Phantom Thief Jeanne Volume 1 Review: Certainly Didn’t Steal Me

I did say this review was coming, and here it is. I used to read a lot of manga when I was younger, but eventually stopped due to a lack of interest. Lately I’ve been getting back into it, and am usually willing to give any kind of manga a try. However, Phantom Thief Jeanne has convinced me that I should probably stay away from shojo manga.

Phantom Thief Jeanne is about a girl named Maron Kusakabe. Maron is just a regular sixteen year old girl who goes to school. In her free time, Maron transforms into Phantom Thief Jeanne and “steals” paintings. By steal, I mean she fights and seals away a demon that dwells within the painting and possesses an unfortunate human. Upon sealing the demon away by throwing a dart at the painting, the dart becomes a chess piece, thus stealing the false beauty of the painting and replacing it with a new picture of equal beauty. So yeah, not exactly an ordinary life.

For whatever reason, Maron is the reincarnation of Jeanne D’Arc, better known as Joan of Arc. Yeah, the historical Joan of Arc. Not only that, but apparently Maron is the only one who can save the human race. The demons in the paintings are minions of the Demon Lord who seeks to corrupt human hearts. In this series, human hearts are the source of God’s power and if God should run out of power and vanish, the human race will automatically be driven to extinction. If Maron can complete her mission, likely complete a full set of chess pieces, then she will be granted one wish. I imagine that wish will come into play later, and Maron will probably use that wish to either find her parents or bring someone back if any character should die at any point in the series. Calling it now.

As far as characters go, Maron lives with her best friend Miyako Todaiji. Miyako aspires to become a police officer, and she’s determined to help her pint-sized father catch Phantom Thief Jeanne. Of course, she doesn’t know that her friend is the thief she’s trying to capture. The third big character in the series is a boy named Chiaki Nagoya. Chiaki is a hybrid of your typical main male character of a harem anime and a generic boy meets girl romance anime/manga. A bunch of girls drool all over him and naturally there is all sorts of romantic drama going on between him and Maron and Miyako. He also has a fiancee due to an arranged marriage courtesy of his family. In short, Chiaki is a walking bag of nearly every possible romantic cliché.

Visually, Phantom Thief Jeanne doesn’t really stand out all that much. The drawing style was essentially generic anime. The characters had large eyes with irises that are unnaturally and disturbingly large. During random frames throughout the manga, there are flowers that border around the character and I’m not sure what the artist was going for with that effect. At the very least the shading is really nice and the colored illustrations are gorgeous.

Storywise, Phantom Thief Jeanne would be considered a magic girl manga. Teenage girl with an ordinary life? Check. Some sort of talking companion that is a small Angel in this scenario? Check. A “transformation” that is really just a change of clothes? Check. Speaking of clothes, the outfit that Maron wears when she transforms does not exactly scream out thief to me. No, it seems more like a set of gear you’d find for a priest in a RPG or something like that. Very much like Rikku’s Thief Dress Sphere from Final Fantasy X-2 in the fact that I seriously doubt it would actually help the wearer accomplish much in terms of stealing.

The pacing of this first volume was ridiculously slow. Reading the first volume felt like it took a lifetime as the story dragged on. It would’ve moved faster if there’d been more action or interesting character interactions. However, battles were only a small part of the first volume and the rest was a bunch of romance subplots, slice of life subplots, and drama that just went on and on and got progressively worse as the book progressed. At the very least the demons were woven into the story relatively seamlessly, although after awhile it became easy to predict when things were going to happen and when something was going to get revealed.

Overall, I have to say that Phantom Thief Jeanne is not my cup of tea. I imagine that there is an audience that will eat this series up eagerly, but I’m not part of it. I can say at the very least that the art is pleasant on the eye despite the generic art style, and it has great production values in both physical and digital form. So if you are into magical girl shojo manga, then I recommend Phantom Thief Jeanne.