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Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 05

Black Butler is more of a seiyuu-driven show than most for me. Usually it’s Sakamoto Maaya. I mean, who’d think a 44 year-old woman portraying a deeply old and twisted soul in the body of a 13 year-old boy could be as gripping as it is? But it’s Nakata Jouji who’s on my mind at the moment. Or more specifically, Nakata and Hayami Show. Those two have always struck me as twin towers of seiyuu – at times I literally have trouble telling them apart – and each is always a massive presence. But until the reception scene here, I don’t remember them ever appearing together (I may be forgetting an instance, of course). It vibed like the DeNiro-Pacino moment in Heat (except Marquess Midford and the assistant headmaster never spoke in this scene).

This wound up being a pretty light-hearted episode, and hilarious at that. But it started off quite dark, with the fire Ciel and Sebastian set at Violet Wolf House. Nobody dies – Sebby reveals that he can “sense no souls remaining inside” – but they sure could have. A reminder that our protagonist and his butler are not nice people, even if Ciel does assign Sebastian to help put the fire out (he drafts Soma’s elephant for the purpose) once it’s clear their target Derrick Arden is not in there. Initially Gregory Violet doesn’t want to let anyone inside even to help put our a fire (suspicious or just being weird?) but eventually he relents.

That’s a headline, certainly – where are those missing students? I also can’t help but wonder where the Violet boys are going to sleep now. But the attention quickly swings to the upcoming cricket tournament, which McMillan is sure will still go on even with an arson fire under investigation. And when Ciel fiends out that the mysterious headmaster invites one competitor to join the midnight tea party, he determines that he has to overcome his disdain for athletics and participate, the headmaster being the only viable lead he has left.

This is no easy matter, as apparently the headmaster has no set pattern regarding which boy he chooses. Sometimes it’s the best batsman, sometimes a boy who displays the most “gentlemanly” behavior. As a first-year moppet Ciel seems unlikely even to be picked to play, but as it happens Sapphire Owl – the brainiac house – traditionally gets the last place “wooden spoon” in the competition (which Green usually wins, unsurprisingly). Armed with this knowledge Sebby acts to get Ciel selected on the grounds that he’s a strategic genius based on the way he gaslit Maurice Cole (and he’s not wrong), and strategy is the only chance Blue House has anyway.

I just gotta say, the scene where Ciel thanked Michaelis-sensei for getting him picked was absolutely perfect. Ciel was totally taking one for the team there, making a good show of it, and every time he tries to act his age it’s true hilarity. That mode continues as we transition to the big reception the night before the event, attended by the aristocracy’s A-listers whose sons attend Weston. This includes Druitt, who turns out to be Redmond’s uncle, Lawrence Bluewer’s gaggle of sisters, and of course Edward’s entire Midford family including Nakata as the patriarch and dear Lizzie. Druitt and Lizzie – how will poor Ciel cope?

This is, in a word (or two), great fun. Bluewer’s sisters proceed to thoroughly embarrass him, then turn their sights on Ciel as a potential mate for one of their number (they’re not wrong, he is adorable). Lizzie of course goes into attack mode immediately at this, which sets off Edward’s siscon alarms at DEFCON 1. This is complicated by the fact that the Midfords, of course, know Ciel and Sebastian too – and as such, a careless word could blow their entire cover. Quick adjustments are made on the fly to try and contain the situation.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to Alexis and his recollection of the one time Sapphire Owl pulled off a miracle and actually won. McMillan goes into full otaku mode at the mention of this, and begs Midford to share the story. One guesses that you’d hardly have to tease any story out of Alexis however, and he’s only too happy to share. And as it turns out, the one behind the Owl’s unlikely triumph was none other than Vincent Phantomhive – a name not often mentioned in Kuroshitsuji, but always a harbinger of significant events when it is.

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