In a galaxy far, far away… wait no. It’s our galaxy. Our planet, actually. But at least it’s in the past, right? Well... yes, but not by much. It's only fifteen years ago, in fact. A man named Lucius, the leader of a near extinct species, has managed to drag his ship to the Milky Way Galaxy while desperately fleeing the destruction of his own galaxy, a cataclysm caused by an evil entity known only as The Dark One. With him, he carries the last surviving infants of the various planets of his native galaxy, The Blind Angle Galaxy, including his own son, as well as a mysterious, powerful known as 'The Artifact'. After finally finding a planet with intelligent life on it he tells his most trusted friend, a pixie-like creature named Heeldiz, to look after the children in secret. Then, he sends the babies down to Earth disguised as human infants. A spell is cast on the couples that find them to make them believe that these babies are their normal biological children, in the hopes that they’ll be able to grow up happy and healthy. Satisfied but forlorn, Lucius flies away in the hopes of being able to hide The Artifact. With any luck, the babies he hid will be able to live as humans and lead pleasant, normal lives, never having to know about their painful pasts.
But these things never work out like that, do they? Fifteen years later, Lucius’s son, Beelze- named Damon by his human parents- is attending a museum tour with the rest of his class. He banters for a while with his friend Jenny when an explosion rocks the building, sending everyone scattering in the chaos. It soon becomes clear that the explosion was caused by a bizarre looking woman with strange powers. Fire spreads through the building and Damon is soon trapped and separated from his classmates. When it touches him though, he realizes… that it doesn’t hurt him. Moments later he is accosted by a small, fairy-like creature that tells him that its name is Heeldiz and that Damon needs to transform into his ‘alien form’. Quite obviously he is confused, but with no other options he follows the sprite’s instructions… and undergoes a magic transformation into Beelze. A fight between him and the other alien ensues, leaving Damon victorious but terribly confused.
Later that day, Heeldiz seeks out Damon (who is understandably shaken up by all of this).and asks him if he’d like to know what’s going on. From there, Heeldiz explains the nature of his parentage and why the museum was attacked that day. After destroying The Blind Angle Galaxy The Dark One’s son, Master Eel, has come to Earth following Lucius and is searching for The Artifact. The museum was simply the first place that one of his lackeys, Triz, thought to look for it. Heeldiz tells Damon that it wanted him and the other alien babies to grow up and live peacefully on Earth without having to know about what they lost, but that is no longer an option now that The Dark One’s forces have found them. Damon refuses to believe it at first, but after more alien attacks, he decides to accept his destiny: To gather the other alien babies and find The Artifact before Master Eel does. That way, they can use it to defeat The Dark One’s forces once and for all.
Sounds exciting, huh? Alien Fighter is an animated series by MagicMe123 on YouTube, with the first episode having been published on March 19th, 2009. The series is three episodes long, with each episode being split into two parts due to YouTube’s video length restrictions at the time. In total, the series is 44 minutes and 30 seconds long, including the theme song and credits for each. The opening and credits are pretty long though, so you can assume the actual content is shorter than that. MagicMe123 is a pretty experienced webtoon creator as his last show, Magic Heart, ran for 52 episodes and a movie before concluding.
Alien Fighter itself starts out strong, opening with Lucius making the difficult decision to send the babies down and asking Heeldiz, his best and final friend, to look after them. The show continues from there through the plot I’ve already described. It has limited animation, which is understandable as it’s made in MS Paint. While MS Paint tends to be the starting tool of many an animator, it’s not well made for the process, lacking even layers for young artists to work with. Still, MagicMe123 makes the best of it. What the show lacks in fancy art programs however, it makes up for in special effects. Scenes that would otherwise be flat and unmoving are spiced up with surprisingly well done environmental animations. Spaceships have flaming exhaust, Heeldiz has a glittery, magical glow to it, etc. It makes otherwise still scenes look a lot more active. I do think the show could do with more camera movement though, considering how limited and still the animation is. The music is also well selected, and helps build appropriate tension in action scenes, evokes sadness in sad scenes, etc.
The show is somewhat slowly paced, and so we’re left with a lot of scenes of characters simply looking at each other and talking for the sake of exposition. The exposition is important of course, but even shows made by large teams have trouble making these scenes visually interesting. A common solution you might notice in those shows is having scenes take place in cafes. That way the background is interesting, the characters can be doing something with their hands, and characters like the waiters can occasionally come in to move things around or interject briefly. Unfortunately, most exposition scenes in Alien Fighter happen while the characters are alone in their ships or rooms, usually from one camera angle. The camera doesn’t move much or zoom in, so we’re left just looking at two characters talking for ages on end. I think a bit more visual spice here could have added a lot, especially to the emotional depth of the scenes.
For example, take when Heeldiz is breaking it to Damon that the family that raised him isn’t related to him by blood and was only enchanted into believing he was their biological child. Instead of the camera just looking at Heeldiz, it might have been worthwhile to look at other things in Damon’s bedroom. Perhaps a photo of him with his family. A shot of his hand tightening its grip on his bedsheets. His backpack against a wall, still sloppy and only half zipped after the mayhem at the museum. All of these shots could have been completely still images, but would have added to the scene and what the characters might be feeling at the time, and would have allowed us to look at something other than Damon and Heeldiz simply talking. But of course, these are all just suggestions and I still enjoy what we have.
