#1 Nonsensical story premise
Alien 9 is a sci-fi drama in which Earth is routinely attacked by monstrous aliens, most of which want to do nothing but hunt down Humans. To counter this extraterrestrial menace, elite squads of alien hunters are employed to capture these creatures and protect Humanity. Just a shame that these protectors of mankind are all 12 years old.
While I can see how this setup works well in parallel with the anime’s themes of growing up, it is such a contrived premise that I felt myself immediately detach from the anime emotionally. Kids having to fight aliens even though capable adults are present is already a BIG deal that requires serious suspension of disbelief, but more questions are added on top of that. Like why put this up to class vote if it’s so important. Protagonist Yuri is an awkward, anxious little thing with no confidence whatsoever, who does nothing but hold her partners back. Again, it works for drama and character development, but it makes no sense within the context we are presented.
Strange worlds where people react very differently from how we would can be interesting, but Alien 9 pushes it too far and explains too little; intrigue is instead turned into frustration.
#2 Crybaby protagonist
It feels cruel to critique the anime for this, because Yuri being so emotional is perhaps it’s only logical plot development. Of course she’d be sad after being forced by her classmates to risk her life for their sake, only to be bullied and harassed for it. Few people sympathize with her or offer any kind of help, and she knows she is useless to her team mates. Even her own family complains that she is being dramatic and lazy.
That doesn’t change the fact that she is genuinely insufferable to deal with.
She cries all the fucking time and is left paralyzed by every challenge presented to her. She doesn’t help with anything and comes to rely entirely on the goodwill of her team and the emotional support of her one friend in life. It makes sense in the context of the role she has been unfairly thrust into… but that doesn’t make it any more engaging to watch her. She doesn’t overcome or grow much throughout the story, so even during the final episode’s crisis, she is still just crying and trying to hide away, needing to be saved by other characters. It gets tiring and made it impossible for me to connect to her emotionally.
#3 Giant ears
I could not take the character design in this show at all. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore the frog hats, and their wing-like protrusions lend themselves well to some interesting imagery, but the characters themselves look unappealing.
They all have the same blob-like head as a base with a different haircut and slightly changed eyes, but most distracting of all are those ears. They are enormous and very emphasized, which looks so strange for an anime with characters this small. It also tempted me into wasting an hour of my life Googling around for anime ears because I didn’t recall ever getting caught up on something like this.
Large ears look just fine to me on actual, real people, but in Alien 9 it was a constant source of distraction.
#4 Underage nudity
Anime’s weird. We all just kinda accepted that at some point, but everybody has their boundaries for how weird things can get. I tend to like ecchi and fanservice, but licking children is well over the line for me.
Alien 9 has this weird plot contrivance that the alien partners the girls have, aka the aforementioned “frog hats”, are symbiotic life forms that need to be fed by the girls. And they live on a diet of little girl sweat.
There’s several licking scenes throughout the show and these are supplemented by other offputting scenes, such as one where the kids’ measurements are taken with boys and girls, both naked, all in the same room within eyesight of each other. It’s not particularly framed as being titillating, but its still very strange and seemingly unnecessary.
#5 Short & unfinished
To put all of the above in the proper context, I am only talking about Alien 9 the anime adaptation. A 2001-2002 OVA that ran for 4 episodes, and only adapted part of the 3-volume manga series by Hitoshi Tomizawa. I could imagine that Yuri’s arc would go somewhere amazing or that the strangeness of the world, licking included, would be later revealed to be totally plot-relevant… but that’s not what we got.
Alien 9 just kinda does its thing for 4 episodes and then peters out in the middle of a storyline, never to continue. Not much of note has been concluded and nothing of the bizarre story has really been explained; it renders the whole thing kinda pointless really.