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Number Three: Kuroshitsuji

28 Dec

My History: I was introduced to Kuroshitsuji or Black Butler as it’s known in America, through my sister first and later through my friend Brelyn. It took me a while to really get into it, to be honest. I love the idea of it and some of the cases are rather fantastic and, most importantly, the characters are wonderful. However towards the end it gets a little funny and that I’m not very fond of. Really, most of my love is for the Manga, which is up to 53 chapters, I believe online and three volumes published in America, which I’m considering collecting. At any rate I do enjoy watching Sebastian fight with silverware, and I feel that alone should earn it the number three spot.

Overview: Kuroshitsuji is the story of the young Earl Ciel Phantomhive, a twelve-thirteen-year-old boy whose family was murdered in a fire which consumed the family estate. Ciel himself was captured by a cult and branded before he called upon a demon to make a deal for his soul. Upon forming a contract with the demon known as Sebastian Michaelis Ciel gains “one hell of a butler” to do his every command until his revenge is complete. In this series we watch as Ciel, head of the Phantomhive family and the Queen’s Guard Dog, keeps order in the Underworld of London and searches for those who put him through such torment.

Characters

Ciel Phantomhive: Ciel is a very dark, serious young man, mature way beyond his years. Without hesitation, he formed a contract with a demon for the sole purpose of humiliating and torturing those who humiliated and tortured him. He comes off as a very cold, calculating person and to those who don’t know any better, something of a brat. He will do quite literally anything to accomplish his goals, whatever they happen to be. The Phantomhive family for generations have been ‘the Queen’s Guard Dogs’ keeping order in the Underworld and handling whatever the police cannot. Ciel carries out the duties of his family, even though he’s only twelve. Even though he acts more like a man than a child, we do see his weaker side every so often. In little things, like making Sebastian promise to always be by his side, or asking him to stay with him until he falls asleep. He is engaged to his cousin Elizabeth who is his exact opposite. She is the only person he ever tries to please in the anime. It’s clear that he cares for her, even if she seems to annoy him most of the time.

Sebastian Michaelis: Sebastian is one hell of a butler, in every sense of the word. He does everything around the mansion, to make up for the servants incompetence, and everything for Ciel. He is bound to Ciel through the contract which means whatever Ciel orders him to do he must do without fail. While it appears that Sebastian cares only for Ciel’s soul, which he will devour once the contract is fulfilled, there’s always a little doubt in our minds as to if that’s really the case. In some instances it appears that Sebastian might actually care for Ciel rather than just his soul. But he’s a tricky demon, so you can’t be too sure. Sebastian’s one weakness seems to be cats. He is a cat person through and through and he just can’t help himself when he’s around them. This is more prominent, I think, in the manga, but they make it quite clear here as well. Sebastian is quite cool and suave at times. He can get information out of just about anyone and can decipher even the tiniest shift in emotion. He’s also found a new way of using silverware. And as always, he’s one hell of a butler.

Servants: The servants are useless. They really can’t do what they appear to be hired to do. In reality they were each hired for their special skills which are useful for protecting the mansion.

Bard (chef): Bard was in the army before he came to live in the mansion as the Phantomhive’s cook. He believes in cooking things fast and what’s faster than dynamite… or a flame thrower? He often blows up the kitchen, which I assume Sebastian repairs regularly. As far as I can tell, he probably can’t actually cook. However, he is an excellent shot and has a good eye for battle.

Finnian: Finny is the gardener of the Phantomhive estate. His super strength is often more than he can handle. He’s not very good at gardening and often times ends up killing the plants he’s supposed to be tending. However, Finny is adorable and has a huge regard for all life. He was kept in a dark place before he came to the mansion and used for medical experiments which led to his super human strength. Despite this sad background, Finny is always smiling. He’s the youngest of the group and the most sensitive. He’s also my favorite.

