By Arina Tanemura. Released in Japan as “Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Ribon. Released in North America by Viz.
Before I get started, I want to note that I remain immensely pleased with this series. It has a lot of what magical girl series should have, a nice sense of humor even in its darkest moments, a good deal of cuteness, and the ongoing plot is fascinating. Everyone should be picking this up. With that said, let me spend this review dwelling a bit on things that felt problematic to me in this volume.
To be fair, one of these things is sort of unavoidable. In her massive villain rant at the start of the series, Finn Fish reveals that Maron has been manipulated, not just since she met Finn, but since birth, as it was the influence of Satan that led to her parents breaking up. I dislike the agency that this removes, and feel that it makes her parents less interesting people – their almost shallow horribleness was a large part of what made Maron so strong and interesting. But then that’s Finn’s point, and certainly if you’re in a series where God and Satan are real, you have to expect temptation to have more concrete forms.
Less excusable is Maron’s forgiveness of Noin’s actions once they go back in time to meet Jeanne D’Arc. She immediately rationalizes the attempted rape by noting that if he’d meant to go through with it, he would have done it while she slept, and also points out that it was due to both being possessed by a demon and his love for Jeanne. Which, yes, is true, but the whole “It’s OK, you were just overcome in the heat of the moment” forgiveness rankles in many shoujo titles. We also have several moments in the second half where Chiaki is attracted to Maron so much that he forces himself on her multiple times. This is meant to be half-amusing, and he beats himself up over it, but that doesn’t actually stop the attempts, even when he knows she’s in a fragile state.
And then there’s Miyako. She gets less of a role to play in this volume until the end, clearly upset that the “phantom thief” isn’t appearing anymore. The problem is that her plotline is mostly resolved – she’s realized that Chiaki loves Maron, and that she can’t really do anything to change that. So, as she herself notes, all that’s left to do is confess to him, get rejected and move on. She is, therefore, too nice to be an antagonist anymore. And that has to be fixed, so at the end of the volume we see her abducted by Finn, and she later pops up, I suspect, clearly possessed by evil. I wish there were a more natural way to do this.
That said, there’s still so much to love about this volume, don’t get me wrong. Everything about Finn’s past and her relationship with Access is beautifully tragic, and (typical for Japan) paints God as being not all that much better when it comes to forgiveness. Yamato’s confession to Maron, and subsequent rejection, plays out beautifully, and is likely why Tanemura wanted to avoid repeating it with Miyako. And the time travel arc is handled surprisingly well and logically, and among its questionable forgiveness does have Maron assuring Jeanne that being raped does not make you less good of a person.
To sum up, see the start of this review. Even with my issues, it’s still far and away by favorite Tanemura series.