Maria the Virgin Anime

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Alex reads a review on Maria the Virgin Witch’s latest episode.

We start off with last week’s status quo – Priapus is still incomplete, Maria is still interfering with battles, and Ezekiel is still getting browbeaten into letting Maria do what she wants.

Alex: I’m starting to think that Ezekiel was just put into the story because “wouldn’t it be funny if the angel sent to control Maria was actually an incompetent cute girl voiced by Hanakana?

By the episode’s end, Ezekiel’s begun warming up to the witch and has somewhat accepted a position within her makeshift family.

Alex: In other words, Maria’s one-sided stance on war is justified and Ezekiel will just be a tool to further that dull view.

Priapus is central to this. I’m impressed by his continued development into more than the world’s saddest sex demon. He understands his master well, and his influence is central to Ezekiel’s conversion.

Alex: Wow, that is some grade-C character development right there.

It’d be neat if Priapus’ lack of a member allows him to become something more than a lowly incubus

Alex: We all know that’s not going to happen though, since all he’s been used for is “oh look, I’m a penis-less male. Isn’t that funny?”

The episode’s title, Memento Mori, is a Latin phrase that translates to “remember that you must die.” It’s important because Maria’s interference in the war is just making the population more and more reliant on her to maintain peace. They have no way of taking care of themselves after she dies, so Maria’s just dooming them to a worse conflict down the line.

Alex: In other words, people die in war no matter what, and nothing can change that. Wow, what an original message. Plus, that point where Ezekiel gets roped into Maria’s side kind of dilutes the ambiguity the show is trying to portray.

In her desire to save everyone, Maria overlooks the fact that it just isn’t possible, at least not with a strategy as short-sighted as interfering with battles as they happen. She hasn’t realized that saving one person requires dooming another. Some people live off of war, and they’re not necessarily evil for it.

Anyway, cutting off war also makes desperate profiteers take their frustrations out on local villages. The root of the issue isn’t the existence of war but rather a predatory and self-centered aspect of human nature.

Alex: Jesus Christ, it’s like reading praise for a checklist called “How to make every single war story in the history of war stories”. Of course war isn’t that simple. But that fact by itself is pretty goddamn simple. You need more than just “ambiguity on both sides and how you can’t save everyone”. This is stuff we all know from WWII classes in high school, and it doesn’t help that it’s being told through a bunch of unfunny cardboard anime caricatures. Give me something else! Do something interesting with the “people who interfere with war get punished” angle besides “it doesn’t solve anything”. Or do something interesting with the religious angle.

Meanwhile, Father Bernard is doing his “disinterested and self-serving emblem of religious institution” thing by turning the death of someone the Church failed to aid in life into a PR move.

Alex: …I said something interesting with the religious angle. Not the same old “corrupt priest” shit.

It turns out that Maria’s actions are also harming her fellow witches, who work as mercenaries.

Alex: Not really sure how that works.

Most witches are preoccupied with Earthly affairs, using their powers to accumulate wealth and live lives of indulgence.

Alex: So witches are supposed to represent other countries not directly involved in the Hundred Year War and just live their lives carefree until said war grows to the point that their lives get roughed up.

Viv tries to deflower Priapus upon meeting him and storms off when she learns about his “deficiency,” humiliating the poor incubus.

Alex: Just another example of Maria the Virgin Witch’s failed attempts at being funny.

She also urges Maria to lose her virginity “like, today” and become a member of witch society.

Alex: You cannot stop war, so just accept your fate and fuck a dog already.

Of course, Maria rejects the offer and continues to work alone. With this, it seems that Maria is an exception even among witches. Her severity isolates her from everyone with power, a side-effect that’s certain to have some serious consequences down the line.

Alex: But until these consequences come, we’re just going to have sit through painfully trite “I hate war” messages and unfunny sex jokes that make me wish I was watching a Seth Rogen comedy. Plus, with those three stooges hanging around her, I doubt she’ll ever be really lonely. She seems to be doing just fine without the other witches, who I barely even know, so who cares if she doesn’t interact with them?

I’m shocked by just how much there was to unpack this episode. I’ve written 800 words of pure analysis.

Alex: More like 800 words of pure obvious.

That’s not to say it was just retreading old ground

Alex: Biggest lie I’ve ever seen.

PS: The author would like to make it clear that he has nothing against the reviewer, and this post is just a comical jab at praise for a show he considers mediocre/unoriginal at best.

11 responses to “Maria the Virgin Anime

  1. ” It turns out that Maria’s actions are also harming her fellow witches, who work as mercenaries.”

    “Alex: Not really sure how that works.”

    She is trying to stop the war,which the other witches need so they could continue to profit from it. Pretty easy to understand.

    • I meant witches working as mercenaries. Why would they need to work as them, what would they use the money for, etc? That’s like someone employing Morrigan from that fighting game I don’t remember the name of.

    • Remember, witches interfering in wars is only not okay if it’s Maria doing it. It’s okay as long as other witches do it.

      • The other witches are making a profit from war, on the sidelines, but they’re not showing up in the middle of the battlefield to throw a giant monster into the fight and make everyone run away. That seems to be the problem.

  2. I’m not even an acquaintance of the reviewer, frankly speaking, yet I don’t think this cynical approach of harshly cutting up a person’s review and dissecting it completely out of context has a lot of intellectual merit.

