I am doing a re-watch of the previous series of Black Butler, which is a twenty four episodes in length, with an ova titled “His Butler, Performs.” (Which involves shenanigans and the cast attempting to perform a play for orphans, one that would be considered Child Unfriendly, but that’s the Black Butler cast for you.) The main story of the series involves Ciel Phantomhive, a twelve year old boy who after severe abuse seeks revenge for what was done to him. His loyal assistant in his quest is Sebastian Michaelis–a demon he has made a contract with. Ciel’s family are special investigators disguised as crimelords (or vice versa) who “keep control” of the upper class criminal element (and the lower class as well in some cases). Unfortunately, Ciel’s parents were killed, which is another reason for revenge. (But mostly, it is all about what happened to Ciel.)
The first episode of the series begins with a replay of the moment Ciel made the contract. (Though a strange dreamlike stage has been set; Ciel is lying in midair, covered by a red cloth, and there’s feathers flying around. The demon is shown as and indistinct shadow, and then a raven. The demon warns Ciel of the penalty of making the contract. Ciel does not care and emphatically demands the demon kill his enemies. All the feathers turn black and fly around, and then Ciel is waking up as a butler named Sebastian wakes him up and tells him what is on the menu for breakfast.
The butler fills him in on the schedule for the day, which includes a meeting with a toy manufacturer, Mr. Damiano, who works for Ciel’s toy and candy company. (Ciel is quite the little entrepreneur, in addition to being “the Queens Watchdog.”) Sebastian assures him that everything is prepared and that the meeting will go perfectly. As Sebastian leaves, something changes in Ciel’s eyes, and he grabs a dart and throws it at the back of Sebastian’s head. Sebastian tilts slightly, and immediately catches the dart. (This is one of many “tests” you see throughout the series. Sebastian and Ciel constantly test each other throughout the series, occasionally in very dangerous ways.)
Next, we are introduced to the servants, Finni, a gardener who tends to destroy anything he’s working on, Bardroy, a cook who believes gun powder is a condiment, and Maylene, a maid who can’t see straight and is more than a little goofy and Tanaka, the steward–whom Sebastian appears to respect a great deal. (Tanaka is actually very, very awesome, but is often a little “out of it.” When he’s in his “out of it” mode he’s depicted in “chibi” form and carries a Japanese tea cup with him. When he is “awesome”, he is out of chibi mode, and is efficient and kind of scary sometimes. Finn, Maylene and Bard tend to ruin anything they are supposed to be doing, but they also give Sebastian an opportunity to show off how perfect he is as a butler, so it is an even trade.
In this episode the servants go above and beyond their catastrophic abilities, wrecking the kitchen, the dinner and the garden. With two hours until the guest arrives, Sebastian manages to turn the chaos on the grounds in front of the mansion into an elegant rock garden. Mr. Damiano heads inside and has a talk with Ciel while they wait for dinner. Damiano tries to talk business, but Ciel appears to have more interest in the board game, which has rather cryptic and malevolent divinatory messages, and Damiano begins to get a little nervous. Then Ciel gets very creepy, and somehow threatening, and Damiano starts becoming scared, (and also, angry because he’s becoming frightened of a child).
We get to the dinner, and Damiano becomes very impressed with the setting. (Helped along by Sebastian, who is a ham actor.) Everything about the dinner is slightly strange and unsettling (though anything would be unsettling after the earlier discussion.) After a minor mishap involving Maylene, a wine bottle, and a table cloth, dinner proceeds and everything appears to be going very well, and after dinner Damiano attempts to have a business discussion, but Ciel intends to continue the scary board game. Damiano tries to get out of it, but Ciel gives a sinister smile and insists. Damiano asks if he can make a phone call, and skitters out of the room.
After a brief and sinister conversation between Ciel and Sebastian the scene cuts to Damiano, who has apparently been up to some Very Bad Things, and is planning on swindling Ciel and his business, and is talking to someone on the phone about it. Shortly after the phone conversation, as Damiano is heading back to the parlor, things begin to become extremely unnerving, and Damiano ends up getting lost in a darkened manor that now appears to be haunted. (If you haven’t guessed yet–Damiano’s dishonesty has already been discovered, and now, he’s being punished.) After suffering many scary things, he limps away from the house, screaming. Meanwhile,Ciel is sitting in the dark, giggling quietly to himself. (Almost like a normal child, laughing at a prank.)
The very last scene is Sebastian noticing that some wallpaper will need to be redone on the landing of the stairs, then heads further down stair, crossing too an open area near the front door. Everything goes dark, and a ghostly image appears of a man and woman sitting on a couch with a little boy playing. Sebastian crosses over to the area and snaps his fingers, leaving a dark and empty room. Sebastian walks away, and then everything goes dark again.
In this episode we get the essentials. Ciel’s relationship with Sebastian, Sebastian’s sinister behavior combined with his extreme effectiveness as a servant. We meet the silly servants, and we get an idea of the interrelationships going on, and Ciel’s general behavior and why he is able to do what he does and basically be autonomous at his age: he’s really smart and ruthless and backed up by something scary. I have to say the first few episodes are what made me want to try the manga again, even though the manga hadn’t impressed me that much the first time.