Maria is a powerful young witch living with her two familiars in medieval France during the Hundred Years' War against England. As the war rages on and the innocent get caught in its destruction, Maria becomes fed up with the situation and begins using her magic to try and prevent further conflict in hopes of maintaining peace. However, her constant intervention soon attracts the attention of the heavens, and the archangel Michael is sent to keep her from meddling in human affairs. The divine being confronts Maria, and he forbids her from using her powers, issuing a decree that her magic will be taken if she loses her virginity. Though she is now labeled a heretic, Maria adamantly refuses to heed Michael's warning and continues to disrupt the war between the two nations. But as the Church begins plotting to take away the witch's power and put a stop to Maria's interference once and for all, her peacemaking may soon come to an end.
Do not shy away from this title because it has the word Virgin in it's title.
This anime is not about sexual themes, however; sexual themes are relevant. When it comes to telling a cohesive story, many anime fail. They don't have underlying themes, and character motivations are vague for the most part. This is NOT the case for Maria the Virgin Witch. The cast is quite large, but they are introduced in a sensible way and slowly. Each and every character has a reason to exist, and they're motivations make sense. They all contribute to the big picture and the show actually tackles ethical issues regarding war that can still resonate with people today.
I love the characters and how they interact with each other. The conversations feel real and while there may be drama, it's never because the characters are socially incompetent(this is rare in anime). The show also portrays middle-age society in the most realistic way I've ever seen surpassing even shows like spice and wolf.
The relationship between religion, the common people, and war is complex and makes sense, but let's not forget about Maria. She's amazing. She has her own will, and is very goal orientated. It's endearing and exciting watching her proudly struggle through achieving her goal. She's an amazingly well-written female character, and her romantic life is handled quite well.
If you like deep introspective shows that will leave you thinking about the problems it presents after watching it, you'll like this show.
If you like interesting character interactions and a really nice romance, you'll like this show.
This show is the sleeper hit of the season.read more
TL;DR: An enjoyable fantasy adventure that suffers from an increasingly bad clash between theme & tone as it tries to go from bawdy comedy, to a more serious drama, to a Disney happy ending in the space of twelve episodes. Worth watching, none the less.
Maria the Virgin Witch is an interesting little show. A ecchi, bawdy sex comedy set in France during the 100 Years War that explores issues of war, morality, theology, gender politics, societal values & other quite heavy topics, all through the prism of a teenage girl who wears a swimsuit crossed with a blacksmith apron. That it tries to do so is laudable. That it manages to do so well is more debatable. (review contains spoilers, I'm afraid)
Medieval France, probably the early - mid 15th century, is a land riven by war. The English & French ravage the land as they fight battle after battle in the hope of conquering or defending the land. Or at least they would, if it wasn't for the intervention of one little witch who doesn't take to kindly to people killing each other in her neck of the woods. Said witch is Maria, who unlike her kindred witches doesn't care to simply sit in the shadows & try to manipulate things from behind the scenes, but prefers to just rush in atop her broom (or pitchfork, as she rather charmingly rides instead) & deal with the problem by summing a giant snake to chase the combatants away.
It's not all done of a whim, of course. Beyond merely not liking war, Maria has a personal reason for her interventions. There's the little girl Anne, who lives in a nearby village that reveres Maria for her witch medicines & whose father periodically get's called up to fight. There's also Joseph, squire to the local count Guillaume, who Maria takes a liking to after he comes to her asking her favour in the upcoming battle. Armed with the stubborn certainty that they know how the world is & how to make it right that only a teenager possesses, Maria flies off all powers blazing whenever she feels the need arises, & it soon gets her the attention of forces both temporal & spiritual that don't appreciate her hands on interference in things.
Maria the Teenage Witch starts out strongly. While starting seemingly with all the high minded naivety that young adult literature is often full of. She's a teenager who doesn't care how adults do things & thinks she knows how the world is, but put her in a room with a boy & suddenly it's all blushes & awkward gasps mixed with a childish curiosity about the birds & the bees. The chasteness & naivety of girls is often placed on a pedestal in anime & other media, but Maria doesn't go for that, at least at first.
