Phantom Thief Jeanne 5

September 20, 2015

Arina Tanemura – Viz – 2014 – 7 volumes
this is a 5-volume edition

THIS SERIES IS SO FREAKING BEAUTIFUL.  I think I like the ending to Sakura Hime more, but man, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne will always be my favorite.  I think it’s my favorite magical girl series, period.

Some good things in this volume:  The story of Adam and Eve is retold so that God lives with them in the garden, and Eve’s consumption of the apple meant that she gained knowledge that she and Adam were different from God, and the two of them fell in love and decided to leave Eden in order not to hurt God, who also loved them both.  It was really sweet.  KKJ has the power to shoujo-fy even the Bible.

Also good:  Maron and Chiaki have sex before the final battle, which is Maron proving once again that it’s your perception of yourself, and not your virginity, that makes you a good person (in this case, a “pure” enough person to fight/seal demons as God’s rep).  I still like that detail, since I find the barrier of virginity as a sign of “purity” in series like this to be ridiculous.

Somewhat unexpected:  Maron and Chiaki have sex before the final battle, which NEVER HAPPENS IN MAGICAL GIRL SERIES.

Also:  Finn Fish, you made me cry.  I didn’t think I was going to do that, but again, there’s just something rather beautiful about KKJ.

Also also:  The friendship between Miyako and Maron was very beautiful.  The cliffhanger from last volume was resolved in such a friend-positive way as to make even Tomoyo Daidouji weep.

Finally:  I adore how completely obsessed Chiaki was with Maron throughout the whole series.  That doesn’t stop here.  He’s adorable, and again, it’s nice to see a non-creepy love interest pursuing the heroine so ardently.  It rarely works like that.

I… kind of liked the final battle, it was very clever, and resolved the themes of the series well.  We got to see how Maron grew as a person.  But there’s part of me that turns away from somewhat side-step-y sentimental stuff like that, too.  Tanemura made it up to me in Sakura Hime, so I’m all about this ending in KKJ.

Lots of short stories afterwards!  I’m not sure that I liked any of them as much as the Finn Fish stuff in this volume, but it’s fun bonus stuff for sure.  And I think there’s a new story just for this 5-volume collection (I’m too lazy to check right now, though).

I don’t have a whole lot else to say.  I can’t spoil anything, and I’ve already talked a lot about why I like this series so much, and about its themes, in previous reviews.  I’m glad this has withstood the test of time.

My heart is already shrinking away from my bold declaration of this being my favorite magical girl series, though.  I love Cardcaptor Sakura hard, but I haven’t read it in a long time.  Part of me thinks that Sakura and Syaoran may beat out Maron and Chiaki, but I hate that little jerk Syaoran, so Chiaki has that going for him.  But is Maron and Miyako better than Sakura and Tomoyo?  That’s a close one.  I also don’t remember the themes well enough, though memory is only serving me card battles right now, and while they are cute, I don’t know if they work the same as this series.

Well, guess I’ll have to re-read CCS and see.  It’ll be a good follow-up to KKJ, as both are such classics.


Phantom Thief Jeanne 4

July 29, 2015

Arina Tanemura – Viz – 2014 – 7 volumes
this is a 5 volume edition

Yes.  I am definitely in love with this series.  The pretty chapter illustrations here made me finally splurge on the KKJ artbook (the only Tanemura artbook I don’t have, Viz published the other 3 in the US some time ago).  But mostly, I’m in love with Finn Fish’s story.  I’m still a little broken up about what happened between her and Maron, and I’m 30 years old and read this series almost 10 years ago.

There’s also a weird sequence in this volume where Maron falls off her balcony and “time travels” inside her own head (?!) with Noin, and the pair go back to meet Jeanne d’Arc and try to change history.  They fail, but Maron starts to believe in herself a bit more.

“Believing in yourself” is a pretty generic magical girl message, but I love the way it’s delivered here.  Rather than generically “believing in yourself,” the characters discuss the difference between timidity and courage.  Despite being somewhat outgoing, Maron has lived by herself her entire life, does not possess the courage to call her parents, and Miyako is her only friend.  She has many exchanges with Chiaki where she just can’t admit her feelings, despite the fact he’s all over her and there’s nothing to be afraid of.  So, while in the past, Maron finds “courage” and realizes that she never really had any.  And she has some, because she transforms into Jeanne and goes out and does some flashy police pranking and thievery, but I guess that’s Jeanne and not Maron.  Maron has admired strong, courageous people throughout the series, but the message is brought home here.  I liked the more specific message over the usual generic one.

