WARNING: THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR JUNKETSU NO MARIA
Hey everyone, I’m back for the second character focus article. This time I’m gonna focus on Maria from Junketsu no Maria. I have talked about her a lot and how much I enjoy her character in previous articles – but I have never really dedicated a post like this to her and I think, given how much I enjoy her character, she deserves that much. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue writing these as a semi-regular series to give myself something to practice with and to hopefully improve my ability to analyze characters and find out why i enjoy them so much.
So. What do we have in the case of Maria? Well, the first thing I think I need to mention is how much I love her character design. The outfit, her hair, her earrings, her eyes… it probably helps a lot that in the first episode the art looks so crisp when they focus on shots of Maria. Everything about her personality and design meshes together so well to create a character that you want to know more about as soon as she appears on the screen. Just from watching her in the first episode amidst the flaming inferno she was causing made me want to know more about her.
I think, from the first episode, something else I appreciated about Maria’s character is just how insecure she appears to be with herself. She hides her appearance to give off the illusion she’s a wizened old witch instead of a young attractive girl, but that quickly falls apart and she fumbles to recover from the incident. Even though she dresses in what would be considered a provocative fashion for the time, she is still quite innocent and doesn’t pick up on sexual innuendo. She’s not concerned with attracting anyone, she dresses with what she’s comfortable with wearing (and perhaps, at least a small amount, to showcase that she is indeed a witch and not a villager).
Of course, we also have her struggles that she goes through during the course of the series. She gets hit with mounting stress time and again – from the beginning we see that fighting causes her displeasure, and then when she’s told she can’t interfere anymore, she blatantly chooses to disregard that notion for the time being because she still believes her conviction is right. One of my favorite things about the show is how the message isn’t entirely black and white – Maria is choosing to do what she believes is right but that might not be what someone else thinks is right.
And building on top of that enjoyment, I like the fact that Maria has to struggle with her beliefs. She’s not a shounen protagonist that knows they’re doing the right thing and that everything will be okay if they beat the bad guy. Maria has to, in some situations, consider herself to be the bad guy that is causing nothing but grief to the villagers and the warring nations while she herself gets the benefit of not being bothered by the constant fighting that is occurring near her.
What I enjoy about the grey morality of the whole deal is that it’s clear Maria is a good person. She has good intentions. It’s a simple jump of logic for her to go from “fighting is bad” to “I should stop the fighting, which will be good”. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And she realizes the hard way that she is causing just as many issues as she is solving – but it’s never stated that she’s “helping more” or that she’s “hurting more”, leaving how “correct” her actions are up to the interpretation of the viewer as we see that villages are burned and the war is prolonged when Maria constantly interferes with the fighting.
She has to deal with her budding interest in Joseph as well, knowing full well that he has to go off to battle and she would have to show obvious bias in order to save him from all the fighting occurring so that he specifically doesn’t die. On top of all that, she’s told more than once that she should give into her love for Joseph and give up her powers, so that she can live happily without fear of being killed by Michael. But of course, that means losing her immense magical power that she has been using to her desire to achieve the results she wants.
Eventually, and why I think Maria’s development was probably the best thing about Junketsu no Maria, Maria realizes that even without her power she can still help people all over the country. She doesn’t have the ability to stop large scale conflicts from happening but she remains resolved in her convictions – she’s GOING to stop people from fighting no matter what it takes, no matter what kind of power she has. Throughout everything else she’s managed to stay steadfast in her desire to end conflict, no matter how impossible that may seem. No matter what other people tells her, no matter what GOD tells her, she’s decided what she wanted to do all on her own. She wasn’t influenced by what society thought was right or what someone else pressured her into doing. She made the decision herself.
Maria is pretty much the culmination of what I look for in a character. She’s got interesting character struggles that make her feel like a person rather than a trope. If I was asked what “trope” to put Maria under, I don’t even know how I’d respond. She doesn’t really fit into any category other than “Maria.” That’s the biggest part of this whole thing to me – she feels like a person rather than a character on a screen. It was truly an enjoyable experience to watch Maria grow from a somewhat selfish girl to a woman who knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life and was confident in her ability to bring change.
I think this is gonna be my last post on Maria for a while, until I get a chance to rewatch it. I’ve already written about it at least 2 separate times besides this. It is a very dear show to my heart and my second favorite show of last year but there’s only so much I can say from having seen it once – I would really like a chance in maybe the next year or so to rewatch it and glean a greater respect and analysis of the show. As always, thanks for reading.