Kuroshitsuji: A Contemporary Classic

Anime, Otaku

Kuroshitsuji is the title of an anime which I watched many years ago. The english title is Black Butler and was the first anime I watched thoroughly to completion. I’m also loosely attempting to collect all the manga in the series as the anime does indeed skip some plot points. Written and illustrated by Yan Toboso, this is a series that you won’t want to skip out on.

The protagonists. Ciel Phantomhive (right) and his butler Sebastian Michaelis (left)

The purpose of this post? To give my 2 cents on a wonderful mix of 1860’s English aesthetic with paranormal tones, and flowered with themes of power, sex, loyalty, and love.

The plot revolves around a young boy named Ciel Phantomhive, born to English nobility in the later half of the 19th century. This boy lives alone in his mansion – that had previously burned down, killing his parents – with his staff of maid, cook, gardner, business advisor/head butler, and most prominently a demon who contracted with him. The contract demands that this demon play butler and loyal servant to the young earl in exchange for his apparently delectable soul.

The butler – named Sebastian Michaelis – is suave, intelligent, capable, and cold. He has very strict principles and is thus loyal to a fault to his “young master” and would on several occasions use his invulnerability to guard his master or even perform his commands no matter their ethical implications.

A favourite. This graceful man, clad in a cloak red has blood is more than he appears to be.

The art is beautiful. Each character is sculpted to perfectly fit their era and their personalities stand out relative to appropriate period attire. Characters are also very consistent, meaning that they seems to truly embody their character. Character interactions are flexible and this plays wonderfully to plot progression as there is never a point when the story halts because of boring character interactions. The characters are also loveable, regardless of their alliance, as they all have their own unique quirks that inspire something special within the audience.

The plot is dark. Yet the story focuses on keeping a light hearted comedy with dark undertones. One chapter deals with the infamous Jack the Ripper and the mysterious murders that plague London. The introduction to this chapter seems severe, but the characters quickly lighten the mood while still retaining enough seriousness to the case that the audience can keep invested in the mystery. The conclusion to this chapter is also incredible and leaves an impression on the audience, it also adds a layer to the protagonists, introduces new themes, as well as a new subset of characters. The chapter is ultimately drawn to an emotional and satisfactory conclusion. After which, the true motives of the protagonist are further revealed and the story dynamics are enhanced to introduce more possibilities for a complex plot.

This formula is continuously put into play. With each chapter, or arch introducing more to an (already interesting) story to give it several layers and reel the audience in. Every character has a story, and every story feels genuine.

Music is, as you could probably assume, all based on contemporary genres. Side from theme songs that are technically pop, but with a tone of dread to emphasise true themes that are dealt with in the series. I can still listen to the soundtrack despite the number of times I’ve listened through it. It never gets boring.

Sebastian Michaelis. Notice his devilish eyes and stark grin.

I have a special place in my memory bank for this series. It has recently begun to pick up pace with new instalments in the anime series so there is yet much to look out for. My only quarrel is that the first and second seasons deal with the ending of the story, that hasn’t even been revealed yet in the ongoing manga series and this left some fans disgruntled. Regardless, this series is one to look out for. It is rich with full characters, an attractive plot, and beautiful aesthetic to keep your visually artistic side fulfilled.

This has been the first of many anime reviews. Should interest persist, I can assure you that there will be more to read on here if you fancy anime or manga. Keep in touch for more, and feel free to continue a discussion in the comments because I would love to hear from you.