Junketsu no Maria: Religion, Society, and Everything

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE SHOW JUNKETSU NO MARIA.

So if I’m being honest here, Maria is probably the show that convinced me to make a blog and to maybe try to get better at writing these posts so I don’t look like a fanboy all the time when I talk about shows I like. So this is going to be my first post as the show just ended earlier today and was quite definitely my favorite show of the season.

This post is mostly intended for me to put down any of my thoughts about the show and how it presented its ideas; I don’t want to objectively state that this is what the show was doing 100% of the time because there are things i missed and others picked up on with more knowledge of history, religion, social justice, etc.

Anyway. Maria the Virgin Witch was a very interesting show from the beginning; the title alone spoke doom and gloom already for any would-be viewers. When anime starts talking about virginity, ecchi, cute, fanservice, or whatever in the TITLE of the show there is room for concern. The synopsis at first didn’t seem to really help. “She loses her powers… when she loses her virginity? So what’s this show about, magic antics while a witch tries to stop losing her virginity from a bunch of old perverts?”

I’ll be perfectly honest, going into the show I didn’t expect much at all. Unlike Death Parade which at least had the promise of Death Billiards backing it up for quality, Maria had nothing to prove it was going to be a good show; it actively had stuff going against it instead. So what do we get with episode 1? A cute witch who is trying to stop all conflict because she doesn’t like it. Oh, and of course we’re also treated to some wonderful animation that I’m sure surprised most viewers. We also get a taste for the societal, religious, and war-time themes the show likes to revolve around so much.

In short I was surprised that the show looked so promising. So I continued into the unknown.

Religion

The point of much contention within the show; some enjoyed it, some hated it. For some background on this I am an atheist who was born and raised as a Roman Catholic. I have some knowledge of the Bible and the church’s teachings. I am very much past my “all religion r dum” phase and I recognize the benefits and value it has provided to society and continues to provide. Now onto my thoughts:

First of all I enjoyed the ease of accessibility to the religious references in the show. Maria and Joseph are in love with each other and Maria is a virgin. This is doubled up on when St. Michael lets Maria give birth to Ezekiel, performing a “virgin birth” of sorts although it is implied that she loses her power when this happens (which was probably going to happen sooner or later anyway). You could also tie purity to magic but that wouldn’t make much sense in the context of the show given that the other witches seemed to be very sex positive and open about performing the act with no detriment to their power.

In this fictional setting we have absolutely zero way of disproving or questioning, at the VERY least, the archangel Michael’s existence. Of course it would follow that if he exists and is making references to God in heaven it seems VERY had to disprove God’s existence within the show too. Brother Bernard questioned his faith and was punished for it in the end; turned to some substance for daring to try to choke out the strongest archangel.

So what do I get from Maria about the church of heaven/Earth? At first we see the church in the most negative light which doesn’t necessarily seem to get better as time goes on. They want nothing more than to stop Maria. Maria being the protagonist, most would immediately say that the church is the antagonist so they’re the bad guys. I was willing to let the show try to explain itself though.

The divide seemed to be made clear from the start. The church of Heaven is beyond human understanding and they operate in a way to ensure the natural progression of humans no matter who gets in the way. The church of Earth seems to TRY to understand the church of Heaven and follow its teachings so of course they both see Maria as an enemy.

So maybe time for a controversial opinion. I know the church of the Earth did plenty good during the time the show was set and I know it did plenty bad. But from the way I watched the show it seems like the good things had little to nothing to do with the story they were presenting. And the way I, as I would assume most causal viewers, understand the historical relationship between witches and the church is that the church has always opposed witchcraft as unnatural.

Of course, then, it would be normal for both churches in the show to go against Maria. She upsets the balance. Which brings up the question, is she not one of God’s creations too? Were witches not intended by the almighty father in the show? Or were they a mutation humans, an unintended consequence? From what I understand witchcraft is generally associated with the devil which may explain the vitriol that some religions display for it.

So in the end, was the church the “bad guy”? I don’t really think so. I think they were just trying to follow their teachings and their faith backed up by the church of Heaven basically saying from afar “this witch is a nuisance and must be stopped”. The monks had been taught their whole lives to live under the church and as such would not see Maria as anything but “evil” given especially that they had not spent any time with her.

