Having nothing better to watch these days, I went for bijin series just for a change of pace in my anime life. You know; waiting 5 years for another FMAB to pop up. So here I am viewing this “Butler from Hell anime”, which comments make it look like it’s orgasm in animated form. I sat down with zero expectations knowing how bijin looks and lots of fujoshi fandom don’t translate to good news. Well, no surprise, I was right.
First of all I will admit that Sebastian is the coolest anime butler of all times. I mean, what other candidates are there? That irritating indecisive harem shit archetype one from Hayate no Gotoku, or maybe those trash from Ladies versus Butlers? No sir, the competition was low to begin with and dear Sebastian wins while still making breakfast for his master. As a character, I found him to be the tuxedo wearing offspring of Alucard from Hellsing and Enma Ai from Jigoku Shoujo. Not bad of a combo I must say. Ok, he was not battle frenzied like dear old All but was equally imba during battle. And yes, he does send people to hell by making contracts with them. Plus, he is made of the stuff that makes fujoshis scream like they are being teased in their privates by a j-pop band. All of its members at the same time. And then there is Ciel, the frail and cute shota with an attitude that gets carried around by Sebastian in his lap like a good doggy every five minutes. Yeah, great service there people.
Well, they are not the only ones of course; pretty much every important character in this series is like a model agency graduate with debatable sex and sexual preferences. All part of looking gaunt enough to keep watching even if you don’t like the plot one bit .
From the above monologue, you can figure out that I give full mark to character figures. And I also do for all the backgrounds, sceneries, and overall artwork too. Victorian England looks very interesting and besides some minor anachronisms, it is very realistic in how society was running back then. High amount of detail and decoration, smart camera angles and uses of lighting and shading, plus many wonderful sceneries to just stare at how beautiful they are. I must say Studio A-1 Works does wonders when it wants to.
It’s still not a perfect mark though. The actual animation is rather sloppy, with many still panels, jerky movements, low frame rate and sometimes annoying chibi moments. Yes, lots of rather crude chibi looks that ruin true immersion to the story.
The sound department is mighty fine too. Great voice acting, nice atmospheric music, ok sound effects, the package does it’s magic with flying colours. The bijins are seducing you with their tone of voice or making you laugh with their sillyness.
Now about the story which, unlike Sebastian, it’s very weak. The premise is about Ciel selling his soul to the devil in order to get revenge on the dudes who killed his family and becoming a boy detective in order to find clues. And it’s also about Sebastian… looking cool. That’s pretty much all of it. Ok, it’s not THAT bad but the presentation doesn’t have any sort of brilliance in its handling. Mystery exposition is rushed, the chain of events is loose and happens as the author likes it, the showdowns ain’t exciting at all. Want a breakdown? Ciel is looking for a criminal, goes somewhere, meets someone, a crime happens and it is revealed the guilty one was the guy he just met. So his life is in danger and so tells his butler to fix this mess because they will be late for tea time. And that’s it… No matter the situation, Sebastian is simply unbeatable and doesn’t even need to use strategy in battle. It’s just brute force. Yeah, totally unexciting…
Not only that, but as the story goes on, this becomes more and more of a problem and in the end it feels like everything happens like Bleach in totally random and convenient ways. So the detective and mystery aspects of the story are plain horseshit and ruin the already simple premise of the story. I mean, check out Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro. It was detective and supernatural but had actual interest and showdowns (of sorts). This? This was Scooby Doo serious before it.
The ending is also left rather open, so there isn’t even a closure to the already simplified and kindergarten-handled main story. I was told that the anime added a lot of filler and that the manga is far better, with the second season being nothing but a fanfic. Plus it is far lamer than even the first season. Thus the story is yet another victim of adaptation decay but hey, who cares about the story if you can stare at Sebastian giving Ciel a spongebath ?
Let’s not kid ourselves, the selling point of the series is Sebastian. The anime itself is named after him. As long as you are satisfied watching him doing cool stuff with his underage sex partner master, then all the rest are trivial. And if that is not enough, there are many comic relief characters to have fun as substitute for the piss poor storytelling. To be honest, most characters get exposition and you really do get to know a lot about them as the story goes on. They are not entirely stunts. But since all that always happens out of the blue, lasts 5 minutes, doesn’t affect the main story, is hardly ever mentioned again, and it’s usually ridiculed by bad jokes, well, that makes all character progress and coloring to be equal with the Stone Age while using watercolors on an open space during a heavy rain. But who cares about depth if I get to wet my thingy by staring at them?
