In the year 2999, only eleven cities still survive on Earth. The climate has changed drastically, and a biochemical apocalypse has made women extinct. For centuries, the male population of Earth has survived by depending on only one woman, called the Holy Mother, whose ova are harvested to create genetically engineered children. By now, any concept of a world in which women exist as ordinary people is long gone. Society has re-structured itself around all-male families, and gay relationships have become the norm.
At the beginning of Marginal, the Holy Mother is assassinated by a terrorist known as Grinja. The government in power doesn't want to start a mass panic, so it pretends that the Holy Mother has only shed her vessel, and that she will be miraculously "reborn" in the near future. The public, which is superstitious and devout, believes this easily. Only government officials know that behind the scenes, there is a frantic effort to create a new being with an XXY chromosome -- a male capable of giving birth. (This is a BL misrepresentation of an actual phenomenon known as Klinefelter's Syndrome.)
The manga's story revolves around one such boy -- Kira, the product of a genetic experiment, who becomes involved in a three-way relationship with Grinja, the aforementioned terrorist, and Ashijin, a young man who calls himself Kira's owner. A complex plot and flawless world-building make the story irresistible, and Kira's search for freedom is as symbolic as it is gripping.
If I could use one word to summarize this series, it would be “potential”. Out of habit, when I come across a work with shounen-ai genre I assume it will follow the more usual pattern of centering to the main characters and their romantic problems, but I could not be more (happily) wrong about this case. It has built a big world and uses it to showcase the deeper plot, which is also its shortcoming as I feel this was not executed well in the span of just 24 chapters.
So, what is really the goal of this work? It tries to explore many ideas and
how they all tie in with Kira, a child of dreams, as the centerpiece in most cases. There are basically 2 sides to this story; the normal citizens who had been idly living their lives, along with Kira and the people responsible for Mother in the Center who know all the secrets the world has to offer. Each side is moving forward trying to solve their problems, until they reach a point their paths meet each other’s.
At first, everything is simple enough, but everything spirals out of control the more we learn about each side and it starts to squeeze together a lot of information, as well as ideas. Religion, science, existential questions, desires, morality, supernatural phenomena, the potential of human nature and similar other meanings try to blend in together and some of them just get the short end of the stick with some jumbled up explanation or sometimes no explanation at all or giving less focus where there should be more. Everything happens too fast after some point and there is not enough time for everything. I guess some people can like this vagueness, but I would prefer something more solid. I even have mixed feelings about the ending, really. However, it is highly interesting to see how life is handled, how each person values it differently and how people change when they are forced to partake in life changing events and knowledge. It also contains various male romantic relationships, but they serve a greater purpose, as the focus is not on the romance but the bonds between them, how one reacts to another and the results of their actions. Yet, I will not deny that some scenes are cute.
Kira himself, is an innocent young boy with a memory loss and, metaphorically, he is a blank canvas waiting to be painted upon. After his meeting with Grinja, a terrorist with no real malice in heart, and Ashijin, a random traveler that happened to buy him and feel overly attached to him, he starts learning about the world around him and slowly recover his memories and what his purpose in life is. His development is quite great since he starts as a lost boy and slowly starts to decide for himself, although he does not care much about his surroundings, as long as things get done.
Grinja and Ashijin are pulled into his life, yearning romantically for him, and consequently, the city’s problems, not knowing they got involved deeper than what they bargained for. They both deal with major changes that forces them to see the world in a different light and while they do not have the development of Kira, they have expanded their thinking. I would like to have seen more, nonetheless.
Mainly, the Center’s people are working behind the scenes to keep the world stable without any rebellion, even if that means dubious means to reach their goal. But the status quo is hard to keep when individuals start thinking otherwise. Ideals, beliefs and reality clash in this side as it strives for a better tomorrow (or in some cases, no tomorrow at all). There are enough interesting characters in this side, though unfortunately some of them are just not properly elaborated, leaving some question marks up in the air about their true desires and their actions.
The art is very detailed for ‘80s manga, there is a wealth of cultural references and the way they are dressed is carefully chosen. Every character is hard to confuse with another and even their facial expressions are more to the unique side, at least for the cast that appears more often. The backgrounds are pretty simple drawings; even in more complicated environments it doesn’t feel all that deep, but it is not noticeable. There are exceptions to this as some double pages really do look wonderful. I could say that half the characters look rather too cute and feminine, but generally there is a variation between them.
I really wanted to enjoy this more than I did, I just felt it had much more to give and this was done sloppily at some parts, especially towards the end. This is why I can only say that this had great potential, but did not fully exploited it. Again, very interesting, but not close to a great story the way it is now.
I've been on this website for years but this is my very first review, so please cope with me. I simply HAD TO write this review - while restlessly waiting for new chapters to be released.
I've never been a huge fan of old manga (expecially shounen-ai or the likes from '80s and early '90s) but this is the greatest exception.
The themes are strong: religion, doubt, acceptance of the different (the distrust between the desert tribes and the townsmen shows it all, also the fear of the dijins), of own-self and of phisical-psycological changes, and then (not less important) rape (which is regarded as "normal" until
Kira shows how much he loves Grinja and how passionately he wants ONLY HIM).
The art is simply stunning, detailed, every character is peculiar and interesting with their own physiognomy, goals and passion, the story becomes mesmerizing after two pages or so.
I really want to read the last missing chapters (and if the author made any other works I'll be sure to have a look at them, also. I hold great expectations right now.)
I would reccomment it to everyone, even if you're not a fan of BL genres.