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Junketsu no Maria – The Trials of a Witch


Father, Mother, Child.

War & Peace:

Junketsu no Maria was a simple tale, but there were several themes that it explored during its run – all of them to some degree of success. From the offset, it was clear that Maria did not stand for violence, and would do everything she could to prevent it, even at the cost of her powers, or her life. I wondered if she was going to go on a journey where she accepted the realities of war and learned to live with the fact, but that wasn’t the route we took, and I think that was for the best. Maria’s intentions were pure, the friends she made were genuine, and the trials she went through for her cause were at times painful to watch. I liked that the sense of idealism never left her, and in turn prevented the series from ever being too dark or cruel just for the sake of it.

As someone who also abhors war and violence, I was happy to see Maria’s stance on it continue from start to end, resulting in a finale that was much more positive than even I anticipated. I was waiting for something tragic to happen, but it didn’t. So whilst I’m happy about that, I also could have done with a little more. Still, what we got was well well-intended, and provided a fair (albeit simplistic, due to Maria’s nature) look at war, and the atrocities it brings. We saw fight after fight, and whilst Production I.G did a great job at making them seem impressive and large, it always felt wrong – for me, at least. Maria may not have understood all the realities of the world, but she wanted to do the right thing, and in the end it paid off.

Love & Sex:

Maria’s virginity is one of the most prevalent theme, providing numerous gags for her loveable companions to poke fun at the fact. It was another side to the story that helped the series remain a positive experience… for the most part. There were times when sex went hand-in-hand with war, and was used as a weapon against Maria. Rape and anime don’t always go well together, with many series using it for plot connivence, or showing that the creators behind the work don’t really think much of it, or care much for the victims. Thankfully, it never got that bad here. There were times when the threats of violence were seriously uncomfortable to watch, especially since it was more ‘accepted’, you could say, in that time. I’m just glad it never actually happened, but I’m still not too pleased about it being implied for so long.

I have to touch upon Joseph as well. It was obvious from the start how this was going to play out between him and Maria, but did that make it a chore to watch? Hell no. Their relationship was a slow burner, and the reward was worth it. Their interactions were always cute, and the fact that Ezekiel sealed the deal in the end was a fitting farewell. Having her reborn as their future child isn’t something I saw coming, but I’m glad it’s how the story ended.

Witches & Humans:

And also Gods. Getting to see the perspective of these three sides was a bonus, instead of forcing a narrative that paints one as being ‘the right one’ and the other two being cast as villains. I enjoyed the characters that we saw on all sides: the opinions of the villagers were important, and contrasted well with the intentions of the church when it came to Maria’s actions; the gods were the lynchpin that the series needed, keeping everything in balance and adding a nice element of fantasy to the world; the witches, though, were possibly my favourite side of the story. Even if certain characters in the series thought of them as sinful, I liked that the got to see different sides to them, from their happiness when they hung out together, to the incredible powers that they wielded in battle. Everyone in this story was important, wherever their intentions lied, and I appreciated that. Junketsu no Maria turned out to be a pretty damn good anime, with a bunch of likeable characters, a nice balance of religion and magic, and to top it off, a happy ending!

March 29, 2015 at 11:47 am
38 comments »
  • March 29, 2015 at 12:01 pmDoubtful Thomas

    The anime was interesting, but I could never really get behind Maria’s “I’m gonna to things my way and if you don’t like it, I’ll force you because I can” attitude. She may have had a good cause, but trying to force your ideals on people is not something that really works, and clearly it wouldn’t have worked out well here either, if not for the plot armor that averted the worst eventuality for her.

    • March 29, 2015 at 12:20 pmSamu

      I agree that she was naive when it came to understanding the effects of what she was doing, but for me that made her more likeable as a character. It’s easy for us to look on with full perspective and knowledge of the history of war, so I don’t blame Maria all that much. I’m still a little surprised that she accepted turning into a human at the end, so I suppose she grew out of that mentality, if only a little.

      • March 29, 2015 at 1:23 pmDoubtful Thomas

        Actually for me the issue was not even so much that she lacked a big picture perspective, it was that she was actually quite arrogant in a way, and with a “my way or the highway” psychology like that, you always have to worry about what such a person might do with their supernatural power in the future.

