I hadn't really gotten to sit down and watch Kuroshitsuji at all until a set of DVDs showed up at my doorstep recently. My understanding is, of course, that the show was a hit. What about FUNimation's release, though. Is that a hit to match?
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Black Butler Season One (available as a DVD/BD combo pack)
Black Butler follows the story of Ciel Phantomhive in his goal of avenging his parents, who were brutally murdered. Ciel was stolen away shortly afterward that occurred, and in that time he met and made a contract with a demon who he named Sebastian. Sebastian himself wants Ciel's soul in return for carrying out his vengeance, and aids Ciel in every way possible in an effort to keep him safe from harm.
With plenty of humor to buffer the fluff, Black Butler is a fun ride for either gender (which isn't what I originally thought, based on the female fan base) which dives deep into the occult while giving you lovable characters (except Ciel - that guy isn't lovable at all) and an elaborate mystery that carries through to the end.
While I thought the first half was a little too fluffy compared with how quickly the tone changes for the last six episodes, and I didn't like that Sebastian was a little too super, too unbeatable, and too much of a mystery, once I got to the end I was more than satisfied. What I personally enjoyed the most watching the series were episodes featuring Grell, a spastic and fun Grim Reaper who vastly improves the dynamic with Sebastian and Ciel, lightening the mood a great bit and keeping things in check.
The side characters, in this case, were more interesting to me than the main duo. I spent a long time wondering what was up with the rest of the Phantomhive household staff and what role they really served, and didn't get the answer until quite late in the show. I wondered about Sebastian and what he had to gain, as a demon, by going along with all this instead of simply taking Ciel's soul, and could only come up with "amusement" as an answer. He's a very old demon, powerful enough to sustain himself without soul chow for enough time to just do what he wants. Maybe he just thinks humans are interesting. The only real character quirks you catch from him is he's the perfect butler, always complaining if his clothing gets messed up in any way, and he loves black cats.
If you end up snatching the DVDs, you'll be able to enjoy the dub and plenty of bonus features: commentaries for episodes 1, 7, 16 and 21 by various producers and actors, clean OPs and EDs (there are two of each), trailers, a bonus episode and a recap halfway through by an in-show character Tanaka called "The Story Thus Far." They're all nifty bonuses. The dub itself is actually pretty great as the team went through great pains to be sure they found voice talent which matches the accents one would expect these characters to have. Since it takes place in England mostly, this isn't your typical voice work and I must applaud the great job these folks pulled off for the release. More on the dub work in the episode 1 commentary, for those of you interested.
The animation itself is rather consistent with the average release. When there's a fight or a new character, or generally the first and last few episodes, the animation and quality are top notch. Whenever there's a bit of fluff, it goes down a little bit, but not incredibly so that you feel like you're watching a completely different anime. I went ahead and watched it via my PS3 on my big ol' screen and I had no issues with the picture quality, so it's safe to say you'll have a good viewing experience. I can't speak for the Blu-rays, but I'm doubtless you'll have an even better time with your hi-tech gear watching your hot butler action on a bigger screen.
[8.0 - Great. Solid show that is right for the genre. Good action, good drama (toward the end), and plenty of beefcake for the ladies.]
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