OP: 「Quiet explosion」 by Miyano Mamoru
「革ジャンは滑りやすい」 (Kawajan wa Suberi Yasui)
“Leather Jacket Is Slippery”
The Marginal Service moves in silence to take aim at extraterrestrial violence as this crime drama explores a secret government department designed to investigate supernatural immigrants known as Borderlanders. While its advertising was vague enough to force you to go into the show with little expectation,
THE FIRST, LAST, AND ONLY LINE OF DEFENSE
Brian’s assimilation into the Marginal Service has the standard detective show premise of being his foot-in-the-door back into criminal investigation after a snafu costs him his partner and his job. One drinking problem later and he gets a letter for the Marginal Service section of the Immigration Department to investigate Borderlanders who are either immigrating to the country with assimilation in mind or are peddling a new mushroom drug to buy weapons and feed into every anti-immigration talking point that’s ever been used to scare an elderly person. The Men in Black parallels arrive in both Brian’s introduction to the world of the occult and the uncomfortable implications of outsiders coming in to do no good.
I am a bit skeptical about the themes the show is going with given the elephant in the room when it comes to crime-fighting stories focused on immigration. Having supernatural creatures represent immigrants can often lead to uncomfortable implications about the intentions of someone immigrating, as shown in the Men in Black stories. Having all of the Borderlanders be investigated for links to drugs or criminal activity is the kind of sentiment that would have viewers connect the dots that they were never meant to be seen as innocent or as adjacent to humanity.
OLD AND BUSTED, NEW HOTNESS
The Marginal Service’s diverse cast seems like a way the show rectifies this by having human immigrants make up the backbone of the agency. And to its credit, Zeno tries to dispel this by saying that Borderlanders would be as susceptible to crime as humans can be. But it’s easy to be wary about media that could potentially default to having Borderlanders be all evil so that there are more action setpieces to distract from the idea that they’re automatically being seen as a threat.
I can tell that they want the show to have some workplace comedy given the clever rapport between the Marginal Service members, and the bickering between Brian and Zeno. Zeno got in a good dig when he responded to Brian’s backstory by parking in front of a therapist. From what I can tell, it feels like it’d fit right in with a show like Tiger & Bunny or Double Decker! Doug and Kirill as another wacky crime-fighting adventure with an ensemble cast of engaging characters.
The Marginal Service as an organization is a bit odd because it’s still a very new department. As such, there’s a ton of ambiguity as to what they really do. Yeah, they “investigate” Borderlanders, but they don’t exactly have a general idea of what their investigation entails. For the most part, they’re flipping a coin on whether a given Borderlander is a normal citizen or a criminal, but it’s as much of a roll of the dice as anything at the moment.
Genzo seemed to have his own vested interest in fighting Brian and the other Marginal Service crew purely out of their personal vendetta against each other. The most obvious conclusion would be that Genzo was involved in Danny’s death and the events leading to Brian’s firing. But I suppose we’ll find out soon if he truly was meant to be investigated or if there were other Borderlanders they were meant to look into before Brian picked a fight with his old boss.
Now that The Marginal Service is finally out after a good month or two of trying to sell the anime with sex appeal, there’s only one word to describe the show; underwhelming. The drama felt like anything you could find in a standard cop show, the action so far has mostly focused on how many machine gun bullets or rockets can take down a constantly regenerating Borderlander, and their best attempt at being funny was adding in workplace banter into the mix.