This is a seriously underrated anime. Or maybe not a lot of people would crawl out of the woodwork to talk about how cool this is. If you like Sailor Moon, you should definitely watch this. It's sort of reminiscent of Sailor Stars, actually. In addition, this anime has some religious elements and you'll come across God, angels, the devil, and demons a lot in this show. But it doesn't contain self-righteous, moralistic stuff. So don't let its religious element prevent you from enjoying this show.
Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne is a magical girl series. It is based on manga created by Tanemura Arina. The whole difference between Kaitou Jeanne's manga and anime is reminiscent of the difference between Sailor Moon's manga and anime. The anime is fairly episodic and involves fighting approximately one minor villain in each episode. The manga focuses on the actual storyline and uses the villain encounters to develop the plot. At 44 episodes, it's about five times shorter than Sailor Moon, but then again, very few animes go up to 200 episodes. Kaitou Jeanne's actually fairly long compared to a lot of anime out there. However, the producers could've made it a little longer...
Her best friend, Miyako, lives next door with her family. Miyako's dad is the police detective assigned to Kaitou Jeanne's case. Miyako's very protective of Maron. One day at school, classmates were remarking how Maron resembled Kaitou Jeanne. Having her best friend compared to a thief raised Miyako's hackles (she's also one of those self-righteous people who want to do everything by the rules. She would bang on Maron's door every morning to make sure they get to school on time). So she resolved to catch Kaitou Jeanne and prove she's not Maron. She became a huge part of her father's police team and often implements devices to trap and catch Kaitou Jeanne. Of course, they don't work. If this was an American show, Miyako would probably say "Curses! Foiled again!" every episode.
One day, a new guy moved into The Orleans, their apartment building. His name's Chiaki and he's incredibly cute, playful, and flirtatious. Maron and Miyako ran into him in the lobby while he was moving in. It was love at first sight for Miyako, while Maron thought he was a huge jerk. He also has this ability to see angels and actually also has one hanging around him, named Access Time (yeah, I think the angels' names are weird too). Access can make Chiaki transform into Kaitou Sindbad, who started messing up Kaitou Jeanne's missions and sealing the demons himself. He initially figured that if he made Maron fall in love with him, he could stop her from being Kaitou Jeanne, which sets a lot of drama in motion because that's not how things turned out.
Another character in the show is Minazuki, one of their classmates. He had this immense crush on Maron. He's also incredibly cute without his glasses. The anime didn't give him as much exposure as the manga did. Essentially, he resolved to catch Sindbad for Maron, and started going with Miyako on her police missions. He's also prone to being overtaken by demons because he's just not gutsy enough. Oh well.
You can think of Kaitou Jeanne with two seasons. The first season was when she was fighting demons and collecting chesspieces that seals them. The second season was when Fin left with the completed chesspieces and Maron had to fend for herself. The manga goes into more detail about the story than the anime. It also has a more intense and more romantic Chiaki (or should I say passionate?). It's just amazing how the two stories start out at equal footing and then slowly diverge from each other until the endings were just so different. It's an entirely new experience reading the manga after watching the anime. If you do it the other way around, you might get disappointed if you liked the manga a lot.
This title is considered slightly dark, primarily because Maron had to deal with her own demons. She hesitates to admit to anyone that she's lonely and wants her parents back. Deep inside, she's afraid that she's not good enough to have a family. Chiaki has his own issues too; he couldn't get past how his father didn't come to his dying mother's bedside. Miyako, on the other hand, feels like she couldn't be as good as Maron. This was emphasized more in the manga than in the anime.
A magical girl series brings to mind Sailor Moon's long transformation sequence. I swear, I must have collectively spent 15 hours sitting through Usagi's transformations. It was a welcoming relief, then, when it only took five seconds for Maron to change into Kaitou Jeanne. It's very interesting to note that Maron doesn't really resemble Kaitou Jeanne very much. Actually, she looked more mousy alongside Kaitou Jeanne, but then she grows on you.
The characters are pretty likable. Maron isn't the typical dumb heroine. Sure, she could be misled sometimes, but she had reasons. After all, her parents basically abandoned her and it's hard for her to trust anybody. As a result, she trusts certain people more and other people less, which makes her susceptible to manipulation. See? And of course, Chiaki is the typical, wily, irreverent, lovable hero. Chiaki's great. I think he just replaced Tamahome as the most dashing anime man in my book. That probably happened when Chiaki started putting strange mail in Maron's mailbox. I'm tellin' ya, that's what won her over. The part where he refused to admit that he's starting to have feelings for Maron is cute too, when he was just mumbling "I'm just being moody" to Access. I can't help but wish that the anime stuck more to the manga in terms of Chiaki's character. That would've made the show more interesting. The manga Chiaki was just so obssessed with Maron. Regardless, I was pretty disappointed when Maron didn't give Minazuki a chance. It would've been nice for Chiaki to have some competition. Besides, Minazuki's hot too. And it's just hilarious how he would have these animated imagination showing Maron falling for him. Too cute. Oh yeah, and I was disappointed that the anime didn't show a full-grown Access. The one in the manga was just too hot, wearing all these grand, billowing robes and having all this power *sigh*
The storyline's actually pretty realistic. No, I'm not talking about Maron being the reincarnation of Kaitou Jeanne and sealing all these demons. I'm talking abot the characters' interpersonal relationships. Except the one where Chiaki and Maron were in church. That was just too corny. But Maron's friendship with Miyako, her relationship with Chiaki, and her partnership with Fin were well-developed.
If I have an issue with the anime, it would be that it's too short. Maybe the TV producers should have concentrated less on the minor villains and more on the major characters. But thankfully, what the anime lacks, the manga makes up for. Oh yeah, and its musical score isn't much either. At least, it isn't much to make me want to listen to them after finishing the anime. To be fair, though, after you get past the corny start of its opening song, "Piece of Love," it isn't too bad. Actually, Kaitou Jeanne's opening sequence is pretty good. The closing sequence was just "Eh." It seemed the anime people didn't put that much effort into it. They changed it for the second part of the series, but that wasn't much of an improvement either.
So what's the final verdict? Watch this anime. If anime ever had an equivalent of a used bookstore, where a variety of titles are stacked pell-mell on shelves and tables, Kaitou Jeanne would probably be that series that you'll idly pick at random, glance at the cover, be intrigued with, watch, and like a lot. Before you knew it, you'll be back at the store for more.