After watching this and READ OR DIE in quick succession, I’m convinced now that I’ll one day run into an anime about a “combat accountant” who flings deadly abacus beads and packs a pump-action Texas Institutes calculator. Certainly, there’s a very fine line separating the series that find creative angles on action over generic gunplay from the series that “weaponize” fundamentally sedate subjects in fashions that are undeniably silly. BLACK BUTLER certainly has merits, but it still feels like a parody of Hollywood’s penchant for sexing up more stately material. It makes me picture a studio exec at a development meeting proposing his hot idea to make Merchant Ivory bad ass.
I watched a much-later episode of this a while back and remember liking it. I’ve even got a BLACK BUTLER notebook with a Tetragrammaton water mark in that package, and I’ve still been using sometimes. The premise of a supremely-capable majordomo managing the matters of his weird little master’s ghoulish estate is actually rather intriguing. There are shades of Addams’ black humor and Poe’s macabre intrigue, but they’re far too often obscured by chibi gags and speedline-fueled super moves.
Seriously, it would’ve been thrilling enough to have this rotten house guest suffer his “series of unfortunate events” due to that board games’ voodoo; it didn’t need the pose-downs. I’m also missing the rather-important explanation of how that guest went from being scorched alive in an oven to limping his way across the backyard. Was that some hasty, last-minute softening? Or is it all just part of the black magic smoke and mirrors?
So, this show wasn’t that bad. The dub cast is clearly having a ball with all the foreign accents they’re finally getting to use after what was surely years of frustrated waiting. Still, I feel like my complaints here willl probably apply to the series on the whole and, frankly, I’ve seen some other pilots that I’d rather continue at the moment.
Watch this episode "His Butler, Able" here and decide for yourself.