Another interesting exchange occurs when Maron tries to save Jeanne in the past.  Jeanne reveals that she was raped in prison, and thus no longer possesses the power to seal demons (one must be a virgin).  Maron tells her that what they did to her does not change the purity of her heart, which is what actually gives her the power to seal demons.  It’s not often that the virginity requirement is tossed out the window like that, and I loved that Maron basically ignored it.  Granted, they didn’t delve any deeper than that (rape is a pretty dark topic for this series), but still, it was much more positive than the “oh, you’re soiled now” you’d expect.  I’m looking at you, X.

Lots of other stuff happens, and I’m feeling pretty bad for most of the characters by the end of this volume.  Actually, the volume ends in a terrible place, with a terrible body blow to Maron, one character evil, and two others probably brainwashed.  It gets better, but I’m looking forward to the dark stuff resolving and seeing some clear skies ahead.

Phantom Thief Jeanne 3

July 21, 2015

Arina Tanemura – Viz – 2014 – 7 volumes
this is a 5-volume edition

I don’t know… I mean, I’ll read the rest of the series, but I’m pretty sure this volume clenched the title for Favorite Tanemura Series.  I wasn’t wrong all these years.

Part of it is that it’s a fairly simple story.  Maron is a magical girl, the love interest is her rival, and she’s got some side characters and friends to interact with.  She’s got a great best friend character (in my mind, Miyako is second only to Tomoyo Daidouji as a best friend), and I especially love the fact that she and Chiaki fall in love with each other early.  So the rest of the series isn’t really about that.  They have the same types of misunderstandings, awkward encounters, et cetera that you find in other shoujo romance manga.  And their rival status keeps them apart.  But the relationship feels a bit more mature because of that, which is something you might not expect in this series.

I would say neither one has a very serious rival, but Chiaki had a fiancee blip for a story, and Claude Noin shows up in this volume.  He’s not really serious competition either, but he complicates things, and seems to be sticking around.  He’s also really evil, and things get very nearly ugly in one part, something else you might not expect from Jeanne, or a Ribon series.

There are a few moments of sublime beauty in this volume.  At one point, Finn tells Maron the three things that God does for humans.  This is followed by a one-page illustration of the kamikaze wind answering Maron’s question.  It’s beautiful, one of my favorite moments in the series.  There are a few more moments like this.  A minor character shares his feelings with Maron, and it’s beautiful.  There’s a similar series of pages later in the volume where Maron and Chiaki go on a date, and for a minute, they’re just a couple in love.  This volume is full of little moments like this that are touching and beautifully illustrated, and the snapshot moment like this strikes me more in this series, possibly because of its simplicity.

There’s also a story that takes up a chapter or three in this volume.  Maron has to save a sick punk-ish kid named Zen from a demon.  The story gets way more complicated than the usual painting capture, and the moral implications of what Maron and Chiaki do and do not do get more complicated and ugly the more the story goes on.  And it takes an uglier turn later when Claude Noin shows his true colors.  Again, something you might not expect in a magical girl story like this.

And… oh, the twist.  It starts in the last few pages of this volume.  What a cliffhanger.  Finn is one of my favorite Tanemura characters, and I’m excited to re-read this part.

Ahh.  Even after all these years, I still love KKJ.  I’m so happy to have picked it back up!

Arina Tanemura – Viz – 2014 – 7 volumes
this is a 5-volume omnibus edition

I love this series so much!  I’m torn, because I’ve held this one in my mind as my favorite Tanemura series for so long.  Her later work is more complex, but there’s something about the simplicity, and the easy-to-like characters, that make this one very addictive.

The story moves along here according to shoujo script.  Conflicts that come up include the fallout of Maron finding out that Chiaki is lying to her, Maron dealing with the fact that her parents may love her in their own way (which reads pretty thin to me, since they never visit, call, or write letters), Chiaki and Maron falling slowly in love, and, most heartbreaking, a story at the end where Miyako approaches Jeanne to help save her brother, and Jeanne finds out Miyako wants to catch Jeanne to prove that Maron is no thief.

That’s a simple idea, but Tanemura writes a convincing and adorable friendship, so it hurts quite a bit when we find out that’s the reason.  Similarly, Maron has to wrestle with the fact that both she and Miyako may like Chiaki.  Miyako comes right out and says that Maron is more important to her, but the two have yet to have the conversation.  It’s fairly clear by the end of the volume who Chiaki prefers, though.

I still love all the little jokes slipped in here, too.  I missed the oddball sense of humor, as Gentlemen’s Alliance and Sakura Hime were both a little more serious.  During the Valentine’s Day story, Miyako gives Chiaki a chocolate sculpture of herself in a bikini.  While looking at the school newspaper, the headline, crammed into the bottom of a panel, says something like “Jeanne Anime Announced 2 days before deadline – Honestly I didn’t want Jeanne animated but I like Toei so I said okay.”  There’s lots of cute funny crammed in here.

Gasp!  We also get the first hints that not all is well!  Chiaki seems puzzled by a comment Maron makes about how the demon servants use cross pendants as well.