The value and enjoyment of this anime are a weird thing. Fujoshis adore it and most will probably have decorated the ceiling above their beds with doujin pictures of Sebastian ass-serving Ciel. The only replay value I see here is just so you can keep staring at the bijins and NOT the story or the plot. That counts as something but I definitely know it is not an anime that will be remembered for anything other than its main character.
Now if you excuse me, I will return back to watching pitiful anime fandom deifies for silly reasons while waiting for another FMAB.
Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 9/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks lice)
Character Figures 2/2 (generic but sexy)
Backgrounds 2/2 (detailed and close to the feeling of the show)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (cool use of lightening and shadow)
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (almost episodic)
Complexity 1/2 (seems like complicated at first but eventually it ain’t much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 2/2 (hot/cute/creepy)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 5/10
Historical Value 1/3 (famous amongst fujoshis but the rest don’t give a damn)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 3/4 (coolest butler ever but nothing beyond that)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
I liked the butler, I disliked the rest.
Since it's late, and I don't have much to do, I went ahead and reviewed something. Go me. Whoopty Doo.
"Black Butler" (also referred to as "Kuroshitsuji" because the fucking weeaboo faggots think they have to call all their shows by their Japanese titles) is the Anime adaption of the Manga of the same name, created by Yana Toboso.
In the recent years since it's release, "Black Butler" has become quite the hit, amassing a steady fanbase, with both the Anime and Manga reaching relatively high heights in popularity, as well as recieving very high critical acclaim, being praised by many, most notably for it's primary character, who is ridiculously popular among fans.
This review will only be covering the first season of the Anime, as I have yet to watch the second season (and at this rate, I don't think I'll get round to it any time soon), and will contain very few spoilers, as I'm sure people will get annoyed should they be placed.
What did I think of "Black Butler"? Well, read on and find out...
The Premise of "Black Butler" isn't exactly original, but it's interesting enough to at least grab the interest of some viewers out there. Basically, a young Earl named Ciel Phantomhive is living in London with his rich parents, who run some kind of Empire and have tons of wealth. On the night of his tenth birthday, the manor he lives in catches fire, his parents are brutally murdered, and Ciel himself is kidnapped by a mysterious group of baddies who torture him for an entire month. Yeah, apparently this big bad organisation had nothing better to do, so they started torturing little boys. So scary.
Anyway, amidst all this torture, Ciel somehow manages to summon a demon, to which he offers his soul, in return for the demons services. The demon then becomes his butler, who calls himself "Sebastian". Sebastian and Ciel now have a contract formed, he will help Ciel to avenge the death of his parents, and provide every service he needs in life, with the promise that once Ciel achieves his ultimate goal, Sebastian can eat his soul.
Ciel, now the Queen's "watchdog", and the leader of the British Victorian Underworld, now goes around London, solving crimes with Sebastian at his side, while patiently waiting for the day he can avenge his parents.
While this indeed strikes itself as a somewhat interesting premise, there a few issues I have with it, the first being, it's not very unique... Demons. Forming contracts. Eating souls. Mysterious group of baddies. Killed protagonist's parents. It's all kind of cliche. Sure, it's actually pretty interesting, but I wasn't all that impressed with the initial set up of this show, and it just felt kind of lame and was a lot like stuff we've seen before. A truly brilliant premise is a unique one, and "Black Butler" doesn't have a whole lot of uniqueness going for it.
Another problem the premise has is just me nitpicking, but I found this a little stupid... Why on Earth would a demon wait over three years and do every piece of bullshit that his stuck up little master wants him to do, all for one measly little soul. Couldn't Sebastian like, harvest hundreds of souls through lot's of easier and less lengthy contracts? The show kind of explains this by explaining how fucking tasty Ciel's soul is, but no soul could possibly be that tasty. But hey, I'm a human, what do I know of eating souls? Maybe the infamous Plot Convenience Wizard used his magic to make Sebastian crave only the best souls.
