Once upon a time in a far away land of Japan a group of bishounen obsessed fan-girls sit, and watched Jigoku Shoujo. As they went through 78 episodes of all 3 seasons an idea was born - they could do the same thing, just better. So they started planning their masterpiece. First they changed the entire cast into a swarm of bishies. Now since they had only pretty boys left they decided to give contract with the devil to only one person , so they can build some shounen-aiish master-servant relationship. Once that was added all the semi-realistic problems of Jigoku Shoujo were a bit bothersome, so they switched them with pseudo-drama. Lastly they moved it to Victorian age England, so their bishies could wear European clothing. And that's how Kurshitsuji was born.
Story - 5/10
While the introduction was obviously a joke, this anime is truthfully eye-candy only. It starts with a promising setup - a young noble, who suddenly lost his parents, his home and was treated like animal by some sort of unknown group, makes a contract with a devil. He offers his soul in exchange for a help in revenge against his oppressors. The devil takes a form of handsome, black-haired butler and their journey for vengeance begins. Sounds like an interesting dark tale, doesn't it? Unfortunately creators of the story refused to focus on it, and so most of the show is just a large number of meaningless fillers. Those episodes start with some more or less important problem that is in the end resolved by omnipotent butler. The only purpose of those parts is to give Sebastian Michaelis (the devilish butler ) chance to say one of his catchphrases ( "I'm one hell of a butler" or "This much is obvious for Phantomhive family butler" ).
The story picks up a bit in the second half of the show, but it still refuses to shake off it's one-pattern nature. My previous comparison to Jigoku Shoujo comes from that fact. While in Jigoku Shoujo overwhelming repetitiveness is somehow eased up by the fact, that the small stories are interesting, in Kuroshitsuji we don't have that kind of luxury. The only thing that is supposed to make us feel better about this so-called plot are the bishounen interacting with other bishounen. Almost everyone in this show is a handsome young man. Even when something isn't a bishie it can actually be one in disguise. After all - in this show even a dog is actually a naked bishounen who just so happen to be intoxicated with the devilish butler and hugs his leg at every possible occasion. In terms of a female oriented fan-service this show is a definitely a hit. In terms of an interesting story it is a major failure.
Animation - 8/10
Drawing style is one of the most important factors for anything that aspires to be eye-candy, and on this field Kuroshitsuji doesn't disappoint. A wide range of beautifully drawn boys should satisfy all the female fans. Black haired butler, white haired butler, red haired butler, Indian butler, glasses guy, guy with hair covering his eyes, shouta with an eye-patch and many more figures were designed for this show. There is strong focus on their looks, and even more focus on their clothes, specially Ciel Phantomhive, who changes his outfits frequently. I personally think that his tiny hats looks ridiculous, but I suppose there are many who find that appealing.
The scenery is done properly but doesn't contain the beauty some shows posses ( Spice and Wolf being the prime example of beautifully drawn landscapes ). However, it is somehow covered by strong focus on props. Just like character clothes are important, so are small items that bring the mood. Flowers that Sebastian is arranging. Cup of tea given to Ciel. Stained glass in an abandoned monastery. Chess pieces used in a very strange game of chess. I'm not saying they are done in some outstanding way. But they are often brought to the foreground of the scene, subtly adding to the mood that the show is trying to create.
The animation of movement is on pair with current standards. Whether it's the magic circle, Sebastian fights or large number of feathers they look good. But again - not outstanding.
Music - 9/10
While the opening didn't really impress me, both endings are fairly good. First ending is light rock piece - I'm Alive by Becca. It's sung in proper English (not engrish ) which is not that common for animes. It's not awesome, but it's a nice and catchy tune. Second ending - Lacrimossa by Kalafina is nice piece combining violin sounds with good vocalist voice and some choir parts.
Background music, while nicely conveying the mood for the scenes, doesn't leave a big impression. It's a nice set of instrumental pieces some stylized into classical piece, some just a melancholic or simply dark tunes. Also on a few occasions there are choir pieces, and even one track stylized into opera. For a show set in a Victorian England this soundtracks is indeed perfect. Outside of the show it doesn't have much to offer.
Seiyus for most of the main characters are top of the branch, and they fit their characters well. Whether it's perverted Grell, sadistic but loyal Sebastian or tsundere Ciel, voice actors managed to bring life to the dialogues. Their lines in English are of course deformed ( "Yes my Lordo" ) but after watching many shows with even worse cases of engrish, I didn't really mind it that much.
Characters - 4/10
Characters in this show are... good looking. And that's pretty much all there is to them. Well okay, maybe Ciel is a bit more complex ( if the main character of the story wasn't than who would? ) but only in a terms of having a solid background story. With his tragic past and his lack of possibilities for future life ( contract with the devil kinda makes it impossible ) his "always angry" behaviour is understandable. Also he is a nobleman to the core, which is especially highlighted in the last arc. That can also serve as an excuse to why he doesn't grow as a character in any way, but I still don't like that kind of lack of character development. But nevermind Ciel, the real problem with this show is Sebastian.
Yes, you heard me right. The "oh so hot" butler that is the magnet to get fan-girls into watching this show is completely hollow figure. He doesn't change, we know nothing about his past, his thoughts, his character... He is omnipotent, and works diligently for Ciel, but that's it. He is like embodiment of this anime - splendid form, but completely lacking essence. And it's the same for most of the other characters. Some of them got past (yay! ) like for example Phantomhive servants, but they are still bleak and hollow "one trick ponies" whos main job is to look good.
Overall - 5/10
This show isn't boring. But it's not interesting either. It's just good looking. I suppose it's the equivalent of a very mild ecchi anime, just aimed for a different audience. Just like those shows doesn't have much more to offer than a pair of boobs flashing every scene, Kuroshitsuji doesn't offer much more than pretty boys flashing every scene. If you need a large dose of bishounen go ahead, this show is for you. If not, I suggest passing on this, since it's just not worth the time.