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Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 07

A few thoughts cross my mind as we check off another cracker of a Black Butler episode. First, this is a reminder of just how good CloverWorks can be when they have the budget (money and time). As they clearly do here. This series just looks great – the detail, the animation, backgrounds. Also, it takes serious balls to try and make cricket of all things both GAR and exciting. It’s a game most of the world doesn’t understand in the slightest, and many of the folks who do find it surpassingly tedious (I’m kind of 50-50 of each). Yet here we are, and somehow Toboso-sensei and CloverWorks managed to do it.

The other thing this arc does is remind us that it’s Ciel who’s the essence of Kuroshitsuji, title be damned. Sebastian actually doesn’t have that much to do for most of Kishaku Gakkou-hen – and that’s fine. He’s best as a complement, not the main course. That should be Ciel, who’s kind of a force of nature. He’s a tiny bundle of pure force of will and cleverness unencumbered by ethics or morals, wrapped up in a layer of snark and pride. Ciel just absolutely refuses to lose. And that’s not just an observation – it’s actually the foundation of the entire story. And that casts some interesting shadows over the eventual conclusion of the series.

As for the bowls yes, they do manage to make it a wildly entertaining spectacle. It all really hinges on “it’s not cricket” (which gets shouted from the stands this week until Greenhill shuts it down). It all comes down to perspective I suppose. Blue House is not capable of competing on brawn (or speed, or coordination). So they rely on brains. Is it really okay for them to use every trick in the book as long as it literally doesn’t break the rules? I guess it depends on what your definition of cricket the adjective (ironically I think more people understand the meaning of the adjective than the noun) is.

For me, the one thing that really crossed the line is the laxative pie. While I wouldn’t be totally shocked if cricket’s jillion-page rulebook had a “laxative pie addendum”, I suppose there’s no literal rule on it – but that’s cheating if anything ever was. Everything else is, as it plays here, Sapphire Owl relying on the resource they have in abundance – brains – to compensate for the ones they don’t. The “Radeztky March” gambit is dodgy, but the business with Lau and his beauties was fair game as far as I can see. And effective, even if Ciel is – for once – surprised by just how much so (if he has a libido we’ve seen little evidence of it – and he’s old enough to where he should).

What of the actual mystery of the arc? That plays out in the background, as Sebby tries to chase down the elusive Headmaster. And it soon enough becomes clear that he’s no ordinary human. Whether he’s what Sebastian is or something else altogether is undetermined, but he’s supernatural for sure. And that frees the butler up to drop all pretense in the chase. The fact that he does and the Headmaster still eludes him is evidence that whatever he is, it’s something quite powerful.

Somewhere along the line winning the match took over as the point of this for Ciel. And that’s fine, even refreshing. All of his stratagems get trotted out, each buying a little success until found out. When Ciel finally takes the… whatever it is that a bowler takes, he relies on bowling straight at the batsman and having them get themselves out in self-defense. Once that trick is sussed out (Edward known this opponent too well) Bluewer takes the whatever, and his gambit is pure strategy and unassailably cricket – he has the bowls equivalent of an eephus pitch (see Sewell, Rip). And that’s effective until Greenhill himself comes up to bat with everything on the line.

Once Greenhill unlocks Bluewer’s bowl, all seems to be lost, and Ciel’s final pep talk has an air of moral victory to it. But we should know by now that there are no moral anything with this lad – it’s only the “victory” part he cares about. And Ciel does what Ciel does – anything to get the *W*. He takes one for the team, and in the process gives himself an opening to dizzily make the final bowl himself. Underestimate Ciel Phantomhive at your peril. And that’s a lesson even Sebastian Michaelis would do well to remember, it seems to me…

The post Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 07 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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