Despite this however, the premise itself isn't too bad. It's okay, just not great.
The General Story:
The general storyline of "Black Butler" isn't very spectacular, as the format of the show isn't particularly great. It's essentially a "mystery of week" type set up, where you're given an episode, or a few episodes, that revolve around some kind of mystery and then Big Seb and Ciel have to go solve the mystery. It's just really not that great. I'll give a general breakdown to simplify what I mean:
Ciel and Sebastian are looking for the bad guy who did bad things > They go to the scene of the bad things > They meet someone at the scene of the bad things > Another bad thing/bad things happen > Ciel is now in danger > Ciel summons Sebastian who through the power of Plothax instantly solves the danger in a matter of 10 seconds and they all go home and have tea and crumpets.
It's not great, and the reason is because...
Overpowered Titular Character:
The problem with "Black Butler" is the Black Butler himself; Sebastian. Sebastian is ridiculously overpowered to the point that he can solve anything and be anything and do everything with little effort or challenge. He doesn't even remotely break a sweat when doing any sort of task be it rescuing Ciel, tracking down a criminal, or even fucking combat with enemies.
This is a problem for the story, because having a character that can do anything and resolve every major conflict in the plot just because is poor writing and is just lazy as shit. It's fucking boring. There is no sense of real danger of conflict for the main characters because Sebastian can just magically solve any and every problem the main characters are faced with, and he does it without any kind of struggle or problems whatsoever. Stuff just fixes itself for convenience of moving the plot along. It's like the author didn't know how to build tension of create a sense of any real conflict, so she just ignored these basic fundamentals in storytelling and created this.
Everything that happens is just purely random and convenient, to the point it's even worse than "Bleach" in it's predictability and tardiness.
Piss Poor Pacing/Drop in Story Quality:
And as if the above wasn't bad enough, "Black Butler" also suffers from some horrible pacing issues. Initially, at the beginning of the series, the pacing is actually rather brisk, with each episode having it's own little mystery, and something major happening in every episode, and the "Jack The Ripper" story arc was actually very good and very well paced spanning over quite a few episodes.
However, after the mentioned arc, the pacing and storytelling begin to drop dramatically, which I believe is primarily due to the Anime no longer following the Manga after this point. Yeah, they adapted like 4 or 5 Volumes of the Manga. I'm not sure exactly though since I didn't read the Manga and probably never will.
Back on topic, the pacing just begins to drastically decrease in quality over time, and less and less things happen as episodes ensue, to the point the show eventually just becomes a chore to plough through. The pacing is so bad that the episode count could have easily lost a quarter of it's final count.
Perhaps the main reason the pacing became so slow for me, was due to the decrease in good storytelling too. Although the storytelling was never perfect to begin with, during the "Jack The Ripper" story arc, I actually began to feel connected more to the story and felt the show was getting great. Then, afterwards, we're presented with some truly terrible, boring and predictable as all hell stories, where some really stupid shit goes down. The writing towards the end especially just becomes absolutely dreadful, to the point nothing makes sense any more, and everything becomes a great big bore. I actually almost fell asleep during the final episode, and had to rewind the episode a bit to recap what I'd just missed.
Overall, the story of "Black Butler" is by far it's weakest point...
The characters in "Black Butler" are a lot better than the god awful story that's been thrown at us. Although a rather slim cast, the characters themselves are generally likeable and quite entertaining, quirky and just plain fun. I'll detail some below:
Sebastian Michaelis: The titular character of this show, the "Black Butler" himself, Sebastian is a demon who has taken on human form, and has devoted his servitude to young Ciel in exchange for the childs soul when the time comes. Although in servitude to Ciel, his loyalty appears to be nothing more than a front, and he actually has very little care for Ciel's well-being, and often insults him to get a rise out of him. At other times however, he is genuinely concerned for Ciel, which is kind of stupid since other times he couldn't give a crap. I don't get it... Sebastian, being a demon, also shows a sadistic and evil side to himself. I like this side. It's interesting and cool. Sadly, it's barely explored.
