Guideau, who solves magical cases for the Order of Magical Resonance along with the mage Ashaf, is a cursed being who looks like a teenage girl with a savage temper, but in truth is something else entirely. Many of the duo’s cases are on the mundane side, wrangling magical beasts and opening bespelled boxes for owners who lost the key. But Guideau is focused on investigating witches. Sometime in the past, a witch cursed Guideau, and now she (or possibly he) won’t rest until that witch is dead and the curse broken.
The exact difference between mages and witches isn’t fully explained, but witches seem to have surpassed both humanity and mortality to become something else altogether. The details largely don’t matter, as the focus is on action, adventure, and mystery. The manga drops a lot of worldbuilding into the story without explanation, but enough information is provided that everything more or less makes sense. The action is fast-paced from the outset and Guideau’s and Ashaf’s personalities are well-developed early on. Guideau is the “punk” and Ashaf is the level-headed one, and their continual bickering provides entertainment throughout the book.
The European steampunk milieu is evoked with immersive, beautifully detailed artwork full of Art Noveau architecture, airships, and unique character designs, exactly what readers are looking for in a good fantasy graphic novel. Modern and fantastical elements blend into a delightfully anachronistic world populated with cool characters and a ton of terrifying magic. A few more transition panels would make the action sequences clearer, but overall the art is top-notch. There’s lots of action, some gruesome gore, and of course magical battles against evil. The Witch and the Beast has something for everyone and looks good doing it. Recommended.
publisher: Kodansha Comics
story and art: Kousuke Satake