Junketsu no Maria is a fantasy anime loosely based on the war between France and England. I use the term ‘loosely’ because there are honest to god witches in this anime.In fact, our main protagonist Maria, is a witch. However, unlike most witches, Maria is far more powerful and capable of near godly acts like summoning mythical creatures and terrifying beasts. Another trait that separates her from her kindred witches is that while they take advantage of the ongoing war to earn their keep, Maria boycotts them simply because she cannot stand it. It’s emphasized many times throughout the show that Maria really hates war, and will do whatever she can to stop it. Even if it means prolonging it.
The first episode starts off relatively slow, the show starting to introduce the titular characters of the story. It paints Maria in a rather humorous light following the events of the first scene, which clues the viewer in on what type of anime Junketsu no Maria was going to be. As the episode chugs on its merry way, we’re introduced to her ‘love interest’ a man called Joseph, who like Maria, is a virgin.
There are many moments where the more ‘experienced’ characters make fun of Maria’s virginal status – and while they might be insulting to some people, I personally found it hilarious. While it did border on the indecent, it never really bled over to the offensive side, which is great! Well…depending on whether you’d like that kind of thing of course.
Story wise, I feel that Junketsu no Maria did a OK job. The show does have some insightful and sad moments, but there was more than one occasion that Maria’s backstory seemed far more appealing than what was playing out before me. I wanted to know more about past Maria, about how she grew up alone in the woods, how her past experiences had shaped her into the woman she is today, and her friendship with Martha, who is now an old lady when Maria still looks as youthful as ever.
The story can be predictable, and after a while you come to expect that ‘x’ and ‘x’ will happen. To the anime’s credit though, it does manage to pull off some interesting plot twists that left me gawping at times. The only bone I have to pick (story wise) is the ending.
The ending kills off much of the dark, and somber tone that the story maintains throughout the 12 episodes, and while I’m relieved that nothing too terrible happened – I’m also disappointed that they took the easy route. I feel like the events that happened much earlier in the anime were cheapened and forgotten all for the sake of a neat and tidy ending with a red bow on top.
The fluctuating tone of the story is also another minus, since it gives out mixed signals and it constantly flip flops between a Disneyesque atmosphere and a dark, gritty one. Just make up your mind, dammit! I can safely say that the real meat of the show is the cast of flawed, and sometimes lovable characters that is presented to us.
Maria is interesting, but unfortunately she wasn’t fleshed out as well enough. From the start to the end, she can only be described as the witch who hates wars and will do everything in her power to stop it, and while that is fine and dandy – it makes her feel one feel extremely one dimensional. Yes, there were several parts of the anime where we’re given a glimpse into her psyche, those moments were few and far between,and were simply not enough. Strip the magic and the glamour away, and all we know of Maria is that she hates wars and is an overall nice gal who helps the people who scorn her.
While she did come to some sort of understanding in the end, I felt that it was pretty stupid. To me, it made little to zero sense considering that the things that she was forced to endure would not leave a person unscathed psychologically. Witch or no. The trope of ‘love’ is the most powerful weapon of all is a tiresome one indeed, and in my opinion it has no place in the world that Junketsu no Maria was built upon.
Joseph is lacklustre, as a character and as a love interest. The anime never tells us or even hints how he came to know Maria, only the fact that he was mildly interested in her at the beginning through some pretty awkward exchanges between the two. His dynamic with Galfa the mercenary however, is a brilliant.
Galfa is undoubtedly complex character though one has to look between the lines to see it. He is a cynical, bitter person, who has seen and experienced the ugliest sides of humanity. When put with Joseph, he shows a different sides of himself and he hates it. One can argue that he is a piece of shit human being (and I agree) but there is no denying that his mentality is borne from hardship, and that is what has enabled him to survive for as long as he did.
I do not agree with what Galfa attempts to do, or what he has done, but I can understand why he does it. Reality is cutthroat, a dog eat dog world, and Galfa is the perfect specimen and example of how to survive it.
Ezekiel on the other hand, is the perfect balance between Galfa and Maria. I think that she’s the most realistic character out of the entire cast and by far the most interesting to watch. She starts out as a character who is completely sure that the side she stands for is the best. However as the story goes on and her perspectives on the situation at hand grows out of that narrow mind-set she’s always had, Ezekiel begins to question her beliefs. She tries to help Maria the best she can. At first, because she is ordered to, but later, as someone who truly and genuinely cares about her.
Overall, Junketsu no Maria is a decent anime which has plenty of thought provoking themes but never really goes in depth about it. It was a pretty fun romp all things considered, and the small snippets of human nature and brutality is good brain food and will keep you thinking about it long after you’ve shut off your computer. Not much to say on the animation and music, except that it was ‘okay’. Nothing really jaw dropping or cringe worthy. Junketsu No Maria is worth a watch if you find yourself craving for something short to enjoy, or a story set in medieval times.