As said before, Sebastian can do anything and everything, no matter how difficult and impossible it may be, and despite this ruining the shit out of the plot it can be rather fun to watch sometimes. It makes his character a lot less interesting, but I can't help but smile at times when he just curb stomps everything the series throws at him. He also really likes cats, to the point they may be his only weakness. It's a little dumb.
As a character, Sebastian doesn't develop much, if at all, and it sadly makes for a very predictable and two dimensional character that is difficult to symphathise with. Doesn't stop him being kind of fun sometimes, but I question why people love him so damn much. He's really not that great or "awesome" a character. Sure, he's the third best anime butler in existence, but he really doesn't have much competition. Sebastian ain't got nothing on Walter C. Dornez or Gotoh.
Ciel Phantomhive: Ciel is the primary protagonist of the series, and is now the head of the wealthy Phantomhive family, after his parents were murdered when he was 10 years old. He runs his own company which make toys, sweets and food. Yum yum. He is fuelled by the strong desire to avenge his parents deaths, and plans to use Sebastian to do so, in exchange for his soul once the deed is complete. He possesses a magic eye (hey look, it's "Code Geass") with a pentacle in the middle, which he normally covers with an eyepatch. It symbolises his contract or something. I just think it's Geass, but with a Pentacle instead of a bird-thing. Whatever.
As a character, Ciel is okay. He's a brat, he's full of himself and he's really fucking whiney, but he does a decent job at filling the role of "guy who commands the real star oft he show" (Sebastian). He's actually pretty smart though, and is proficient with guns somehow.
In regards to development, Ciel doesn't have much either. He barely develops or changes from point A to B, which makes him, yet another two dimensional character. Ugh...
With regards to secondary characters, most of them are the other house servants who work alongside Sebastian. They're all there and get decent enough screen-time (except one who really doesn't speak much at all or do anything). They don't really contribute much to the main storyline, and barely develop at all. They mostly serve as comic relief, which is entertaining at times, but otherwise, just isn't all that interesting or meaningful. There's also a female love interest too. She doesn't do much either, nor does she develop. Ugh...
The villains of the show are pretty decent. The antagonist of the "Jack The Ripper" arc for example; "Grell" is pretty awesome, although he is overall just a knock-off of the typical gender confused villains we've seen time, and time again, who might be gay but we have no idea if he really is. Other villains or decent, but the final villain is just... Awful. God. One of the most stupid, random and uncreative villains I've encountered within the anime medium. I have nothing else to say here.
So yeah, characters are much better than the story, but is that really saying much?
Art and Animation:
What? Something was actually better than average? Yup.
"Black Butler" was produced by A-1 Pictures, the studio that brought us "Sword Art Online" and the long-running "Fairy Tail" (although this show came out before either of those shows), who as before I have stated are very hit-or-miss when it comes to their art. How did they do?
They did a fairly decent job. In regards to the general artwork, everything looks rather nice, with the characters themselves being very detailed and colourful, with expressions, figures and every other detail drawn exceptionally well. The setting itself is conveyed rather nicely too, Victorian Streets look like Victorian Streets, Victorian Manors look like Victorian Manors, the time period is captured nicely. The colour scheme used only further improves this, as it has a dark, and victorian feel to it, which is great and really captures the atmosphere and overall "dark" tone of the era and the series in general. The visual effects of the series are also very lovely.
The animation side of things however, is rather mixed. While there are times the animation can be rather fluent and nice, there are way too many scenes where things feel sloppy, choppy and just very staticy. It can be quite a mess sometimes, and the framerate really isn't all that great, especially when you look at the other work of A-1 Pictures. It's really not their best work.
"Black Butler" is rather mixed again in the sound department. The music is very good, and captures the emotions of the scenes very well, as well as fitting in with the Victorian setting of the show. However, the tracks themselves, although good at their job, are very forgettable, and there's not really any particular piece of music I can recall all too well. The music is good, but it's nothing special.
The Opening of "Black Butler" is "Monochrome Kiss" by Sid, and it's actually not too bad. It captures the dark and demonic atmosphere that the series should have had, and it's a good piece of music. It's nothing too great, but it's catchy enough that I didn't skip it. The accompanying opening sequence is fairly decent.
