The main male protagonist, and one of the best characters in this anime.
Kuroshitsuji is an anime title that I have always kinda wanted to watch, but never got around of doing it. Earlier this year, I finally decided to actually watch this series, only to find out that a second season is coming. Therefore I waited for a bit so that I can watch both seasons back-to-back, and dump them into a single review.
The first season is a 2008 anime, which will then compete with the current ‘Anime of the Year 2008’ title holder One Outs, and failed. Meanwhile, the second season was aired this year, therefore it will compete with the far weaker ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ title holder Working!! Now whether the second season can actually capitalize on the less-than-perfect score Working!! has or not can only be known if you continue reading this review further down.
The main 'female' protagonist, also one of the best characters in this anime.
Set up in 19th century England, an adolescent noble brat sold his soul to a demon so that he can take revenge upon the killers of his parents. Meanwhile, as they searched high and low for those killers, the demon moonlights as a butler with extraordinary abilities in his master’s households, serving his noble brat from head to toe while keeping the rest of the bumbling servants in line.
The 24-episode first season starts with few episodes dedicated to character introductions and initial developments, before settling down on a multi-arc plot format seen in the likes of Index and Kaze no Stigma. The difference between this anime and the aforementioned two titles are vast though, because the story arcs in this anime is actually watchable. The first two story arcs in the first season has some scene transition problems (example: in the first arc, between the scene where the red lady left the seasonal villa and the scene where she was eventually outed), but the subsequent arcs afterwards has a pretty much flawless presentation, whether in pacing or story development. The ending arc is probably the weakest part of the first season, but the final scene is tantalizingly mysterious.
The OVA is basically just a filler episode, and can fit in somewhere within the first season.
Around this part of the world, we call those things chainsaws and paper scissors, not death-scythes.
The 12-episode second season switched from the multiple-arc plot format to a normal single-plot format that is more common in anime titles like this, this, this and this one. There are few things that are not explained (example: how on Earth that the Chinese guy is still alive) and personally, I think the second season is inferior to the first one. The second season doesn’t have the scene transition problems that the early parts of the first one has, but instead the pacing in the first few episodes of the second season is quite slow than what I have expected. Story development in the second season is just as good as it is in the first season, but unlike the latter, the second season has a very good ending. In fact, the ending of this anime second season is one of the best I have seen for quite a while.
But with the way the second season’s ending was written, it will be hard to envision a third season, that’s how radical (and awesome) the ending is. This anime is manga-based, I wonder if the ending is canon. If yes, a third season will definitely be radically different story-wise than what you can see in the first season. If I can choose, I will definitely want to see an extension.
Character developments in this anime are mainly done in the first season, which makes watching this anime in proper order mandatory. The second season focused more onto the storyline than it is on character developments. The best characters in this anime is definitely the two main protagonists, no doubt about it. The writer of this anime’s storyline has a bad tendency to abuse the nature of the butler, creating some ‘deus ex machina’ moments which is prevalent more in the second season than it is in the first one. The butler in the second season is basically Superman! A failed one at that though.
The main 'female' protagonist has this bad habit of doing some suspect decision making in the course of this anime.
There are plenty of beautiful characters in this anime, especially for the two main protagonists. As a nod to the 19th century, the character designers actually makes their hairs black too. Geez, if they are painted blonde, I would have accepted it as normal in the 19th century England. This aspect is a very strong suit for this anime, and of course, a positive one too.
Overall, the voice acting in this anime is quite good. Outstanding voice acting gigs include the two main protagonists (a given?), the other noble brat from the second season and also the reddish death god. A positive aspect for this anime.
The OST for both seasons is excellent. As for the OP/ED themes, the first season has two good ED themes but not for the OP theme. Meanwhile, for the second season, the OP theme is good, and so are the 2nd ED theme. Only the 1st ED theme of the second season didn’t have the same quality that the others have.
Quoted For Truth!
The general animation in this anime is fluid, but the character animations can be jerky at times. It is obvious that the general animation are computer-generated while the character animation isn’t. This phenomenon seems to be common in anime titles made in the past 2 or 3 years. Integration between these two modes of animation could have been flawless if the animation studio was able to bridge the huge quality gap between them. Within some parts of this series, across both seasons, the inferior quality of the character animations really shows in fast-paced scenes. Choreography in action scenes in this series is just average. The directing has some minor problems with presentation as mentioned in the story section above, but otherwise he has done a good job.
The quirky servants of the Phantomhive household.
The first season scored a respectable 9 out of 10 score, while the second one managed to get an 8 out of 10 score. Both One Outs and Working!! managed to keep their respective titles for the time being. The next title reviewed here will be the long-awaited Winter Sonata, which has the biggest chance to dethrone Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei as long as it follows the source material.
Delicious snacks features prominently in this anime.