Reviews of yesteryear: Kuroshitsuji

Kuroshitsuji was written by Toboso Yana, published by Square-Enix and had an anime adaptation from A-1 Pictures, a studio that I have never watched an anime from. I’ve actually reviewed six more since this one: OreImo, Kuroshitsuji II, Shinsekai Yori, Sword Art Online, AnoHana and Valkyria ChroniclesSo, let’s take a look at the series and get a vague idea of what the studio is made of.

The story is pretty simple. A boy named Ciel Phantomhive, the orphaned son of a wealthy family, is on a quest to get revenge on his parents’ killers while making his business a success. Naturally, he sets up a cave hideout and puts on a garish costume after training his mind and body extensively… Wait, that’s a different orphaned son of a wealthy family. No, Ciel takes a more supernatural route. He makes a pact with a demon. The demon will serve as his butler and protect him until he has his revenge at which point Ciel’s soul will be forfeit. For all the serious story elements, the story itself has a pretty goofy tone. It’s one of those series that blends more serious content with heavy comedic elements. Which is risky since the approach can fail horribly with all kinds of tonal issues. Of course, it can also work pretty well. In Kuroshitsuji’s case, it works more often than not. There are some awkward shifts, but most of the individual story arcs keep a pretty consistent tone throughout and the changes are paced well enough that they don’t come off as stilted or awkward. One complaint I do have is that the climax is pretty rushed. There are basically two climactic scenes, one of which is a battle that gets a lot of build up, and they’re both crammed into the final episode without much spacing or time for the action to wind down. That being said, the story is mostly really good with some intriguing elements and nice twists.

Now we move onto the characters. There are some really good characters in this. Ciel has some great moments but the best character has to be Sebastian. He’s a very interesting character. There are a lot of facets to him that seem contradictory. He always seems to be in control, but he takes on a subservient role. He’s a very dark character, but he also has a clear sense of honour. In many ways he’s selfish but in others he’s kind of selfless. The facets all work together to make an intriguing character who has depth. That being said, not all of the characters in this are that good. Ciel has four other servants who are largely comic relief characters without that much in the way of developed personalities and there are some really problematic elements to Grell’s character.

The art in this is well done. The character designs are pretty unique and interesting. The action sequences look good and the backgrounds are nice. There are also some moments where the art is legitimately creepy.

The cast in this is amazing. You have Paku Romi, Ono Daisuke, Sakamoto Maaya, Yajima Akiko and a bunch of other highly skilled actors giving great performances. If there’s any weakness it’s Fukuyama Jun, not because he’s a bad actor, he was quite good in Bleach, Code Geass and Witch Hunter Robin, but because the way his character is written requires a lot of exaggeration that gets pretty grating. The music in this is quite superb as well.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s really no yuri here.

So, how does Kuroshitsuji fare overall? Well, it has some issues, but most of them aren’t too detrimental. The story is interesting and the disparate tones work surprisingly well together. There are some great characters, and they’re the ones we get to spend the most time with while the weaker characters are less prominent. The casting and art are really strong. So, I have to give it an overall score of 8/10. It’s a great anime and well worth the time. I’m honestly not sure how they managed to have another series with it. Find out next week when I look at Kuroshitsuji II.

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