The Witch and the Beast #8 – The Witch and the Demon Sword: Act III



Staff List:

Screenplay: Yuuichirou Momose
Storyboard: Shinji Itadaki
Episode Direction: Seo-Gi Kang, Shinya Kawabe
Chief Episode Direction: Makoto Tamagawa
Chief Animation Direction: Hiroya Iijima
Animation Direction: O-Sik Kwon, Ju-Hyeong Eom, Eun Sook Won,
Geun-Su Lim, Hui-Gyu Jang, Eun-Su Oh
Key Animation:
Gwang-Han Chae, Momoko, Seo-Gi Kang

Yokohama’s production issues in The Witch and The Beast have been noticeable since the start. However, with a vision that remains strong and a few standout animated cuts in earlier episodes like four or five, I was still somewhat satisfied with how the key moments were done. That’s to say they were done quite well, and that the overall aesthetic of the manga was kept. However, this arc so far has been far less than stellar. The overwhelming aesthetic from the previous arcs… honestly kind of disappeared entirely. This arc, by design, is one of the more action-heavy ones and takes place mostly in the morning, which could have contributed to it. Still though, this arc suffers from the weakest animation, narrative, and just overall vision in the series.

The storytelling of this entire arc feels more cramped and tonally inconsistent than any other arc so far, which is very unfortunate as this is the largest arc in the Witch and the Beast series (at the moment). Not particularly in this episode, but the last one, for example, was so cramped together that it switched from funny-faced Helga to the characters being in extremely dire moments. As a manga reader, I can understand the story, but for anime-only watchers, I would imagine it’s quite jarring.

And it’s not just that. This entire arc (as mentioned) has not been pleasant to the eyes. Episode 6 had horrendous models, episode 7 had very bad animation, and the direction was all over the place. This episode has storyboarding by Shinji Itadaki, who I always think puts a very strong foot forward in his work- which I believe is true here as well. However, with only three animators to execute his vision, it just did not turn out well. Even though, much like before, previous episodes outsourced to Maru Animation were extremely on-model, the animation here is perhaps the most limited it’s been so far. Many shortcuts were used to not animate anything at all in this episode. As I don’t have direct access to the board, it’s hard to tell if Itadaki’s boards particularly promoted animation in this episode. Still, it would be a complete lie to deny that if they had more key animators or just more time to work on it, more animation could definitely be pushed out of these boards. What makes it worse is the sound direction for this series has been quite awful throughout. So when you mix the choppy animation for the fight scenes with that brutal sound design, it’s just straight-up grating. And the biggest question from this is….

What exactly is Yokohama even doing?

Four out of the eight episodes released so far have been completely outsourced to Maru Animation. If you take a look at any other roles—such as in-betweens, CG, or whatever—it’s all handled by Maru Animation. The fact that there are Maru Animation animators even in the non-Maru episodes is crazy to me. Overall, this show has a relatively low number of staff, and Maru Animation staff members make up about 60% of it. I find it surprising. What exactly are the Yokohama in-house staff doing? Kingdoms of Ruin also suffered greatly from low staff numbers, and its production was even worse than that of The Witch and the Beast. And that was last season, so it’s not like they were completely spent on animators from that. Looking ahead, Yokohama has two anime projects in April, both collaborations with Cloud Hearts- their sister studio of sorts. One is Whisper Me a Love Song, an anime that was initially supposed to be in Winter but got delayed after a director change. The other is The New Gate, which only received a 40-second trailer about a week ago, despite its imminent release in a few weeks. The New Gate looks pretty mediocre and follows your standard isekai fanfare; Whisper Me a Love Song though definitely has potential with its detailed character designs. Without any more footage, it’s hard to gauge anything from it at the moment. They also have another anime coming, Kijin Gentoushou, whose trailer looks very promising. But, it brings up some concerns about possibly being pre-animated, as they have done this before with MAGATSU WAHRHEIT. I am not one to judge a studio per se, but Yokohama Animation Lab leaves a lot to be desired, and I do believe their next three anime projects will reveal a lot about their potential as a studio and where they currently stand. That is to say, a studio very detached from their best animated work (visually): Miru Tights.

The production of The Witch and the Beast serves as a perfect illustration of my current sentiments toward Yokohama Animation Lab. While there have been moments of solid work, the weird processes employed in making this show shows clear issues behind the scenes. It remains unclear whether these production challenges stem from the studio’s recent separation into Cloud Hearts or if they will persist as just a regular thing from now on.

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