This week I’m looking at another Arina Tanemura’s shojo series Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, also known as Phantom Thief Jeanne. It was originally published in Japan by Shueisha from 1998 until 2000. The seven volumes were then originally released in English by CMX Manga, which later went defunct. I think it was the only one of Tanemura’s series not to be released by Viz Manga, until recently when Viz did a license rescue and re-released it using Shueisha’s 2013 reprint of the series, which condensed it to five volumes with higher page counts. Viz released it under the title Phantom Thief Jeanne, with fresh translations, new covers, and color pages. There is also a 44 episode anime series, but it has never been licensed and probably never will be if rumors of its’ masters being lost are true!
In Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, high school gymnast Maron initially appears to be your typical “magic girl” leading a double life. By day she is just a “normal” high school girl, but at night she turns to Jeanne, the reincarnation of Joan of Arc and currently renowned art thief. At least, the police think she’s a thief, but in reality she is working with the angel Fin Fish to seal away demons that have possessed people through beautiful works of art. Maron’s best friend Miyako is the daughter of a police detective and is constantly setting traps to reign in Jeanne.
Things get shaken up when a new boy, Chiaki, moves to their building and class. Not only does he cause a rift in the girls from the resulting love triangle, but he’s also competing with Jeanne to stop her from collecting anymore demons as Kaito Sinbad – but is he really an agent for the devil like Fin says?
In my look at Full Moon o Sagashite, I already waxed on at length about Tanemura’s awesome storytelling abilities and artistic style. These traits are just as evidenced in Jeanne. Maron’s parents have abandoned her and she has little trust in people anymore, resulting in her living a very lonely and isolated life. The only two people she lets into her life at all are Miyako and Fin, but even then she holds Miyako at a distance, afraid to fully trust anyone. With Chiaki’s arrival, he begins almost immediately declaring he loves her, but for Maron, who doesn’t even understand what love is, his declarations are just confusing.
The other characters are also well-developed with plenty of complexity and nuances. Miyako struggles to deal with her feelings for Chiaki versus her feelings for Maron, as well as her having long ago realized that Maron holds back with her. Chiaki acts like a carefree playboy, but his feelings for Maron/Jeanne are tearing at him versus the mission he’s been given and he has a messed up family dynamic of his own. Fin’s heart aching story and her connection to Access, Chiaki’s partner, keeps her from being more than just another “cute mascot”.
One thing I’ve come to expect from Tanemura’s manga are plenty of feels and being put through the emotional wringer. Phantom Thief Jeanne lives up to its promise, with plenty of tears, laughs, and awws to go around. For me in particular, Maron resonates with me as I’ve spent much of my own life alone and with little trust in others, so when she haltingly opens up about her feelings, I can identify all too well.
Phantom Thief Jeanne is widely available in paperback and eBook editions.