Review: Phantom Thief Jeanne #1

It’s a manga review double feature today, apparently.

I picked this up on a whim at Comic Con because it looked cute and AMERICAN COVER PRICES FOR EVERYTHING!

….Or just because it looked cute.

As it turns out, I’d heard of this series before (you may know it as Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne) but I never really looked into it. I watch the occasional anime, but I never really got into buying manga until relatively recently (and not only because I just didn’t have the money for it, which I didn’t, but that’s besides the point). The manga was originally published in Japan in 1998 – 2000 and reprinted in 2013. This English edition is the five volume reprint (originally it was released in seven volumes).

By day, Maron Kusakabe is an ordinary high school student, but by night, she’s Phantom Thief Jeanne, who sneaks into private art collections in order to steal the paintings that hide demons inside them, which feed on the hearts of humans. The hardest part of her job seems to be evading the police, but things get complicated when another thief, Phantom Thief Sinbad, arrives on the scene and he’s trying to steal the demon occupied paintings before she does!

I like Maron as a character. Outwardly, she appears to be a very kindhearted person, but inside she has major trust issues, and God help you if you betray her trust. Her banter with her best friend Miyako is always entertaining. Other major characters include Chiaki, who is a jerk who practically has Obvious Love Interest emblazoned on his forehead, Finn Fish, Jeanne’s angelic companion/mascot character, Access Time, another angel who follows Chiaki around, and Yamato Minazuki, the mild-mannered, somewhat nerdy class president with an unrequited crush on Maron. They all have very distinct personalities, and (unlike Sailor Moon) I don’t really have the sense that one character’s development is being privileged over the others.

Comparisons to Sailor Moon are inevitable because I read this at the same time as that series, but Kodansha could really stand to take some notes on how not to do an awkward translation from manga like this. The dialogue sounds more natural in English, and there aren’t any obvious spelling mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, Sailor Moon is great, but reading this was a real treat after putting up with so much awkward phrasing and honorifics.

The art is pretty good. I’m a fan of more detailed art and there’s enough detail to satisfy me, but as usual your mileage may vary.

For triggery things, there’s a moment where a possessed Minazuki tries to force a kiss on Maron, but she is rescued in the nick of time by Chiaki. Chiaki is a jerk who abuses Maron’s trust, and one major theme is parental abandonment/neglect.

Overall though, I’m not sure if I’ll purchase the next one. The characters are interesting, it’s nice to see a protagonist who has issues with trusting people (and who actually sounds like a teenager) the mascot character isn’t a pain in the ass, but it didn’t really grab me, it just kind of took my hand and held it. There’s definitely a nostalgia factor for me (Jeanne reminds me of a more “mature” Cardcaptor Sakura) but, especially when compared with Sailor Moon (which also has a T rating) it seems a bit juvenile. I know that sounds odd since it’s meant for teenagers and I’m almost 30. I suppose that’s due to the series age and the fact that I’ve seen so many magical girl shows at this point that Jeanne just doesn’t affect me the way it might have a decade ago. I would definitely say this was a strong first volume, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to sell me on the rest of the series. In any case, if you’re a fan of magical girls (particularly Cardcaptor Sakura) then I’d say this one is worth a look, even if it’s just a peek.

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