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Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 10

I probably take Kuroshitsuji for granted to some extent. It’s not easy to be this good for this long, and even if there are occasional stumbles along the way they’ve become increasingly rare as the series has progressed. Even more, though, Black Butler has the ability to be both flamboyant and subtle, and that’s a rare combination in animanga. It has an alchemy that really works, and Toboso-sensei has clearly honed it well over the course of the story.

In the end, the story of Derrick Arden’s death doesn’t stray too far from expectations. As it turns out he was just a really bad kid – arrogant and cruel, disinterested in the mythology of “tradition” and honor. He was bored and tortured others for four years as he faked his own accomplishments in order to meet the expectations of someone in his position – he become a prefect. And him gloating about that was too much for Greenhill, the most impulsive and simple-minded among the P4. The rest, as they say, is history.

The interesting twist here is that Agares is in on the ruse, apparently having been bribed by Derrick. One can assume that’s why he too is one of Undertakers’s walking corpses, though he’s more functional than the others (not enough for Sebastian not to suspect, however). It seems that Derrick’s four accomplices and Agares had to also be killed in order to protect the secret and Weston’s reputation. It’s an interesting moment when Ciel is apparently aghast at the notion of all these murders for this reason – he’s about the most jaded person you’d ever meet (certainly at his tender age) when it comes to the human heart. It seems genuine and maybe it is, but the nature of Ciel makes musing on the reasons why a fascinating thought experiment.

The real point of all this is the “thin line between tradition and brainwashing” that Ciel aptly notes. This is the essence of the myth places like Weston peddled and still do peddle, and what made them a perfect foil for Kuroshitsuji. She was brilliant in understating the depravity of such places, if anything – the match was too on the money as is, if anything. It’s also fascinating that Ciel takes the time to save poor Harcourt, who’s quite the damsel in distress yet again. Ciel has nothing to gain from this, really, apart from one less death to explain. Is this an expression of a certain empathic side to Ciel? Yet when McMillan, his closest “friend” at Weston and a boy who’d helped him considerably, gives Ciel a letter and momento on his departure he can’t even be bothered to open the envelope.

I might argue that, in fact, the reason Ciel has Sebby discard the letter is that he does feel something, and wants to nip it in the bud before it can take root. But irrespective, this is the life he now leads. He heads to a Georgian mansion in London to brief Queen Victoria, which he does in candor. Victoria knows her boya well enough to know he doesn’t embellish such tales, and if Ciel says Undetaker is reanimating corpses why, it must be true. But once he’s gone home she muses that as scary as the notion is, if these monstrosities could be put to the service of the Empire, it could potentially prove quite fruitful.

With that, the P4 are expelled – a light sentence based on the Queen’s need to keep the truth on the down low, but still brutal for them. Edward is the new prefect for Green Lion, and as Ciel notes in response to Edward’s dismay over how tantalizing the idea of murdering for the sake of tradition is, if Edward can be dismayed over it his head is still in the right space. And Ciel and Sebby return home to the usual (with interruptions) idyll of Phantomhive Manor, where – as is its wont – Kuroshitsuji will conclude this arc by setting the stage for the next one.

The post Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 10 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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