- Alt. Name
- Release Date
- Fall 2008
- No. of Episodes
- A-1 Pictures
We all have our demons that we’d love to be able to get rid of, and maybe even lose some angels along the way. However, I believe that everyone can sometimes learn more from books when dealing with other people’s experiences than any other way, especially when it comes to succumbing to one’s darkness. One of the best readings about this subject came from Emm Cole’s The Short Life of Sparrows book “…our souls may be consumed by shadows, but that doesn’t mean we have to behave like monsters.” Although having Demons within stories is nothing extraordinary, it can be a remarkable experience to watch if implemented moderately better than its predecessors.
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Black Butler is a 2008 Dark Fantasy anime series with hints of Dark Comedy sprinkled in for a flavorful taste. Though A-1 Pictures hadn’t created anything nameworthy up to this point, it struck gold within fans from this point on. However, when I found out that the original manga series was still ongoing, it immediately piqued my interest. While I classified this as a Dark Fantasy, don’t underestimate this series because it has both Action and Mystery elements, they just weren’t enough to fully classify them. Perhaps this series could be one of the very few that can perfectly mesh multiple genres; hopefully, this series can live up to its source material.
A young boy named Ciel Phantomhive, who in some circles is known as “the Queen’s Guard Dog,” taking care of the many unsettling events. Some gruesome events that occur in Victorian England for Her Majesty. Aided by Sebastian Michaelis, his loyal butler with seemingly inhuman abilities, Ciel uses whatever means necessary to get the job done. But is there more to this black-clad butler than meets the eye?
Though in Ciel’s past lies a secret tragedy that enveloped him in perennial darkness, the young and demanding Count is now the toy company’s child owner, lives in the majestic countryside manor. While everything on the outside seems prom and proper, Ciel’s deeply rooted secrets are becoming disinterred and put Sebastian’s job to the ultimate test of protecting his young master. As Ciel and Sebastion both work to unravel the dark mystery behind Ciel’s chain of misfortunes. A bond slowly forms between them that neither heaven nor hell can tear apart. After all, he’s one hell of a butler.
The story itself is one of the high points within this series. There are sadly only two real arcs within this series. Though this may seem like a negative within the story itself, they were well written and paced better than one would expect. The action scenes were well choreographed and can influence the viewer to become submerged within its setting quickly, and if that wasn’t enough, the extensive plot in some areas pushed the development in some areas. At the same time, it also pulls pack when needed. No matter what genre one is looking for, whether it be Action, Mystery, Comedy, or even Fantasy, this story has something for everyone.
While the story may be a high point, there are a few holes within itself that potential viewers should know. For instance, if one is a fan of the manga series and expects this to be a close adaptation to its source material, you’ll be sadly disappointed. There are only two story arcs from the source material, giving the viewer over half series to filler. While this filler may be entertaining to some, one third isn’t worth the watch, and if one decided to skip them, they wouldn’t miss anything within the series. The only other critique of the series is that if one isn’t interested in the Victorian era setting, that’ll surely be a disappointing anime series.
One would be lying to say that this series art style is nothing less than magnificent. The gloominess of the story’s setting, paired with the artistically crafted, is an excellent combination to any viewer’s eyes. The characters’ designs are easily memorable and easily recognizable, but what’s even more interesting is that this art style was fluid and can instantly shift the story’s spirit whenever necessitated. Having a series able to change from one mood to another seamlessly is remarkable, yet seems so effortlessly when longer series can’t nail the same concept down.
Unlike most series that compensate for an outstanding artistic design for low-level production, this series seemed to surpass others. The Animation Production is the best part of the series, and that’s saying something! The beautifully animated openings and closings to the production were almost flawlessly executed to the voice actors’ audio. Most anime series that go full force within one series fall into the too campy aspect of production, which Black Butler surprisingly stayed away from for the most part. There weren’t many negatives between the two that fall out of personal taste outside of these high points.
When it comes to series spanning multiple genres, one will hope for good character development – at the very least from the main characters. While this series does have significant character development, especially from the pseudo star character Ciel Phantomhive. Albeit, one would expect more considerable growth towards the role with the most lines, but if one is expecting to know more about Sebastian, then they’ll need to read between the lines. However, there are significant development plots towards the titular character, but they’re spanned out throughout the series. One negative character trait that this series quickly gives away “evil” villains, which utterly gives away the mystery element.
Throughout this entire series, there was never a character that seemed out of place, nor didn’t fit their traits. This series nailed the characters down to the tee, but the best surprise for comedic relief was Grell Sutcliffe. S/he was a remarkable character and easily one of my personal favorites, and they’re barely in the series. The overtly pure comedic potentially same-sex love s/he desperately wants towards gorgeous men, but not overstepping the line of being immature or making fun of LGBT people. This show was ahead of its time, not just for gay relationships, but for Transgender characters.
After watching this series multiple times in both the original Japanese and English versions, I can clearly state that both are vastly entertaining. However, my personal opinion gives the English version a little more enjoyable because the voice actors were perfectly nailing their accents, plus their J. Michael Tatum and Briana Palencia. When they’re in a show, it’s going to be great. When one watches this series, no matter what language the voice actors are speaking, the viewers will soon be submerged into a beautiful world. Don’t get me wrong, this series isn’t perfect and sometimes had its dull moments, but when it had them, they’d quickly pick back up again.
With this series on so many “Must watch” lists and being able to continuously able to rewatch this series shows that it’s a beautiful show to behold. Black Butler has an attractive premise that can and most definitely attract any new viewer and easily keep them entertained within itself without fail. Please don’t underestimate this series due to its outer layers’ of dark and grimness because within those outer layers is a marvelously created series that everyone can enjoy. While our souls may be devoured by darkness, Black Butler will quickly devour one’s, own heart.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.