        I’m probably overthinking this, but I can’t easily take off my thinking cap just because an anime expects me to be in full idealism mode while watching it. I mean, Michael was never telling her to not use magic or to not do good, just to refrain from forcing her will on others on a large scale through supernatural means. I know many people think he was a dick to go after the nice witch who just wanted to prevent people from killing one another, but from his point of view she was a willful repeat offender in robbing many people of their God-given free will via highly illegal means.

    • March 29, 2015 at 1:17 pmMgMaster

      Pretty much my thoughts on Junketsu no Maria. To that end, I’m somewhat disappoint with the direction the last few episodes took, mainly because I was expecting Maria to shed some of that idealism aside and just proceed to follow her happiness with Joseph. However, that’s what happened anyway and even if Maria claim’s that she’ll continue trying to stop wars, that’s not gonna happen without her powers. Michael played his cards well here and that’s perfectly fine. No wonder the guy was laughing at the end. I imagine him having a “keikaku dori” moment right there.

      Good show overall although I don’t know if I can consider it a hidden gem of winter as I thought in the 1st few episodes anymore. For all the dilemmas Maria & Joseph were presented with initially, they weren’t thoroughly explored. Other characters such as the other witches didn’t really share their thoughts too much with Maria about what she’s doing, which would’ve been interesting to see.

      Maybe my expectations were a bit too high after the 1st few episodes. Maybe because I’m a big fan of the Witcher game series when it comes to exploring themes of idealism, wars, religion & individuals with supernatural abilities such as mages, witches and their part in the world.

      Nevertheless I really enjoyed Junketsu no Maria and accept the tale it wanted to tell, which it did right. I just thought it could do a bit more :P

  • March 29, 2015 at 12:27 pmWorldwideDepp

    Yes, This Anime is also one that will remain strong in my Memories. Lucky they chose wise words for Arc Angel Michael. because what he could say about this Anime version God here, can also affect todays Faith. All other things was History. With the Destroying of the last England City on France ground with Trees, they show that this Anime is about Fantasy and not accurate infos and thinking of today Church

    They even go there, and separate Earth Church and Heaven Church

    I think the idea of our Monk,that turned into dust, was the first steps of Atheism. A World without Gods and Angels. Only for the Humans. Well here the sin was that he wanted to suffocate the Arc Angel in his rage (look at his Eyes).. Not a wise decision

    In the End (in my Eyes) Maria was “allowed” to live in the Neighborhood, because she was not thinking herself as an God and used her Power not for Sins. She used it for one that are even God’s rules. You should not Kill… So if here the Anime God would decide to Kill her because of her action, i would felled awkward for me. With the Angel getting his own Will, did she classified as being Human?

    overall: 10+/10

    • March 29, 2015 at 12:35 pmWorldwideDepp

      offtopic: I am happy, that the Anime do not gave this Anime God a face. It is also a rule of today’s God

      They can use the Human face of Jesus. Like you saw in Shirobako as an Manga-ka God, and other Angels. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image”. even if some ancient Painters like Michelangelo draw him as an Old Man with white Beard

    • March 29, 2015 at 1:04 pmcreaothceann

      GermanGuy, is that you again?

      • March 29, 2015 at 1:15 pmWorldwideDepp

        Did someone called the Spanish Inquisition? Burn her!!!

  • March 29, 2015 at 12:42 pmErimaki

    I thought the last episode would have a huge, epic fight where Michael’s arse was handed to him (if it’s a him, I was never quite sure despite the name). Instead we got the Archangel doing a door-to-door survey on everyone’s opinion on Maria.
    I prefer how things actually went, because it felt more believable in this setting. Besides, Martha and Ann’s comments made the episode for me.

    I thought for most of the time that the narrator was Ann. Then the last episode made me convinced it was either Maria or Ezekiel telling their family history to their grandchildren. Turns out it was Ann after all…

    • March 29, 2015 at 12:43 pmErimaki

      Oh, right.
      I’ve always thought that people during Middle Ages should have taken clerical preaching with more grain of salt, but Bernard went a bit too far. Poor guy, even if he was easy to hate.

