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The Witch and the Beast
Episode 12

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 12 of
The Witch and the Beast ?
Community score: 4.7


I was on board with this episode the moment Guideau stomped their boot onto Ashaf's open wound. The Witch and the Beast knows how to stage a confrontation, and the forging of this uneasy partnership is no exception. It's raw, violent, desperate, and compelling. Ashaf's coolheaded rationality clashes with Guideau's fiery rage, yet they don't cancel each other out. Guideau finds an opportunity in Ashaf's offer, and Ashaf gains a powerful ally. This dance of quid pro quo lies at the heart of any relationship, but I find something especially compelling between these two. It's not romance, it's not friendship, and it's not strictly business either.

That's a tricky balancing act that The Witch and the Beast does deftly. We can see it more clearly than ever in this arc. When Guideau is utterly mystified by the concept of wanting to eat something yummy again, Ashaf's interest spikes. It's a curiosity that evolves into a desire to teach Guideau what it means to be human, and I think this is the glue that binds them. It's a familial dynamic that evens the power imbalance between them, but it's not a lopsided paternal relationship on Ashaf's part either. Although Guideau would never openly admit it, they like experiencing humanity. Consider the many scenes we've had of Guideau pigging out on a pile of steaks or gnawing on a bone. These provided necessary comic relief amidst the series' edgier brushstrokes, yet now we can also perceive them as affirmations of Guideau's relish for life.

Additionally, I want to credit The Witch and the Beast for not making Ashaf and Guideau's relationship creepy. It's offbeat, macabre, and blood-soaked, but it's not creepy. On the lesser hand, Asahf's speech about love could easily give me the willies. Instead, he's earnest. He acknowledges Guideau's response to the trauma of meeting angela again, and he reaffirms that he views them as a person—as equals—who deserve to be treated with humanity. While he's going to mess up sometimes, his intentions are genuine. It's corny, but it works. I know, too, that The Witch and the Beast can pull off creepy, and since I'm currently working my way through the Japanese dub of Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth, I know for certain that Toshiyuki Morikawa can pull off creepy as well. So the decision to frame these scenes in this manner is deliberate. Whether Guideau and Ashaf ever become more intimate or not, their foundation is strong, and I'm eager to see where they go from here.

Regarding the rest of the flashback, there's not too much to comment on. The Executioners use Falvell as a scapegoat to excuse their own monstrosity, which we've seen before. I like that Falvell is the one who initiates the kiss, and I especially like the surprise lifting of her curse. I believe angela said as much already, but it confirms that Guideau's human body is indeed that of a witch, which makes their vendetta all the more deliciously ironic. And per usual, The Witch and the Beast spares neither gore nor gruesomeness when it comes to delivering the Executioners' fates. Like many stories about witches, you could certainly apply a feminist reading here, as Falvell uses her newfound voice to take down the men who sought to control and kill her. I'd also like to read more thoughts on the way Guideau transitions back and forth between feminine and masculine bodies. It's playing around with gender, and I like that almost unilaterally, but that's a factor ripe for meatier analytic tools.

Honestly, it's difficult to write about anything right now except how huge of a tease the ending is. I dig that Ashaf returns to his expository mode one last time as he talks about the giant hole in the world that leads to parallel dimensions. A normal stuff to drop in the last five minutes of a season. But by far the cruelest act is flaunting the duo's new wardrobe. It is downright villainous to show me goth Guideau and Bloodborne Ashaf, and then just end the cour on that note. It is quite possibly the most effective advertisement for a manga I've ever seen. Say what you will about the adaptation's weaknesses (and I've certainly said my fill already); they understand what we're all here for. I must see Guideau wear that bonnet while tearing into a leg of lamb, and I need to see Ashaf adjust that top hat while he smokes through a dainty cigarette holder. And now they're vampire hunters? Please give us season two.


The Witch and the Beast is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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.

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