The series has two ending themes. The first is "I'm Alive!" by Rebecca Hollcraft who surprisingly isn't Japanese. It's okay, nothing too great. The second ending theme is Lacrimosa" by Kalafina. Again, it's nothing spectacular, but it's still good. The ending sequences are okay, I like the chibis I guess.
The voice acting is very good in both English and Japanese. I watched the series in English though because I'm one of those guys. J. Michael Tatum did a fantastic job as Sebastian, and once again Funimation exceeded the original version. However, despite both versions having great voice acting, a lot of the secondary characters, particularly the servants, had really fucking irritating voices. I couldn't stand them in either language... THEY WERE ANNOYING AS HELL.
The show has great sound effects, with a lot of variety, and good production values. Everything sounds crisp and lively. Truly brilliant sounding.
So what do I think of "Black Butler"?
Well, I think the show is okay but it's certainly not a classic, nor is it worthy of its universal praise, high ratings and "awesomeness".
The fans of this series have certainly hyped the show up to almighty fuck and seem to just enjoy the show for drooling over Sebastian, which is fine if that's your thing. Sadly, it's not mine.
The show itself can be entertaining when it wants to be, but it largely suffers from a poor script, poor pacing, a lack of uniqueness, a lack of character development, and an overpowered main character who can do everything. It's just kind of boring a lot of the time, and that sucks.
But hey, I want to watch Season 2, so it must have done something right? Right?
I heard Season 2 has nothing to do with the Manga, but fuck the Manga. This Anime fucked the Manga a quarter of the way in anyway.
There's also the new OVA's or something, which follow the Manga further. Maybe they'll fix this mess?
Anyway, I'm done with this review. The show isn't all that great, and is an overhyped mess. But hey, it's got Sebastian, so who cares right?
I'm assuming that's what goes on in the minds of the fans who love this show blindly. I mean, people aren't watching this for the plot are they?
Don't answer that. 90% of this shows fandom are Fujoshis.
Also, fuck Fujoshis. You're a disgrace to the anime fandom and don't belong within it.
And now, it's scoring time:
Premise 1/3 - A decent premise, but nothing we haven't seen before
General Plot 0/2 - Poorly written and things happen just because
Pacing 1/3 - Starts off brilliantly, then gets slower and slower as time goes on. Ridiculous amounts of padding
Conclusion 1/2 - Semi-predictable. Nothing too climatic or emotional. Final battle is a bit of a letdown
Artwork 3/3 - Colourful, detailed and vibrant. Really nice on the eyes.
Character Designs 3/3 - The characters are all lovely to look at and stand out from one another
Animation 2/4 - Really not the studios greatest achievement. Has it's moments, but suffers from a lot of static and choppy frames
Personality 2/3 - Characters are fun to watch and follow, but are very generic and predictable
Development 0/3 - Nobody develops in this show at all. Nobody!
Uniqueness 2/4 - Ciel is actually pretty unique, despite being a typical crybaby. He has a unique charm to his character. Sebastian lacks uniqueness, and is your typical overpowered main character. The rest are all cut and pastes we've seen a dozen times before
Voice Acting 3/4 - I watched it in English, but both languages were great. Some voices got on my nerves though
Music 2/4 - Captures the setting and emotions of the scenes very well, however lacks any memorability and isn't great. Opening and ending themes are decent
Sound Effects 2/2 - They're crisp, they're varied, they're great
It's okay... Watch if if you feel it's necessary.
But hey, I thought "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood" was one of the most overrated series ever concieved, so my opinion probably doesn't matter to you people.
Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji) has always been and probably will always be within my top 3 favorite anime series. I loved most things from it, and I have very few complaints about the series.
The story of Kuroshitsuji revolves around a young, but socially powerful orphan named Ciel Phantomhive, along with his otherworldly butler, Sebastian Michaelis. After Ciel's parents are killed in a house fire, he forms a contract with a demon to gain power and solve the mystery behind his parents' death. For me, the only reason that the anime only received a 9.5, rather than a 10, was because of the depth it lacked. However, this is true for most anime that are adapted from manga, and I expected to this to happen going into the anime. Despite the lack of "staying true" to the manga, I loved the anime and it was produced well.
