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Maria the Virgin Witch
Episode 3

by Gabriella Ekens,

This episode starts out with Maria doomed. God's main man, Saint Michael the Unblinking, has Maria in his (her? its?) divine clutches. Before Michael can take her out for good, however, God decides to defer punishment in favor of a challenge – she can keep her powers as a witch, but only until she loses her virginity. This makes the arbitrary divide Maria has imposed upon her life truly literal. Maria can either keep helping people with her magic or allow herself happiness, but not both. There are a couple other caveats – Michael doesn't want her using magic in public and has sent his own agent, the equally gender-ambiguous Ezekiel, to monitor her. While Ezekiel's watch is easily dodged through trickery and bullying from Maria's owls, Michael's larger ultimatum will no doubt haunt Maria until the show's conclusion.

Joseph is such a good guy. It takes guts to stand up to God's right-hand man in the name of biblical virtue, and his bravery is what leads to the Most High himself giving Maria a chance. Joseph is also cognizant of the fact that Michael's decree is a massive invasion of Maria's privacy, even as their sexual tension ramps up. (Can you imagine God coming down and revealing your sexual history to your crush? That's not cool.) He seems to believe in the spirit of God's law rather than the letter, and his perspective could give Maria an opportunity to reconcile her two selves. It'll be interesting if she ends up losing her virginity (and thus her powers) as an act of self-sacrifice rather than indulgence. It's got to happen at some point, and she is growing closer to Joseph, who keeps coming over to hang out alongside Anna.

Poor Priapus. Maria hasn't bothered to give him any junk yet, and judging from his shout of dickless despair in the next episode preview, it doesn't seem like that'll be happening any time soon. I love the birds in general – the owls in particular look like bouncing, huggable creampuffs. Ezekiel is funny as Michael's prudish and slightly incompetent agent, but even if she can't reign Maria in, the imposition she represents is still a heavy burden on her shoulders. I also like how adamant Artemis and Priapus are in defending their mistress. Michael doesn't seem to care that the owls are relentlessly pecking at his follower, so his smug fence-sitting is a double-edged sword, I guess.

This episode's most interesting development was the introduction of characters from the Earthly church. Having heard tell of Maria's exploits from churchgoers, Father Bernard arranges a meeting with her, where he asks her to publicly repent and continue her life as a follower of the Church. Despite Ezekiel's prodding in favor of the arrangement, Maria rejects the offer and storms off. The Church's characterization here already seems more nuanced than it is in most other anime where they're present as an antagonistic force. We're shown that Father Bernard was taking a risk in attempting to compromise with Maria, as even speaking to a witch is considered a stain on his soul. In this situation, Maria was the ideologically absolute one – which happens to be the exact trait she despises in Christianity. Bernard, by contrast, is a schemer who plays loose with what the Church allows in order to enact his vision of a perfect hierarchical system. He seems to be an antagonist, but it's unclear where he falls on the scale from “misguided” to “evil” right now.

There are a lot of concurrent strains of hypocrisy in this show, from Ezekiel's claim that her short skirt is excused while Maria's is inappropriate to the vagueness of Maria's status as an Earthly/not Earthly being. So she has to live according to Heaven's rules, even though witches are abominations in their eyes? If God hates witches so much, why do they even exist? When can Heaven arbitrate Earthly affairs without breaking their “no interference” policy. They seem fine about getting up in Maria's business all the time. Even the humans comment on it when Joseph asks if God could give them any signs for once – the Lord seems to love getting pissy at witches. Maybe Maria's actions will end up revolutionizing the heavenly order? Either way, Maria the Virgin Witch has definitely arrived as one of the most intriguing and sophisticated shows this season.

Grade: B+

Maria the Virgin Witch is currently streaming on Funimation.

Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.

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