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If ever a competition were to be held to determine the most routine and predictable anime shows of all time, "Kuroshitsuji" (Translation: Black Butler) would easily make the Top Ten. "Kuroshitsuji" is an anime (Japanese cartoon) adaption of a manga (Japanese comic) of the same name. The series tells the tale of Sebastian Michaelis, who, despite appearing to be a normal pretty-boy human working as a butler in Victorian-era England, is in fact a demon held in service by a supernatural contract. Under this contract, he is required to work for Ciel Phantomhive, a thirteen-year-old business owner and head of the Phantomhive noble family.

But of course, every deal has its fine print, and the fine print of this particular contract is a doozy: for helping Ciel avenge his deceased parents, Sebastian will earn the ability to kill Ciel and take his soul.

Despite such a dark and clever set-up, "Kuroshitsuji" is a mixed bag from beginning to end; each episode after the exciting first one follows a simple formula that is so predictable that many episodes can be skipped entirely, and nothing important to the show's story overall will be lost.

It doesn't take long to realize that ultimately, the show has one goal only: please viewers searching for a fan-service based bishounen show (i.e. a show about beautiful men that act as eye candy); this goal is the reason each episode is extremely cliche and stereotyped, a point that is especially highlighted when, once during each episode, Sebastian finds himself bowing and saying one of two catchphrases, including, "I am one hell of a butler."

Still, despite each and every silly moment, no one can deny the effort put into animating the smallest of details in the show, and the creativity that clearly went into each episode's scenario is actually often quite impressive. Business deals going wrong can easily lead to a murder most foul, and thanks to the powers possessed by Sebastian the demon butler, it's not a question of if each conflict will be resolved - it's a question of what impressive trick the butler will perform to end it.

And so, while the show may not be heavy in story or originality, it will, admittedly, certainly make any viewer smile.

1 Season, 24 Episodes
October 2, 2008
Cast: Michael C. Pizzuto, J. Michael Tatum, Brina Palencia, Daisuke Ono

Kuroshitsuji Full Episode Guide

  • Having regained the services of his Butler, the Young Master issues a chilling order to kill. Sebastian is eager to please, but this task will require a revelation of his true nature.

  • The Young Master arrives in London only to find the city engulfed by flames. After an ominous warning from the undertaker, Ciel attempts to visit the queen, but he's shocked by his treatment at the hands of the palace guards.

  • A series of flashback reveals the secret pasts - and hidden talents - of the Phantomhive staff. While the servants go about their daily duties, the Young Master gives a chess lesson to pretty lady.

  • While the Young Master continues his investigation into the opium-filled, counterfeit candy wrappers, the Butler is chained and tortured in the Tower of London.

  • There's a potent new drug plaguing the backstreets of London, and it's being sold in stolen Phantomhive candy wrappers. The Young Master is being set up, but what manner of man wants him to take the fall?

  • An angel abducts Ciel and attempts to rewrite his unhappy memories of the past. The Butler is powerless to assist, but fortunately, the Young Master has an unhealthy attachment to his hatred.

  • The Queen orders young Master Phantomhive to investigate reports of a cult that promises to "purify" its unclean members. The mission is complicated by the appearance of a familiar reaper.

  • When the Young Master is defeated in a supernatural chess match, he must surrender his most prized possession to a ghostly prince. Locating a very old and very specific skull is the key to bringing Sebastian back.

  • The Queen is on hand as the Butler wages culinary warfare against Prince Soma's royal servant. The competition reaches an unprecedented level of ferocity when someone's secret ingredient unleashes the demon god of curry.

  • Prince Soma has been betrayed by his manservant, and the Butler must put his hellish talents to the test in a curry-cooking competition against the blessed right hand of an Indian deity.

  • A postcolonial conflict boils over when an Indian prince visits the Phantomhive estate. Later, the Butler's prowess with a blade is unexpectedly matched by his foreign counterpart.

  • The Master's birthday approaches, but rescuing Elizabeth is of far greater importance than celebrating. A vile puppeteer is terrorizing London, and only the Butler can cut down his army of marionettes.

  • When his betrothed is abducted by a deranged doll maker, the Young Master travels to London to investigate. Little does he know, the search will be complicated by a lovesick reaper who's lost his scythe.

  • Already a man of many talents, the Butler adds ice sculpting to his repertoire in an attempt to acquire a priceless-but-cursed gem for his Young Master.

  • The Butler puts on an exhibition in the art of training demonic canines to shake, roll over, and refrain from terrorizing gloomy villages. Meanwhile, the Gardner gets his first, painful taste of love.

  • Coming soon.

  • Sebastian continues his gruesome battle with the rogue reaper, and the Young Master takes special care to ensure that his beloved aunt is buried in the proper colors.

  • The Butler and his Young Master scour the seedy back alleys of London in search of an infamous butcher. Imagine their surprise upon discovering that the ripper may actually a reaper!

  • The Young Master dons an evening gown to apprehend a monster who's been butchering women of the night, but if his talent for cross-dressing is discovered, the Phantomhive name will be irreversibly sullied.

  • When the Young Master's fiancee drops by for an unannounced visit, the Phantomhive Estate experiences a sickening outbreak of "cuteness." Meanwhile, the Butler has his hands full with a suicidal apprentice.

  • Having regained the services of his Butler, the Young Master issues a chilling order to kill. Sebastian is eager to please, but this task will require a revelation of his true nature.

  • The Phantomhive estate bustles with preparations for an important meeting between the Young Master and a slithering captain of industry. The maid, the gardener, and the cook are fools, but the Butler is a man of hidden talents.