Sunday, December 09, 2012

Black Butler

I've resorted to having to wear sunglasses whenever I'm at my computer because the eye-strain is getting really painful.
Also of note, I started this post and got waayyy off-track, so I'm starting over from scratch and hoping to stay focused this time.

There were a good couple of months, a few years back, when my sisters and I would go through the Manga section at the library and pick out anything at a 'Volume 1' that we hadn't already read before. This turned out to be an excellent way to find great new material because you can run through a volume in about half an hour or so, or just put it aside if it's not to your liking.

This is where I started to rant about the differences between Japanese & American graphic novels, their differences, and their pros and cons. However, that proved to be a LONG discussion which only took away from today's entry.

So, we eventually came across a series known as 'Black Butler (or Kuroshitsuji, originally). Though an African-American butler - like that Geoffrey guy from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - may be the first image to come to mind, this is not that. At all.

Living within a British mansion is moody rich kid 'Ciel Phantomhive', and his four faithful and equally maladjusted servants (a militarized cook, a gardener with super-strengh, a clumsy maid, and a cartoonish house steward who is usually found drinking tea).

Oh, and there's also Ciel's own personal butler, 'Sebastian Michaelis. Aside from being the best and most charming butler around, Sebastian is also a demon who acts as a bodyguard for Ciel in eventual exchange for Ciel's soul.
As you may imagine, we instantly liked this series as soon as we began reading it.

Anyway, the story arcs seemed to be influenced by Sherlock Holmes, as Ciel and Sebastian wander around town, searching for clues and interrogating various characters in order to solve crime cases. Unexpected setup, but it worked!

Of course, Sebastian isn't the only demon, or butler, in town. Early antagonists range from petty crime families, to dangerous grim reapers (one of which has been killing prostitutes with a chainsaw!), and others who want the spoiled child, Ciel Phantomhive, dead.
All of this, by the way, while the servants back home make a hilarious mess of things which Sebastian will have to fix once he gets home.

So it's a funny, gothic Sherlock Holmes with demons! Awesome!!
But, there exists a problem.

You see, we stopped reading the volumes after Vol. 5 or so, and instead we ended up watching the anime series (which this review is strictly for). As it turns out, season one of the show is supposed to follow the manga fairly well, but the people in charge decided to abruptly end the show by the end of the first season (24 episodes).

All of this, despite the fact that the manga is still going on today, with 75 chapters released thus far. But wait, there's more!
I guess the guys in charge came to realize that the show garnered enough popularity to make the cancellation seem stupid - which it was.

So they then decided to animate a second season, but since it had already "ended", the story would have to diverge from the manga (think of it as an alternate timeline, like in 'Back to the Future') with unofficial characters and stories.

The second season (and really, even before the end of the first season) saw a drastic change as it dropped all of the case solving and funny shenanigans for a long and gloomier slow-paced season talkative, emotional episodes full of hatred and despair. Not a welcome change!

Even though the new characters are as interesting as ever, the story is spread thin, and I often found myself falling asleep, with no idea as to how the story progressed (if at all) by the time I woke up.

And then, the foolish heads in charge of the show decided to end the show again at the end of the second season. This time for realsies!

Blah. Needless to say, this all left a bad taste in my mouth, despite fans just being happy that there was something to watch.
Before I wrap this up, check out this trailer for the show's first season.

Black Butler: Season One, Part 1

Final Anime Grade: B

As you can see, the great news is that the entire show is up for free streaming on YouTube! Yes!!
Season 1 and Season 2.

By the way, Season 2 says 'Season 1' because it's the first (and only) season of 'Black Butler 2'. So stupid!!

So while we had a great setup with a cool and original gimmick, the series was tarnished by the alternate extra season (expect contradicting tags at the end of this post).
This had the potential to become seriously awesome, if only the people in charge had stuck to the official story.

Either way, I do recommend checking out the first 12 episodes (subbed, NOT dubbed) for shits and giggles. And take a gander at the second. Why not? You may end up liking it, even if I didn't.
Me, I'm curious enough to resume where I left off with the manga.
I want to find out how the story REALLY continues.

1 comment:

  1. The name 'Black Butler' gave me a completely wrong vision hahaha. I just wander aimlessly amongst various manga sites, read a few volumes, then give up.


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