Maria the Virgin Witch, Vol. 1

By Masayuki Ishikawa. Released in Japan as “Junketsu no Maria” by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine good! Afternoon. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.

There is a scene in the show Arrested Development that has become a meme, where a character finds a bag in the fridge labeled “Dead Dove – Do Not Eat” and, curious, opens it to find… a dead dove. He responds “I don’t know what I expected.” I sort of feel the same way about the first volume of this new fantasy manga. I knew going in it was by the author of Moyashimon. This is a series known for its eccentric humor. And yet somehow the premise led me to expect that it would be a fairly dark and serious piece. Thus, when confronted with a Volume 1 that was quite silly in many places, I felt a bit nonplussed. It’s filled with eccentric humor. I don’t know what I expected.

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The titular witch is in medieval France, trying to stop the English and French killing each other by any means necessary. So far this has involved using a succubus as her familiar to seduce specific people before the battle, making them uselessly aroused. There’s two problems with this: a) Maria is doing this as she has no experience whatsoever, not even being sure what a male looks like; and b) there’s a lot of pederasty in the army and Church as well, leaving an adult-looking succubus high and dry. Maria tries creating a second succubus to seduce other men, but he ends up being sort of like a Ken doll. Add to this that the Archangels are upset with Maria taking a personal interest in the Lord’s work (the Lord taking a very hands off approach to humans all wanting to kill each other) and you have a very angry and frustrated heroine.

While there is a serious battle towards the end, much of this is played for laughs, particularly Maria’s virginity, which she desperately wants to be rid of but is too repressed to really do much about (witness her reaction to her succubus moaning about her “sore jaw”). By the way, the book is rated T for Teen, but I’d have bumped it up a notch, as there’s frank talk of multiple sexual practices and a few of George Carlin’s 7 Words You Can Apparently Say In Manga. It’s not M-for-mature stuff (Maria’s too innocent for that), but I still raised an eyebrow a few times.

I do feel that the author should commit himself one way or the other, as I don’t know that the humor and serious plotline are balanced properly. There is a nice little story here involving how much a “witch”, someone with powers beyond mere humans, should involve herself with God’s creation – indeed, the presence of God’s archangels makes this explicit. But there’s a certain juvenile snickering about Maria’s virginity that made me sigh, and it provided the largest dose of the humor. Things aren’t helped by Maria and her succubus and incubus all looking very similar (they’re all based on her), so that when they’re standing together having a conversation it can be very hard to tell them apart.

If this were a long-running series, I’m not sure whether I’d feel inspired to continue. But there’s apparently only two more volumes, so I think there’s enough interest here to keep going, provided the reader knows what he’s going to get. Don’t be surprised at your dead dove.

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Comments

  1. That’s right only two more volumes to this series and a continuing spin off Junketsu no Maria Exhibition that’s at one volume don’t know how the Manga will go but the Anime get’s a lot darker around episode 9 (I dropped because of this)

  2. Funny that you mentioned doves, as a dove becomes a player in the story…
    I’m watching the anime on Funimation, and I’m curious as to how it and the manga version differ. Are there author’s notes, or educational notes at the end? Any bonus comics or other content? I’m actually surprised that they managed to use only 3 volumes of manga for a whole season of anime!


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