Title: Black Butler – Collection 1
Alternate Title: Kuroshitsuji
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia)
Based On: Manga series of same name by Yana Toboso.
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (16:9)
Runtime: 325 Minutes
Classification: This title is rated MA15+ for Strong Animated Violence
Blurb: “A bundle of genres have been added in this series, and whilst most series would not be able to pull it off, this series does quite well, even with the serious overall plot. Followed with some dashing character personalities and some of the most charming voice acting I have heard in a long time, this series has me hooked.”
Special Thanks: Special thanks goes to the team at Madman Entertainment for providing my with a review sample of this title.
On sale…. today, is Black Butler, a series that has a very gothic looking front cover and the tones of the series are equally dark, however it provides a unique experience. I haven’t done this since my review of Xam’d Collection 1, but I mentioned this series on my facebook page and got some comments from my friends.
One of my friends asked me to mention that to him “everyone in this show had some sort of interest in Ciel or other child-like characters (Reworded)” which I suppose it sort of true in a way as well as another comment from another friend stating that “kuroshitsuji rocks!”.
Anyway, if you want to know more about this series and my thoughts on it, read on for my review of Black Butler Collection 1.
Ciel Phantomhive is the most powerful boy in all of England, but he bears the sears of unspeakable suffering. Forced to watch as his beloved parents were brutally murdered, Ciel was subsequently abducted and violently tortured. Desperate to end his suffering, the boy traded his own soul for a chance at vengance, casting his lot with the one person on whom he could depend: Sebastian, a demon Butler summoned from the very pits of hell.
Together, they’ll prowel the darkest alleys of London on a mission to snuff out those who would do evil. They’re a rare sight these two: the Butler who dismembers with dazzling cutlery and the Young Master who carries the devil’s marking. Rest assured, that wherever they may be headed, it’ll be one hell of a ride.
One of the more… detailed summaries from the back of a DVD case I have ever seen, for good reason as most of this does not come until much later in the series (Some in this collection, and some of it seemingly in the next season). However, the overarching plot still remains the same… Ciel is an anti-social loner who due to a traumatising childhood experience, is out to seek revenge on those who did him and his family ill, whilst he is joined by the demon Sebastian who is extremely competent at his job, and whilst seemingly hiding a lot of secrets, acts only in the best wishes of Ciel.
Other characters in this volume include his four other (more or less incompetent) servants Bardroy (Cook)), Finnian (Gardener), Mey-rin (Maid) and Tanaka (At this moment ???). He is also joined by other on-again off-again characters such as his aunt Lady Red (Spoilers), Grell (Spoilers) and others.
In this collection, is a mix of single episode storylines and multiple episode storylines. For the most part, the single episode storylines are used to introduce new characters or split up the main plot episodes with some more, usually light hearted comedy.In this collection, there are a few main arcs that occur. The first “arc” is the Jack the Ripper arc, where prostitutes are being found murdered with their uterus’s dissected off. To be honest, this first arc is most probably the primary arc of this collection as it sets a number of plotlines that extend over the course of the storyline. The second would be the more minor plot of Houndsworth where they go there on the order of the queen to acquire land to protect dog fights and the third, and most probably most interesting of the three is the disappearance of young girls to….. well I will let you figure it out for yourself, but if the other two are anything to go by….
I am usually one who does not enjoy pointless filler content in my animes full stop. However the filler content in this series didn’t seem all that bad and felt like it gave some much needed character development. The episodes seemed to focus more on Sebastian and his quirky, and often murderous habits instead of focusing on Ciel, however personally I enjoyed the other characters more, especially the four servants of the Phantomhive estate, as they were all important comic relief. In terms of the arcs, I enjoyed the Jack the Ripper arc and I really enjoyed the third arc (Let’s just say it has a few familiarities to another anime series I have reviewed, including costume designs), however the Houndsworth arc was a waste of time in my opinion, and even if it earned the series another character that was used in the following arc, it was dry and stale, and I skipped over it after half an episode. That being said, everything else was perfect from the rather moving backstories to the fork throwing massacres to the odd fetish this series has of the song “London Bridge is Falling Down” (I sang the song so many times in primary school music classes… but now the song has a creepy element to it). They also added in a recap episode as the final episode on disc… ugh! I have no idea why they insist on adding those things…
My only qualm with the characters, was that Sebastian remained as a sort of imba plot twister, and the fact that on command, he could do anything with near 100% success really made some of the episodes seem a bit…. cheaper storyline wise.
