Junketsu no Maria – 12 (Fin)

jnm12_1

Junketsu no Maria closes with a story book ending. Maria and Joseph literally ‘live happily ever after,’ according to the narrator, all of the villains are punished and everyone who was nice along the way escapes without a scratch.

Maybe it was a little long winded and maybe it was a bit silly on the philosophy front but, over all, I found it satisfying and a thorough farewell to the cast.

jnm12_5

To sum up: Michael and Maria have their final show down but the action doesn’t last long. Even with the witches, the old gods, and Joseph all supporting her, Michael  is untouchable.

However, instead of killing team Maria, Michael psychically interviews all of the show’s side characters and ascertains that Maria is ultimately a good neighbor. Her opposition to conflict is so basic that he could even say she is part of the natural order now, which makes her out of his realm of responsibility.

jnm12_3

However, he can’t let Ezekiel’s regular opposition go unpunished and so he banishes her from heaven… to be reborn as Maria’s child. Similarly, Le Comte eventually accepts Joseph’s love for Maria, and accepts Maria herself I guess because he’s not a totally bad bad.

Meanwhile, Bernard loses his mind and tries to start a new religion … but explodes into a pile of sand when he freaks out at Michael during their psychic interview. Gilbert is emotionally scared by all of this but, as he’s not really been a figure for evil during the story, his punishment is limited to witnessing the explosion and having to burn Bernard’s documents after the fact.

Oh and Garfa gets nothing for his greed, other than some coins and to live.

jnm12_6

What didn’t work? Well… most of the dialog is gibberish. Not that a show of this complexity should be expected to weave a coherent philosophical explanation for itself but Maria dug its mumbo-jumbo hole pretty deep.

That said, presenting Maria’s narrative out as God accepting her as a ‘good neighbor’ was perfectly fine. It also gave a continued connection between Maria and Ann’s grandmother, and the village by extension.

jnm12_9

Maria was a very fun show to follow. Strangely, none of the grounded, historical tech and technique made it into the final episode but that’s besides the point. The finale was all about the characters and for us to see them off — and see them off happy.

And for all the darkness those characters endured along the way, thats the best, most cathartic way to leave them.

7_ogk

Advertisements

Junketsu no Maria – 11

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.21.15 PM

Picking up hot on last week’s tale, Edwina takes Maria to the battlefield and reveals that she was the source of paralysis gas (and Garfa’s arm). But the little details aren’t the point of this episode, even though there are a ton of gems sprinkled throughout.

No, the point of this episode is making sense of everyone’s feelings and bringing a close to the hostilities between France and England. At least, within geographic reach of Maria.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.26.40 PM

ignoring why Joseph is there in the first place, he makes a good point about Garfa: He’s the same as Maria. They are both strong, strong willed to the point of being stubborn, and use their strength to pursue the purpose they have assigned to their lives.

This does not go well and at last lends some coherent emotion to the nicely animated fight. (which, in the tradition of the show, is the opposite of over-the-top in rendering and style)

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.54.54 PM

Meanwhile Gilbert confronts Bernard about the witches medicine, which Bernard admits he knew he was using to help the people. Rules be damned, anything in the world can make the world a better place. (and to better the church’s position)

This declaration also doesn’t go well. However, unlike Garfa, Gilbert doesn’t try to run anyone through in a haze of frustration. That said, I get the feeling Bernard is about to get an unexpected smack down from the inquisition…

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.33.11 PM

Continuing to tie in all the loose threads, the Old God tries to make Ann forget Maria, possibly to force Maria onto his side, but it doesn’t work. Ann’s support is iron clad, much as the Church fears it to be, and when Joseph finally defeats Garfa, Maria’s tree house (and powers) are quickly restored.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.28.45 PM

As to Joseph’s victory… let’s just look above at the hilarious take down assist brought to him by Maria. She’s so unabashedly hard core about it that I can hardly fault Joseph for his lengthy banter and refusal to accept his worth in her eyes.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.43.11 PM

The resolve, starting with their exchanged vows and ending with the tree-ification of the castle, was all quite nice. As with everything this episode, the visual details were all unique and really lent to the wonder and excitement of their coupling.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.38.52 PM

And then the couple is summoned by Arch Angel Michael and who knows where the series is headed for its final episode? Honestly? I don’t care at all — it’s been a lovely ride all along and, typically sluggish middle or note, it was well worth all of our attention.