Does that make St. Michael the bad guy? No. He was simply trying to stop Maria from disrupting the flow of history; she WAS messing things up pretty hardcore. We were meant to sympathize with her because she was cute, friendly, determined, and felt like a person rather than a supernatural entity. But, she was still prone to human error; she seemed to have full confidence in her beliefs until it started crashing down around her. It was a learning experience for her and the viewer that sometimes even if you have the power to do something it doesn’t always mean you should.

Society

War? Huh. What is it good for? …Well, maybe one or two things actually. This show was set during the Hundred Years’ War in France which surprisingly enough is a great setting for a show that is trying to say something about war and conflict. So Maria doesn’t like war. That’s great. Not a lot of people do. We understand as viewers from the beginning that she is actively trying to stop it using her familiar and fear to stop those from fighting each other.

There is a talk to be had about why we go to war and how effective Maria’s methods were but I am not the one to have that talk. I have seen the theory that men go to war because they are sexually frustrated which would seemingly be backed up by them backing off when Maria sends her familiar to please them but that obviously can’t stop all wars from happening.

So what do we get? Maria goes in and tries to mess things up with her magic. She has  the means and the will to stop what she doesn’t like. But the show elicits interesting questions about the validity of war and if it’s right to stop questionable things from happening just because you can. The show seems to answer that pretty firmly with “War is inevitable” and “NO”. A huge resounding big fat no.

And to be honest I agree with both messages. World peace is nice to talk about but humans fight over ANYTHING. Religion, land, women, beliefs, power, whatever reason they want they’ll take. And as was shown by Junketsu no Maria, even if they’re stopped they’ll go and fight somewhere else time and time again until one of them proves their worth over the other. This is mostly due to the fact that governments don’t see a witch and go “oh we better stop”. Even today in the modern world, old men bicker and go to war but send young men out to die. Even if the soldiers don’t want to go to war they have to because they had a duty to.

To the second point, just because you have the power to stop something or do something doesn’t mean you should. That message seemed to be resoundingly clear. Maria gets BTFO on multiple occasions, even on threat of losing her life, if she continues to mess around with war.

But we also get the stronger message of standing up for what you believe in even if it costs you your life. Where would be be in the modern day world if everyone was afraid of dying just because they opposed the government, someone stronger than them, or a different country? I doubt we would have made anywhere close to the progress we are at today.

And one of the reasons I love Maria’s character so much is that she is determined. She doesn’t back down in the face of death of heavenly force or even death of being burned alive. Thankfully she is able to always make it out alive in the end. She even goes to the end of the series with the resolve to stop war even if she doesn’t have her magic anymore. She faced doubt, turmoil, betrayal from her friends, lots of inner conflict, and still came out a strong character who finally got to be happy.

To speak on the towns within the show there seems to be an implied message in there that rings true with many different forms of entertainment. Whenever there is a supernatural force or something beyond humans’ understanding, as long as it is HELPING us we will welcome it with open arms. But as soon as the conflict or problem is resolved we will turn on that being no matter what it is. Ender’s Game, my favorite book of all time, is another good example of this.

We see this in Maria when the town that Maria is well known in is in threat of losing their divine favor (according to the church of the Earth) because they helped Maria. They are almost instantaneous in their betrayal of her even though she helped Martha constantly. Ann seems to be the only one to stand by her side (possibly alluding to something about the innocence of children). I still feel like this is just society reacting to the circumstances; you can’t expect everyone to always side with the “hero” because real life isn’t that simple.

Conclusion

In the end I feel like Junketsu no Maria was a very well done show. There was some shaky ground especially towards the end but the show pulled it off in the end. Maria remained true to her convictions as a witch and she was able to find happiness after suffering so much opposition at the hands of EVERYONE. St. Michael gave her fair warning that he would try to stop her time and again if she kept messing with things but she didn’t back down even on that front. She willingly lost her magic and became something between a human and a witch and was welcomed back by the village.

I’m going to try to recommend this show to anyone who can actually get past the title. As Ping Pong: The Animation taught me, you can’t ever judge a show by its cover. I hope you all enjoyed this first blog post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I give Junketsu no Maria a 9/10 for entertainment and quality. Thank you all very much for reading, have a great day.

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