Black Butler (film)
Review by Jen Wang
A return to monarchy, big pharma trying to control the 1%, and sexism galore—the future depicted in the live-action Black Butler (also known as Kuroshitsuji) is unappealing even if the fashion is splendidly fabulous. The film tries a little too hard to adhere to the original manga, hence the bleak setting and strange Victorian attitudes. Nevertheless, the quirky elements and interplay of light and darkness, human and supernatural make Black Butler compelling and unique.
In this adaptation, an orphan named Shiori Genpo (Ayame Gouriki) has summoned the demonic butler Sebastian (Hiro Mizushima) to help her carry out vengeance in exchange for her soul. Disguised as a boy, she gathers clues about her parents’ murder while running her family’s company and serving as “Watchdog” for the Queen. Why the Queen needs a spy is never clear; the political intrigue falls by the wayside as the film gets more personal. The case of mummified corpses establishes a fantastical tone with some sci-fi tech thrown in later, but the role of a sinister drug company and the fate of the young female victims are uncomfortably reminiscent of real life events. This is creepier than anything Sebastian does.