I finally checked out Aliens Area which sure got cancelled awfully quick. It’s a shame because it did sound pretty fun from the premise although after reading through it I can see why it was cancelled. Ultimately it doesn’t deliver on the action you’d be expecting and while it’s not a bad thing to try and be different from the usual action experience, it didn’t feel like the series really knew what it wanted to do. You end up just being really confused by the end and wondering what the whole purpose was. The ending is rushed due to being cancelled of course so that part doesn’t really count but even before that it didn’t really have a focus.
The basic story starts with Tatsumi taking care of his siblings. His parents died a while back so he’s on his own but he’s done a pretty good job of raising them so far. Money is real tight though and then one day he is attacked by an alien. He manages to fend it off with his mysterious arm which worked out really well because otherwise he was definitely going to be in a true jam there. Somehow his arm was able to stretch as if he was Monkey D. Luffy. A guy named Hajime appears and explains that he is the leader of a group that looks into aliens. He wants Tatsumi to join and it pays well so his family will be looked after now. Tatsumi agrees to this but can he keep his new job a secret from the kids and is he really ready for this?
The core premise is solid enough. It’s sort of like Men in Black, this organization deals with aliens. Often times that is done through force but sometimes they will let the aliens know that they are breaking the law and that’s that. What makes things more complicated is that there is another group known as A3 and their mission is to simply destroy all aliens. They figure it will save more people in the long run and in some ways they think it’s more just as the main org will deal with aliens peacefully but they rarely help out on the follow-up. So often times if they provide housing for example, if the alien bombs out then he is exiled anyway. It seems like the manga was going to run with this as a fairly big subplot because Tatsumi had his share of issues with the organization. They do seem extremely shady. They aren’t straight up murdering everyone like A3 but it would be a stretch to fully call them heroes.
The series ended with 20 chapters so there wasn’t time for a whole lot of missions. After the first chapter we have Tatsumi accompany Hajime on a mission. This one had them protect an alien princess from the greatest assassin in the universe. I may as well add now that this is already a mistake. You can’t have the best in the universe appearing this early in the story unless he is going to win. The problem is that Hajime defeats him rather easily….so just like that the power creep has gone absolutely crazy. It does work well as an initial battle to teach Tatsumi the rules of how to fight and all. It’s just the context of knowing that they just defeated the greatest assassin in the universe that is a problem. You can’t convince me that this was a good idea, it just doesn’t make sense. The assassin loses all of his hype immediately.
Of course he returns later as an ally but by that point you still don’t think he’s nearly as strong as his reputation once was. It’s still a solid intro arc and shows Tatsumi more of what the aliens can be like and what their missions are but it wasn’t executed quite as well as it could have been. I do like Tatsumi’s arm since he seems like it would have a lot of uses in combat. He uses it here to block a blast that was aimed at the princess. This leads to my next issue though…he doesn’t get to fight. Aside from the punch he landed in chapter 1, he never gets another fight after that. 20 chapters should absolutely be enough for the main character to do something.
Instead he ends up feeling like a side character in his own manga. Maybe Hajime would have ended up becoming the main character but the way the manga presents him is as the mentor figure. Tatsumi even went through some training so they were gearing up to some fights and took too long. This is a pacing issue that you have to blame on the actual manga because there was no excuse not to have him fight earlier. Just throw in some minions for one of the bad guys and we’re set.
To an extent the series wanted to be subversive with how Tatsumi was always ready to fight but then sometimes it would be a peaceful thing like a parking ticket. I think that’s good for a few gags but it wouldn’t be enough to cover the series longterm. This one wasn’t built to be a slice of life adventure even if the author wanted to pull that off afterwards. You have to learn into the battles because that’s what everyone is looking for here. Having another group was already a good start and you could do a lot with the aliens but the series just wasn’t preparer to do that.
Right off the bat I think what the series should have done was skip to the next arc first. Basically the heroes head into a bar where a girl there knows about aliens which shouldn’t be possible since the heroes mind wipe everyone after a mission. Well, she has been taking care of aliens and so Hajime wants to remove her memories and take the aliens while Tatsumi isn’t a fan of this. As payment for staying free the lady gives them intel on the other group but ends up getting murdered by a high ranking member of A3, Yutaka. This leads to Tatsumi being upset but Hajime saying they can’t make a move due to their job descriptions. This would have been a good way to introduce the hero group from the start and have Tatsumi quit for a while or declare that he will change the group. Give us a good reason to root for him like that and then the whole series would get more emotional.