9_ogk

Junketsu no Maria – 10

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.49.56 PM

Episode 10 asks a leading question: is human emotion better or worse than God’s lack of emotion… or is there any distinction between the two in the first place?

Certainly Michael’s violence isn’t as base as Garfa’s but it’s easy to argue that Michael’s mixture of intervention and indifference put Garfa (and his many victims) in the situation in the first place. If humans only exist to suffer before death and transition to the afterlife, and that no amount of prayer will change the degree of their suffering nor bring about otherworldly protection (except from Maria), the shows depictions of greed and violence become an understandable offshoot of survival of the fittest.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.49.17 PM

And that’s saying nothing of Michael’s direct acts of violence. First with Maria and now, nearly killing Viv for calling him out on being an empty automaton.

While I suppose this is all rather heavy handed, I appreciate that JnM is subtle enough to leave the question unanswered. Ezekiel is emotionally broken (though it’s not clear why she has emotions in the first place) and humans are particularly violent for much of the episode.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.51.17 PM

Bernard’s total lack of attention even mirror’s Ezekiel’s. He’s said his piece, feels the rules are being followed, and moves on content to let the masses do whatever they want.

In a pleasing twist of events, Edwina shows up and saves Maria from burning at the stake and Gilbert, Bernard’s underling, recognizes Edwina’s cat/girl familiar as the source of the church’s medicine… which causes his own internal conflict.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.50.14 PM

Unfortunately, the episode suffers from Joseph having garbled reasons for being away at war and Garfa being pure evil. I just don’t get how we’re supposed to buy into Joseph going to war for glory to… use his glory to save Maria? It doesn’t make any sense.

Similarly, Garfa has gone from being an interestingly gray character to some smirking, knife handed, “gonna kill you in the church” jackal. I suppose I ‘buy’ that he could turn out this way but I don’t find it very interesting…

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.51.46 PM

It’s worth noting that despite all the animation in this episode — and there was a lot with wonderful technical detail — it was not animated very well. Scenes jerk together with no transition sequence, walk cycles are choppy, and many of the characters look… off.

8_ogk

Junketsu no Maria – 09

jnm94

It was clear that Junketsu no Maria was going to sexually dark place for some several episodes but, given the show’s lite sense of humor, it was never clear how far into the dark it would go.

this week’s episode answers that question and the answer is: pretty dark, but maybe not as dark as you’d think. If you couldn’t sit through the opening, I urge you to go back. It’s a solid episode, surprisingly nuanced, and wonderfully played with expectations.

jnm93

Starting Dark: Garfa uses paralysis smoke to disable Maria while she sleeps, ties her up and has his way with her. It’s a brutal scene, complete with a savage beating and Garfa’s “a witch should shut up and take it” rant, which he gives why unbuttoning his pants, is only evil-topped by his happy laughter as he leaves Maria’s cabin.

But, despite all this, and despite his flippancy to Joseph and Joseph’s lord, Bernard hasn’t actually raped Maria. “I was sent to take away her magic not to have sex with her”

So, while it’s little comfort to Maria, by the show’s definition she’s “remained pure.” (no doubt to facilitate her magical revenge at a later point)

jnm95

Nuanced Darkness: Ann’s father testifies to the village priest that he’s witnessed Maria summoning demons and Ann’s grandmother Martha is forced by Bernard to stone Maria. Neither of them want to do this and, while Martha at least has Maria’s consent (via a nod only Bernard sees), both adults are doing this to protect their family, and Ann most of all.

It’s a procedurally evil scene. There’s no screaming and no violence beyond the stone-toss, just people doing a job. Bernard requiring the stone toss is even dispassionate– he needs it to make a statement about belief and loyalty, not to cause Maria physical harm.

jnm96

And, just as quickly, we see this cold minded system swing back in Maria’s favor: Bernard’s underling won’t accelerate Maria’s trial because official procedure must be followed. Testimony must be recorded and verified, and the village priest and the magistrate must draft a document.