Is Jeanne still the best?  So far, it’s pretty close!  I’m going to hold off judgement until I finish it, though.

Phantom Thief Jeanne 1

April 12, 2015

Arina Tanemura – Viz – 2014 – 7 volumes
(this is volume 1 of a 5-volume omnibus edition)

I’ve already reviewed this entire series on this site, as it was released by CMX more years ago than I like to admit.  However, I love Arina Tanemura to pieces, and can’t resist the re-read and the nice omnibus edition.  And more press for her never hurts, as it seems there’s been a delay in announcing a localization for one of her new series (note: I wrote this in December, and a new one was announced recently. I cried real tears of joy).  I hope little girls still buy her series!

The first thing I noticed here is that all of Tanemura’s commentaries are missing.  I had wondered about this.  They’ve gotten much better over the years, and the most recent ones do add to the story.  These early ones are… hm.  Not very good.  At one time, her author commentaries were my least favorite to read in shoujo manga.  Part of me is relieved I don’t have to read them again.  I went back to the CMX version, and can confirm that we are not missing out on much.  But I wonder if it was Tanemura’s decision or Viz’s to leave them out.

The second thing is that her art has gotten so much better over the years!  This is a huge compliment, because I liked it plenty when I first started reading her series.  But comparing Sakura Hime to Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne makes it obvious she’s improved so much.  There’s so much more detail, the hairstyles are better, the backgrounds are prettier… again, the artwork in Jeanne is good, but I’m blown away by the difference.

The story is still cute.  Maron is a magical girl, the titular Phantom Thief Jeanne.  It runs along the rails through this volume… Maron hides her identity from her best friend, goes out at night to steal paintings, has her rival that is also her main love interest, et cetera.  It’s cute, there’s a lot of funny jokes, and I enjoy reading it even as simple as this volume is.  It gets better, though.  I love the Finn/Access moments later in the series, as well as the wicked twist.

I also like that Tanemura works so well with the limited number of characters here.  The main trio of Maron, Chiaki, and Miyako, which is supplemented later with the class president.  Chiaki and Maron both have cute helpers in Access Time and Finn Fish.  Miyako’s dad recurs occasionally.  And… that’s about it.  It works well with just a few people, and I love that Miyako stays strong as a best friend/police rival/unconvincing rival in love throughout the series.

Can’t wait to read more!  I have to dig the rest out of my stacks.

Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne 7

March 11, 2007

Two things: the very first chapter, where we get a big scene with Finn and Access, made me cry.  I’m sorry, it just did.  Even with the obvious sacrifice that happened at the end of this chapter, I still shed big girly tears for true love.  Shut up.   The second thing was the beautiful face-off between God’s Jeanne and the Devil’s Jeanne.  You thought this was gonna be some big epic fight?  No!  The Ribon magic works in mysterious ways, and a hug is just as powerful as any punch or slight.  Oh man, that one had me cracking up out of sheer corniness.

I disapproved in the sacrifice after the battle.  I mean, come on, don’t punish her anymore.  She’s suffered enough.  It made me so mad, because she’s been used in really bad flips of the coin throughout the series.  Was this really necessary?  And of course we get the big cheesy ending tacked on.  The ending wasn’t anything spectacular, but the last volume was.  Hooray for that!

This was a great series.  It was really girly, full of sincere characters, and had an awesome plot.  The retelling of the creation story was actually quite different and enjoyable in this volume, and reading this series made me feel good in a way that very few shoujo stories can.  While Full Moon’s ending would have made me swear off Tanemura had I not already been reading this one and been so fond of it… I liked the ending to this one so much that it restored my faith.  Here’s hoping Gentleman’s Alliance is another Jeanne.

Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne 6

March 11, 2007

Despite the girly, shameful tears I wept over past volumes of this series, I had put off these last two because I was really not looking forward to the time travel story at the beginning of this volume.  It wasn’t too bad, as interaction with Jeanne was minimal since she was in prison and mostly it was a trip for Noin and Maron, but it still felt a little… I don’t know, unnecessary.  On the other hand, it was extremely necessary, as it gave Maron her powers back.

Maron resolves to do things if she makes it back to the present, and of course one of these things is to tell Chiaki how she feels about him.  There are many cute cuddling scenes between Maron and Chiaki for a lot of the time, but well, one thing leads to another and then Miyako starts dating Chiaki.  This is of course unnatural, so Maron has to find some BIG SHOCK that will snap Miyako out of her demonic posession.  This part made me laugh, as they did work it out to be a big shock and it turned out to be… well, not.

This volume read like a lot of exposition and a bunch of weepy character moments (if Arina’s got a weakness, it’s that her characters talk too much about how they feel, but I guess it did run in Ribon), but this is necessary since the next volume is the epic conclusion.