Kuroshitsuji literally means Black Butler. It is an anime series, currently with two seasons that is based on a Manga of the same name. There are also some OVA’s and one musical. That should give a good idea about its popularity.
The main protagonist is called Ciel Phantomhive, a twelve years old Earl in Victorian England who makes the deal with a demon to avenge his honor and his family. The demon is Sebastian Michaelis, who now acts as the Phantomhive butler and will help Ciel achieve his revenge in return for his soul.
The core of the show is dark, yet it is interspersed with morbid humor that makes it addicting. Also it is hard to be too intimidated by a demon when not only is he dressed impeccably like a butler, but he also uses silverware as weapons.
Rather it is Ciel who is far more serious, who has the weight of the world on his shoulders and who would do anything to get his revenge yet has managed to keep his humanity about him. He is also the one to watch out for, not the demon. For after all, the demon is a pawn, and Ciel is the one playing chess.
This is such a strange story. Revenge is a common enough theme, so are perhaps demons. I admit, a demonic butler is a new and great twist, but still, it took me a while to understand just what made the story so attractive.
It is Ciel and Sebastian as a combination and the fact that together they are the embodiment of a multitude of contradictions, and that through the doomed situation, one can always see a glimmer. It makes you wonder… could redemption be possible?
Ciel is hell bent on revenge and will go to any lengths for it. Yet he works for the Queen and tries his best to protect London, for that has been the duty of his family for generations.
He has loyal servants, friends etc. whom he goes to many lengths to protect but in the end he would sacrifice them all to achieve his goals. He is not heartless no matter what he has gone through. He is just a child but he has the will power to rival any adult and a sense of responsibility that truly does credit to Noblesse Oblige.
Sebastian is a demon yet he does many acts of kindness because he can. He loves cats. Yes, he is taking care of Ciel and helping him get his revenge so that he may devour his soul, yet at times one wonders if he really does cares for him and the others. At the end of it all, you wonder if he has decided that he likes this little distraction in his very long life?
If the main characters are such a blend of colors, the side characters also do not disappoint. They are many, with different backgrounds, motivations and loyalties. Everyone has an agenda and it is quite foolish to take any person at face value.
Whether it is Lao, a representative of a Chinese company in London, who runs many opium dens and always has the beautiful Ranmaru on his lap (she who is as strong as any assassin).
The Undertaker who is willing to share information if only one can make him laugh, or maybe Grell, who is a Shinigami (death god or Grim reaper) who has a major crush on Sebastian. They all have a story and none are afraid to get their hands dirty to get what they want.
The servants that Sebastian hired for the Pahontomhive Mansion are also quite an enigma. The cook is a pyromaniac, the maid breaks almost everything and the gardener is freakishly strong. The steward is old and frail and does nothing but drink Japanese green tea. They have their reasons for everything too, and yet somehow, Ciel has managed to gain their unwavering loyalty. He even manages to tame a hellhound.
Then there is Lizzie (Lady Elizabeth Ethel Cordelia Middleford), Ciel’s fiancé and childhood friend. A girl obsessed with cute things, who made even the demon dress in pink, because if everything is adorable, then only good things will happen to Ciel.
In effect, this highly unreal story is made up of some very real characters and thus extremely addicting.
I will talk about the second season some other day.
If you are not a fan of subtitles, the first season has been dubbed already. But even in Japanese, this show manages to be British, which is kind of cool.
For anyone who does like anime, this is a must watch 🙂