Like Martha and Ann’s father, the junior priest’s evil is limited to his place in the machine. The system. From what we’ve seen, that the junior priest actually uses medicine made by witches and condones the use of magic for the war, he bares no personal malice to Maria, let alone visible anger.

jnm900

Which brings us to Bernard himself… In a nutshell, Maria values life on earth and places agency in human hands and Bernard values salvation after life and places agency in the hand of God… to be carried out by humans. They both believe in free will, and they both want people to be happy during life.

Unfortunately, Maria asserts that if God is universal, but actionless, then universality is as good as nothingness, which breaks Bernard’s mind trying to counter. In many ways, he agrees with her, but the system is the system — and it’s his system — so they are at an impasse.

Then he thanks her, wipes off her dirty feet, and kisses her leg.

jnm901

What makes this all so interesting is not just that the junior monk and Priapos both witnessed the scene in secret (and thus both know Bernard’s faith can waiver for future plot points)  but that Bernard greatly appreciated the challenge to his faith and the conversation in general.

Also that Bernard’s conflict has brewed since he learned that Maria was a virgin and, like his faith’s Virgin Marry, is a symbol for healing and protection. (at least to the local villagers) Outside of her lack of support for God, they would get along and because of that, tiny cracks in his faith in the system have formed. It’s all very well played and inconclusive.

jnm98

Also Viv gets pwn’d by Michael before she can rescue Maria from the dungeon.

jnm90

Verdict: 2 good action sequences, some horrifying violence (but not too much) and some deeply troubled people struggling to reconcile philosophical differences made for a serious attention getter this week. I won’t kid you: I had trouble sitting through the opening assault but the over-all pay off made up for my initial misgivings.

And man, that gag face-clamp Maria is forced to wear was simple but creepy awesome.

8_ogk

p.s. Apparently the character I’ve been calling Galif is actually Garfa and my subs are just wrong. Garfa sounds more like what they call him in the show so I’m switching to that.

Sailor Moon Crystal – 09

smc91smc92

Things are definitely picking up in Sailor Moon World, as Usagi not only recovers the memories of her past life as Moon Princess Serenity of Silver Millennium, in which she fell in love with Prince Endymion of Earth, AKA Tuxedo Mask, AKA Mamo-chan; but the titular Crystal finally makes its appearance, the seal for it broken by her tears she sheds for the injured Mamo-chan.

smc93
smc94

It’s unfortunate for Usagi/Serenity, then, that Queen Beryl decides now is the time to show herself and spring into action, grabbing Mamoru and disappearing off to her realm. Unfortunately for Beryl, in her haste she misunderstood exactly what was going on with Usagi and Mamoru as they were suspended above the second-most-impressive tower in Tokyo: the actual Silver Crystal didn’t go into Mamoru’s body, but remained in Usagi’s possession. OOPS!

smc95
Is that…a weeping stool?

With her past and present beloved in enemy hands, Usagi could care less about the Crystal. She’s beside herself not only due to the present situation, but having just had the tragic memories of her past lost love and kingdom’s fall, because the people of Earth and the Moon couldn’t just get along.

smc96

Mamoru, awakens in Beryl’s castle, but the only thing keeping him alive is Beryl’s belief he still has value to her in terms of recovering the Crystal. Once she realizes her blunder, he’s going to be in big trouble, as he’s only a human from earth, after all. That’s right: the pretty Sailor Guardians are going to have to rescue the dashing prince…not t’other way ’round. From Beryl and Metalia to the Guardians, the ladies are calling all the shots in this show.

smc97

Ami, Rei, and Makoto also recover memories of their past lives. Along with Minako, who led them, they were Serenity’s guardians, and successfully sealed Metalia away, though the Moon Kingdom did not survive. Seeing Usagi so down in the dumps makes them down in the dumps too, so they decide to keep their chins up and visit her at her house to try to cheer her back up.

smc98

In the last nine episodes, Usagi has gone from clueless, clumsy, silly, materialistic girl and has steadily transformed into a heroine of justice. That transformation became more literal this week, and though it’s more her hair and clothes that change than her body, this is obviously a stand-in for the changes all girls go through during the transition to womanhood. It’s painful and scary, but it’s also an unavoidable part of life, and her friends and family are there for her. On to the Moon!

