, all while transforming into a Sunflower herself. Multiple times the humans call the situation weird, but it's not until she's asked to kill Kumi, that she realizes something is up.
  • Animated Actors: After the story concludes in Volume 3, the remaining pages reveal that Alien Nine was an in-universe production, and that all the cast members are actors. Yuri (Hitomi Tachibana) is a child actor who got her first leading role with Alien Nine; Kumi (Tsukasa Goto) enjoyed the experience, and got her first experience playing a supporting role; Kasumi (Satiko Oda) reveals that her Big Ol' Eyebrows are natural and had to shave them off for the early part of the manga; and we at least learn the names of the other three major characters' actors (Sizuka Sakamoto for Miyu, Mika Abe for Hisakawa, and Harumi Tanaka for Principal Okada).
  • Art Shift: Chapter 9's cover is vastly different from the rest of the story, as it shows Yuri in a hyper realistic art style as she would probably look as a real Japanese girl.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: Next starts out as a hybrid between 2D characters and 3D background pieces, compared to the fully 2D art of the previous installments. By the third chapter, it's started being 3D entirely.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The cutesy art style has a rather sharp contrast with the horror / thriller plot elements.
  • Assimilation Plot: The various alien species appear to have this in mind for humanity, and manage to succeed with Kasumi and Kumi, and have already succeeded with their teacher.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Emulators Chapter 4 ends with Borg-Kumi forcing a fusion attempt on Yuri, which leads to her emerging out of the Yellowknife with telltale Borg eyes... or at least it would, if Kumi didn't reveal herself to be "Yuri" not long after. The real Yuri was still in the Yellowknife; Kumi simply fought her Borg's desire to seek a host, and her own feelings concerning Yuri.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: In the OVA.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The climax of Volume 3. Even after the Sunflower is physically removed from her head, Yuri still has to fight to get it out of her mind.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Hisakawa wants the girls to eventually fuse with Aliens, as the whole purpose of the Alien Party is to groom its members into proper hosts for the aliens they're assigned with. The problem is, Hisakawa, who is fused with a Drill Clan alien, wants to keep it in the family; Kasumi successfully fuses with a Yellowknife, while Kumi is outright replaced with her Borg, and the new Kumi doesn't like the idea of the Drill Clan one bit.
  • Bio Punk
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: When Yuri wakes up realizing she has yet another day of dealing with terrifying aliens (and this is after she had a nightmare about them), she crumbles up into her knees and cries. She proceeds to cry even harder when her mother asks her to cheer up, since that day was her birthday.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: All of the aliens, by design, are like this. Borgs have wings with spikes that can extend and form skewers or barriers, tongues that can be used as an extra arm, and an underside that attaches to hosts. Gladius types are similar, but look more like nautiluses, and store more skewers in their mouth. They are the least weird of the alien species faced, for reference.
  • Body Horror: When Kumi becomes a Borg.
  • Boys Like Creepy Critters: Invoked. Early in the manga, Yuri mentions that Alien Party duty is a job no normal girl wants to do, because aliens by this time are on the same length as "insects," in terms of things girls don't like. By contrast, the three Camellia Class boys who willingly put on a Gladius, are all excited to look at and use aliens, and are anxious whenever they're not using them.
  • Break the Cutie: This series makes pushing all three girls to their mental / emotional / physical limits an art form. By the end, two of the three are broken, whether they seem that way or not, and the third is a candidate for a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis.
  • Breather Episode: In between Yuri finally snapping in Chapter 8 and Hisakawa making more obvious moves, Chapter 9's summer vacation is truly the last time Yuri found peace with her friends, before everything gets significantly worse.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: The OVA implies that Kasumi and her big brother had this type of relationship. At the very least, Kasumi had a quiet obsession for her brother. Whether it was one-sided or not is open for debate.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Kasumi seems a bit like this... until we find out about her past.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: At times, the story comes off as a sci-fi flavored coming of age story, complete with interactions with aliens being metaphors for puberty and sexual exploration.
    • None of the girls see any benefit to being near aliens, but the boys that take focus are all excited for it and can't wait to try out using aliens. Each girl's reaction to it is different — Yuri wants nothing do do with it, and wants to go back to being a normal girl; Kasumi is excited and feels emotionally fulfilled, after finding an alien that understands her, and is willing to protect and be protected by her; and Kumi is reluctant and uncomfortable with it, but is forced to live with it, and keeps seeking out more information to process the changes she's undergone.
