Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) Review: Season 1

Ohayo Gozaimasu!

Oh My Goodness! It has been so long!! I had been busy before Today, I present you another anime that I steam-rolled through. By steam-rolled, I mean blazed through. I was so surprised by how captivating it was at times. So utterly moved when it got emotional at others. I cringed a bit from the gore (nah, just kidding), fell in love with the main characters and cried at the show's lost potential.

Ladies and gents, what the title states!!

I do not own this picture. Pretty, however.

In Victorian-era Europe, a young boy loses everything he once held near and dear to a vicious plot. In his moment of death, he strikes a deal with a demon: his soul, in exchange for revenge. Ciel Phantomhive is now the head of the Phantomhive corporation, handling all business affairs as well as the underground work for the Queen of England. His new partner is a demon butler, Sebastian Michaelis, whose powers as a butler is only surpassed by his strength as a demon.

The story follows the two along with their other servants, as they work to unravel the plot behind Ciel's parents' murder, and the horrendous tragedies that befell Ciel in the month directly after. (Read more at Myanimelist.net)

As many of you probably don't know, a new season is on the roll!! They will be adapting the manga from which they had diverged, and even though I have not read the manga (which I plan to: it looks good) I will wait for the new season to air which will be released around July 2014. I am seriously excited. Even though I really, really enjoyed this show, Black Butler is so full of flaws, I can't even think of them all. I had to fill up my notebook with two whole pages full of notes, and even then I could not get my thoughts to organize. But I will tell you one thing:

Black Butler was one hell of an anime.

Animation: 8.5/10

 Kuroshitsuji was animated by A-1 Pictures, a studio known for its beautiful visuals and has captivated millions with titles such as Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Fairytail and Ae no Exorcist. The animation is neat, supple, and is seriously nice to look at. The action scenes are beautiful and clear, The lines crisp and engaging. However, why didn't I give this a perfect ten? Because sometimes the brightness of the scenes threw me off. I wanted Kuroshitsuji to seem a little more dark and hellish, with dark lighting and shadows everywhere. It may seem stupid, but sometimes I felt as if a scene could have had more impact if the lighting was considered. Some parts, such as in episode when when that guy was sinking in his chair (I forgot his name), could have been better animated. All in all, the rating of this animation is no lie. It is lovely. 

Character Design/Setting: 10/10

I feel as if I should not explain myself. In fact, seeing for yourselves, I should not have to. The Victorian Era is my favorite era in all of history. The spectacular outfit, just the setting itself is magical, mystical ad delicious. My goodness, I could not have picked a better time for this. This and the Roaring Twenties always stand as my number one choice for anything basically, story-wise at least. The outfits the characters wear are so beautiful, every set decoration, every cup of tea and even the meals served! You could tell that 1, this manga was written by a woman (intuition tells me so) and 2, the amount of research this must have gotten! The effort is in every nook and cranny. Every thing shows you a different aspect of in each character's personality while respecting the era's dress code. Ciel's attires have to be my favorite. I mean, his clothes may seem slutty at times, but remember that this was originally supposed to be a yoi manga, and honestly, I would never have liked his outfits any other way. The characters are just to gorgeous and delicious to look at. This anime/manga, has hands down, no exaggeration, the single best character and set designs I have ever seen in anime. I praise the author!
Update: the author's name is Yana Toboso. A female manga artist: I was right! The author is female!

Soundtracks: 4/10

Except for what appears to be Sebastian's track, the tracks did not stand out for me much. To me, there weren't enough scores. I could only hear that one haunting piece when Sebastian was doing his evil deeds or explaining his nature. They fade too much in the background or are too loud at times. Sometimes, I felt as if the tracks used did not go with a particular scene at all. For example: Sebastian puts Ciel to sleep after giving him back his now flawless ring. He walks out and his inner monologue sort of creeped me out. And guess what kind of soundtrack was playing? Jazz. JAZZ!! I could hardly take Sebastian seriously at that time. It wasn't just then, but many, many scenes throughout the anime. Don't even get me started on the London Bridge piece that played in the last episode with the no-holds-barred-down battle between the angel and Sebastian. Maybe it was supposed to be creepy, but that took away the awesome factor and made it seem nearly cheesy. However, I loved both opening sequences and both ending themes, particularly the second one. I realised how much I liked it in the last episode when Sebastian was taking Ciel's soul (brilliant score was playing then) and since that scene got me teary, the ED theme was amazing then. I started crying when it came on. All in all 4 out of ten for the OP, ED themes, for trying, and that haunting piece that I still have to find the name of.

