Junketsu no Maria continues to entertain with its unique blend of grounded medieval conflict, diverse multi-faith pantheon of deities weighing in on the state of the earthly plain, and a soft-touch ecchi vibe.
Even though the blushing, teen-angst lovey-dovey plot for Maria’s loins is never far from the front, the depth and complexity of the world around her, and the sincerity of the people who populate it, really elevates JnK to an unusually high level.
To sum up the story: Joseph puts ethics before faith and actually wins his argument with Arch Angel Michael. It’s a wonderful scene because, to me, it’s so open to interpretation. Was Joseph’s “faith” that doing the right thing must be godly, therefore Maria must be godly, enough to sway God and get Michael to stand down?
Whatever the reason, Michael beams down Ezekiel to follow Maria and ensure that she behaves. If not, or if she loses her virginity, she will lose her powers.
Ezekiel is immediately outclassed by Maria’s familiars, who find ‘her’ pompous and easy to provoke into revealing too much information. On this last point, Maria learns that Michael is too busy to pay attention to her at all times, and thus is largely able to continue her work to thwart battles.
As an adorable side note, Ezekiel is like the other familiars, in that she is often in bird form. While she is also white, it’s easy to identify her from the Artemis and Priapus by her slim profile and giant cross on her chest. Not subtle but it works.
Rounding out the new characters this week is Bernard, who’s an interestingly pragmatic monk and beekeeper. While he initially offers Maria salvation and is disappointed that she won’t take it, he’s not especially surprised nor over-the-top outraged by it.
Rather, he sees her defense of urban areas and the peasants as useful and not worth pursuit. Not unless she truly gets in the churches way directly.
Above all, Bernard has the same authentic vibe going for him that much of JnK does and I greatly appreciate his addition. He’ll be an enemy, sure, but there’s nothing pure evil or laughing-madman about him.
He’s just a guy, a deeply devout guy, who has several objectives that must be accomplished any way he can. In many ways, he’s exactly what A/Z’s Slaine seems to have become, but without all the red herrings along the way.
The episode ends with yet another deity showing up to talk with Maria and, like all the rest, this one is pretty sure Maria’s goals are impossible to achieve. People suck and kill each other. They always have and always will.
Again, like the Valkaries last week, JnK greatly benefits by showing that more than Christianity is going on. What makes it even more interesting, though, is that the Non-Christians don’t disagree with the Christians about Maria. She’s no herald for another side. She truly is her own side, her own person, and that freedom is what sets her apart from the setting and the time.
I really look forward to how this develops. Even with the eye-rolling ecchi asides, I don’t remember the last show that had this much nuance and precision, within pseudo-history, without feeling agenda-ized or gross. Good job, JnK. Good job!