The animation, especially for the year it was made, was wonderful. It was smooth and detailed, accurate to the mood of the story and the era that the story took place. Dark colors were used to show the usual dark undertones, however, it wasn't forgotten to brighten the scene when a character like Elizabeth stepped in. Overall, I was highly impressed by the animation.
I give the sound effects/music of Kuroshitsuji a 10 mostly because I have no complaints about it. The music, especially the opening and ending songs, were all great choices that matched the plot of the series. The audio seemed to be high quality throughout the whole series, and I have no complaints.
The characters of Kuroshitsuji are probably my favorite thing within the series itself. Each character is unique and has their own personality quirks. While the show can be depressing at some points, the spirit of the characters help to sneak some comedy in and to keep the show from dropping into pure melancholy. While some of the characters, like Prince Soma or Lady Elizabeth, can be considered annoying or pesky at times, it's easy to tell that thay's how the author had designed them to be.
Overall, I absolutely adored the Black Butler anime. I would suggest it to anime fan, whether they be a new or old fan. I've rewatched episodes several times, and enjoy them every time.
As of late, Kuroshitsuji is essentially the poster-boy for thinly-veiled fangirl bait. Kuroshitsuji (or Black Butler, whatever floats your boat) has tons of yaoi tropes, and has the word bishie plastered all over it, so you may think that being somebody who does not like these things, that I hate it because of that. So let's make this clear now: No. That has nothing to do with it. There are plenty of legitimate reasons not to like Kuroshitsuji besides that, so before you reach for the Not Helpful button, please think for a second: are you doing that because my review is badly written, or just because you don't agree with my score? So, at the very least, just read the rest of the review first, OK?
With that sadly necessary disclaimer out of the way, let's discuss Kuroshitsuji. Kuroshitsuji is the story of a boy named Ciel Phantomhive, and his butler, Sebastian Michaelis. Ciel is the head of a toy company, and is also in the employment of the Queen, who enlists him to deal with various mysteries. Why this is the case isn't really explained, but nonetheless, most of the episodes play out as a Sherlock Holmes style detective series with him solving various supernatural mysteries.
Of course, Ciel is no ordinary boy... he has a contract with his butler for his soul. As you probably already knew, Sebastian is a demon of sorts. He is nigh invulnerable to everything, has amazing skill in pretty much every field, and is basically perfect in every way.
This, however, is the first problem with the series... Sebastian is a massive Gary Stu. He's simply too perfect. Not once do you feel for him as a character. He is completely overpowered, and is essentially an end all, fix all solution to more or less every single problem the series can throw at any of its characters.
Sadly, the rest of the cast isn't much better. Ciel Phantomhive is probably the most likeable character in the show, being something of a snarky, deadpan character with a chip on his shoulder the size of Africa. But he has his idiosyncrasies as well... most of which simply come down to him being a complete jerk to everyone. Ciel is generally single-minded, only caring about whatever mission the Queen has given him, or getting revenge on those who ruined his life. The reaper, Grell Sutcliffe, had potential to be a loveable psychopath in the vein of Ladd Russo or any given Hellsing villain, but they eschew the chainsaw wielding, slasher smile route laid out in front of them in favour of making him incredibly, incredibly gay, as though they were trying to make a psychotic badass Leeron. But unlike the aforementioned Gurren Lagann character, they don't manage to make him nearly entertaining or tongue-in-cheek enough... to be perfectly honest, Grell is just plain offensive.
Another problem with Kuroshitsuji is that it can't seem to decide what it wants to be. For half the series, it goes down the aforementioned Sherlock Holmes route, painting a great depiction of 1888 London, rolling through themes like Jack The Ripper and Scotland Yard, but for the other half it tries to blend a Tim Burton-esque supernatural demon theme to the mix, and the tone of the series becomes very inconsistent as a result. Both styles are well-executed, but they conflict with each other. If they had been more consistent, Kuroshitsuji would have been better as a result. The character designs also mirror this quite heavily; While we often get a good, 1800s design like Sebastian, we also get overblown, colourful and vibrant designs like those of Grell or the Undertaker that creates a very poor contrast.
Also, there's something that can occasionally be very jarring, and that would be the anachronisms. Despite the show being set in 1888, you will frequently see things that are very out of place in this time period, like advanced modern handguns, sophisticated chainsaws, and film. While all of these things did exist in some form at this point, none of them do in the form they are shown in. And even more jarring is that most of these are applied to the Reapers, ancient beings that would not realistically incorporate these sorts of things into their supernatural array of weapons.