9_mag

Sailor Moon Crystal – 08

"'SUP?"
“‘SUP?”

Lots of reveals this week, most importantly, that of the fifth Sailor Guardian, Aino Minako, AKA Sailor V, AKA Princess Serenity of the Silver Millennium Moon Kingdom. Yikes, that’s a lot of Aliases for someone who looks almost suspiciously-similar to Usagi!

"I'm gonna do everything MYSELF. That way, I know it will get done correctly."
“I’m gonna do everything MYSELF. That way, I know it will get done correctly.”

In a way, we’ve known about her all along; not just in the OP and knowing a Venus would show up eventually, but the Sailor V game the other girls were playing wasn’t just a game; V was using it to show and tell them how to defeat their enemies thus far. Itou Shizuka gives a seriousness and urgency to V’s character. I should also mention she has a white cat, Artemis, which is the name of a goddess, though the cat is male.

smc82

The episode is also an exploration of protecting people, or falling short of doing so. Mamoru/Tux feels bad not just for not being able to save “Usako” from Zoisite, but possibly also in the past, which is coming back to everyone bits at a time through dreams and various stimuli triggers. Usagi also sees glimpses of an escape from a palace during a heated battle, from the POV of the princess, and leading her to safety is Mamoru, whom she calls “Endymion.”

"I should really get that squeaky door fixed."
“I should really get that squeaky door fixed.”

I’m still a little confused by who is really The Princess here: Minako or Usagi? Is it both of them? In any case, Metalia is getting impatient, which means Beryl is getting impatient, which means it’s time for a new mineral king to step up and try to retrieve the LSC.

"Don't make me wait up here all day...in my floating green bubble."
“Don’t make me wait up here all day…in my floating green bubble.”

Kunzite takes up the challenge, and launches the biggest attack on Tokyo yet; knocking out the power and draining the energy of every citizen, threatening to Kill ’em All if Sailor V doesn’t meet him at the Tokyo Tower with the Crystal. Why he doesn’t want to meet at the newer, taller, more impressive Tokyo Sky Tree, I’m not sure. Ask the animators, I guess!

"We still want the groceries, right? I'm taking the groceries."
“We still want the groceries, right? I’m taking the groceries.”

The bottom line is this: the bad guys have taken things up a notch. Fortunately for the people, the Sailor Guardians are now at full strength, thanks both to Luna and to Usagi bringing three girls who had been alone together as friends.

This show isn't known for particularly cool shots, but a blacked-out Tokyo is certainly one
This show isn’t known for particularly cool shots, but a blacked-out Tokyo is certainly one

V’s plan was to face Kunzite alone (and her ribbon-y transformation is nice), but that doesn’t go so well, and in any case is a silly idea when there are four other Sailor Guardians who can help out.

smc87

They make a suitably big, bold entrance, with Sailor Moon promising to punish Kunzite in the name of the moon and all that good stuff. But all of their attacks seem to bounce off that damn green bubble. When Usagi is sent flying and falling to her death, Tuxedo Mask swoops in and saves her…again.

smc88

Usagi thanks him and rewards him with a passionate kiss he didn’t see coming at all, but tells him to get away and let her and the other Guardians handle Kunzite. With that, Usagi bolts off back to the battle, showing a side Mamoru had not seen before, which is kind of a trend both for him and us.

smc89

The dopey, clumsy Usagi is nowhere to be found; she’s Sailor Moon, and she’s got work do do. She’s also falling for Mamoru, but he’s falling right back for her, which is why when Kunzite launches a Bolt of Evil at her, he takes the full force of it to protect her once more. Sure, it’s a cliffhanger, but it closes an exciting, entertaining episode where everything is starting to take shape. I for one am fully invested.

9_mag