On an unrelated note, it’s interesting to see a webtoon that’s in the tokusatsu genre! It’s a lot more common to see magical girl shows on YouTube, so this is truly a rare find. For those that aren’t aware, tokusatsu is… hmmm. I want to say it’s the “boy’s version” of the magical girl genre, even though that's not quite correct. Very action based and snappy, but still having fascinating transformation sequences and a focus on leading double lives. If you’ve ever seen Power Rangers, you know exactly what this genre is. I could say that this is a ‘magical girl’ genre show, but the outfits and character designs are clearly inspired by tokusatsu shows. Even the transformation sequences (to me, at least), hearken back to the seasons of Power Rangers I watched as a kid.
I have to make a note at this point about The Artifact, simply because there’s no better place to put it. The Artifact is supposed to be an ancient superweapon capable of destroying the universe itself if need be. Unfortunately, nobody’s ever been able to control it, not even Lucius, it’s previous owner. So The Dark One getting his hands on it would be a very bad thing, to say the least. The Alien Fighters' quest as a result is to try and find The Artifact before he does. There’s no guarantee that they could control it, but considering that the alternative is just letting The Dark One destroy the Earth looking for it and then demolishing the rest of the galaxy once he has it… they don’t have many better options.
I do have a couple quibbles with the plot of Alien Fighter, though I think they’re minor and I can definitely see what the creator was going for. For example, I’m not sure why Master Eel would assume that The Artifact is on the same planet as the alien babies. After all, they had been chasing Lucius past thousands of planets and they know he moved on after stopping at Earth. Why would they assume he put all of his eggs in one basket? From a writer’s perspective, I have an idea of why it was written like this. There needs to be an excuse for the bad guys to stick around on Earth and fight our heroes as opposed to just moving on, but the canonical reasoning seems a little flawed. I do have a little theory to at least partially explain that though. If Master Eel is The Dark One’s son… I wonder what the odds are that he’s actually as old as Damon and the other Alien Fighters? It would certainly be a more interesting twist than having him be another evil old man, and you could explain the lack of forethought as “He’s a teenager leading an army, what did you expect.”
The show is pretty slowly paced too. I don’t actually have a problem with this! It’s nice to see the characters working through their feelings about the situation, and it doesn’t mean that other things aren’t happening. Damon is still fighting to save the world while grappling with his feelings of… alienation. Go on. You can applaud my pun, it’s okay. I’ll wait.
Done? Okay, cool. It’s pretty clear from the pacing that this was meant to be a lengthy show before its untimely end. MagicMe123 is clearly capable of producing a show with a ton of episodes (as he did that with Magic Heart), so it wasn’t a mistake to do the same with Alien Fighter. The other members of the team were probably meant to be trickled in over time, but we only ever got to meet Damon. That being said, I think there was some real promise in its themes of alienation, as punny as that is. I find it… disturbing on some level that the parents of the alien kids in this show explicitly had a spell cast on them in order to make them believe the alien infants were their kids instead of going through the process of adoption. It creates some really understandable emotional distress in Damon, as he deals with wondering… do his parents actually love him? Can he really call himself their son when they don’t have any clue where he actually came from? Would they stop loving him if they found out they'd been duped?
This leads to my favorite scene in the show. When his parents notice that he’s upset and ask him what’s wrong, Damon knows he can't explain and goes to a public park to get some room to breathe. With the issues mentioned in the last paragraph in mind, he doesn’t really want to talk to them right now. While he’s there, he takes out a locket that his “Dad” gave him. It’s a family heirloom, passed down from father to son through the generations. He has some tough feelings about it now- is he really worthy of it? Obviously, an adopted child is just as much of a real family member as a biological one, but usually the parents of adopted children KNOW they’re adopted and weren’t essentially brainwashed into thinking that they conceived and birthed this random baby. That’s a big problem to have dropped on the shoulders of a fifteen year old. He’s left wondering about whether his parents feelings toward him are real, and whether he even deserves them.
The alien lady that he fought yesterday showing up and demanding that he hand over the artifact doesn’t help either. Yes, Triz returns to Earth and, assuming that Lucius left The Artifact with Beelze, believes that the locket he’s holding must be it. When she orders him to give it to her, he responds with “No! My father gave it to me!”. In a moment of dramatic irony, Triz takes this as a confirmation of her theory. He just admitted that Lucius left it with him, right? What else could it mean? It’s a clever bit of writing where we know what both characters are thinking about the same statement, but the conclusions drawn from it are drawn from very different lines of reasoning. The following fight has a lot of extra impact as a result, as we know what losing the locket would mean to Damon.