      • March 29, 2015 at 1:05 pmcreaothceann

        clerical preaching with more grain of salt

        heh.

  • March 29, 2015 at 12:47 pmPancakes

    Junketsu no Maria is IMO a contender for black horse of the season, the show was simple, cute, and quite entertaining; grew to look forward to Sundays because of it. Although there were noticeable areas that could have been elaborated upon (notably in terms of the other witches and the church), Junketsu was helped by keeping a streamlined story and wrapping things nicely up here in the last episode.

    Although not likely of interest to most others, best part for me had to be the philosophical torment of Bernard during the interrogation of Maria. Not often you get a show (and an anime at that) succinctly showcase in a few minutes what took the Christian world some ~800 years to properly synthesize: the merger of classical Greek thought with Christian dogma, cherry topped with the role of God and man in the kingdom of men. That scene combined with the accurate portrayal of medieval weaponry and (somewhat) tactics made the show for me.

  • March 29, 2015 at 12:52 pmGyabo

    This was one of my favourite shows of the season. It went a bit downhill during the last 3 episodes, but I still feel overwhelmingly positive about the series. The ending felt a bit too simple and convenient to me, but it’s definitely not the worst we could’ve gotten.
    Also: really glad we got to see Edwina kickin’ ass in these last few eps. She’s lethargic and unpracticed, but that didn’t make it any less fun to watch her use her magic.

    This series was so far off my radar when the season started–and I don’t even remember what put it back on my radar in the first place–but I’m so glad I watched it in the end.

  • March 29, 2015 at 1:34 pm8

    Best cat of the season!

  • March 29, 2015 at 3:00 pmzztop

    Manga readers have confirmed the anime isn’t a panel-by-panel adaptation. Events have been rearranged, rewritten or omitted to form a more cohesive plot. (The manga was lacking in that aspect.)

    Other differences:
    1) Bernard and Garfa are not in the manga. The manga has priests critical of Maria, but they’re more faceless, nameless characters.

    2)Priapus looks older in the manga, around Josef’s age. He doesn’t wear shorts, only conveniently placed leather belts. O__o

    • March 29, 2015 at 6:57 pmMgMaster

      Bernard and Garfa are not in the manga. The manga has priests critical of Maria, but they’re more faceless, nameless characters.

      T’was a great thing they did with the adaptation by adding them then. They both added to the series in their own way.

      In the case of Bernard, I actually feel sorry for him turning into salt. As a few people mentioned on reddit:

      He had the right idea in using the belief of God for humans to believe in themselves, thus using religion as a catalyst for self-reliance and self-improvement. Dude was ahead of his time. He tried to let Maria integrate into the church’s law well before Michael came around. He actually listened to what she had to say and allowed that to change his beliefs, unlike everyone else who just talked past her. He figured out a more modern interpretation of theology all on his own.

      But he should’ve dialed it down a bit, take a step back. Most of all, he shouldn’t have called an archangel obsolete then trying to choke him…

  • March 29, 2015 at 4:52 pmHelghastKillzone

    Worst ending of the season.

    Priapus didn’t get a dick.

    • March 29, 2015 at 5:41 pmIgniteous

      In my opinion, of all of the comments in recent history, this one is the best. Thumbs up!

    • March 29, 2015 at 7:16 pmMgMaster

      I demand an OVA now.

      • March 29, 2015 at 7:41 pmHelghastKillzone

        You demand the D.

    • March 29, 2015 at 11:54 pmewok40k

      he went back to being owl anyway?

      • April 1, 2015 at 5:05 pmScruffy

        Which means he still doesn’t get a dick as Owls like most birds have Cloacas instead!

  • March 29, 2015 at 7:59 pmReikakou

    Love the happy ending. Great series to rinse off that bitter taste from the A/Z ending.

  • March 29, 2015 at 10:15 pmzztop

    Mmm…salty.

