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First Glance: The Witch and the Beast

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Alternative title(s): Majo to Yajuu
Manga Adaptation by Yokohama Animation Lab
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

A young woman named Guideau, once cursed by a witch, now journeys across the land in search of a cure – and hungry for vengeance. She is accompanied by Ashaf, a mage with a coffin strapped to his back, whose job seemingly entails uncovering the cause of harmful magical events and putting an end to those who use witchcraft for their own violent ends.

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Artemis’ verdict: Mixed Feelings

This is a tough one for me. On one hand, The Witch and the Beast is a very competent show. It looks good, it sounds good, it delivers exactly where it needs to technically. It’s also fantasy but not isekai (cue collective sigh of relief) with characters that are, if not necessarily super engaging, then at least not boilerplate-bland or eye-rollingly cliché. Fans of dark fantasy/fantasy thrillers of the explicitly violent action scene variety will likely enjoy this a lot. On the other hand, this is, frankly, a little too much for me. I have a reasonably strong stomach, and I dig a good horror from time to time, but I don’t need or want to see scores of mutilated bodies (all naked, all women for no apparent reason), and I wasn’t especially amused to see what felt perilously close to a needless queerbaiting scene either. I’d say The Witch and the Beast has earned a second episode from me, but I have little patience for edgelord material, and I’d say this is right on the verge of that territory.

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Jel’s verdict: (wake me up) WAKE ME UP INSIDE

There’s probably a cool urban fantasy story buried in here somewhere. The lore and art direction are pretty solid, but I can’t get past the dull writing and mediocre production values. Most of the episode has the characters standing around info dumping, and the small bits of action look cheap and take a lot of shortcuts. My “favorite” example is when Ashaf says he needs to go back to the hotel to research something, and we immediately cut the next scene were he is conveniently just reading the answer to their problem off a magic piece of paper. There is no mystery or intrigue, just info dumped world building that does nothing to make you care.

The whole thing ends up feeling middle-school edgelord cool instead of actually cool, whatever that means. It’s just ideas scribbled in a notebook without being properly fleshed out. Maybe I would have liked this more when I was 14, but as of right now I’ll pass.

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