Comic Books Magazine

Maria The Virgin Witch Review

Posted on the 25 March 2015 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

Maria The Virgin Witch CoverTitle: Maria The Virgin Witch (Junketsu no Maria)
Genre: Fantasy, Religion
Publisher: Kodansha (JP), Kodansha USA (US)
Artist: Masayuki Ishikawa
Serialized in: Good! Afternoon
Translation: Stephen Paul
Original Release Date: February 24, 2015

There’s not a ton of manga released in the US that talk about religion, or if they do, it scrapes the surface of it or is used as a theme for a chapter or two. Maria the Virgin Witch exclusively makes religion its theme, and that’s a reason this manga is interesting, though whether it’ll be up your alley due to its anger towards the Catholic Church and Maria’s views on what the Almighty should do is gonna be up to the reader.

This story involving Maria takes place way in the past, where England and France are at war, and trying to decide who has the rightful place of land. Maria, however, does not like war. In fact, she hates a lot…so much so that with her witch powers, whether interfering in the war with her magic, sending out her succubus to entertain weak minded officials, or helping nearby villages with their troubles, gets in the way of the two countries. This obviously angers them. This also angers the Church, who have branded witches “heretics” and people you shouldn’t rely on compared to God. This also angers the Archangel Michael, who, tired of Maria getting in the way of the war, threatens and places a curse on her: if she gets caught using her magic, she will have her powers revoked. If she loses her virginity, she will no longer be able to use magic.

The obviously likable part of Maria is it makes religion its central theme, or at least one of themes. It deals with femininity, the catholic church, and even questions natural order, and are things supposed to be the way they are. Maria’s view is if God is Almighty and powerful as the Church says He is, then why isn’t he protecting those who are in need of help? The counter argument is that there are many places that need help and some sort of protection — that’s where humans, or the people in charge, are supposed to be on their own and create their own sort of protection.

It does do comedy, but Maria definitely has sinister tones lurking in it

It does do comedy, but Maria definitely has sinister tones lurking in it

At least in this first volume, it goes both ways in critiquing Maria’s views on how the world should be and the Church’s views on what is going on in the world — from sending inexperienced and obviously incapable men to die, to convince the people that their God is almighty and to pray to him while branding witches as conniving and evil despite their help, and overall not seemingly doing enough to help the people, is the Church as good as they say they are? Is Maria selfish and egotistic for using her powers to not just save people who might have been fated to die, but for interfering with a war that started and now may not end because she shows up?

It ultimately comes down to history, and whether or not you can change how everything will flow. It reminds me of, to some extent, works that explain violently you can’t fix everything to suit your needs (current example is Full Metal Alchemist), and for Maria, it comes down to does she have to right to change everything because she hates war? It actually is a toss up — mostly because there’s one chapter in here that essentially shows how dark following the teachings of the Church can be — but at the same time, how many times can Maria interfere before she can get what she wants? At this point, she can’t, because the two countries are still going to fight. She can’t end the war. She’s ultimately fighting a losing battle. Ultimately this comes down to your worldview, or you can just wait until the next few volumes to come to a conclusion.

The characters aside from Maria are ok so far. Maria does act like the typical shoujo main character, but in a world like this, her anger and naivety works well enough. Artemis the succubus is exactly how you’d expect a succubus to be, and that’s awesome, some of the humans are ok, and the angels alongside Michael are ok.

As someone who is also watching the anime, Michael feels way more like a villain in the anime than he does in the manga, which makes this volume a bit light, despite its heavy themes. There doesn’t feel like a central villain to rally most of the anger at, or a side to choose from. At this point, it’s probably a good thing, but it feels like this one could’ve used a character that stands out as inherently bad. I think the reason Michael feels less like a villain is due to the artwork. It actually seems pleasant. I guess the creator of Moyashimon knows what he wants to accomplish regarding his characters.

As the series goes on, I expect the intensity of the two clashing views will go up, and it may be too much for either side of the spectrum to handle. But if you can overcome that, this is a worthy manga to read at your leisure.

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