Wow... This one ranks up there with Chrno Crusade in the category of "Paint By Numbers Anime Saved By The Last 1/3rd Of Its Story." Up until episode 17, this show, Kuroshitsuji (aka Black Butler), was just another average comedy/adventure series with hints of a larger plot, but pretty much relying on quick little filler pieces to pad out the whole thing to a reasonable season length. Not that it was horrible up till 17, just not great. I mean, I stuck with it, and I'm here to tell you that the central mysteries that they cock-teased the viewer with were enticing enough to keep me hanging around, but it just became really good after that point (which is when the main plot becomes the focus, the shitty, goofy, out-of-place "comedy" moments are left behind, and everything becomes very dark, dangerous, and sublimely interesting).
So what IS Black Butler? Well, it's part Victorian Era Emma, part Hayate the Combat Butler, and part Faust. It's all about the young Earl Ciel Phantomhive and his life as the Queen of England's "Guard Dog" (a post inherited from his father's lineage). Well, it's also about Ciel's demonic butler from Hell, Sebastian, and the deal that the child Phantomhive made with the hell spawn after his parents were killed, his castle burned down, and he was tortured almost to death in a "purification" ceremony by persons unknown. Now, in exchange for his delicious soul, Sebastian protects the boy and provides the best butler services a rich bastard could ever hope for (waking him up in the morning, pressing the linens, making breakfast and little cakes for tea time, and stabbing enemies in the head with the good silver). And Sebastian is in it for the long haul, as his contract will not expire until he helps Ciel Phantomhive exact revenge upon those who utterly destroyed his world... Finding out who these unknown persons are, why they did what they did, and what their true plans are are the point of the entire story, so I'll just leave that right there and talk about the characters now.
The characters are probably what impressed me the most in the first 2/3rds of this thing; they may seem to be clichés of shit you've seen 20,000 times already, but they really do take on their own personalities and become new people all onto themselves pretty quickly. Ciel Phantomhive especially. At first he's just another poor little pretty rich boy, bored with life, and simply living it up in the lap of luxury while not understanding the world outside his mansion one bit. Soon though it's clear that he's pretty wise (though still a child really), but he's just seen so much suffering and death — and knows his own existence is stretched only as long as his parents' killer(s) is(are) still alive — and for that reason he simply can't smile anymore.
Sebastian probably (pleasantly) surprised me the most though. I was sure I was going to loathe his ever-smirking butler ass with a passion of the burning souls of the damned. But Sebas-chan was actually pretty likeable... well, at least for a demon who eats innocent human souls for a living. He's epically bad ass and loyal as fuck to his
meal contractee. Sebastian is also unable to lie, which at times made for some pretty fun and well played out moments between himself and the mortals around him, but whenever asked "what" he was, he'd always respond with "I'm just a hell of a butler." The first couple of times he says this it's clever and you smile, but after he starts saying it at least once in almost every episode it's just about as annoying when Peter Parker starts moaning about "With great power comes great responsibility" in the Spider-man movies over and over and over again.
After those two main characters we also get to know: Ciel's childhood friend (and fiancee) Elizabeth, who wants everything in the world to be kawaii; Ciel's Aunt (one Madame Red) and her strange companions (the inept butler Grell and the strange Chinese dude with a sister fetish); and the police detectives from Scotland Yard. Oh, and the other servants of the Phantomhive household. Jesus Christ those other servants... Up until the very end of this whole show I kept wondering just what the hell they were all doing under the Earl's employ. The chef can't cook, the gardener is borderline retarded and has bizarre Herculean strength that causes more damage than good, and the maid is a clumsy dumbass who breaks more dishes (and uses shoe-polish on the furniture instead of wood polish) more often than even a 9 year-old trying to get out of chores would. Rest assured though that everybody involved in this tale is given a decent (to great) back story that makes you understand (if not like) them in the end... Well, except for that Indian Prince guy. What a naive fucking loser. May Vishnu and Shiva bury his gay soul in a mountain of godly shit and never let him reach Nirvana.
