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Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 06

As a series, Black Butler has an extremely wide tonal range. It can go from extremely dark and tragic (like much of Circus-hen) to very lighthearted and goofy – too much so with certain characters. But it can also take the middle path with extremely good effect, and that’s what it’s doing with Kishuku Gakkou-hen (so far). I don’t know what the MacGuffin with Derrick and the other disappeared boys is – that could still go very dark. But we’re now over halfway through the season and so far the main impression is “fun”, more than anything else.

Speaking of fun, cricket is the focus of this episode (and the next). And sure it’s a game, and a sport, but to upper-crusty Brits it’s more than that. “It’s not cricket” – a line which Lawrence tossed off in this ep in response to Ciel’s master strategy – reflects this. Sport names are sometimes both nouns and verbs, but it’s only when the sport is embedded deep in the cultural psyche that they become adjectives. Just what that adjective means may be a bit ambiguous, but to people like Bluewer it’s an “I know it when I see it” kind of thing.

We don’t know whether Vincent Phantomhive’s strategy to snatch Sapphire Owl’s first-ever win in the Weston Cricket tournament was “cricket” or not. But based on what we know of the guy – not least what he did to his son – it seems very likely it wasn’t. It does explain how Diedrich came to be in his circle, as he conned the German into being his drudge for life.  I’m going to guess we get  the answer on just how Vincent did it at some point, but at the moment it’s not clear how it’s strictly plot-relevant to the present.

The first of Ciel’s (and Sebastian’s) ploys, employed against Scarlet Fox, certainly isn’t cricket. Not surprisingly Blue is getting their wickets handed to them, but the tea break (yes, that is part of the rules) proves to be the Red house’s undoing. Laxative in the meat pie, how crude yet how effective. Also it seems as if Harcourt lied to Soma about there not being beef in the pie, and I’m not clear on why he would do so. One can only imagine based on his own fate that he wasn’t in on the plot, though in fact he did owe Ciel big-time so I suppose it’s not impossible Ciel convinced (or blackmailed) him into sacrificing himself for the sake of subterfuge.

The next plan is where Lawrence’s “not cricket” charge becomes interesting. First of all – did Ciel come up with it (my guess) or Sebastian? It’s preposterous but interesting – use the percussion part of Strauss’ “Radetzky March” to cue the Owls on when  to swing their bats (with their eyes closed). Is it cricket? I mean, Ciel does raise a pretty convincing argument – if their intelligence is their main attribute, why not use it against the physically superior Green Lions to level the pitch as long as it doesn’t violate the rules? Whether it does is another matter – I kind of equate it to stealing signs in baseball the way the Astros did (which was certainly illegal, and would have retroactively cost them their first World Series title if Rob Manfred had any balls).

What’s also interesting is that it’s Edward, self-deprecating and humble of wit, who figures it out. He’s usually played as earnest and rather dim, but he proves quite the observant fellow here  – and a hell of a bowler, too. As his prefect observes, the ability to be humble enough to emulate others who are better than you at something is a form of genius in its own right. That said, in a battle of wits between Ciel and Edward there can only be one result, and it’s clear that the young master and his butler have a contingency plan at the ready for such a development – and the arrival of the Headmaster.

The post Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 06 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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