    • There's a few scenes that stand an unhealthy use of aliens as an allegory for rape or sexual assault:
      • Volume 1 has Yuri being stalked by three of her male classmates when they take up an interest in aliens, eventually climaxing into the boys ganging up on Yuri, and attacking her while she's scared and helpless.
      • Volume 3 has the same boys, along with a Sunflower-controlled Yuri, restrain and incapacitate an unwilling Kasumi, so that the Sunflower alien can fuse with her. In the latter event, the alien even says that Kasumi shouldn't struggle so much, because "she's already done it before."
      • Emulators takes it even further when Borg-Kumi gets into a fusion frenzy, and when she and Yuri are alone in the Yellowknife, she forces a kiss on her, and demands that they fuse. Not helped by Kasumi telling Yuri that Kumi's owed her own "rescue," after saving Yuri countless times (although Kasumi didn't actually know what Kumi would pull in there).
    • The final volume outright has Kumi and Hisakawa talk about fusing with aliens, as if it were about losing their virginity, and why people have sex. However, it's defied— when Kumi directly asks if this process is like marriage, Hisakawa tells her not to think about it too hard, and consider it like being a part of a club.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The Forest of Spaceships, introduced in the second volume, is a wooded area filled with every type of alien one can think of, and all of them are hostile towards outsiders. Hisakawa planned on taking the girls there in third semester, when they were better prepared, but they end up getting thrown headfirst into the area, when Yuri accidentally gets separated from her Borg there.
  • Downer Beginning: Chapter 15's first page opens up on Kumi's bloodied corpse in the middle of the school library, with Yuri none the wiser.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After four volumes of trauma, Emulators ends on a relatively happy note.
  • The End of the Beginning: Played Straight and Lampshaded by the OVA's last episode, it also being the title of said episode. It hints at an interstellar conspiracy, with the heads of the Alien Party committees in each school, and their principals in on it. Of course, you have to read the manga to see all this.
  • The End... Or Is It?: At the end of the original manga, Yuri makes it out, still an unfused, ordinary human... And then she notices in the mirror that a lock of her hair has become curly. Emulators reveals that that single drill is the extent of Yuri's transformation, and she's still human. There's still the matter with the Yellow Knives, though.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Most major conflicts. The antagonists are usually a threat to the students' lives, yes, but the school's administration has taken over parts of the school system, in order to propagate themselves by tricking young girls into becoming their hosts.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Hisakawa's hair curls up just like the Borgs' does.
    • Hisakawa and her superior Ogata are the only two people who could withstand the Yellowknife's psychic waves. The only other people who were fine were Yuri and Kumi, but only because they were wearing their Borgs.
    • In Emulators, many of the previous Drill Clan fusions wear their Borgs as hair similar to Hisakawa's hair. Hisakawa turns out to be bald, and her hair is replaced by her Borg.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Quite rare to see in a Japanese work. The big weird walking-trash-can-like aliens in Forest of Spaceships have four-fingered hands.
  • Gorn: The OVA is not afraid to show aliens getting bloodily maimed. The manga goes further, with the girls getting maimed themselves.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: While this manga does enjoy its gore, some moments cut away before the real nasty business happens. For example, Hisakawa cutting the Sunflower alien is hidden by the shield it made to protect Yuri's body.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Kasumi tries to kill Kumi during the Yellow Knife incident, is brought back to semi-normal after becoming one, kills Megumi's Borg, which allows her Yellow Knife spawn to eat and possibly kill the rest of the school, and tries to force Yuri into fusing with Kumi without regard for the former's life, in an attempt to save Kumi in Emulators. However, it is implied that the Yellow Knife is manipulating her throughout it all.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: This happens after Yuri becomes host to a Sunflower.
  • Improbable Age: Even lampshaded by one of the characters.
    Monami: Objection! We're kids. That's an adult job.
  • Internal Homage: The first chapter color illustration of Next mimics the first volume cover of the original Alien Nine.
  • It's Personal: Emulators reveals the identity of the alien that killed Kumi — a previous generation Drill who psychotically kills for fun. When Kumi is able to identify it, she bursts into augers and skewers it.
  • Japanese Ranguage: In the OVA, the girls' profiles show their "brood types" as AB.
  • Lost in Translation: Kasumi's Verbal Tic "Nya" / "Meow" was often translated as "grin" in the official English translation of the manga. This was because the translator misread it as niya (which does mean smile). By Emulators, this has been fixed.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The alien invasion already happened, and the rest of Earth just has to deal with it. Aliens have varying levels of sapience, but all of them are extremely dangerous to humans, and the only option to deal with them is to fuse or die. The system that the Drill Clan has with the schools is only a lighter shade of the conflict; humans still have to fuse, but they're really just being groomed into fusing with the lesser of many evils, since they at least try to prepare the host bodies for the process, instead of forcing it like the Sunflower Clan.