Anyway, the first 4 episodes of Black Butler are typical "get to know the main characters" storylines, but then episode 5 came, and I was really impressed with the chances they seemed to be willing to take compared to the direction I thought it was heading in. It was this episode that also brought into play other magical/spiritual beings into this universe other than the demon Sebastian. Soon we also have Shinigami (or Grim Reapers), Angels, and Hell Hounds. The tone of the tale was still kind of annoying to me for a while (what with the terrible comedy beats mixed in with serious tension and some pretty good action at times), but like most anime series that chuck "comedy" into their description, the last third is almost pure drama. And Black Butler goes the extra mile and makes things pretty damn dark too. Ugh, there were way too many thrilling moments utterly shat upon in the first 2/3rds of the show by the childishly brain damaged staff of the Phantomhive household for my taste... Though I give this series some major props for the size of its cajones in the end. You see, instead of the "Love will save the day!" lessons that you see in all the other series similar to this one, the moral of this story is "Hold on to your hate! It's all you really have in this world!" Beautiful!
My favorite part of the whole show (other than the absolutely perfect final 3 minutes of the last episode) had to have been when Ciel and Sebastian infiltrate a religious cult, and Sebastian is ordered by his Earthly master to get some information out of a nun (of sorts)... So he bangs the shit out of her... With his butler jacket still on. He truly is one helluva butler, though it would have been nice if he shared her with his just-entering-puberty lord.
Sonovabitch! So, the word is out now, huh... I train my darling Sebastian Michaelis to be the most glorious butler/assassin/chef in all the underworld, and all it takes is just one pathetic and obnoxious (and delicious) human child to form a contract with him and the next thing I know my lil' soul-devouring employee of the month is up on the surface world protecting his new charge, and playing house for a few years while I have to make do with Hitler and Bob Hope rubbing my feet and cooking my dinner!
On top of that, Sebastian then EATS his victims' souls... Do you know how annoying that is? There's absolutely nothing left when a full-blooded demon eats your soul. Nothing! Nothing at all for me to torment for eternity! It's bad enough when a hungry demon who hasn't been fed in a few millennia takes a bite out of a shithead who was sentenced here for thinking dirty thoughts about the woman across from him on the bus, but that's usually just a bite out of his gluteus, and that just means that the soul can't even sit for the rest of eternity afterwards, so that's a bonus for pain!
So, after the whole deal with that English prig got out, self-loathing and suicidal rejects all over the world started contracting Sebastian out as soon as his previous obligation was terminated. So far he's deprived me of over 670 greedy spirits! They're the best kind, as they tend to whine incessantly for the rest of their afterlife... It's so beautiful when they just can't keep their mouths closed about the pain of ten porcupines shoved up their ass every day at 6. Sometimes I even add Tabasco to the quills.
Okay, so the Rossman invites me over to watch this show, and it's all about this boy who sold his soul to a demon in order to have the demon as his butler and bodyguard until the boy's parent's killers are found and destroyed by the demon in question... Then after the show is over, the Rossman says to me, "So, do you get it?" I just punched him in the face and got up to leave, but that's when this pretty handsome man in a tux stepped between me and the door.
The Rossman then started howling with laughter, claiming that he sold my soul to the demon in exchange for my destruction. I didn't have time to think about the duality of the causality of the situation, so I just shoved a crucifix (that I usually keep in my purse to ward off the Rossman) into the cute man's face, went for the nards, and then threw him at the Rossman as I ran out the door. From what I hear the police found a ton of blood sprayed all over the walls, the floor, and even the ceiling in the Rossman's place the next day, and I haven't seen the Rossman since then... But knowing my luck it was probably only the handsome man's remains that they found all over the place. I have a feeling that the chainsaw that I saw under the couch that day played heavily in the Rossman's favor. He's probably had to take a few days off in order to work something out with the Devil for fucking up one of her more handsome minions. As long as my soul ain't part of the deal, well, I just don't give a damn.