Maria's mental & physical virginity are played against a world where they quickly seem naive & narrow minded. Her interventions in the battles are followed by combatants not simply cheering for her saving them, but cursing her for getting in the way, either of a decisive victory or simply of getting paid (no battle, no battle pay). Unlike Maria, the other witches & her succubus familiar Artemis are no strangers to the world of sex & they mercilessly tease her for her ignorance of such pleasures; which Maria is both grossed out & intregied by. The Christian church that Maria soon comes into conflict with is likewise not depicted monolithically. Clergy call for the persecution of Maria as a heretic yet engage in heretical practices themselves. Brother Bernard, the shows overall antagonist, is a man both well versed in scripture but also more than happy to be flexible with his theology if it gets results.
At first, all this is interspersed with a lot of bawdy humour. An early tryst involves Maria trying to use her familiar Artemis to seduce some English clergymen, only to discover that their homosexuality makes her unable to do so. This should be a simple case of summoning a male familiar, which Maria promptly does. Unfortunately for her & newly summoned Priapus, she doesn't know what a naked man looks like, resulting in Priapus being formed without a rather integral appendage for an incubus. Many a dick joke ensues. Sabrina the Virgin Witch does a pretty good job of keeping the humour blue without resorting to offensive stereotyping or the usual anime standards of boob grabs & bath scenes. In fact the shows sex humour is about as "mature" as any anime I've seen, if such humour can be considered mature.
The show also has an interesting spiritual cosmology. From the outset & throughout, Maria's world is one where all religions & supernatural beings can exist so long as humans have reason to believe in them. God sits above the clouds, watching the world from a distance & unconnected to the human church that proselytes in His name. He's the number one deity in town, but only by virtue of having the most believers. Valkyries watch over the battles, awaiting the souls of dead warriors. Maria is occasionally visited by a nebulous form that calls itself Cernunnos, the remains of an old deity now all but forgotten by humans.
In some ways it resembles the cosmology of Terry Prachetts Discworld, where supernatural beings can come in & out of existence if enough people believe in their power (though sadly there is no Eater of Socks). In this world, Maria stands out not so much for being a supernatural being, but for being one that still chooses to actively involve herself in the day to day life of humans, whereas most others have for various reasons retreated into the shadows, so to speak.
However, as the story progresses the themes & tone presented in the first part of the series start to clash with the way things develop. After having enough of her multiple refusals to listen to heaven's commands, the archangel Michael descends to strike down Maria & restore balance to the "natural law" of the world. Swayed by the last moment intervention of Anne & Joseph, who attacks Michael to defend Maria, Michael instead places a curse on Maria: that she will be able to keep her witch's powers, but only so long as she's still a virgin.
For much of the show this curse isn't much of an issue. Maria continues to act like nothing's happened (coz ain't no fool gonna tell her what's right & wrong), heaven continues to be pissed off at her & the show continues to explore its themes in the same enjoyable way. This apparent disconnect, however, between the tone of the show as a bawdy comedy where Maria's virginity (& by extension her naivity) are the butt of jokes & her virginity now being the only thing that lets her keep her witch's powers becomes more of an issue as the show draws to a conclusion.
The problems really start with Maria the Vacuum Switch when it starts to transition from a bawdy comedy to a more serious drama. Maria's worldview shifts from a thing of mockery to increasingly being held up as an ideal way of thinking as the show progresses. There's nothing wrong with wanting a world without wars or where you can be who you are (a witch, for example) & live life free of harassment from others telling you what to think & do. Indeed, those are admirable aspirations. However, Maria's means of attaining her goals often feel like they conflict with those goals themselves.
Take not wanting wars or people to die in them. The cause is noble & indeed Maria is not the only person pursuing it. The problem is that her actions, intervening in battles often long after the killing has started but before a decisive victory can be attained, have the opposite effect. Yes, count Guillierne's repeated exaltation that the next battle will be the decisive victory to win the war can be seen as mocking that type of thinking that so often proves foolish & costly (how many battles in World War One were meant to be the one to end the war, for example?). But the only reason none of the battles can be that decisive one is because Maria, in the name of ending war, keeps interfering. It doesn't help that the actual 1453 Battle of Castillon is considered to have been exactly the decisive victory to end the war (or at least the fighting part of it) that the show seems to be dismissing the idea of.
Indeed a lot of the subjects Maria raises are not nearly as simple as it ends up wanting to portray them as, or their ultimate conclusion raises as many problematic questions as it answers. One of the more controversial elements of Maria comes when Bernard gets wind of Maria's virginity curse. Despite the plan he concocts going against pretty much every idea of Christianity, he uses this knowledge to conspire with count Gillierne & the mercenary Galfa to rape Maria. After all, Michael's curse never specified how she was to lose her virginity.