We get a lot of good moments like that with Damon and a lot of exploration of the problems he’s having while he tries to save the world. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see how it turns out or meet any of the other Alien Fighters to see how the team would interact as a whole. Alien Fighter lasted for three good episodes… but it was only three episodes. MagicMe123, according to a couple of videos on the channel, simply ran out of time in his life to work on animations. A brief effort was made to revive the channel without any animated content, but it didn’t get very far, and it’s been radio silence ever since. The website that MagicMe123 made is gone, and I couldn’t find any other social media pages for him. The last episode of Alien Fighter was posted over a decade ago by the time of this article’s writing, with no trailers to even hint at what an episode four would have been like, so it looks like this show has well and truly bit the dust. Still, it’s hard not to be charmed by what we got, with some nice special effects, a kickass opening tune, and some compelling characters.
Audience: Teenagers, Young Adults. I could always be wrong, but I got the vibe from the show’s pacing and character conflicts that this wasn’t exactly meant to be watched by anyone under the age of 13. I’m not saying that kids CAN’T be entertained by the moral quandaries presented and by people just talking back and forth… but I know if I was that age I would be wondering when they’d get back to flashy fights again.
Inclusion: D. Unfortunately, this show isn’t… great in terms of inclusion. There’s really no POC, disabled individuals, LGBT characters, etc. Normally I can't get on people's cases about this too much and give the show a flat ‘C’ as a result. A lot of people do animation for fun and don’t have the forethought or information to include people not normally shown in media, so I’m not going to give them flak for it (though I do wish they’d improve!) Unfortunately, Alien Fighter’s depiction of women is… kind of actively bad. The guys are consistently shown as being more level headed and reasonable than the girls. Examples of this are how Triz is the dumbest and weakest of the villains and constantly scolded as such. Or how Jenny is written as… not really liking anything so Damon can look good when he goes “Okay, I’ll go along with this to show how nice I am.” When Jenny insists on going to see a movie that she likes instead of what Damon likes for once, his acquiescence seems like a sort of nod to the audience saying “Man, these GIRLS are SO unreasonable, but we like them anyway, right guys?” This of course, tends to estrange the female audience who don’t… you know. Actually act like that.
Not to mention the weird comments that Triz makes about Jenny’s body when disguised as her. Calling her ugly is one thing, she’s a villain and that’s to be expected, but “flat as a board”...? Jenny is a 15 year old. I know comments like that are common in a lot of anime and whatnot, but that doesn’t necessarily make them okay, especially considering Jenny’s age. Why exactly does she, a fifteen year old, need large breasts? Couldn’t Triz have just said frizzy hair or bad fashion sense? (Which would have been a funnier joke in my opinion, as Triz’s fashion sense is arguably worse due to being an alien.) That’s a really weird thing for the writer to say about a teenage girl, especially considering that she isn’t… actually drawn any different from the rest of the female cast. I would have written her ‘developed’ appearance off as an artist quirk if it weren't for that line. The limited art style doesn’t lend itself well to more subtle differences differentiating the genders, so prominent breasts can at least be excused. But then that line pointed out that that sort of thing is actually important or at least worth noting by the writer. Honestly, I know I’m nitpicking about one small, one off line here, but it really is jarring and uncomfortable in a show that otherwise isn’t about that sort of thing at all. Doesn’t matter if Triz is evil, the writer could have commented on anything else.
Best Quality: Special Effects. I was quite impressed by these! It’s interesting how the special effects are used to spice up otherwise still scenes with limited animation in the form of glows, glitters, and flames. The credits look especially well done, with the text of the credits being overlaid in a fancy way with various special effects and shots from the show. It’s very professional looking, and it’s clear that MagicMe123 had a good grasp on a nice video editing program when making Alien Fighter.
Favorite Character: Heeldiz. It was Lucius when I first started watching the show, but Heeldiz really grew on me! I like how it (according to the audition videos, Heeldiz is indeed an “it” as opposed to “he” “she” or “them” pronouns.) seems to actually have a good grasp on treating mental as well as physical health with care. Heeldiz seems to truly have Damon (and by extension, the other babies’) best interests at heart. When Damon runs away, it doesn’t immediately follow and later says that “I wasn’t sure if I should follow you or not…” It seems to respect that Damon needs space and time to take his true origin in without being intruded on or forced to hurry it up. However, Heeldiz also doesn’t completely abandon him and is there for Damon to ask questions if needed. It’s refreshing to see a character that recognizes that respecting someone’s boundaries is a good thing to do, and that you can’t force or rush coming to terms with big, scary facts about one’s situation. It’s more common than not to see ‘mascot’ characters like that be pretty loud and annoying with “But you’ve gooooootta save the world!”, but Heeldiz is more the quiet, contemplative sort.
Part of this is probably because Heeldiz’s job isn’t to save the world- it’s to act as a guardian to these orphaned children. If that means watching from the shadows and quietly nudging them to make sure they stay safe and have a normal life, so be it. The only reason that Heeldiz broke cover and revealed itself was because Earth came under threat and the only ones who could possibly save it are, ironically, the very children that Heeldiz wants to keep out of harm’s way. I could see Heeldiz having some real internal conflict from this as a result. Your job is to keep the kids safe… but the only way to protect their planet (and by extension, them) is to put them in danger. It’s a horrible decision to make, and I would have loved to have seen how Heeldiz handled it. I feel for you, buddy.