Anime Vice News

Watch & Learn: BLACK BUTLER #1

Even housekeeping has its too cool super moves.

Do your hands still get dirty when you're wearing gloves like those?
Do your hands still get dirty when you're wearing gloves like those?

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.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

NakAttackon Oct. 14, 2011 at 6:20 a.m.

this show is absurd, it is also why i like dubs over subs. again such absurdity.

Superevil225on Oct. 14, 2011 at 7:42 a.m.

Absurd. Yes. Quite. The sub is much better than the dub. The anime is good... for like the first half, then absurdity gets out of control.

endaroundon Oct. 14, 2011 at 7:52 a.m.

" 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"

Well if you were the one watching Bakemonogatari....

Marshal Victoryon Oct. 14, 2011 at 8:12 a.m.

I watched season one an two with subs.Theirs more to the over arching story.1st show did not grab me.Took 3 then in was hooked.This series is in my to buy list .

Just creepy enuff, weird enuff, dare i say gothic enuff to be cool.This is the tip of the story .It gets better an weirder.Very unpredictable.

thekokapellion Oct. 14, 2011 at 12:59 p.m.

It is sort of fun to watch, but in all honesty it's a big waste of time. It has a wickedly clever Faustian premise that is brimming with potential, but it wastes its potential by beating itself over the head with every bad anime cliche you can think of. It even pretends it has a plot and then proceeds to jerk its audience around before admitting it has no idea where it's going. (I know this b/c I've seen more of the first season than I care to admit; it was a bit of a guilty pleasure for a while.) I can't really recommend it other than an occasional time-wasting distraction.

Lurkeroon Oct. 14, 2011 at 1:45 p.m.

I watched the first two eps of this. Then slowly turned away as I tried to avoid imagining the fanart that would ensue. If you thought Tiger and Bunny was bad certainly avoid crossing any fanart of this.

EganTheVile1on Oct. 14, 2011 at 2:26 p.m.

Thank you for this W&L, I started this series about 12 episodes in on the funimation cable channel and sadly as times are tough I had to scale back my cable package to the dreaded basic level....

Was unaware this show was available to watch online, and I will finally get to watch it from the beginning.

UsbCableon Oct. 14, 2011 at 4:16 p.m.

I watched this and while it was odd I enjoyed it. I'm on a Hulu plus trail and stumbled on Black Butler 2 (second season) which I didn't know existed so that's there if anyone is interested. I ruined it though because Hulu Plus on the 360 shows the latest episode first and I just hit play and noticed when it finished that it was the last episode. My fault for being slow.....

Marshal Victoryon Oct. 14, 2011 at 6:46 p.m.

@Lurkero said:

I watched the first two eps of this. Then slowly turned away as I tried to avoid imagining the fanart that would ensue. If you thought Tiger and Bunny was bad certainly avoid crossing any fanart of this.

Ehh they must have been some of that an they poked fun at that in season 2.It um gets weird-ish an for this show thats saying something.Season 1 tho does not go their.

Sarumarineon Oct. 16, 2011 at 8:01 p.m.

The butler guy had a great voice. That kid is appropriately creepy though. I found the comic relief shifts a little hard to take.

ComicMan24on Oct. 17, 2011 at 8:40 a.m.

It was a nice show. Sebastian was very cool. he could do practically everything lol But I liked the first season more, I felt that the second season was made just to be made. And subs for me for that show. The dub wasn't bad and it was actually more authentic with the accents and stuff but it was feeling a bit off for some reason. Don't really know why.

boopieon Oct. 18, 2011 at 6:29 p.m.

I was told I was "Yaoi" for watching this but I didn't understand the comment

Dig Deeper into Black Butler

Ciel Phantomhive solves different cases for the Queen and is accompanied by Sebastian, his demonic butler.

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