This is obviously a very hard subject to handle in a way that isn't grossly offensive & crass, & to Maria the Sturgeon Fish's credit it manages to do so. The problem comes more in how after the act, or rather Galfa's failure to fully go through with it, Maria's loss of power is portrayed. After Galfa's attack, she still loses her power, implying that even without actually being "raped" Maria still has, or feels she has been sullied to the point of losing at least the appearance of her virginity, & hence she loses the appearance of being a witch.
Even this isn't a problem in itself. Plot-wise It allows for her & Bernard to finally come face to face & also for her to reflect on what she values in life that would make it worth fighting for. Thematically, the idea that merely the appearance of her having lost her virginity being enough to cause her to lose her powers is an interesting reflection on the nature of virginity itself & how it's viewed in society. After all, when people talk about things being "virginal" they often mean a lot more than simply it not having had penetrative vaginal sex.
It's only when the show changes gears & goes for an almost Disney fairytale finale that the problem with all this, in my mind at least, rears it's head. You see, Maria doesn't get her powers back because she comes to some self-realisation that Galfa's attack didn't actually take her powers or her virginity. She gets them back because Joseph asks her to marry her. Yes, all is well in the world & balance is restored because the boy she liked still liked her, her supernatural abilities returned because a guy still thinks she's cute. I understand why the show goes for the happy ending it does, but it's execution does not mesh well with the themes the show explores up to that point.
Bernard as the antagonist is a further example. His almost Machiavellian approach to theology is rightly decried by the show as hypocritical & wrong. His exploitation of his position in the church to pursue temporal, family agendas is made to look all the worse when it is shown how much of an influence he has on the mind of his underling, Gilbert, who sees Bernard as a well read & enlightened theologian. That Bernard would misuse such an individuals faith in him is shown as part of his bad character & why he is the shows antagonist, & rightly so.
However, when it comes to confronting Bernard with this, the show stumbles on at least two key occasions. First is the occasion Bernard & Maria finally face off against each other. Bernard wants to understand the mindset of a woman who seems to eager to intervene in worldly affairs despite the obvious negative consequences she suffers when doing so. When she challenges his beliefs, he has a moment of almost existential crisis trying to rationalize his faith in the face of her world view. The writer had clearly done their homework, since he lists off a number of theological treatise in the process of this. Unfortunately, the actual dialogue between them is laughably clumsy, boiling down to Maria putting on a pouty teenager face & saying "whatever, man. You're just a sheep, man. God being everything is the same as being nothing, man. I've got this book by Nietchzhe you should read, man." The Diet of Worms this most certainly was not.
The second occurs again when the show is trying to have it's Disney ending & Bernard is finally punished for his misdeeds. The problem is not that he is, but when & how he is. Gilbert confronts Bernard about his apparent hypocritical stance on Maria, only for Bernard to reveal that thanks to his exchange with her, he is working on a new thesis that argues man no longer needs the divine grace of God to either be holy or to worship Him. In effect, he's arguing for a rather humanistic interpretation of religion, one where God is still at the top but not one where humans cannot understand anything about the world except by God's grace.
No sooner has he come to this realization, then the archangel Michael turns up in the flesh to once again throw Bernard's world view into chaos, causing him to attack Michael & be turned to ash. As if that wasn't enough, the last thing we see Gilbert doing is burning Bernards texts. For a show that seemed to be taking quite a humanistic & relativistic view of religion at the start, it seems odd that it would end in a way that reinforces orthodox church doctrine (Gilbert is very much in the burn all the witches camp throughout), not least because in this period in history the Catholic church was happily burning & killing Cathars, Waldesians, Hussites & other heretics for daring to utter similar heretical ideas. Again, it feels like the show discards a lot of the more difficult subjects it tried to wrestle with for the sake of it's happy ending, & it doesn't sit well for me that it did so.
Beyond the story, though, there's still plenty to like about Maria the Prison Snitch. The relationships & interactions between the many characters are enjoyable to watch & for a show with quite a decently sized ensemble cast, it does a good job of fleshing out the characters enough that we care about them, or at least care to dislike them.
The art, particularly the character designs of the witches & their familiers, is all of a decent standard & never noticeably went off model or deteriorated in quality. One might find the ecchi minded wardrobe, paticularly of Maria & Artemis, to feel like it becomes more out of place as the show gets more serious, but it's not much of an issue.
