Junketsu no Maria threw some interesting punches this week. The most important of which was establishing that Maria is now in over her head with Archangel Michael via her ‘disruption of the natural order,’ which appears to be ‘people are murderous jerks.’
Some ho-hum ecchi jokes aside, it was actually a solid bit of fantasy / magical / medieval story telling and well worth your time to view.
From last week, Maria continues to use Artemis’ seductive powers to coerce the various lords and military commanders to avoid direct conflict. This round spares the French, who are marginally thankful albeit chalking Maria’s impact on the war as a conduit of God but still deserving her a place on a burning stake.
Tragically, Artemis encounters a homosexual commander (and his young male lover) and is unable to fully control the front…which leads to a slightly cringey sequence of events that result in the creation of an incubus (male naughty demon) from another owl of the forest.
Why cringey? Well… anime does not always handle male homosexuality with the most tasteful of touches and, while Priapus’ first encounter with it (via a raucous beef-pile who’s only concern is if Priapus has a ‘hole’) is short and PG, it is still played for laughs in the ‘haha that man likes boy-butts’ way.
Not that I should expect nuance from JnM in general, nor really from the time period it is set in. It just feels like a missed opportunity, since the show is already taking an interesting anti-period stance on conflict, and giving a rather detailed and authentic treatment to its combat and religious political factions.
At least the exit joke is that Maria blows up the BL scenes by creating a wide-headed serpent and shooting straight up into the air. Visually smirk-worthy and, better, leads to the heavens slashing the serpent through the clouds and leading everyone but Maria to realize her freedom to influence the world is about up.
Then Maria has to save Ann’s town from mercenaries and Michael shows up and outclasses her in every way…except compassion.
The Good: Another week, another good-looking, authentic-feeling episode. Seeing Valkyries, Maria confirming the 6-day creation story as a curse, and the various signs from heaven all round out the metaphysics nicely.
And Joseph…just…Wow? For a guy who was understandably nervous about getting killed on the battlefield last week, he’s got quite the pair of stones to fire an arrow into Archangel Michael’s back!
The Not As Good: Honestly? JnM had no major shortcomings this week. I don’t think that much of the humor, and Maria herself can be a bit pedantic, and we didn’t get to see the other witches, but the story flowed well and advanced the plot effectively.
Verdict: I’m not claiming Junkestu no Maria is the best thing ever, or even especially remarkable, but it’s a decent show that feels like it took some risks. Above all, I find its treatment of the period refreshing and the animation less rigid than most.
There’s a sincerity to the story, which seems contradictory to an ecchi power fantasy action romp, but the characters could just as easily have a steampunk or over-the-top design like Chiaka, and it would not work as well. So give it a watch. You should know if you want more, once you finish the first two episodes.