Like last week, Junketsu no Maria felt like two acts that didn’t effectively connect at the middle. In the first, Ezekiel remains a blustery joke and everyone else is too busy hanging around doing nothing, introducing themselves to characters they haven’t met yet, or buying a hat.
Stuff just sort of happens and, while it needs to happen for logistical reasons, it doesn’t project an emotional center or make character agendas that much clearer.
The second half features a large scale battle, and a large scale battle inside Maria’s heart. She’s been asked not to intercede by Joseph (and pretty much everyone else) and Galif has told her that he has been tasked with killing her if she does get involved.
Maria doesn’t know yet, but Ezekiel has been told to kill her too by the ever simple minded Michael. However, Ann’s father has been conscripted again — as has Joseph — so she’s deeply torn.
The best moment: is when Galif reports back to Bernard that Ezekiel says Maria is a virgin and that she will lose her powers if she ever is not. Sure, this is ‘crazy face’ they way I normally hate-on, but Bernard really pulls it off. He isn’t some over the top villain. He’s devout and the coincidences of Maria and the Virgin Marry are deeply unsettling to him.
He cries. He dances. He completely freaks out his assistant. This was the best, possibly only good use of crazy face in anime that I’ve ever seen.
So why an 8, again? Like last week, the two arcs just don’t gel. I was actually not enjoying the show’s offhanded baka-baka-baka cliche routine with Ezekiel at all and almost took a break until the half rolled around. It was just auto-piloty and conventional.
Related, Ezekiel herself remains a weird and confusing character. Why, the hell, did she spur Maria to go into battle? Ezekiel doesn’t want her to do it, doesn’t want to stop her either, and knows the consequences. It just didn’t make sense to me.
The only other note this week was Edwine’s introduction. It was a tiny one but, since it expands on Viv’s reasons for being there (and implies that Viv is in contact with Bernard because she has the apple cider) it’s worth keeping an eye on.
That said, it really was micro short and… I don’t even know what gender Edwine is supposed to be due to the character design? The answer to that will have obvious implications.