Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Black Butler aka Kuroshitsuji (Shinohara Toshiya, 2008)

Sure, it sounds like porn, but is actually anime with near zero porn/hentai elements to it. It is a supernatural, mystery anime which follows Ciel Phantomhive (a young English Earl) and Sebastian Michaelis (a demon bound to Phantomhive). The young Earl's parents were killed, murdered perhaps, and Ciel is out to figure out what happened. Sebastian, unbeknown to the rest of the world, is a demon but acts as Ciel's butler.

It is an interesting story, as anime goes. When not directly searching for the cause of the parents' death Phantomhive is involved in delivering Her Majesty's justice, a role his family has filled for years. Their first target is Jack the Ripper, so this places the story in Victorian England. Other typical anime elements are thrown in, such as the relationship between the mismatched Ciel and his fiancé Elizabeth, as well as the young Earl being disregarded for his young age.

While I had enjoyed the episodes I watched I was not initially crazy about the show. I did not consume it with the appetite I had for xxxHolic. Much of the interest lay in how unlikable the characters can be. It is shown rather early that neither Ciel nor Sebastian are exactly good; something we can expect of the demon, but the boy is rather on the darker side of gray. Also, despite their dependence on each other, it is clear the two are not entirely happy with the arrangement, and Sebastian wastes no time in reminding the young Ciel that once the contract is broken his soul belongs to His Infernal Majesty. As the show moved along I became more interested, and last night watched a staggering seven episodes; so you could say I warmed nicely to it.

Episodes are roughly 25 minutes, and this streams on Netflix and Hulu. Well worth checking out if anime is your thing or if you like some supernatural stuff to veg out to. Nothing too offensive goes on in this one; even the bulk of the violence is implied rather than portrayed; still, likely not suitable for the kiddies. A few episodes get rather grizzly, which is actually a plus. Rather than bathing the screen in blood every episode, they hold it for important moments. If you see fountains of blood, something important must be going on.


Note: it appears that all episodes on Netflix are dubbed, while only 1-4 on Hulu are dubbed and the rest subtitled.

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