“What? You mean this series isn’t about an actual black butler? Oh wait, I’m thinking of that Lee Daniels movie that I don’t care about.”
Cheerio, mate!!! And all greetings and cheers from Jolly ‘Ol England!! How’s about I–
*several minutes and a beat down later*
Can I just talk/type in my normal voice?
All right, good.
OK, to me, it does look like an anime/manga series that I see all the fan girls going gaga over and I’m not saying that “Oh, only girls will love this!!”, although I do know 2 girls that liked this series/books but I can see some guys liking this as well. I’ve been noticing that a lot in most recent anime, one example being Hetalia and I did see some good appeal to the series, although there was some backlash against it and Tumblr……yep, that Tumblr (I know that fan art people be putting on there). You’ll know sooner or later. Anyway, if you know me well enough is that I’m willing to watch something like this with an open mind when I have the time and luckily, this is that time.
In Victorian-era London, on the night of Ciel Phantomhive’s tenth birthday a fire destroyed his manor and killed both of his parents. In a moment of death Ceil strikes a deal with a demon, his soul in exchange for revenge. This demon becomes his butler and calls himself by name of Sebastian Michaelis, to protect and serve Ciel until the deal has been completed. One month after the fire Ciel returns from being missing, with his new butler Sebastian. Ceil is now the head of the Phantomhive corporation, handling all business affairs as well as the work as the Queen of England’s guard dog and looking for his parents murders. One of the noble families of England—Phantomhive—has a butler, Sebastian Michaelis. He has unquestionably perfect knowledge, manners, talent with materials, martial arts and much more. But for some reason, he serves a 12-year-old master…
Well, for the story of it, the plot really doesn’t kick in until a few episodes into the show and you do sense the dark and mature tone of the show from the looks of it along with the hilarity that can sometimes gel into it, but that’s if it works and when it doesn’t, it feels like it tries too hard on the comedic side. Let me explain this more in a positive and negative light.
For positives, the mystery drama aspect does excel as we do learn about some of the characters by only by a small margin, even to some characters that doesn’t get showcased as much and the detective arcs are the most intriguing element of the series and they managed to keep it as a reasonable amount of episodes and not overflow it. It shows that the story and characters are more in the grey area.
The negative is while I do like some of the comedy in the show, however, if not used effectively, it can totally crash and burn and left with a “WTF” look on your face, especially when it involves several of the minor characters.
Character-wise, I do find the two leads Sebastian Michaelis and Ciel Phantomhive to be some titillating characters in the show with Sebastian being a suave and cool character and Ciel who you may think might be a spoiled brat but not really; he’s actually likable than what people describe him to me and I really got into most of his storyline. Sadly, as good as those characters are, I can’t say the same to the other supporting characters. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are actually decent characters (like Madam Red, who I actually cared for) but they aren’t that developed all the way through.
The animation…….hey, A-1 Pictures, you didn’t manage to screw up this time and the art is actually good in here with the Victorian England style to it. Some of the action animation to it is remarkably decent although it does show its budget during the comedic elements of the show and yes, the main leads do look bishonen, something to give the fangirls (and some men, too – whatever sexual orientation they got) to swoon about. Overall, it is the standard to most anime and it does a good job with it.
The music is rather fine…..Taku Iwasaki does a fine job with the score and while he really isn’t someone that capture my attention on scores, except for a few anime (namely The R.O.D series, Gurren Lagann and Soul Eater), he can make the score fit within the tone of the series with any moment delivered. The opening theme is good and find it to be listenable and the 1st ED song was meh, I didn’t really care for it that much but the second ED song….which was sung by Kalafina w/ Yuki Kaijura on there…..that was a much improvement as they went along with music.
The FUNimation dub is 50/50, as most of the performances were great, even excellent to say the least especially when doing it with British accents but when it’s bad, oh god, it is awful. On the positives, J. Michael Tatum delivers one hell of a performance (see what I did there?) as Sebastian as he does have that smooth gentlemen sound to him and it fits. Another good performance goes to Lydia Mackay for playing Madam Red for a brief and limited time. Brina Palencia as Ciel is rather fine than good, not a performance that I’ve noticed right away but there was that in here but not in a good way and yes, I’m talking about Monica Rial as Mey-Rin. Granted, I like Rial and her voice acting but in here, Mey-Rin sounds grating and annoying. It’s basically somebody trying to imitate a cockney British accent and they tried their best and it backfired. Overall, the dub is alright but nothing I would call remarkable.
FINAL VERDICT: Black Butler (Season 1) is a decent show with a tone that can be inconsistent sometimes but doesn’t go into a trainwreck and the comedic tone does actually work with the mysterious and dramatic tone. It’s nothing I would do an impulse buy but it is worth seeing to know what the show is about. I say give this a chance.
So, is this one hell of a show? Well…….
PLANET TYRO RATING: High OKAY
BLACK BUTLER (SEASON 1) is licensed by FUNimation Entertainment along with the 2nd season (which I will review later on) and maybe the 3rd season coming up (which is going to be a TIME OF THE SEASON review in the Summer Season) and is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The show is also available for streaming on Hulu and FUNimation.com via their EVS Service. Oh yeah, there is also a live-action movie based on the manga made in Japan.
And with that said, I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, and I’m one hell of a reviewer. HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!
BLACK BUTLER – animated by A-1 Pictures / distributed by FUNimation Entertainment