Review: Saint Tail
Saint Tail, a manga and anime series from the mid-nineties, is a rather interesting take on the “magical girl” and school stories genres. Saint Ponytail is a mysterious thief who leaves calling cards as warnings of her coming and vanishes away into the night, always revealing that her theft is simply stealing back something stolen from someone else. (Her tools are stealth, acrobatics, and stage magic — no magical transformations or powers for her!) Asuka Jr., the junior-high aged son of a famous detective, is desperate to catch Saint Tail and falling in love with her. Little does he know that she’s actually his classmate, Meimi Haneoka, daughter of a magician and a reformed cat burglar. Meimi is on a mission from God to recover stolen objects. She learns about them from her friend and classmate Seira, a novice nun, who talks with the troubled people who wander into church to pray.
I picked up volumes 2 and 4 of the manga (comic) and was surprised and delighted. St. Paulia’s School is just different enough from the typical public and private schools in manga to provide extra spice. Meimi and Seira take their faith seriously, praying before and during missions and trying to make sure their deceptions are misdirections, not lies. Megumi Tachikawa, the mangaka (manga writer/artist), apparently isn’t Catholic (initially she had Seira hearing confessions, apparently, but changed that when she learned better) but takes Catholicism seriously. But you can’t beat a cute manga about fixing the injustices of the world and trying to get a date, especially when the Christmas issue includes midnight mass.
Just don’t confuse Kaitou Saint Tail with Kaitou Saint Jeanne. Jeanne is not only a ripoff of Saint Tail, she’s also yet another reincarnation of Joan of Arc! (And yes, it does say something about both Joan’s popularity and Buddhist pop culture that there would be more than one manga about reincarnations of St. Joan.)