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Literature / Ulysses: Jeanne d'Arc and the Alchemist Knights

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Front Row From Left to right: Arthur de Richemont, Montmorency, Jeanne d'Arc. Back Row From Left to right: Philip, Charlotte, La Hire. At the top is Astaroth

Ulysses: Jeanne d'Arc and the Alchemist Knights is a light novel written by Mikage Kasuga and illustrated by Tomari Meron. It was published by Shueisha under their Dash X Bunko imprint from 2015 to 2018, with a total of seven volumes (six volumes covering the main story, plus one that acts as a prequel).

The story is set in the 15th century, during the Hundred Years' War between France and England over the succession to the French throne. Montmorency, the son of a noble, immerses himself in the studies of magic and alchemy at a royal knight training school. However, following France's crushing defeat at Agincourt, the school is dissolved. Having lost everything and now a wanted man, Montmorency, who had just become an alchemist, encounters a mysterious village girl named Jeanne.

An anime adaptation started airing in October 7, 2018. It was Unshō Ishizuka's final anime role before his death in August 2018.

Ulysses: Jeanne d'Arc and the Alchemist Knights provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Jeanne d'Arc is blonde here, when the historical figure had dark hair.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Astaroth is a fairy instead of a demon. Possibly hand-waved by Montmorency mentioning that fairies are believed to be connected to demons.
  • Age Lift: The main plot of the series starts seven years after the Battle of Agincourt, which would be 1422. Jeanne d'Arc was a ten-year-old by then, yet she is twelve here. Conversely, all the other girls excluding Charlotte are considerably younger than their real-life counterparts would have been at the time.
  • Anachronism Stew: For the most part, the setting does look like 15th century France. The same cannot be said of the outfits the main cast wears. They look like a mix of the clothes people wore at the time, a modern wardrobe and just plain Rule of Cool.
  • Artistic License – History: Abused of as much as possible. If gender-flipping several historical figures and playing with their ages wasn't enough, the series also reorganizes the order of the events of The Hundred Years War. For example, Jeanne's meeting with the current ruler of France happens years earlier.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Astaroth lists some historical figures that became immortal by drinking the elixir of life from the Philosopher's Stone: King Solomon, Clovis I, Otto the Great and Jesus. Nicolas Flamel is also implied to one, and Jeanne d'Arc ends up joining the list. Also, The Knights Templar didn't actually want to reclaim Jerusalem, their real goal was to find a Philosopher's Stone that was there.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Jeanne's first action when she becomes a Ulysses is to save her village from the soldiers attacking it. It's an odd case in that it's also arguably a Big Damn Villain moment, seeing how Jeanne's Split Personality is a psycho that's hardly any better than the people she killed.
  • Childhood Friends: Montmorency, Richemont, Philip and Charlotte went to school together and were very close. Sadly the war tore them apart.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Montmorency is an alchemist and Astaroth is a fairy summoned by alchemy. Both wear predominantly black clothes, but neither of them is a bad guy.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Could as well be the title of episode two. For all her knowledge about the Philosopher's Stone, Astaroth did not expect that Montmorency would become a vessel for the elixir of life, nor did she expect that he would be humble enough to allow another person to become an Ulysses. Of his part, Montmorency was shocked to discover that Jeanne got a Split Personality after receiving the Philosopher's Stone. And of course, the English soldiers did not (and could not) expect a Little Miss Badass to show up to protect the village they were attacking.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Montmorency takes offense when Richemont says he is studying a heresy, insisting that what he studies is alchemy. Richemont unimpressed reaction implies she is fully aware that alchemy is seen as heretical by the Church.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Whenever Jeanne talks about kissing Montmorency, she sounds like she is talking about a completely different thing.
  • Fairy Companion: Astaroth is this for Montmorency. What's unusual for this trope is that Montmorency is the servant in the relationship (at least in theory).
  • Fairy Sexy: Astaroth has quite the attractive body, but she is small enough to fit inside the pocket.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who knows about the legend of the real-life Jeanne knows that there won't be a happy ending.
  • Foreshadowing: Montmorency tricking English soldiers with Philip's help in the first episode foreshadows his Guile Hero role seven years later, when he essentially tries to con the entire France into believing Jeanne is a saint.
