25 Days of Manga, Day 7 of 25 – The Witch and the Beast Vol. 1 (Review)

Publisher: Kodansha

Author/Artist: Kousuke Satake

Translator: Kevin Gifford

Letterer: Phil Christie

Editor: Vanessa Tenazas

Cover Design: My Truong

Genre: Action, Fantasy

Rating: OT (Older Teen/16+)

Release Date: 11/17/2020

MSRB: US $12.99 / CAN $16.99

Reviewer’s Note: I purchased this copy of The Witch and the Beast Vol. 1 using my own personal funds. No review copy was proved. All manga reviews are spoiler-free and image-free unless noted in the review. Opinions are my own.

The Witch and the Beast Vol. 1 follows two characters. Guideau, a feral girl with fangs and beastial eyes, and Ashaf, a soft-spoken man who carries a coffin on his back. This ominous twosome one day appear in a town that’s under the thrall of a witch: a witch who’s convinced everyone that she’s their hero. However, our leads know what’s up. Moreso, they have a score to settle and anyone who gets in their way? Well, they won’t hesitate.

The back cover of this inaugural volume bills the series as “a dark, stylish fairytale for fans of xxxHOLiC and Noragami”, two series I’ve read and enjoyed previously. But is that an accurate claim? Well… yes, to some degree. I think those are fair comparisons, as is The Ancient Magus’ Bride, though Chise is very differently from Guideau. I do think that those series also focus on male leads, which genuinely does change the story and perspective. I think that’s where a lot of my “to some degree” feelings come from.

The Witch and the Beast Vol. 1 also reminded me a lot of the city within Gravity Rush, which was kind of neat. I think if you like that game -and the narrative- you’d actually been pretty keen on this manga. The settings have pretty similar vibes, and in a strange way, Giudeau reminds me of that game’s protagonist… if Kat had been a bit less sweet and a lot more difficult.

The first is a powerful,twisty opening to what seems like a really, really dynamic story about vengeance: you know, a story perfect for the holiday season. Seriously though: the first and second chapter lay down the setting for a seriously beautiful story about vengeance, witches, and getting back what was taken from you. It’s well-executed, and thansk to the incredibly readable translation, intensely engaging.

The art and lettering should’t be forgotten in this series either. The artwork is lush and when the action is high, postively beautiful. Phil Cristie is absolutely bringing their a-game to this first volume, showing that letterers are just as integral to a series as a translator and editor. In fact, I’d credit Phil as being the real strength of this series: their lettering strongly supports to enjoyable translation a lot!

Another strong suit of this manga is Guideau, the female lead. She doesn’t mince words or play pretty: in fact, Guideau is curt, foul-mouthed and doesn’t spare others feelings. She’s vicious, she’s menancingly playful, and when it’s time to get in the mix, Guideau is there.

It’s actually really refreshing to read a story about a monstrous woman who’s intensely likable. I’m fond of women who behave like Guideau, who don’t censor themselves and are fully the monster that they’ve decided to be.When she’s angry, her face contorts in unchecked rage. When she’s feeling feisty, she doesn’t mince words and calls you every name in the book. When she eats -and boy can Guideau eat– she devours everything but the flatware and the plates.

In reality, these actions would be considered quite distasteful -and probably cause a lot of problems- but in fiction, there’s something so enthralling. It’s hard to look away from a character like that. I can’t really express what I’m thinking past, “God, I love Guideau!” but… god, I love Guideau!

Additionally, Ashaf is a curious character as well: he’s soft-spoken, quite pretty, and carries a coffin that demonstrates some pretty unique abilities. He’s the polar opposite of Guideau: restrained, thoughtful, pensive, and polite. Yet something makes me think that there’s a lot to Ashaf that we haven’t seen. I feel like this is only the tip of a very large iceberg and goodness me: I can’t wait to see the rest!

All around, I really, really loved my read of The Witch and the Beast Vol. 1. I went in unaware of what this series would hold -outside of the summary- and found myself quickly enthralled by the series. I feel like there’s so, so much I could say about this story, but really, I’ll just leave you with this: read it. Dive right in and read it.

This is a manga that can’t be missed, and really, a series that I think is best devoured volume by volume. I wouldn’t want to binge this: instead, I think you should enjoy the tension and let yourself be entangled by the release schedule… despite my own eagerness for Vol. 2. Still, don’t end 2020 -if you can- without reading this volume. It’s so, so good: I promise you won’t regret it!

TL;DR: The Witch and the Beast Vol. 1 is an intense, enthralling ride from the moment you open the cover and start chapter 1. Combined with an engaging translation, gorgeous lettering, superb editing, and all around stellar art, this is a series that fans of xxxHOLiC, Noragami, and/or The Ancient Magus’ Bride should absolutely be following, if only to see where Guideau’s story will go and if she’ll ever find release from her curse.

Read If You Like…
* Powerful and Loud Women
* Witches and witchcraft
* Gorgeous lettering
* Monstrous Ladies
* Gravity Rush
* xxxHOLiC, Noragami, and/or The Ancient Magus’ Bride
* Urban fantasy

Rating: 🟊🟊🟊🟊🟊 / 5 out of 5 stars

Bingo Card: Someone on the Naughty list

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