Yay, a recent show. This means I actually remember what I thought about it!
In my opinion, Junketsu no Maria was one of the better shows of the Winter 2015 anime season. It wasn’t as flashily animated as Death Parade or as stylistic as Rolling Girls, but it did stand out, and not just because the character designs were interesting and fun. It’d be an understatement to say that Junketsu no Maria exceeded my expectations, because it’s more like it subverted them.
What do I mean by that? Well, at first I thought Junketsu no Maria was based on the trashy kind of manga that consists mostly of LN tropes. So I expected Maria to be heavily sexualised, I expected a ton of fanservice. I expected damsels in distress, and I expected knights in shining armour. Well, because the story is set during the Hundred Years’ War, the last expectation was reasonable on a literal level. But when it came to the figurative meaning, I was completely wrong. Maria did have her “prince”, but considering she was a witch and he wasn’t, the ball of power and agency was firmly in her court most of the time. And Maria did end up being in distress on occasion, but because poor servants/soldiers are bad at putting out fires, she was instead bailed out by her fellow witches.
And when it came to the sex, sure, a lot of it was sexy, but another large part of it served higher purposes. The fanservice was mostly relegated to Maria’s succubus, Artemis, but considering the function, purpose and usage of succubi in the story was intimately connected with gathering enemy intel, Artemis wasn’t just about looking sexy. She also served as a vital informant to Maria. The same goes for Priapos, even though his lack of manhood(an interesting plot point in itself) probably made him less than optimally effective at his purpose as an incubus. More generally, the sex in Junketsu no Maria was more about power than it was about looking sexy.
Another thing that impressed me was how the conflict between the different factions was so intricate. At first I expected Maria’s fight against violence to basically just result in her being forced to fight against everyone, even, the other witches. But that’s not what happened. Junketsu no Maria did a great job at creating and developing a conflict that was not just about good versus evil or witches versus angels. And it’s good that it did, because such a black-and-white interpretation of the world would have clashed heavily with the war between England and France, the reason being that it’s glaringly obvious that the Hundred Years’ War can’t be reduced to “the good guys versus the bad guys”. That would just be bad history, and it would have made for a terrible anime.