Episode 11 – The Witch and the Beast

Flashbacks can be tricky. By deviating from its storytelling norm, a work runs the risk of losing sight of its core strengths and appeal. I’ve also already praised The Witch and the Beast for keeping its characters’ origins an open question. Ashaf’s and Guideau’s personalities and relationship are strong enough to stand on their own, and the mystery adds a bold pinch of spice to their dynamic. This is all to say that I did not anticipate liking this episode as much as I did. It’s good, and I believe that’s because it feels like a normal episode of TWatB. Although “normal” is a loaded word when it comes to this series.

Seriously, though, the show has a structure, and it sticks to it. Ashaf travels to a quiet village on a distant continent to investigate some witchy rumors. There are weird and gory happenings disturbing the townsfolk. Guideau is all too punch-happy. A child is evil. And so on. They’re playing all the hits, and I respect that. Procedurals live and die by their procedures.

Even without Guideau as his official companion, Ashaf is an engaging protagonist. He’s a sexy chain-smoking anime man who’s good at his job, kind to the weak, and smart as a whip. It’d be more difficult to make him not charming. The bit where he does Jedi mind tricks on the two dudes bothering Falvell is a fun exhibition of his magical prowess and suaveness. He’s an expert who knows how to diffuse a situation, which makes it extra comical when Guideau struts by and bashes their heads in seconds later. That’s a classic buddy cop meet cute.

I also like what the series is doing with witches. The premiere had us believe that Ashaf and Guideau were witch hunters tasked with defeating these evil sorceresses whenever they rear their pointy hats. And while I’m sure that’s what Guideau would like their job to be, witches are not so monolithically megalomaniacal. Helga was enough to prove that, but Falvell is a new extreme, unable to perform any magic thanks to her cursed bloodline. A witch cursed that bloodline, so some of them are still allowed to be evil, as a treat. Regardless, there are infighting and blood feuds among them—with some of those carried down to innocent children with no relationship with magic outside of their ancestry. Ultimately, witches are just another extension of humanity, plagued by all the shortcomings that befall us regular folk.

Of course, we regular folk also interact with witches, which is where the Executioners come in. I wasn’t expecting to see another pair of them so soon, but I’m okay with those guys becoming recurring foes if it means we get to see Ashaf gunning down more children. I’m not joking. While we knew the dad was suspicious, I genuinely had no idea his kid was in on it too until Ashaf whipped out that pistol and popped three caps in him. I was so surprised that I had to laugh. And I respect the series’ commitment to evil children. This is the second time we’ve seen one of our heroes shoot a minor and end up exonerated by the narrative. I’d accuse the show of being overly edgy if it weren’t so cavalier about it. It’s funny to me because, to Ashaf, it’s just part of the job, so there’s no use in him dwelling on it. That coolness is the vibe that drives The Witch and the Beast.

It’s easy to see where this arc is going. A wounded Ashaf will need to rely on Guideau to help drive back the Executioners, and the two will forge the uneasy alliance that currently binds them. I am curious to witness how Ashaf will convince Guideau to tag along with him. In the last episode, he appealed to their rationality. I wonder if it’s because Ashaf recognizes them as fundamentally rational and intelligent being that Guideau agrees to follow him. angela, the Origin Witch, perceives Guideau as an overpowered rival to be taunted and beaten back. Ashaf acknowledges the humanity in Guideau, and although that’s too sappy for them to admit, maybe that means something.

Whatever happens next week, I hope the anime can go out with as big a bang as it can manage. It’d be great if Shinji Itadaki could handle the storyboards for the third week in a row. He’s been the animation’s ace in the hole, and it just goes to show you that even the most middling adaptations can have spots where talent shines through.


The Witch and the Beast is currently streaming on

Steve is on Twitter while it lasts. He can be your witch or your beast. Or none of the above if that’s cool. You can also catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.