  • March 29, 2015 at 11:59 pmewok40k

    Very interesting anime, definitely team has done its research on medieval times and it shows. Plus the cast was likeable and interesting, even the antagonists – Bernard was quite pragmatic in his willingness to use witch-produced medicines to help villagers, and ironically died the ultimate heretic himself. Galfa has been quite the asshole, but had his good moments too. Hope Lotti takes good care of him.

  • March 30, 2015 at 1:34 amhwighting

    so in the end, maria has galfa’s kid after he rapes her. good ending.

    • March 30, 2015 at 3:00 amReikakou

      Wait what? Maria wasn’t even raped nor was that ‘device’ ruined her virginity. She was simply battered by Galfa and before he could do the deed, he finally noticed that Maria already lost her powers.

      Ezekiel will be her child once she gets laid by Joseph. Wow… Maria (Mary) with her husband Joseph and Baby Jesus (AKA Ezekiel).

      • March 30, 2015 at 11:24 pmhwighting

        she can only lose her power if she loses her virginity. that’s the only condition for that to happen. she did not just lose it on a whim.

      • March 31, 2015 at 1:32 amReikakou

        @hwighting

        Ah no. She will also loose her power when people stops believing on her as well which was prevalent during that scene as Bernard started to assassinate her character among the villagers.

        Later, it was established that she only temporarilly lost her powers since her familiar can still transform. And if she actually lost her powers, then she could not have summoned a big ass three and several abomination in the town where Joseph was.

        And at the finale, the reason why Maria hesitated to accept Ezekiel at first is because doing so means she’ll lose her virginity by mating with Joseph along with her witch powers as well.

    • April 2, 2015 at 3:55 amMormegil

      Were you paying attention…at all?

  • March 30, 2015 at 7:52 amKling_Klang

    One small thing that I never figured out. The other witches keep saying that they are earning gold because of the wars, but all that we ever see them doing is hovering on their brooms and watching the battles. Did I miss something?

    • March 30, 2015 at 8:53 amWorldwideDepp

      Their Succubus…

      • April 1, 2015 at 12:23 pmWorldwideDepp

        I mean, the England Witch was s Horny of young men, that she even stole someone from a other Witch Succubus at work… You saw some seconds of that. And i bet they receiver payment for their Services…

        And other things, like selling Medicine and such. Well we only saw maria, and a bit of the English Witch. We could not say if they use their Powers only for the Light side… a Witch can be a good one, or a bad one, or all in between in old Stories, or just selling their Service for Money with out care for what purpose they use it

        So, there they made their Gold. Like the Mechaneries killed the Enemy’s of their Customers

  • March 30, 2015 at 9:38 amSelpheed

    Well, what I have to say is that this anime was a pleasant surprise. A complex plot about faith and religion. Very good.

  • March 30, 2015 at 5:16 pmHochmeister

    It was good. Could have elaborated on the philosophical themes some more, as well as the background of the world (where do Maria’s powers come from? Why does the Christian God exist with all the others? etc…) however. In the end I’m left wondering what it’s central message is, since none of the many philosophical debates it brought up were really resolved. Have sex and babies to raise the birthrate perhaps? Other than that, the plot was great, the characters loveable, and the medieval combat and style the most realistic I’ve ever seen in anime. Solid 8/10.

  • April 1, 2015 at 7:32 amThundershock81

    Great series! This show went completely off my radar going into this season but im glad I watched it – I knew from episode 1 I was going to enjoy it. Such a well balanced cast with a cheeky / naughty sense of humour doesnt come around as often as it should.

    Definitely one of my top 3 of the season!

  • April 3, 2015 at 9:29 amAozora

    Every series NOT featuring cute girls doing cute things (in a harem with a dumb male protagonist) is a good series. Maria, you rocked!

  • May 8, 2015 at 5:55 amImpel Down Hippo

    Even though I sorta stopped watching it and picked up late, this still was a very memorable series.

    With the narration by Ann, the old gods, and the themes involved, it really felt like a Miyazaki scripted series, or the tv version of Princess Mononoke, but with witches. And that ending with Ezekiel just about brought a tear to my my eye. All in all, a surprisingly great series.