Phantom Thief Jeanne, Vol. 4

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.

Phantom Thief Jeanne, Vol. 3

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

There are spoilers here, FYI for those who want to avoid them.

I’d mentioned in previous reviews of this title that it’s a standard magical girl series with a core of darkness. Of course, that applies to most magical girl series, to a greater or lesser degree – Madoka Magica did not invent the genre, they only removed the optimism. Jeanne’s background as a parentless child has been a core of the series, and we’ve also seen how difficult it is for her and Chiaki to trust each other given they’re on opposite sides. This new volume takes us even further down the rabbit hole, giving us dead, sexual assault, and a shocking plot twist that pretty much alters everything we’ve seen to this point.


What seems to be the big event of this volume happens with the arrival of a new teacher, Hijiri. He’s the one who saw Maron at the end of the last volume, and he’s not afraid to take advantage of that. He also seems to know far more about what Maron is doing as Jeanne regardless of whether he saw her or not. This culminates in a fight over the next victim, an isolated dying boy whose demon is the only thing keeping him alive. The boy, Zen, naturally falls for Jeanne (we still have to obey the rules of the genre here) and Maron is desperate to find a way to keep him alive and still not have the evil consume him. This is not helped by Sinbad, who, having had something explained to him offscreen by his magical familiar (we conveniently don’t hear it) is more determined to stop Jeanne than ever.

The aftermath of what happens devastates Jeanne and she’s clearly unwilling to discuss it with Chiaki. This is exactly what Hijiri wanted, as he turns out to be a figure from her past… no, not Maron’s past, Jeanne’s past as Joan of Arc. This culminates in the most disturbing scene in the volume, even worse than the cliffhanger, where Hijiri attempts to rape Maron in order to seal off her powers (which are said to be only due to her virginity). This scene goes on for quite some time, and I’d actually put a trigger warning on the volume for those who want advance knowledge. Unfortunately, while Hijiri does get beaten up and stopped, he does not leave the plot or Maron’s life, which is rather annoying.

Finally, everything seems to be resolving. Chiaki doesn’t outright say he loves Maron, but he comes close. They go on what is clearly a date, even if it’s because he promises to “tell Maron everything” – in fact, it’s such a date that Miyako, who was spying on them, flees the scene, finding herself more devastated that she’s not the closest one to Maron right now than that Chiaki is in love with someone else. Unfortunately, Chiaki then tells Maron something that she absolutely does not believe – so much so that she returns to her apartment just to verify it’s not true. But it is true – Jeanne has not been collecting chess pieces for good, but for evil! The revelation comes out of nowhere to a certain degree – not that Maron is being deceived, but who’s doing the deceiving, as Finn has been mostly an annoying ditzy mascot to this point. But there was some signposting, and we still have 2/5 of the series to go, so I’m sure we’ll see what’s going on.

There’s a lot of Arina Tanemura out there thanks to Viz, and I’ve never really been grabbed by much of it. This is the exception. Phantom Thief Jeanne is shaping up to be her best work, though, with thrills, romance, humor (Maron’s obsession with getting swine flu here is highly amusing) and a very deep plot. It’s a fantastic license rescue, and I can’t wait for the next volume.

Phantom Thief Jeanne, Vol. 2

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

When I reviewed the first volume of this Tanemura magical girl title, I noted that her parents splitting up and suddenly moving out of the country looked ‘suspicious’. Well, it turned out to be more prosaic, as in this volume Maron gets notice from her mother that they are indeed getting a divorce, something that sends her running away from everything for a while. I will admit, despite one of those “didn’t you see that they built this amusement part because they love you’ moments, these are still two parents who are not going to be winning awards anytime soon. They’re lucky that Maron has survived with only minor ‘screwed up’ tendencies. The rest of the volume continues to show off Jeanne’s skills as a phantom thief, as well as the author’s skill for giving a touch of darkness to the standard magical girl genre.


Speaking of families, this volume seems to focus on them quite a bit. First Chiaki’s father is possessed by one of the paintings, causing him to kidnap young women and store them in glass cages in his basement (something that really gives maximum creep factor, particularly as his father is such a weirdo to begin with). Then Miyako comes to Jeanne for help, despite their rivalry, and asks her to steal a painting that has corrupted her scientist brother, who is now turning to mad science (complete with “they laughed at me at the academy” overtones). This is all done with maximum threats of peril and also allows Jeanne to show off her skills at being clever, particularly in the first part where she uses the realistic android-like ‘dolls’ to her advantage to pull a switch.

Miyako also gets a side chapter going further into her motivation for chasing Jeanne. I have to say that she’s probably my favorite character in the series, and most of the time she seems to understands how Maron thinks better than she does. There is the small matter of her being unable to connect Maron to Jeanne, but that’s a standard trope of this genre, so I’m inclined to let it slide. (Honestly, given how things are playing out, I would not be surprised if Miyako had figured it out at some point and is just going along with it by now. Particularly when Jeanne is being far too knowledgeable about her brother.)

There is a lot less of the heaven vs. hell aspect in this particular book, with the exception of the final chapter, where Jeanne finds herself in a deathtrap without her transformation abilities or her familiar and has to power up through sheer force of will. This is referred to as “Holy Power”, and seems to delight Finn (who we see far less of this time around, which pleases me as she’s annoying). There is one line that really struck me, however, and I suspect it will be followed up on in the next volume. She’s thanking Chiaki for helping her as Sinbad, and notes “I didn’t know followers of the demon lord used a cross as well.” As she toddles off, Chiaki stares and goes “what is she talking about?” To me this suggests that we’re not looking at a simple battle between heaven and hell. I can’t wait to see more with the next volume.