That doesn’t happen though and the problem here is that every arc gives us more and more reason to dislike Hajime and his group. The whole group just looks incredibly shady and unlikable so why would we root for them? It feels like Tatsumi has to work for them or they will erase his memory so it’s not like he wanted to be here either. The biggest red flag though is when Hajime introduces us to the heads of the group. These are the most powerful members in the whole organization and most of them have completely disposable designs. You know those random characters in any show who don’t stand out and you know they are background characters immediately? That’s the kind of design I’m talking about here and that’s crazy because these are supposed to be the top tier epic characters. It just didn’t make any sense at all. Maybe by then the author knew the series was over but it didn’t feel like a ton of effort was put in there.
Even when Hajime introduces Tatsumi to his squad, the characters don’t really stand out there either. They’re okay designs I guess but you won’t remember any of them. Despite that, the art is actually really good. This feels like a very experienced artist who knows how to draw a good action scene. It’s just the designs that need work but otherwise this one is solid all around on the art front. The fights are good which is what you are reading the series for, it’s just a shame that the rest wasn’t quite as solid. Then this could have had a really good future.
Ultimately Tatsumi is a good main character. He can be a bit too passive and follows orders without making enough complaints but he is new to the alien world so I’ll cut him some slack. Give him a little extra time and he should end up doing a lot better in the long term. His overall motivation of wanting to protect his family is a sound one and so I wasn’t bored when he was on screen. He should have held his own easily enough. Then you have Hajime who is good at what he does. In terms of personality I find him to be a little too shady to the point of being a villain. Some characters act tough but you know it’ a bluff. With this guy I didn’t get that impression. Instead he seemed really serious about what he was saying and that’s a bit concerning. This is definitely not the guy you want to have your back.
The way he uses the gravity powers was interesting. Basically the way the power set works in this world is that the humans have manipulated the alien tech in a way to simulate super powers. Each person can use 3 equipments at once and Hajime opted to use 3 gravity sets at the same time. This lets him attract objects, negate gravity, and jump around using that as a way to propel himself forward. The fighting style with this was fun and he uses a cane which is a rare weapon for any fighter. Just make him a little more heroic and we’re in business.
There is a whole group of people working with the heroes but most are totally forgettable so we don’t need to get into those. Yumeko is the only one with a fairly big role as she ends up being a tough mentor for Tatsumi. She believes in using power to get her message across and definitely beats Tatsumi up quite a bit. The guy can never catch a break when she is there but she is also quick to help him out when needed. She’s a fun character and I expect her role would have only grown bigger as she appeared more.
Finally you had the main villain Yutaka but he is a character who gets hurt big time by the series ending fast. Basically in the final arc he decides to randomly take down all the villains on his own and cause a giant explosion to wipe out a bunch of aliens. Naturally this would wipe himself out as well and more aliens would still exist so it’s like he’s finishing his goal halfway. They do give us a reason foe why he suddenly made such a drastic move and it was a sad plot twist that he learned about. It still doesn’t make this feel any less rushed though. The final arc is the big invasion as the heroes rush the villains but it doesn’t feel earned and we don’t know almost anyone yet so it’s hardly emotional either. In the end Yutaka goes out like a chump and just isn’t cool at all.
I had a lot of issues with the series so this one probably came across as rather harsh. It’s because this should have been a really good title but ended up fumbling the bag almost immediately. In a lot of ways I dare say it was trying to be like Kaiju No 8 but without a lot of the things that made the other title so successfully. If you see this one in stores if it gets a physical release then I would recommend checking it out. You’ll still be entertained without a doubt even if you do see the lost potential floating around throughout the adventure. There is just so much that they could have done with this series but ultimately didn’t.
Now if the series did want to go for less of an action angle while still being serious throughout, then the only option would be to be more of a horror/suspense title. You saw that octopus image from earlier? The series has its jump scares like that and part of the tension is that aliens can be anyone. Some wear human puppets so you can’t tell and they can jump you at any time. Having the main character infiltrate different establishments while looking for them could have been a good idea. It’s absolutely an angle that the series could go for but it is fairly incompatible with huge power levels so again I would say that you remove the whole best assassin in the universe getting immediately defeated in the pre arc aspect out as soon as possible.
Overall, Aliens Area should have focused more on the aliens and the combat. Ultimately this one didn’t last very long but at the very least the art is good and the action scenes are fun when we get them. The series also has some crazy horror visuals that come in from time to time so it is trying to do a whole lot but never finds its footing in the end. sometimes you have to go slow and just knock one thing out at a time. If they ever brought this manga back I’d still be interested in seeing it continue. It is good…it’s just not Very good.