Phantom Thief Jeanne, Vol. 1

By Arina Tanemura. Released in Japan as “Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Ribon. Released in North America by Viz.

Having almost run out of Tanemura titles to release, Viz has gone back to the early days with this one and license rescued it from the clutches of CMX. And I’m very pleased that they did, because if you were to ask me to take only one Tanemura title with me to a desert island, this would be the one. Her first really big hit, Phantom Thief Jeanne is a magical girl manga that is not afraid to examine the core of darkness that lies at its heart – and yet still be a fun magical girl title for kids. Madoka Magica this is not.


The phantom thief subgenre of magical girls should be familiar to everyone by now – not only through Jeanne, but also via Saint Tail, which uses very similar stylings, and CLAMP School Detectives/Man of Many Faces, where Akira is the male version of this. Naturally, given the thief is a young girl, they are stealing FOR GOOD. Indeed, Maron Kusakabe, our heroine, is a descendant of Joan of Arc (hence the title), and the plot is set up as quite religious – she is using God’s Power to extract the evil from paintings, evil that is being used by Satan to gain human hearts. (This is definitely the French Joan of Arc – Shakespeare would stare in sheer horror at the myth of Joan Puzel today.)

It’s not just the religious themes that give this manga extra depth. Maron has more going on in her background than the usual chirpy magical girl. She’s living alone, her parents having split up and separately decided to leave for another country (suspicious), her magical familiar Finn dashes off her origin story in less than a page (suspicious… though it could just be I live in a post-Kyubey world), and while she does quickly fall for the boy destined to be her love interest (who is also a rival thief with a rival familiar), she absolutely does not want to deal with these feelings, her parents having convinced her that falling in love in a horrible thing to happen to someone. There’s a depth and solidity to Maron’s life that I really enjoyed here.

Of course, it’s not all sadness and broken homes. This is still a Ribon title. There’s lots of fun and silliness, mostly in the form of Maron’s best friend Miyako, whose father is a police officer and who is dedicated to capturing the thief who keeps stealing paintings (as always, the world itself is unaware of the supernatural part of things). There’s lots of love triangle shenanigans as well, with the shy kid in love with Maron leveling up due to demon possession, but amazingly staying leveled up afterwards and trying to become strong enough to court Maron properly. (He clearly doesn’t know what genre he’s in.)

Essentially, this takes the basic beats of the Phantom Thief genre and simply writes them really well. It’s paced well, the characterization is doled out at the right moments, and I can even get used to Tanemura’s trademark GIANT EYES. Anyone wanting to read this will find a cornucopia of details to enjoy, and it has excellent rereadability. Definitely worth buying, even if you already own the CMX version.

And, most importantly, the lead guy is a blond and the runner-up is a brunet! Do you know how little that happens in shoujo? More blond leads!

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  1. OK, you had me really confused for a moment. My sister fell in love with this series when she was younger, and for a couple of years I looked around for the old release (apparently by CMX). She has all 7 now. (Also had to find her Full Moon Wo Sagashite. She only likes hard to find stuff! D: )

    But it’s interesting that this is coming back in another form. Are there translation differences, or is it just a reprint under Viz?

    • Sean Gaffney says

      It’s a new translation, and I think they’re using a later edition that has more pages and fewer volumes total. You may want to look at a copy and compare.

      • I will have to try that! Thank you. I guess I need to read this page more. I miss manga, but I don’t read it much anymore myself…

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