Mey-Rin: Mey-Rin is the only maid in the Phantomhive household. She’s extremely farsighted and wears huge glasses which were given to her by Ciel when she first arrived. She was chosen for her skill with guns of all sorts it seems. She’s an amazing shot without her glasses since she sees better far away. Mey-Rin is extremely ditzy at times and very clumsy, often breaking dishes and falling with fragile objects and using shoe polish instead of cleaning liquid. She’s also a huge pervert and rather prone to nosebleeds. Just being near Sebastian gets her excited.

Tanaka: Tanaka is the only servant who has been there longer than Sebastian. He is a remnant from the old mansion and has served the Phantomhive household for a very long time. Tanaka is the only competent servant but he has his faults. He comes in two forms, a little almost chibi type form in which he does nothing but drink Japanese tea and can say nothing but ‘hohoho’ and the ‘real Tanaka’ form in which he is a tall old man capable of speech and usually conveys some important information. Real Tanaka only comes out every so often because of a wound he received when the mansion was burned down.

Pluto: Pluto is a demon dog found only in the anime. He’s not really much of a character. He takes human form sometimes and other times he’s a huge silver dog that breaths fire. The angel uses him to set London on fire. But before that they find him in some crazy village and take him home so he won’t terrorize the village anymore. He’s extremely loyal to Sebastian, doing anything he says. He’s kind of friends with Finny mostly because Finny’s strong enough to play with him. Other than that there’s not much to him.

Outsiders

Lady Elizabeth: Elizabeth or Lizzy is Ciel’s fiancé. She is an adorable little girl who absolutely adores anything cute. She has a very light-hearted personality and is always trying to make Ciel smile. She misses the days before the incident when the mansion was full of laughter. She often times tries too hard which leads to her being slightly annoying. She is kind of a brat, but her heart is usually in the right place, so she is tolerable.

Madame Red: Madame Red is Ciel’s aunt on his mother’s side. She’s named after her red hair and clothes. She was in love with Ciel’s father, but could not hate her sister for marrying him. This makes Ciel very special to her, since he is the child of the two people she loved most. On top of that she lost her own unborn child along with her husband in a carriage accident and is unable to have children. This is what leads her to take on the persona of Jack the Ripper in the first major case we see Ciel take on. Despite secretly being a serial killer Madame Red is not a bad person. She is a doctor, she fawns over Ciel as much as he’ll let her and she tries to smile and laugh to hide the pain she feels inside.

Grell Sutcliffe: Grell is a very special Death God. He is disguised as Madame Red’s butler when we first meet him and a very poor butler at that. He is very clearly male but seems to labor under the delusion that he is female… I think. He’s rather in love with Sebastian, which they use to their advantage whenever necessary. Grell is flamboyant in every way possible. He wears all red, like his mistress, and has a thing for blood. He is, of course, a huge pervert and will go after any handsome man he finds.

Undertaker: This is one of my favorite characters. The Undertaker is Ciel’s go-to source for information on the dead, since any corpse found in London finds its way to him. But he doesn’t work for free. The Undertaker demands a good laugh for any information he might have. He’s a very bizarre character but that’s why we love him. He’s dark and amusing at the same time. He also happens to be a legendary Death God.

Prince Soma: Prince Soma is a prince from India who came to England in search of his ‘nanny’ Mina. He’s seventeen-years-old and he really only has two friends, Mina and Agni, his loyal servant. Mina was taken away by an Englishman when he wasn’t there so naturally he assumed she was kidnapped and has come to take her back with him. He’s a brat, really, and has a tendency to angst once it looks like even Agni has left him. He has a very childish attitude towards just about everything and for whatever reason, he really likes Ciel. Given, Ciel does help him out a lot, but he’s kind of surprisingly attached to him. At any rate, he’s not so bad once Sebastian and Ciel knock some sense into him.

Agni: Agni is Prince Soma’s most loyal servant and his only friend until they come to England. Soma saved him when he had reached the absolute bottom and was about to be hanged. Because of this, Agni warships him as his god and everything he does is for the good of Prince Soma, even when it looks like he’s betraying him. Agni’s right hand is called the “Right Hand of God’ and has some supernatural powers. He’s the only human who poses any challenge for Sebastian ever.

