Apr 23, 2020
The Hundred Years War: the pageant and tournaments of chivalry; knights in burnished armor. The English archer destroying the flower of French chivalry; the great battle of Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt. A glorious battle with a sign of the brutality of the middle ages. Senseless warzones destruction; the death of thousands in the mud of France for nothing more than the greed and ambition of the Kings. There are more about this Hundred Years War, It’s a story of courage, the clash of nations A story of human endeavor and the timeless skirmish of supremacy. Yet there’s also another story here: the story of a Witch, who hated wars. The witch would not curse people nor do evil deeds, but instead used her power to put a stop in the fighting. Her name was Maria.

Junketsu no Maria or Maria the Virgin Witch in English, Focuses on the adventures and struggles of our main heroine Maria. She needs to stop the war taking place in her land at the same time do so without being suspected by angel Ezekiel, sent by Heavens to keep an eye on Maria's Action. From a storytelling standpoint, the conflict is nicely layered and consistently escalated between individual factions. There are a clear cause and effect going around the story. Each character's actions have effects and consequences affecting the story. The conflict has a clear meaning and agenda, there is a reason why they fight and contrast each other. Heavens is only doing its job in maintaining the natural balance of earth which obviously sees Maria's involvement by itself not normal, no human cannot stop her magic. While Maria sees the war a nuisance against her peaceful life. Even humans have a solid resolve on why they are participating in the war. England is fighting the war for the benefits of its citizens while France also does the same. Though we are only exposed to France side of the story, leaving England to the dark. I liked how the story is not your typical black & white dispute. There is no absolute good or pure evil. A good example of gray morality.

The show has morally ambiguous characters, their behavior and personality are also not purely black and white. Each character serves a fundamental bridge to the entire show narrative. Each individual represents viewpoints when it comes to the main message about human nature, human beliefs, and the meaning of life. Character interaction has a purpose, it adds up on the philosophical ideologies and context of the setting offers. The story did well in highlighting character personal conflicts. A good example of personal conflict is when it comes to Maria & Ezekiel and Joseph & Garpa's arguments. Their subtle clashing of ideals for what they believe is bad and good, pointing at each other what is deception and what is the truth but opposite in opinion but none purely correct or wrong. It gave the audience a chance to interpreted the story from a different angle, it provides a better understanding of the character's behavior and personality trait without the reliance on, heavy emphasis on the background story, or individual character arc. This technique also works in the supporting cast for each interaction they make matters. I got to know each character while at the same time easily comprehending what the story is all about. Characters are given a decent amount facing to learn and grow. A good example is Ezekiel changing of heart by refusing and going against Heaven's absolute orders, as the story progresses, it felt natural and organic. I like how interacting with different people influences once belief and viewpoints in life. This will lead to a more impactful and rewarding character resolution. This is good character writing. The minor cast has a respectable amount of development, all its characters to be precise. I liked all the characters. They are not special when it comes to appealing character design unlike Maria and Ezekiel but they make it up how they are written in the story. I love how each character matters in this show even how little impact they give in the grand scheme of things. Each character made a difference especially when it comes to the final episode. All characters were given the spotlight to confess their true thoughts and feelings. I think Junketsu no Maria wrap everything quite nicely.

Miscellaneous Thought

When it comes to minor details for the likes of animation, visual outline, and setting character design, audiovisual, and music it’s all alright, nothing outstanding but I think it could be done better if Studio I.G were given a higher budget I guess. And for the first time when it comes to medieval soldiers with CGI models, I have no complaints about and it deemed watchable. I like the small details in design accuracy when comes to being a visual presentation of the historical source. If you watched or read at least a brief history of the Hundred Years War when it comes to warfare and other details, I can appreciate the research and effort in creating the setting. The French use the crossbow and the British using the arrow to bombard French ground troops and Royal Calvary. But obviously the conclusion of the war is a totally different story altogether. It is nice that this anime did not glorify war as an awesome or epic scenario where romanticist made you believe. It gives a good metaphor about the violence and brutality of medieval times. People are only going to war not because they love to fight or kill, loot, or rape innocent people. Motivation varies from person to person. Some join the war as a necessity to find a living and the only opportunity to raise their status in life, they are mercenaries. Others are a force conscripted as foot soldiers because they don’t have a choice even if they are not a well-trained soldier like their noble knight that are better trained and equipped, they are peasant and farmers. While others fight for a selfless novel cause, protecting their lands from the enemy and fight for glory in name of the king, they are the landlords and the gloried knights we idolized in fiction works. We are also given the opportunity to explore the political disposition of the French Lands, where the Roman Catholic has a huge grip of influence when it comes to the societal order and major political decision which is historically correct on many occasions during the rule of European kingdoms. There is a fair amount of effort put in the writing of the story even it is simple but easy to understand. Minor complaints I have this show might as well is character teasing Maria about her Virginity but overall a good show.

Final thoughts.

It utilizes its setting and a small set of the cast even it is not perfect or groundbreaking. But it opens the doors with different interpretations. Open exposition made character and story engaging and profound. Anime promotes neutral ground, it didn’t promote Atheism, Catholic Christianity, or convince you to stop believing those ideologies but rather teach you to have common sense and start walking with your own two feet. It encourages in believing in yourself. Junketsu no Maria tough educate us not to become a sheep, we must stop lying about ourselves on what we want in life. We must learn to question and to act upon our own honest judgment. We must not bind ourselves with our own ego and highly dependent on established doctrine we don’t fully understand. We make use of these beliefs as an excuse to justify our actions. We all are given the choice to shape our destiny and no religion or philosophy to dictate it. We live to chase our dreams and happiness, it gave our life meaning. Your life is yours to design and not others to decide for you. The answer you seek in life will never be answered by religion or philosophy. Staying alive is your choice alone. It’s rare for me to see an Anime with a complete story and a satisfying ending. For me, it’s a worthwhile experience. I personally believe the anime is worth remembering and worth checking out.
Reviewer’s Rating: 7
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