the_sun_is_up: Giorno in a cloud of flower petals, making a sexyface at the camera. (giogio - faaaaabulous)
So I've been sick with a cold for the past two weeks (probably got it from working as a parking cashier at the county fair) but now that I'm feeling better, here's my promised second post on Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, about all the things it does right.

As I mentioned before, I was first drawn to KKJ because I'd heard that it was one of the more dark and subversive entries in the genre. Specifically, I'd heard that it did a lot of the same things that Puella Magi Madoka Magica did except, y'know, 10 years earlier. And indeed, I was not disappointed — there is some pretty awesomely deconstructy stuff going on here!

But first, here's a plot summary: Maron Kusakabe is Kaitou Jeanne, reincarnation of Jeanne D'Arc and teenage Magic Warrior on a mission from God. Her job is to fight demons who take up residence inside beautiful paintings and then possess and corrupt nearby humans. Unfortunately, whenever she exorcises a demon from a painting, the painting disappears, so the public all think she's an art thief. As if battling demons and evading the muggle police weren't enough, she also has a rival in the mysterious Kaitou Sinbad, whom Maron theorizes must be working for the Devil.

So this is all pretty standard stuff, right? Ohoho no, it is not. Most of what I told you in that plot summary gets kicked in the head by the end of the series as Maron discovers that her magical girl gig is not at all like what she thought it was. This is one of those stories where all the big selling points are also MASSIVE SPOILERS so...

KKJ as a Magical Girl deconstruction, in list form. Contains HUGE SPOILERS for the whole series. )

In the end, KKJ is one of the strongest deconstructions of the Magic Warrior genre that I've seen so far and a very interesting read. If only the romance subplot wasn't so obnoxious, I could whole-heartedly like this series.
the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
Prompted by the MG Project, I've been buying and reading a lot of shojo manga lately. This is unusual for me because I usually approach reading shojo with the same caution I'd use when defusing a bomb. However the Magical Girl genre tends to be on the friendlier, less brain-bleach-necessitating side of shojo, and indeed I've been enjoying myself a lot as I plowed through assorted volumes of Sugar Sugar Rune, Shugo Chara, Sailor V, and Mermaid Melody.

Then I read Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne and I was like "Oh yeah, that's why I hardly ever read shojo. BECAUSE IT IS FREQUENTLY HORRIBLE."

I picked up this title because I'd heard that Arina Tanemura's work tends to be among the more angsty, dark, and subversive in the Magical Girl genre, and KKJ in particular had some later plot twists that really intrigued me. And Tanemura's art is quite good, even if her art style is the most terrifying goddamn thing I've ever seen. It's like shojo on steroids. THE EYES. THEY ARE TOO BIG.

Having finished the series, I find KKJ frustrating because it's such a mixed bag. In fact, I'll break it down:

As a Magical Girl story, it's quite good.
As an epic womance between a magical girl and her muggle bff, or between a magical girl and her mascot mentor, it's also pretty good.
As a het romance, it is freaking awful.

At this point, I'm going to dive into spoiler territory because I can't rant properly otherwise.

KKJ as a het romance — making me throw my book at the wall a lot )

In short, the het romance portion of KKJ is up to its eyeballs in everything I absolutely despise about shojo, which really soured the whole experience for me.

This post is getting long, so next time I'll talk about all the things that KKJ does right, especially in the vein of Dark And Subversive Magical Girl Narratives and Ladies Talking To Each Other And Being Ambiguously Gay.

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