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Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 02

While there are many words one could use to describe Kuroshitsuji, “shameless” is certainly one which springs to mind for me. Toboso-sensei clearly knows exactly what the appeal of this series is, and to do anything less than indulge relentlessly would be disingenuous. That’s why a Victorian public school setting is so letter-perfect for her. One can hardly imagine a more deranged and perverse environment, more steeped in pomposity and depravity. It fits, as I noted last week, like a bespoke suit from the finest tailor on Saville Row.

The essence of this match made in Heaven (or Hell) is one Maurice Cole (Horie Shun). He’s the drudge to Edgar Redmond, the “prettiest boy in school”, and a thoroughgoing snake in the grass. Black Butler is full of those of course, so like everything else in the “Public School” arc, he fits right in. He politics his way around the prefects quite expertly, plying them with delicacies he doesn’t prepare and expertly tricking others into doing his chores for them. Serving alongside him as a prefect (to Greenhill) drudge is Edward Milford, Ciel’s blockheaded but earnest cousin.

I noted back during the Book of Circus series that Kuroshitsuji has characters who basically fall into two groups: victims and exploiters. And that the dynamic tension is driven by characters (like Ciel) trying to move from the first group to the second. I think the whole story can be viewed through that lens, and as such, everyone we meet in Kishiku Gakkou-hen is likely to be one or the other. Cole seems to be an exploiter, but until we know his backstory we can’t be sure he isn’t one of those trying to make the jump.

One thing that’s immediately clear is that Maurice is proactive in taking down anyone he sees as a threat to his status, and he quickly zeroes in on Ciel as one such threat. He’s an Earl with a lofty pedigree, he’s already (thanks to Sebastian) made quite a name for himself, and Redmond refers to him as a “cutie-pie”. In fact Redmond pushes to have the new boy brought the prefects’ exclusive gazebo for an audience over tea, and Cole is dispatched to proffer the invitation. Which he does – for the next day at four, when in fact the invitation was for two o’clock.

Sebastian is right – Ciel underestimates the threat of Maurice because he’s just a student. Ciel is drunk on the prospect of jump-starting his investigation this way and falls for Cole’s trap, which instantly scotches his reputation. Of course what we know is that Cole, however devious he might be, has pissed off the wrong bishounen here. Ciel not only takes any such slight personally, but has the tool at his disposal to exact a revenge sweeter than any of Maurice’s counterfeit teatime concoctions. He immediately confers with his butler, and Sebastian is assigned to find the other students which Ciel has expertly deduced must exist who have been similarly hoodwinked by Cole.

Scarlet Fox House is the key to all this in many ways. Not only is Redmond’s house Maurice Cole’s home base, it’s also where Derrick Arden – the subject of Ciel’s investigation in the first place – is supposed to reside. The home of the elite even among Weston’s elite. Ciel needs an insider to act as a mole, but that’s easier said than done. Another “vacancy” at the college so soon would arouse suspicion, and anyone Ciel could recruit would be subjects to the school’s whims for house assignment. They need a wild card. And such a boy exists, though Ciel is dismayed at the idea – Soma Asman Kadar, the Prince of Bengal. Soma is a nice lad, but far too mired in bonhomie for the taciturn Earl of Phantomhive’s taste. But he fills a need, and Ciel is nothing if not practical – even to the point of personal discomfort.

The post Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 02 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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