And on that note, one of the things that annoys me most about Kuroshitsuji is that the demon lore is left completely unexplained, as though they were some sort of afterthought. The reapers hate demons, but why? It's never given any real mention. There are also Angels, only one of which we ever see, whose purpose and role in the demon lore is never even touched upon, let alone their motives. I think Kuroshitsuji would have actually been better if they had completely left out the angel/demon/reaper aspects of the show and solely focused on the detective angle instead.
The only aspect wherein Kuroshitsuji really shines is the production job. The animation is fluid, and the art style is thoroughly polished, using a blend of dark, rich tones. The 1800s environment is one of the strong points of the series, which makes it all the more of a shame that they so often opt for the Burton-shtick instead. The soundtrack is also very strong, featuring a variety of music fitted to the period, most notably the smooth jazz.
Now, before this reads like an invitation for all the yaoi fangirls to break down my door, let me just clarify this by saying that Kuroshitsuji is not bad. What it is is average. Ordinary. Run of the mill. The only exceptional thing about it being the insane level of fan-pandering it stoops to.
However, there is still one serious problem with Kuroshitsuji not accounted for... the ending. The last few episodes are an evermounting pile of contrived nonsense. Things happen, but no explanation as for why or how is ever really given. No character's motivations ever make sense. Plot twists come from absolutely nowhere with no foreshadowing or real explanation. It rivals Soul Eater in terms of ridiculous bullshit endings, but at least Soul Eater didn't leave us on an incredibly dodgy cliffhanger that leads to a second season of pure filler.
Final Words: It had potential, but it ignored it so it could pander to fans.
For Fans Of: Hellsing, Pandora Hearts.
I'm honestly shocked by how much I enjoyed "Black Butler." I had actually tried to watch this series a few years ago and I just absolutely despised it. But then, after being encouraged to try again by a few people, I decided to give it a go because why not. The first 5 episodes were difficult to slog through, but after that...the pace picked up and the story became genuinely interesting.
The story of "Black Butler" follows Ciel Phantomhive, a 12-year-old boy who has sold his soul to a demon in return for revenge. He wants to kill the people who tortured him and killed his parents. It's a fine plot line. There wasn't anything particularly amazing about it, and there wasn't anything particularly terrible about it, either, except for those first five episodes. Other than that, it was pretty solid. Nothing amazing, but entertaining, nonetheless. The later episoes were much better than the earlier ones.
The animation was, I feel, very underwhelming. There's not too much to say about this...There was nothing that really stood out to me, but there was also nothing that hurt my eyes.
The sound was... not the greatest. I watched this dubbed and I wasn't the biggest fan of Ciel's voice. Sebastian's was fine. The servants' voices also grated on my nerves, as did Elizabeth's. In general, though, I don't like dubbed anime so I might be unbelievably biased on that. This score also rolls into the OP and Ending songs, too. The OP was fun and felt very appropriate for the series, but that first Ending song was... what was that? It was too cute and light hearted for a series that's supposed to be about a boy who's going to get his soul eaten by a demon. I mean, c'mon. Once again, this is an example of the series getting better as it went on. The music later on, including the EP, was amazing. The soundtrack was super appropriate for those last episodes.
The characters were solid, I felt. Of course, they felt a little cliche, and there is the whole "rooting for a demon" thing, but they were entertaining, they felt relatively well-rounded, and they always felt appropriate for the scenes they were in. I enjoyed this aspect of the anime a lot. You know, this isn't going to have characters that are unbelievable complex and well-rounded, but if you can accept them for what they are, then I think you'll like them.
My overall enjoyment was really high. I really loved the later episodes, as I mentioned before. Because there is such a dichotomy in quality between the earlier and later episodes, I can't give this a higher score, but if the second season is like the end of the first, I might really, really enjoy that. This series isn't a classic. It's not going to blow your socks off or spiral you into an existential crisis, but that doesn't mean it's not a fun watch. Give it a go if you're interested, just power through those first five episodes and I think you'll find yourself enjoying it!