What They Say:
Yuri is totally bummed. She just started 6th grade and has been elected to capture and eliminate the aliens that are constantly invading the school…GROSS!
The audio presentation brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the English language dub, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The show has a very good stereo mix that has some solid moments of directionality across the forward soundstage as well as a couple of areas where some good depth is portrayed. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released to video in Japan back in 2001, the three episodes are kept to a single discs in its original full frame aspect ratio. A lot of the coloring for this show is done in the real world style with somewhat pale and drab backgrounds, but the characters and the aliens are full of vibrant colors and very fluid animation. There’s some cross coloration throughout, though it’s a bit more prevalent in later episodes, as well as some aliasing during a few panning areas. Some of the night time sequences look a little grainy, but it almost looks intentional to add to the mood.
The packaging design for this release has a standard sized DVD keepcase where the front cover has a great shot of the three girls in their Alien party outfits going after the latest incursion. The coloring and design just look really nice and better than a colorfully vibrant piece of artwork. The back cover has another nice shot of the trio together and the usual array of items such as the short summary, the discs features, and the general technical items. What’s really nice is that the reverse side of the cover, typically done in black and white, is full color just like the front cover and looks great, really taking advantage of the fact that there’s no insert but that the keepcase is clear. The reverse side provides the basics of the episode chapters, bilingual voice credits and the basic production credits for both sides of the production.
The menu is nicely done with a mostly static image of one of the aliens with its wings expanded while in the center of them a small loop of animation from the show plays while the end song sequence plays briefly. Submenus load quickly and navigation is solid, leaving my only complaint the usual one about the languages starting the program when they shouldn’t.
There’s a good selection of extras here that should keep most folks happy. The video art gallery, set to the opening song, runs just under three minutes and uses a lot of good pieces of artwork as well as shots from the show itself. The more traditional sketch gallery, containing the conceptual artwork images, runs over four minutes in length and uses the end song as its background music. For dub fans, there’s a great twelve-minute dubbing diary that goes through all sorts of aspects of the show’s production with Tom Wayland being the principal person here. While I haven’t listened to the dub, I’ve come to enjoy the dub production extras that CPM continues to create and this one is no different. The original promotional commercials for the show is also included and those run nearly five minutes long, though they’re not subtitled. In another US produced extra, they managed to secure some time with Taro Maki during his 2002 Big Apple Anime Fest appearance and we get a nice little 7-minute featurette where he talks about the adaptation and what went into the show’s production.
Alien Nine has earned itself something of a reputation before it made its way over here due to the way it messes with the kids in the show and the trials that they go through. With it focusing on three girls in the sixth grade, you have to wonder just what they go through to earn that kind of reputation.
The story takes place in a relatively similar time to our own. We’re introduced to a nearly in tears Yuri Otani, a sixth-grade girl who has just found herself voted by her classmates to their representative for the year in the Alien party. She really doesn’t want to do this and the tears are already starting to flow; something that becomes a very common theme in this show. Yuri isn’t alone though, as she gets to work with two other girls from the same grade but a different class. There’s the bubbly Kasumi, a somewhat petite little blonde girl who absolutely loves being selected, and there is Kumi, the tallest of the group and one who is resigned to the job but determined to do good by it. Between the three of them, they cover all the bases and operate under guidance from Miss Hisakawa.
Their job is to basically hunt down and destroy any of the aliens that seem to arrive at random and only at the schools. When the alien ships arrive, massive beastly organic things, the smaller alien(s) come out and start causing trouble. The three girls get to leave class and pull on their skates, grab the nets and go after them. And their sole focus is on the alien until it’s caught, even if school is over. But they get perks in being able to avoid daily cleanup routines and other events in order to focus on their year-long membership in the Alien party.
A lot of the focus here is obviously on Yuri, which can get problematic at times since she is just so completely whiny. The littlest things can cause her to burst out into tears and she’s completely unable to capture an alien on her own. Her reliance on her teammates is matched only in the amount of tears she can shed. This actually makes you really want to slap her hard by the middle of the second episode. But it’s also at this time that we start to learn some of the darker motives of what’s going on here and hearing from those in other schools. There’s more than meets the eye, but it’s also not really the focus here, unfortunately.
Those in the Alien party do have another advantage when it comes to hunting down the other aliens. They have their own personal aliens, creepy little roundish bodies that get placed on the girls head which then wraps around her face a bit so it’s stationary. It also has some small wings which can become massively large as well as containing lengthy flexible ‘drill bits’ that are used as weapons and defense. Each of the creatures is responsive to the person who wears it to some extent as it’s a give and take relationship. Each of the girls deals with it much as their personality is, meaning that Yuri obviously hates wearing hers and dealing with it in general.
With the four episodes here, we get the beginnings of the story where the settings is laid out and we meet the main cast. There’s the basic introductory story where we deal with Yuri and her issues as well as bringing things to an end of chapter point in the last episode with an amusing “battle” of sorts with a massive alien. There’s no real conclusion to things in general though nor is there any revelations about the darker motives going on, presumably leaving all of that for the manga instead. Alien Nine is definitely creepy in a lot of places and also rather interesting in what it suggests may be going on. With this being all there is, it’s a nice way to spend a dark and quiet evening.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Art & Sketch Galleries, Behind-the-Scenes Video (Making the English Dub), Alien Nine Japanese Promos, Producer Taro Maki Interview, Alien Nine Manga Preview, Alien Nine Trailers
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Central Park Media
Release Date: July 8th, 2003
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.