I was expecting all the wrong things from Alien Nine. A lot of the anime and manga I love subvert expectations. Princess Tutu begins as a daft shoujo piece and then later on starts playing with your mind and you realise just how clever it has been. Narutaru begins a cute show with dark edges, and then evolves into a dark show with cute edges. 20th Century Boys purposely revolves around the kind of clichés preteen Japanese boys love. So when I heard it had dark elements, I thought Alien Nine might be similar. In the end, though, the only subverted expectation was that the annoying character flaws of the protagonist would be overcome and she would prove herself in some way – but no, despite several apparent set-ups for this occurrence, Otani remained the whiney crybaby she always was. The lolicon writer probably thought her bursting into tears every two seconds was moé moé. It really wasn’t. And attempts to make proceedings somehow more legitimate and adult by showing a lot of alien creatures getting graphically butchered and (though I suppose this was an ends in and of itself) Barbie-doll nudity for one of the ten-year-old lolis only cheapened everything and made it gratuitous.
And this is the kind of stuff that gets dubbed and distributed in the West. No wonder the uninitiated regard Japanese animation as porno splatterfests. And it falls into the trap of setting much of its climax in the minds of its characters, too, trying to be freaky and unsettling but mostly just being cack.
I watched this along with Ergo Proxy, somehow under the impression they would compliment one another. Well, it does quite amuse me that I thought they might be similar when in almost every way they are polar opposites, in terms of art, budget, sophistication, target audience, scope…but the only reason I’ll ever watch this again is to laugh at it, or to illustrate how sexualised even the cutesiest lolicon anime can be without being parodies or ecchi comedies.
(originally written 15.1.08)