Maron Kusakabe is an average Japanese teenager who just happens to live a double life as a Magical Girl. Approached by a minor angel named Finn Fish, Maron discovers that she is the reincarnation of Jeanne D’Arc (a.k.a. Joan of Arc), and therefore she must moonlight as a Magical Girl known as Phantom Thief Jeanne. Jeanne’s purpose is to steal paintings that are possessed by demons—paintings that subsequently possess their owners’ hearts with darkness. When another Phantom Thief makes an appearance on Maron’s turf, Maron must figure out if she’s found a friend sent by God or a foe commissioned by the Devil.
Originally published in the late 90s, Phantom Thief Jeanne is a beautifully drawn Magical Girl series, complete with stylish characters and soft, intricate lines. The artwork details every strand of Maron’s hair and every fold of her clothing. Typical for this period of shoujo manga, and especially for the artwork of Arina Tanemura, all the characters have huge eyes that are pools of expression.
The premise is a bit silly: as the reincarnation of Jeanne D’Arc, Maron is commissioned to duty by an angel. This part makes a certain historical sense, as Joan of Arc did claim to have heavenly visions and was said to have been guided by God. However, a history buff might scoff at the conceit that Jeanne must steal possessed artwork—or rather, magically transform each painting into another picture that is not possessed. But let’s be honest: it’s doubtful that Jeanne’s intended audience will mistake this manga for biographical material. More likely, Phantom Thief Jeanne will find fans who want a good fantasy romance.
Phantom Thief Jeanne features a rare Magical Boy character: Chisato Nagoya, Maron’s new classmate, is also known as Phantom Thief Sinbad. Initially, the two make an awkward pair. While Chisato’s appearance coincidentally parallels Sinbad’s, Maron does not immediately make the connection. Chisato’s flirty, devil-may-care attitude initially infuriates her, and in turn, Sinbad infuriates Jeanne. Eventually, the two thieves begin to help one another and Maron slowly begins to trust Chisato. One of the key strengths of the series is its characters’ depth: Maron appears carefree, but she has serious abandonment issues after her parents left her on her own at a young age. When she confesses her pain, it feels as raw and genuine. As expected, there is also more to Chisato’s personality than meets the eye.
This series includes some suggestive humor and a scene in which a classmate tries to force a kiss upon Maron, indicating that it would be best suited to a teen audience. Despite its silly historical faux pas, Jeanne will be a phantom on library shelves. This series will not sit idle—expect heavy circulation.
Phantom Thief Jeanne, vol. 1
by Arina Tanemura
Art by Arina Tanemura
Publisher Age Rating: Teen