First Look: The Marginal Service

Anime original by Studio 3Hz
Streaming on Crunchyroll


In an alternate universe Japan, the Marginal Service arm of the Bureau of Immigration handles supernatural crime from “Borderlanders”: dangerous nonhumans who hide in our midst. They do this with construction-themed equipment and explosives.

Iro’s verdict: Immigration Sentai Marginalger

I was really bored and unimpressed by this for the first 18 or 19 minutes until it revealed its true form as a Super Sentai knockoff. Of course! A team of one-note goons in colored suits! Two disparate aesthetics smashed together in a totally illogical manner! A pointlessly ugly mascot! The cherry on top was the 90s-era fighting game announcer during the roll call, which made me genuinely laugh out loud. However, The Marginal Service has only earned another one or two episodes from me. Being in live-action gives actual Sentai a campy charm that anime simply lacks unless it’s willing to really commit to the bit like Birdie Wing, and most of this premiere was a little too po-faced for my liking. Kick it up a notch.

Artemis’ verdict: This Is a Comedy… Right? Right??

If you’re looking for some brilliant comedy of the “this is how Japan apparently thinks American-style law enforcement works” persuasion, boy are you in for a real treat. From the cliché rebellious cop who shows up hungover to every job to the character names (this takes place in Japan, but our first two named characters are Danny Grab and Brian Nightraider), Marginal Service is like if Japan’s version of Men in Black had a baby with a ragtag super sentai group. For me, the pièce de resistance was when, in the final couple of minutes of the episode, every main character flashed across the screen with their name, each of which was announced like some kind of wrestling match card: BOLTS DEXTER! LYRA CANDEYHEART! PECK DESMONT! Mind you, up until around that point, I wasn’t convinced Marginal Service was actually meant to function as a comedy. And I’m still only like 95% sure even now. Everything is just played so completely straight-faced that it’s honestly hard to tell, particularly in the premiere’s first half, and either way, I would have loved to have seen that same crazy dumb energy throughout the whole thing. I’ll definitely be tuning in next week to see what’s up, but yeah, I’m only in if the show can provide these kinds of laughs, intentionally or not, consistently throughout its run.

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