This series is set in the late 1800′s, therefore the level of design I deem is of good quality in comparison to what I would expect for a title of the era. In terms of character design, the characters mostly have serious designs, that one would expect from those of a high position as Ciel, alongside the normal formal attire of a jacket, knee-high socks and all the other things I for one wouldn’t dream of wearing… at all, whilst all the other characters, besides the servants of the household also replicate this style of dress-sense. I think, even through some of Ciel’s outfits are over the top for me, they do a good job of maintaining the style of the era. The actual body designs often opt for the serious and more realistic designs, however at times, especially in times of comedy, the designs change to a more deformed form (See the above image). In terms of backdrop designs, I think it is also for the most part suitable for the era, and despite a few inconsistencies with things that I doubt would have existed back in the day, it was well designed and left very little in terms of blank space.
Opening Theme: Kiss of Monochrome by SID
This theme is really good, not the best song however the tone and lyrics of it were more then appropriate for a series such as this. Primarily the animation is in a dark monochrome design focusing on primarily Ciel and Sebastian. Worth a few watches, however unlike other good openings, I found myself skipping over it after the third watch.
Ending Theme: I’m ALIVE! by BECCA
I first saw this at Supanova Brisbane event just before the Siren Visual panel was on, and as this had just started screaming, there was more then one common of “That’s Creepy” and to be honest, some of the scenes would indicate a rather intimate relationship between a certain butler and master, however for the most part, the animation is creative as it scrolls to the side showing a day in progression at the Phantomhive household. The actual tune is sung in English and does seem a bit awkward considering the rest of the series, but remains pretty good still.
The music in the series remains in tone to the era the series is set in. There are not a high number of faster paced and loud songs, instead opting for the piano and other softer instruments to suit the mood of the series. However, I would consider it good enough that it isnt forgettable, and not quiet enough to not know there is music at all.
My favorite part of this series however is the voice acting. Thanks to the joys of Facebook, I left the occasional comment on my facebook about things I would like to add in this review, and a large number of my comments were in relation to this. The voice acting was primarily done with British Accents. Those who have read my review of Sekirei would know that I liked the voice actress of Tsukumi simply because of her accent choice, and my opinion of her is repeated to every voice actor and actress in this series. The sense of realism it gives considering the era and location (Hope I am not stereotyping too much) and how it contributes to the overall storyline really makes it top notch.
Time to talk about extra content… and saying there is a decent number wouldn’t be appropriate. The bonus content included consists of:
- Commentary for Episodes 1 and 7 – It has been ages since I have seen some good commentary, and the commentary of this series is fairly good.
- The Story thus Far – Narrated by Tanaka – This is actually the recap episode I mentioned above…. however it remains in the “Play All” part of the disc, so I am not going to remove that comment… I don’t like recap episodes unless they have some sort of comedic purpose (Like one of the Excel Saga ones)
- BECCA Musician profile
- Clean Opening and Endings
- Trailers for Gurren Lagann, Honey and Clover Collection 1, Summer Wars and Xam’d Lost Memories
Okay, so there might not be as much as I implied, but the commentary is a nice bonus.
To conclude, personally I was hesitant about this series… it gave the impression of being a dark series that was going to be the generic “Demons are violent” and “That isn’t a 20 foot high grape that just exploded… that is BLOOD!” series, however instead I found a series that balanced multiple genres well, and had me watching the entire series in one sitting (Minus the two episodes that I cannot pull myself to watch). I would highly recommend it to anyone after a rather unique series that doesnt mind getting into the dark areas of abuse, torture and magic rituals.
OP/ED Themes: A-
Voice Acting: A+
Personal Opinion: A
Overall Score: A