    Yes, you have that little disclaimer about making comical jabs and so on at the end, but you’re also exposing the limitations of your own mindset in the process.

    Ezekiel is one of the characters that can and probably will serve a dual purpose. I think it’s rather severely disingenuous of you to conclude that if Ezekiel is starting to understand Maria’s impact on normal people then that suddenly means she’s right about everything and everyone else is wrong. Everyone go home, Maria is perfect! Show’s over, guys.

    No, that’s not how things work. If you really think the show has no ambiguity left just because a critical character is exposed to another’s views and reflects on them with a degree of sympathy, I must strongly disagree. I find that to be, as it were, a one-sided criticism when the series hasn’t failed to present additional points of view, particularly in this last episode, that are also valid.

    I don’t expect a lot out of Priapus myself, but there is nothing wrong with him at least assisting another character’s development. It is not groundbreaking stuff, but it is not a flaw either. Maybe that’s enough for now. Oh no! Quick, someone call the writing police!

    Humor is completely subjective, so something that’s so unfunny to you is probably making someone else laugh a bit. And that’s fine. I don’t think your own sense of humor is particularly universally shared either.

    Ultimately, original messages in fiction are few and far between. Even Ikuhara’s Yuri Kuma Arashi probably won’t reach a point that’s not been made in feminist literature before. But I do think the way Maria mixes things up is unusual and creative enough, even if the humor doesn’t work for you and your cynicism makes it nigh-impossible to watch, let alone discuss, the series with any sincerity.

    • My jab was less towards the show itself and more on how bland I find ANN’s style in regards to reviewing things (as well as how people praise Maria in general). Similar to anime itself, I’m not a big fan of when the obvious is stated in reviews and such.

      I’ll address some of your other points later. I’m doing something else right now.

      Edit: This article isn’t entirely cynical either. One or two of Alex’s comments are musings on what the author brought up rather than contesting the text.

    • Okay, as for your other points…

      I don’t really care if Ezekiel agrees with Maria or not. Alex is based on me, but not all of his views reflect mine. That jab was more towards the fact that Ezekiel warming up to Maria isn’t really much of a positive point, especially considering half of her screen time is just Maria disrespecting her for comedy. That’s not to say it isn’t a positive point. Just not really one I find worth mentioning.

      Now let’s get to the big thing. My personal problem with Maria is that it approaches every single one of its topics at too elementary a level for my taste. At best, a high schooler would know all about the issues it brings up. I don’t like fiction with messages at the high school level (and a bit of the college level), especially when it’s about war, a subject I never cared too much for growing up. You don’t have to be Miyazaki or anything, but I don’t enjoy “war is bad” morals unless you do it in an interesting way. Preferably, without soldiers.

      Is Yuri Kuma repeating the same shit that gay/lesbian films/books/news/etc. have done before? Maybe, but it’s doing it with interesting style. On top of thinking the jokes lack punch and not having a big opinion on the animation style, the action scenes in Maria are really boring to watch. There’s little movement and what little choreography there is is really standard. I don’t even like Parasyte’s action scenes, and they’re way more fluid than this show’s.

      • I believe simple material could be done well depending on how it’s presented,along with great performances which could elevate it.The 1927 film Wings for example is a pretty simple war film,but has fantastic aerial dogfights which are edited perfectly. Along with having fantastic production values across the board,and likable characters.

        Hell you could have a film that deals with it’s themes in an intelligent way,but ultimately be boring(1936 film Things to Come is a great example).

      • I suppose part of me is slightly skeptical about what you’re suggesting average high school students, as opposed to high school textbooks or at best the class bookworms, would have in mind when it comes to matters of war and medieval society. Certainly, I don’t think this is the most complex depiction of war, but I do think the show touches upon, admittedly with only partial elaboration, on some interesting ideas that aren’t quite as common knowledge as one might think, even if they aren’t exactly eye-opening either.
        Then again, I have no allergy to soldiers being present or focused on.

        Parasyte is a more action-oriented series, at least comparatively speaking. Shinichi will be regularly attacked by parasites and a fight scene will ensue. They’re essentially monsters trying to kill each other. That’s not what is going on here. In this case, I would argue there have only been two truly action-centric scenes in Maria, both of which were absolutely fine in terms of storyboarding and were fitting for the chosen setting and/or subject matter.

        I really liked the extended look at a semi-realistic medieval battle in the first episode and the introduction of the dragon into the mix had enough style points for my taste. The second instance would be Archangel Michael vs. Maria. Which, while a rather one-sided encounter for story reasons, was fairly well done. I don’t have any problems with either of those.

        Beyond that point, the story hasn’t reached the stage where there would be any pressing need for elaborate choreography or cinematography. It would be quite out of proportion with what’s actually been happening lately and a waste of what probably isn’t a very high budget.Say, some mercenaries attacking civilians isn’t exactly demanding exciting results in terms of action, and Maria hasn’t faced much physical opposition recently. Her monsters simply scare people and that’s all. But I presume that will eventually change in the coming weeks. The priorities of the story are not, however, based on providing an exciting battle sequence each week. You’d need to re-write the whole plotline for that to happen and the manga is already over.

      • I really liked the extended look at a semi-realistic medieval battle in the first episode and the introduction of the dragon into the mix had enough style points for my taste.

        I thought that fight scene sucked.