  • Gambit Pileup: The war isn't a simple English army vs. France army (Montmorency and his friends). The Duchy of Burgundy is nominally allied with England, but the objective of Philip's late father was to make Burgundy the most powerful empire in Europe, so both him and his daughter only help England because it's convenient and are actually fighting only for their own dynasty. On the other side, France is anything but united, as shown by how La Tremoille plots behind Charlotte's back to end the war the way he believes it's right. Finally, there is the matter of the Church antagonizing Jeanne for being a heretic. Even when taking into account that La Tremoille ran to the Church after having his plans foiled, that still leaves four factions acting at the same time.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Montmorency thought that selling Jeanne as a saint would provide a much needed boost to the morale of the French people. It worked too well. The citizens of Orleans decided that they couldn't stand still while their saint fought for them, so they rushed to face the English in a battle they had no hope of winning.
  • Gratuitous French: Whenever a character talks about kissing, they use the French word "baiser".
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: For Jeanne d'Arc, like usual. The real life person typically acted as the standard bearer, meaning she wouldn't see much sword fighting in her career (by her own words, she never killed anyone) and did not directly command soldiers. In this series? She is a total Little Miss Badass and One-Woman Army.
    • Also applies to Arthur de Richemont, albeit it's not as obvious. While he was a leading military commander in real life, here she was already beating English soldiers as a teenager.
  • Historical Domain Character: Pretty much every important character in the plot is based on a historical figure from The Hundred Years War.
  • Historical Fantasy: The story takes place in the 15th century during the Hundred Years' War, but it also has a lot of fantasy elements, including the main character Montmorency being an alchemist.
  • Historical Gender Flip: Arthur de Richemont, Philip of Burgundy and La Hire were men in real life. Also applies to Charlotte, who is likely based on Charles VII (and arguably Astaroth as well, if one is willing to consider a demon either a male or female by human standards).
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Played with a bit with Jeanne. She is very much a small saint here, with the catch that she has a Split Personality that totally deserves to be called a demon by English soldiers, being an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight.
  • Intimate Healing: After Jeanne is mortally wounded, Montmorency saves her life by inserting the Philosopher's Stone in her body. Since one needs to drink the elixir of life to survive that process, and Montmorency's body has started to produce said elixir in his saliva, he makes her drink it with a kiss.
  • Kill the Cutie: The cute little fairies that lived in Jeanne's village are killed by English soldiers.
  • Kissing Cousins: Montmorency's grandfather wanted him to marry his cousin Catherine to inherit the fortune of her family. Catherine was okay with it, as she liked Montmorency, but the boy was vehemently against it because A) He thinks marriage between cousins is morally wrong and B) He respects Catherine and refuses to use her as a ticket for a richer life. It's one of the many reasons he cut ties with his family.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Montmorency comments on the Gender-Flipping going around in the series by saying that he expected La Hire to be an old man.
  • Luminescent Blush: Astaroth's and La Hire's faces go red when they realize Montmorency will have to make out frequently with Jeanne for her to keep her ability to turn into an Ulysses.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: They are spiritual beings that couldn't make it to Heaven or Hell. Most of them are tiny humanoids with disproportional members, but queens like Astaroth look completely human in everything but size, and have butterfly wings.
  • Spit-Trail Kiss: A spit trail can be clearly seen when Montmorency kisses Jeanne. Makes sense, as the entire point of the kiss is to allow Jeanne to drink the elixir of life in Montmorency's saliva.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Living longer than humans won't necessarily give you a better memory. Much to her embarrassment, Astaroth can barely remember where she hid the sheath of Excalibur a thousand years in the past.
  • Tomboyish Name: Arthur, Philip and Astaroth, the latter being named after a great duke of hell.
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: La Hire wears her hair like that.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The fairies that were Jeanne's friends refused to abandon her when her village was attacked and went straight to face the soldiers burning it down to stop them. Never mind that they had no means of fighting and humans are giants from their point of view. While their hearts were in the right place, their brains definitely were not.
  • Translation Convention: Given the setting, it's safe to say that most of the dialogue is actually being spoken in French and "translated" into Japanese for convenience. There is probably some English in the middle as well, although it may be hard to figure out which one is being spoken when characters from the two different countries meet each other.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: The process to transmute the elixir of life involves stepping into a different world where the flow of time is different. As a result of that, from Montmorency's point of view he jumped seven years ahead in time while trying (and failing) to make the elixir.
  • You Monster!: Jeanne's Blood Knight Split Personality gets this kind of reaction from English soldiers, thanks to her superhuman strength and lust for fighting.

Alternative Title(s): Ulysses Jeanne D Arc To Renkin No Kishi