Black Butler Anime: Season 1

Friday, August 02, 2013

Black Butler: Season 1

Note: I watched the English dubbed version, other versions of the anime have different actors.
Black Butler is an anime based on the manga of the same title.  Set in historical England, Ceil Phantomhive inherits not only the family mansion but, also, the father’s profession of watch dog to the Queen, after his parents die in a tragic fire.  Plagued with grief, the young boy makes a deal with a demon, who he names Sebastian, and has him pose as his butler until Ceil avenges his parents’ deaths—only then can Sebastian take Ceil’s precious soul.
Black Butler was recommended to me by a friend and I wasn’t sure I would like it when she described it to me.  It sounded dark and something I would find a little too horrid.  However, I was wrong.  Black Butler is horror but holds a good amount of intrigue.   

Since the show was set in historical England, voice actors brought their British accents to set the stage.  J. Michael Tatum, who voices Sebastian, seemed to have no trouble at all.  (Picture: In June, I got the chance to meet Tatum!)  However, a lot of the show goes to Brina Palencia, the voice of Ceil, not only can she pull off a young boy’s voice but can she do that with a British voice which is extremely talented.

The plot was a little disappointing.  What I’ve been noticing with Japanese anime, it seems to be heavy in character depth but it’s a rare treat to get a story line with depth.  Black Butler doesn’t move in its plot until the end.  At the end, the audience becomes deep in a story line that wasn’t there before.  However, the plot is structured well: there’s a butler who’s a demon and a child who’s the lord of the Phantomhive business.  The structure stays constant so I was never confused until some of the story line hit.

The ending of the show was predictably sad, but bearable.  Sebastian seems to be a black and white character, a demon who wants a soul.  There is no depth to that, which leads to a simple ending.  Well, it could have ended there and even though it wasn’t the ending I would have liked, I would have gotten over it eventually.  Instead, there is a season 2 which I will review sometime soon.  

Animation: 4
Voice Acting: 5
Plot: 3
Ending: 4
Characters: 3

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