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Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 11 (End) and Series Review

For many series, one might find it unusual to dedicate the entire finale to matters that had almost nothing to do with the seasonal plot. But Kuroshitsuji marches to its own drummer, of that there can be no doubt. It’s always taken unconventional turns when it comes to narrative structure, and its story arcs almost never add up to a logical fit for a seasonal cour. It does what it does, and Toboso-sensei has no reason to concern herself with anything else at this point given the series’ long-term success.

In effect, then, this is a slice-of-life episode which – as Black Butler usually does – drops a few hints into future arcs. It’s also a chance for Sebastian to shine, which is good because on balance Kishuku Gakkou-hen probably gives him less time to show off than any other major arc. While Ciel is both the best and most important character and I’ll always make a stand on that hill, Sebby’s flamboyance is indisputably a huge part of Kuroshitsuji’s mass appeal.

It’s also nice to catch up with all the core characters at the manor who were basically absent this season. They drop in and out of the story but these goofs are always fun, and seeing Sebastian in domestic mode is part of the charm too. There’s literal and figurative housekeeping a-plenty to be done here. Mey-Rin needs and updated eyeglass prescription, Finny needs a new hat, and Ciel has business to attend to with Funtom. So, a trip to London is called for – but not before Souma and Agni pop in for an unannounced (as usual) visit, and Sebastian rather cruelly gets Agni into hot water. And explains some stuff about the meat pie gambit which didn’t make sense at the time.

I love the way Victorian London is depicted in Black Butler – it’s quite the visual feast. Full credit again to CloverWorks for delivering maybe the season’s most beautiful series on-balance. All the details at the little shops and the big landmarks, perfect. Sebastian requests a stop at the records office at Somerset House on the Strand, where he does a little digging into Undertaker’s past. And turns up an interesting connection (foreshadowing) – one of his lockets ties in to Claudia Phantomhive, Ciel’s grandmother. Long-standing ties between Undertaker and the Phantomhive family are obviously no coincidence, but that’s a matter for later.

Another familiar face pops up to represent the “no coincidences” file – opera singer Irene Diaz. As the gang are checking out (sluggish) sales for Funtom’s new scent in Haddon’s (Harrod’s) a scream is heard from outside. A horse has bolted and a carriage overturned, and Sebastian recognizes the screamer. Irene is on her way to the opera, in the company of a secret lover from a rival company. Sebby hastily arranges a bargain – he (literally) delivers the diva to her appointed stage and then makes an appearance in Funtom’s rather grisly unicorn mascot suit, and Irene lends her fame to Funtom’s “Lily of the Valley”.

With that, we’re basically done – a pleasant and relaxing excursion to close what on the whole has been a pretty low-key season by Kuroshitsuji standards. There’s one more substantive moment though – of course the epilogue is a trailer for the next arc. It seems to be set in Germany, where a group of upper class twits on a fox hunt venture into what’s known as a haunted wood, and progress despite being warned off by as textbook a crone as you’ll ever see. Here there be werewolves – and surely fertile ground for Toboso to work her magic next season.

That next season will almost certainly come, you’d have to think. Black Butler remains one of the best-selling manga out there, and it’s clear from the budget the anime gets that the franchise remains extremely profitable. At the end of this arc the anime has covered less than half the existing manga chapters, so material is certainly not a problem. My gut tells me the gap until the next season will be shorter this time, but Kuroshitsuji as an adaptation has never been in a hurry.  We’ll get it when we get it, and I’ll certainly be on-board when we do.

I love the tonal range this series brings to the table. It’s built around two superb leads (especially Ciel), and while it sometimes stumbles when certain members of the supporting cast become too prominent, most of the time – as with Public School Arc – it’s just really, really good. Knowing that the series is building to one Hell of a finale imparts a sense of drama and uncertainty – this is one of the few series that straddles the line between tragedy and mystery really effectively. However long the wait is, I’m ready for the next stage in the journey.

The post Kuroshitsuji: Kishuku Gakkou-hen (Black Butler: Public School Arc) – 11 (End) and Series Review appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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