Likewise the animation, while this isn't the most high octane of shows, remained up to task throughout. The magic powers all look suitably impressive & things such as monsters being summoned out of cauldrons are well put together. The battles between the French & English themselves are not the most exciting affairs, but when an individual character needs to be shown in danger or the like, the show is up to the task.
Finally the music is again perfectly fine for the show. None of it really stands out, except perhaps for how the end credit song reminded me a bit of Spice & Wolf (not entirely sure why). But by the same token none of the music in the show felt out of place or wrong for any scene in which its used.
Maria the Fremen Witch, then, is a show that is both laudable for what it tries to do but not above criticism for where it fails to do so. The first half or so is a very enjoyable bawdy comedy that still manages to raise & discuss some interesting subjects whose exploration is well suited to the medieval fantasy the show takes place in. However, I feel the show suffers for trying to take things in a more serious direction in the second half, only to then try & try up everything with a happy ending that, while one certainly feels Maria deserves it, feels tonally inconsistent with what came before. None the less, Maria the Virgin Witch is ultimately an enjoyable series that at least tries to be more than just another ecchi comedy, & for that alone it is worthy of note.read more
Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch) is a rather peculiarly interesting show. Whenever the word ‘virgin’ tends to be mentioned, you may think a show is about concentrates on a character with focus on their relationship or perhaps even their journey to be deflowered. But in this series, it’s a whole lot more than that. Junketsu no Maria takes on a set of refreshing concepts with a thought provoking premise to craft a surprisingly deft story.
I have to admit that my expectations coming into this series weren’t high. The manga doesn’t have many chapters while the author’s other works are virtually unknown; with perhaps the exception of Moyashimon. Regardless, the series is adapted by Production I.G based on the manga of the same name. It takes place in a fictional world set in France during the era of the Hundred Years’ War. Maria is known throughout the story as a witch with magical abilities. Her desire to stop the war and maintain a balance of peace has put her on the wrong side of some factions, in particular the Church. That’s not the main problem though. It seems that she has also attracted the eyeful attention of the powerful Archangel Michael, who takes an interesting in Maria. For a show like this, there’s a really a creative balance of ideas – warfare, magic, religion, and who can we forget…virginity.
To be honest, the show indulges on fan service but without actually explicating it as a source of shock value. What does that mean? It means that the series has fan service in the form of dialogues (the endless sex jokes), actions (succubus seduction), and character designs. But taking at a closer look, the series actually portrays this in a more solemn way. For Maria, we can see that she is a lonely young witch. The thought of losing her virginity often gets her embarrassed as others teases her for it. And despite being a witch, she holds a pacifist nature and wishes to establish peace between humans. Unfortunately, the show also makes the point that witches are deemed “evil” by certain members of society. If we trace back to origins, there was once a period known as ‘Great Witch Craze’. And although the series doesn’t focuses primarily on that, Maria becomes a target for witch hunt. To think though, this is all because some people believe that witches operate in a defiled manner to society and a threat to their beliefs. Maria isn’t an exception either. The show goes far enough to portray the Church as an antagonist force, bound on making Maria suffer and judging her for just being a witch.
As Maria is the primary focus on the show, many characters she gets involved in plays an influence in the story. Early on, we also have the Archangel Michael who instead of punishing her decides to offer Maria a chance to retain her magical abilities except if she loses her virginity. This really builds on a foundation of an almost ludicrous plot device as Maria becomes an object for tease. She doesn’t seem to mind it although deep down, there’s no doubt she feels lonely. Luckily, she has friends such as her witch friend Artemis, her familiar Priapos, and perhaps even a love interest, Joseph. The show makes it clear that although she can’t have sex with Joseph (without the threat of losing her magical powers), there’s a romantic tension between the two. It can be genuinely interesting to see how far Maria can resist her urges despite knowing full well the consequences of being deflowered. Unlike some shows where it primarily relies on the accidental peeking or To-Love Ru-style crotch fallings, this series develops Maria as both a witch and woman. The interactions she has with other characters is attractive as it brings out their personalities. And despite lacking the sexual appeal of some other witches, Maria does have influence on others. She can even make friends with almost anyone including Ezekiel, an angel sent by Heaven with an original intention to kill her. In fact, this is where the show shine through characterization. Taking the example of Ezekiel, her outlook on the world around her begins to change as she interacts more with others in particular Maria. Even opponents such as Galfa and Bernard sets as good examples to portray their motivations. In retrospect, the show’s character cast has plenty to offer with its appeals.