  • Masquerade: Ms. Hisakawa is actually releasing most of the aliens they're supposed to capture, because the real objective, is to turn the girls into drill clan symbiotes like herself.
  • Mundane Fantastic: By this time, dealing with aliens is an unpleasant job most kids don't want to do, and the invaders treat their mission as a pissing contest between factions. Of course to Yuri this world is new and scary, but it's all treated as pretty normal up until Volume 2.
  • Mind Rape: Several types of symbiotes are capable of this, including Yellow Knives and Sunflowers.
  • Mind Screw: The true nature and scope of the setting is kept rather ambiguous the whole way through. The lines of identity between members of a symbiosis are also hazy.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: As she watches her daughter regress to the mentality of an infant, after an alien related incident, it finally dawns on Yuri's mother that making her quit the Alien Party, while she was still in little danger, was better than ignoring Yuri's clear distress, and discomfort with holding the position.
  • Nipple and Dimed: In the manga when some girl is shown nude her nipples are vaguely drawn. In the OVA the nipples are completely absent.
  • No Ending:
    • The anime abruptly ends with Yuri finding Kumi apparently dead.
    • The overall franchise ends on a cliffhanger, with Next stopping just as the aliens Kumi and Borg-Yuri run into, are identified as the original Borgs.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Special Plan 1 recounts a battle Principal Okada had with an unruly Hisakawa. At one point, Hisakawa skewers Okada and leaves her a bloody mess, but the person who is listening to Okada's recount, is shocked that she didn't die then (since the wounds were something that Cell Gel alone couldn't heal). Okada agrees — which is why she carried around a pack of DNA, to ensure her regeneration.
  • Phallic Weapon: The Gladius aliens, notably used only by boys, use drills to penetrate things. They also look like penis heads, and their name is Latin for "sword".
  • Prehensile Hair: That forms into auger bits, no less. In Emulators there's a fourth alien fighter whose hair hasn't settled down, and moves around on its own.
  • Shirtless Scene: There is a massive one at the physical exam in the first episode, regardless of gender. The sight of a male doctor measuring little girls chests comes off as quite creepy.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The OVA likes to play "cheery" music inappropriately. Most notable is the middle of Episode 3, with the bubbly opening theme song playing, while the girls fight a giant "centipede" while Yuri loses it.
  • Split Personality: Kasumi, after being eaten.
  • Starfish Aliens: The main Borgs are frog-like creatures with a mouth underneath their bodies, that attaches to their human hosts. The other aliens are either closer to Borgs, or downright freaky.
  • Tempting Fate: Miyu, tired of exams in the third semester, sighs and wishes that aliens would come interrupting her current test. Namiki decides to open the class window on an Alien Alert, and accidentally subjects the class to dozens of Sunflower aliens, attempting to use the kids as hosts, knocking out several of them.
  • This Is a Drill: Choice of weapon of the Borg and Gladius aliens.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The series takes place around 2014 to 2015. The main girls themselves were born in 2002, a mere four years after the manga out-of-universe was published, with one of the major alien encounters happening around 2008.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 8 is when things get worse for poor Yuri. Her gang-up from the Camellia class boys not only results in her breaking down, but in her killing her Borg and every other alien she comes across, in one fell swoop. This not only sets back Hisakawa's plans, but also allows Kumi and Kasumi to finally get a glimpse into her mind, and truly empathize with her.
    • Volume 2's opening chapter really puts everything into motion. While the chapter starts innocently enough, it ends with Kasumi sneaking out to see the Yellowknife, and seemingly getting eaten by it. From here on out, it's not episodic alien adventures anymore, and the heroines aren't safe from danger.
  • Wham Line: Happens in Chapter 6, when Hisakawa drunkenly talks to a fellow teacher from another school about their Alien Hunting groups. Hisakawa laments that her girls are doing okay, but one of them (Yuri) isn't up to par. The other teacher then casually reveals that most advisors are releasing the aliens, and the only reason why Yuri's group is managing alright is because Hisakawa's been soft-balling for Yuri's sake and releasing less aggressive aliens.
  • Wham Shot: When Ms. Hisakawa turns in for the night, her hair rolls up into drills exactly how the Borgs do when they make their skewers. This lets us know that Hisakawa is not what she seems, and has much more nefarious plans for the girls...
  • Yandere: Kumi becomes an obsessive type over Yuri after Kumi fuses with her Borg.

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