German Detective Squad Marin Gumi (じゃあまん探偵団 魔隣組) or simply Marin Gumi is the eighth entry in the Toei Fushigi Comedy Series, and doesn’t take the format one might immediately assume a show on the Toei Tokusatsu World Official channel. Rather than feature a masked superhero, this series sees a group of child detective challenge the great phantom thief Zigomar. So if you’re one of those people that tries to avoid heavy use of child actors in these shows turn away now, but if you’re up for another slice of zaniness in the way only Toei can provide then strap yourself in.
After opening with one of the catchiest opening themes I’ve heard in a while, we’re introduced to our as-of-yet unnamed detective group – Takashi, Toshikaze, Noboru, Genta and Kaori. The group are eager to prove themselves as detectives by capturing the great thief Zigomar, so Takashi’s uncle (a washed up mystery writer they affectionately call “Uncle Sherlock”) encourages them to issue him a challenge. Sending him the challenge via a balloon message was a good idea, but repeatedly insulting him whilst doing so probably wasn’t.
Following that some shenanigans occur that lead to accidentally breaking a shop display, and suddenly our young detectives are 100,000 yen out of pocket. Uncle Sherlock is short of cash too, so Takashi turns to his father for help. During their talk his dad reveals that he’s on the hunt for Zigomar too, and encourages his son to stop spending time with his uncle. Apparently Uncle Sherlock used to be a genius scientist, but all of sudden turned his attention to “hack writing”. Very suspicious…
Zigorot accepts the challenge of the young detectives, tipping them off to his next big heist as well as kindly pointing out all the spelling mistakes in their letter. Zigorot plans to steal 300 million yen from the president of a shady loan company, and not long after Takashi’s father also arrives on the scene. The loan shark isn’t too worried about Zigorot’s threat though, revealing an his money isn’t just guarded by armed guards but also electric catfish able to generate up to 100,000 volts. Of course, after admitted to all this is where things start quickly going downhill.
Up until this point I’d be cruising through the episode with minimal interest but Zigomar arriving on the scene really gave it a much needed boost. The guy is an absolute legend, not just stealing the money with little no effort but even making a meal out of the electric guard-fish for good measure. It was by far the best joke of the whole episode, and immediately sold Zigomar as an effortless badass. The costume is just perfect for a gaudy phantom thief too, complete with glittery cape and an expressionless mask concealing his identity. I couldn’t care less about the misadventures of Toei’s Famous Five, but I want to see more of him.
Dude’s so cocky he even gives the budding the detectives the 100,000 yen they need to pay off their debt, because that’s just pocket change to him. A disgruntled Takashi takes the money, and Zigomar warns that he’ll be setting them trials going forward. Zigomar rides off into the moonlight, leaving the children to wonder just who the mystery man is.
So that’s Marin Gumi. I’m a little disappointed that one episode in they’ve already STRONGLY hinted at who it is behind that mask, but if Zigomar is as fun in future episodes as he was here then the show definitely has promise. This looks to be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to craziness too, as the next episode is set to reveal the detectives’ submarine base. If the opening footage is anything to go by said submarine can fly too! It’s never a dull moment with Toei.
You can now find Marin Gumi, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.