A good amount of the story also concentrates on the war. Taking place in such an era breaks apart the usual generic settings of high school or fantasy world. Rather, the war itself looks realistic with the soldiers on the battlefield. France itself also gives off that nostalgic vibe back during the old days when crude weapons were used as instruments of war. Speaking of which, the show also a decent amount of supernatural tropes whether it’d be the powers of witches, angels, or other divine entities. As foremost, there’s also the sense of tragedy with war with people dying and others losing hope. Despite this, the show is able to maintain a good comedy composure with adequate timings of the character interactions. Just be aware that the jokes of the series are not only repetitive but often alludes to sexual undertones; you can thank Maria’s friends for that. Oh and I forgot to also mention that one of the characters lacks a penis in the show (despite being a male) so prepare for some cringy jokes indulged by cookie cutter awkwardness. On a more serious side, there’s also some mature themes including the implication of rape and torture. How you take these ideas to heart is up to you but I think the show’s necessity to craft these themes is to show how cruel a world can be as a witch.
Production I.G has made a reputation with their high production quality. This show is no exception as the artwork is not just refreshing but has a realistic way of portraying war. It also presents supernatural elements in the forms of angels with their divine-like design. But for character designs in general, most of the witches are categorized by their unique outfits. Maria, despite being a virgin, doesn’t dress like one. In fact, she shows plenty of skin alongside some of her fellow witches. This shouldn’t be a big issue though as the fan service isn’t directed with diehard attempts to distract the viewers. Instead, it’s more like an appeal to articulate our characters. Otherwise, the world setting of this show has profound landscapes, architectures, and nature that are all designed fluently. Insightful violence also exists (without censorship) with a strong degree of showing cruelty.
Soundtrack on most parts knows what it’s doing. The OP and ED songs has a serene-like composure and plenty of decorative tones in the backgrounds. I also give some credit to the OST because of its ability to convey the many expressive scenarios of the series. It’s not always easy to adapt scenes that transits from butt jokes to mental breakdowns. A good set of soundtrack has to go with the flow to get the job done. Thankfully, this show does it well. Character voice mannerism on most parts are also decent although Joseph’s monotonous nature can be bothersome to listen. Maria on the other hand can be a mixed bag for some people. Her voice has more of a balance between childish and caring.
A show like this is actually a rare breed with its atmospheric nature and sensible themes. As a witch, Maria is a character you just wants to know more and more with her potentials. But luckily, the other characters can be quite interesting as well if you pay careful attention to them. For a story like this, the premise injects a variety of concepts to make the show inventive. Even with the over repetitive sex jokes, the series maintains a genuine act of comedy during this duration. Now coming off as a manga reader, there’s a bit of an incentive to complain with adaptation. Although the series does have anime original characters and some changes, it still gives a delightful performance. read more
Maria the Virgin Witch turned out a lot better then I expected it to be despite it being the POV of a female character. This anime was one of my most liked for this season and here's why.
The story takes place around a blonde, stubborn, peace-loving witch who tries to stop any fights that happen near to where she lives, which is in thw middle of a secluded forest. Despite being a stubborn girl, she shows kindness to her few closest friends which encompass a little girl, her summons, and a few others. The story progresses as the Heavens above don't like her meddling in natural affairs that they think should otherwise be allowed to happen.
Surprisingly, this anime had one of the most vibrant, colorful art out of all that aired this season, which seemed kind of ironic due to how many people got stabbed or killed in this anime (don't worry, most are side-characters).
The sound was extremely well and fit everything perfectly as well as set the mood throughout the anime, through-out the serious and comedic parts.
The characters, in my opinion, were extremly well done with few, if any, cliches anywhere.
Theres the main heroine witch who dislikes fighting.
The witchs summonings which are a succubus and a incubus who doesn't have any nether regions due to the witch's messup
The angel Micheal whos just the basic guy no one likes.
The messenger who secretly likes the witch.
The "dove" whos sent to keep an eye on Maria and see if shes doing anything bad.
And a few other characters as well, which I won't spoil any more.
Despite this being a anime aimed at the opposite gender, I really found this anime to be among my most liked for this season. It just being good all around led me to really enjoy this anime, and I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a serious, romantic/comedic show about medival witches.read more