Queen Victoria: The Queen isn’t much of a character until the ending half of the series. She remains in the shadows either off screen or behind a black vale. She orders Ciel around and much like Sebastian he is completely loyal to her. So when it turns out she wants to ‘purify the unclean’ including him, he has a tough time turning against her. She really is rather mad, driven so by the grief of losing her husband Albert.

Ash/Angela: These characters are the same person, an angel, how plays the key role in the Queens plan for purification. In fact it is them behind it all along. They are an angel who feels humans cannot be saved. Angela appears in several places, ‘purifying’ people by ‘rewriting’ their pasts. She tries to do this to Ciel and fails. Ash is the Queen’s butler and her loyal servant… until he finds her to be unclean as well. Meh, it happens.

Supernatural: This confuses me greatly. We have demons, Death Gods and angels and they’re all flying around seemingly doing their own thing. Now I understand that demons eat souls. I understand that by forming a contract with a demon you promise your soul to them and I think by granting that wish the soul becomes tastier or something like that. Or maybe it’s just revenge that does that… I don’t know, either way that’s how the demons work. Death Gods collect souls and judge their lives by using their “Cinematic Record.” They collect the soul with their Death Scythe then review the record to determine if the soul will go to heaven or hell. They generally tend to be neutral in most matters. Angels are where it gets confusing. What are they doing? Where did they come from? Why are they there? I know Ash/Angela is running around trying to ‘purify souls’ though I have a hard time believing that’s what all angels are doing. It’s really just confusing when you throw them in there and don’t explain anything about them. I may have missed some minor explanation at some point but if it was that easy to miss, I think there should have been more.

Story: As is the case with most anime, the plot is developed slowly through a series of seemingly unrelated events. We are introduced to characters and concepts and given little bits of information all while watching Ciel and Sebastian fight crime, or something like that. No matter what he’s doing, however, Ciel always seems to have a personal reason for doing what he does. Sebastian follows his orders without question, even if he does it in somewhat unconventional ways. Most of the problems Ciel faces for the queen have something to do with the occult or have some supernatural element involved. The story is developed rather well over time, but the farther in we get, the more concentrated the story becomes and sometimes it can get a little tedious with the picked up pace. However, there is enough new information being thrown in and twisted with the old to keep it interesting until the end.

Finally: You wouldn’t think at the beginning of the series that in the end it would boil down to the classic angel and demon show off. Well it does and I have to say, it’s kind of a disappointment. Sebastian, known for his badassary and super fantastic amazing skills at everything is facing off against an unproven opponent who we don’t really know that much about. When he was facing Agni we at least get some idea of his strengths and see him use it before they face off. With his fight against the angel we see them fight a little but it’s nothing terribly impressive and we don’t really get the sense that he’s much of a challenge for Sebastian even when he’s kind of kicking his ass. And in the end, Sebastian takes him down without much trouble just by fighting in his true form, which we don’t get to see. I’m pleased that they at least left that a mystery for us.

The final stretch is actually a pretty good sum up of the entire series. They float down some river in a boat, Sebastian probably stole, and Ciel’s life moves under them. (It makes sense if you’ve seen the anime.) They talk briefly about the servants and what’s happened but in the end decide none of it really matters. Sebastian takes him to a special place, Ciel gives his final order and it’s heavily implied that Sebastian eats his soul. I’m rather pleased with this ending, even if the final battle was kind of lame. I would rather this be the end, than have it go on in Kuroshitsuji II, which I’ve already reviewed. It’s plausible but I like this ending better.

Wrap up: Kuroshitsuji is really better as a manga but the anime is pretty good as well. I do enjoy watching Sebastian kill people with silverware and the servants goof off and Grell hit on Sebastian. It’s not as well done as some of the other animes I’ve reviewed but it’s entertaining enough for me and that’s why it gets my number three spot.

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Posted by on December 28, 2010 in Top Five Favorite Anime, Tops

 

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