I used to complain (and still do) that anime was always about the future, but this one, “Junketsu No Maria” (“Maria the Virgin Witch”) takes place in the past, the far past, like the Hundred Years War past (1337 to 1453). I think this one takes place during the Caroline War segment of it, so we can put it between 1369 and 1389. Above us is Maria the Witch (and her two familiars in their owl form, left to right, Priapos and Artemus). She helps the people of the nearby village with medicines and other kind of support.
For the most part, the church tolerates her (barely), but when war comes to this part of the world, she gets on her broom and conjures up spirits to send the English packing. Well, this does not bode well for her, either with the Church or with God. No, He doesn’t make an appearance. Besides, who would do the voice? Chris Ayres? Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Seriously, Archangel Michael comes down to threaten Maria not to use her magic in public, as it is an affront against God. He sends a minion of his to watch over her, Ezekiel, a rather slight girl, to do what she has to do to stop Maria, up to and including dispatching her, if necessary.
Here is where we run into one of the puzzlers of the series: Maria uses her magic to stop the war, but God is angry about this and would rather have mankind slaughter each other on the plains of Brittany, and with the full support of the local church. But the people who know Maria, like Joseph and Anne, understand her kind heart and caring nature and are perplexed by these stands against her. And understand she’s not turning people into newts or shagging trees under the pale light of the harvest moon or even making gingerbread houses to trap unsuspecting children. She doesn’t like war and wants it to go. That just does not float with us. Burn the witch!
The series follows her efforts to stop this war, as least in the nearby vicinity, and the church’s effort to neutralize her. Sure, they would rather not kill her (although they try), but if she loses her virginity, her magical powers go kaput as well. I liked the attempt to do something historical in an anime and elsewhere than Japan, but it doesn’t work too well. It’s hard to understand 14th Century sensibilities and translate them with 21st Century ideas and ideals. It’s also hard to reconcile the “God wants war” approach that the show embraced. Plus, although not seen in this shot, Maria wears a very provocative outfit, set more for the club scene of the 1970s and not the 1370s. And her familiars are succubus and incubus, so Artemus wears a shockingly revealing uniform, not much more that cloth bands across the goodies.
These little irritations should not detract from an interesting show. OK, the titles are in Latin (but they translate for those of us that didn’t have a classical education) and there is a strong degree of violence and death, but I think it does help the show along. And those of faith come off as pompous, but I rarely see religious figures portrayed any differently. They aren’t one-dimensional, but certainly if these are learned men, they need more training in, like, tolerance and acceptance of others. Naaaaah. Oh, and the overall conclusion bespeaks of a second season, as the whole kerfluffle hasn’t been resolved, merely a change in some of the players.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (There is something wrong with the eyes)
Plot 8 (An interesting take on things)
Pacing 7 (Moves along consistently)
Effectiveness 7 (Some folks are too cartoony in attitudes)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 5 (A similar show would be “Maburaho”)
Overall 7 (A good try that falls short in areas)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Exuro veneficus!