Plot: 4/10

The plot was all over the place. Particularly in the latter episodes. I greatly enjoyed the whole mystery genre type arcs, mind you. However, the plot was the same for each arc. Ciel and co. "solves" something, but then realise that they were wrong, so the real threat comes in, Sebastian jumps in to save the day! and I can hardly keep myself from laughing my ass off. The culprits are always too glaringly obvious, the fun completely robbed from me, and I always wish for the arc to finish and for the anime to redeem itself already. But it never happened. Then the last arc, Sebastian does the unthinkable: He ABANDONS Ciel. Whether or not this was a test, I do not care. That was so OOC of Sebastian that I became entirely confused about his character. It was so confusing, I had not idea what the hell was going on. Don't even get me started on the fact that the anime did not portray Sebastian properly: I even deduced that much, because I noticed that I did not understand his character at all because of that one action he took. The second season fixed that however. Sometimes, the anime focused on things that are entirely irrelevant to the plot. It takes away some of the seriousness of that one particular arc, and there goes my enjoyment. The sequences of events are just so badly directed, that I am having some doubts about reading the manga. I refuse to believe that such a beautiful anime was so badly written. I am being generous with my four out of ten... Particularly since this is so riddled with plot holes. Umm, that death scythe? Why is Ciel the Queen's guard dog? Are there other families that do the same thing? Etc...? Don't even get me started with the completely out of place scene with Sebastian and that nun...

AWWW! So cute


Ciel is just such a unique and original character! He is beautiful, gloriously dark, ad incredibly interesting to watch. He has one of the best boy-ish voice acting that I've heard in years. The actress did such an amazing voice. I realize that his character development would not sit well with the setting. I realized that when Sebastian seemed pissed when Ciel was showing the slightest sign of kindness towards other people. That may be why Sebastian abandoned him: to test him. Sebastian must have felt worthy again when Ciel made a terrible, last minute decision to have his servants kill the demon dog.  That is when I realized that Sebastian may have been manipulating Ciel the whole time. Thus, when I felt uncomfortable about Ciel's treatment of Sebastian (bitch-slapping him and all) I reminded myself that Sebastian was no better than him. The whole master/servant thing did not sit well with me for a while. But, it does not matter. That is the main premise of the show, and Black Butler would not be Kuroshitsuji without it (see what I did there?). I was so surprised to find out that the incompetent servants were total badasses. That was a crowning moment of complete awesome. It was shocking as hell and that is my second favorite scene in the whole anime after Sebastian's unveiling of his "true form". The first episode and the last are my favorite. I was completely sold on how creepy Sebastian and Ciel were. But then, the anime did not give us more scenes like this. That is okay though. The last one was heartbreaking because I really love Ciel. Sebastian... Well, he is the one that I understood the least. He is incredibly good-looking, but I wished that he wasn't so mysterious. That he would state what was truly on his mind. I guess that that is part of his charm, but still. It was not very well-executed. His voice is very sexy though! *Fangirling* Greil is so funny, and I wished that Sebastian would give him the attention that he seeks.

Beautiful and funny!

My favorite characters go as such (my top five): Ciel, Greil, Finian, Sebastian, and Lau. All male, sadly.

Final Thoughts:

Overall enjoyment: 8/10. My god, there were times when the cliffhangers were too much! I had to keep watching it, at three o'clock at night or not! I did finish the show, but the characters are what kept me going.
The ending: 10/10. It was a complete ending. No cliffhanger, and what needed to be done was done. A perfect, beautiful, heartbreaking ending. 

There are may symbolisms throughout the anime. The chess pieces, Ciel's ideals, and the questions the anime raises are so entertaining. I will not address them, as this review might be too long, but I recommend this anime.

By the way, I deduced that Sebastian's final form may not be that impressive: It is him-

Wearing heels-

His real hair-

With a gorillla arm...-

Surrounded by black feathers... Go watch it! Final score: 7.7/10


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