「その執事、偽装」 (Sono Shitsuji, Gisō)
“His Butler, In Disguise”

The devil is literally in the details, with Sebastian shouldering all of Ciel’s Drudge duties on top of his house master tasks. Of course, there is such a thing as being too perfect. The sterling quality of an earl’s domestic accomplishments reasonably raises some suspicions with the P4, which Ciel tries to explain away by claiming butlery as his hobby. Which I suppose is believable to some extent- you had some eccentric aristocrats out there, like Marie Antoinette, who supposedly liked to play at being a milk maid. Even if he quells the suspicions, it does nothing for the jealousies that raises.

Ciel’s character is written quite intricately- he’s not just a boy with a grudge and a tragedy sitting on either shoulder. The psychology from his past trauma and growing up to soon, along with the immaturities of his actual age take hands and dance around each other in a way that informs Ciel’s decision making. As rational-minded as Ciel is, he’s not a machine. He still acts the child he is in some ways, and never more so than in his total impatience with the Weston hierarchical nonsense, and it’s coming back to bite him. Surrounded by adults most of the time, it’s natural that Ciel doesn’t really know how to “play” with kids his age. Of course he’d naturally assume that compared to him, the sheltered rich boys must be naïve babes in arms he can get around with a smile. Which is a big mistake because kids can be just as savage as adults.

Don’t let looks deceive you. Maurice (Horie Shun) can play (or rather, is) the cunning bastard beneath the innocence just as much as Ciel. I like that Maurice can play Ciel at his own game- the mental challenge this throws at the Phantomhive Bocchan is engaging to see. As much as Ciel tries to use Sebastian to solve everything, things still don’t go his way, which feels very human, despite the circumstances. This speaks volumes to Sebastian’s character- he’s only all-knowing/doing in so far as what he’s told to do and won’t do anything more or less than that. Ultimately, the brain of the game rests with Ciel to plan ahead of his opponent and use Sebastian wisely- like a computer program, the output depends on the specificity of the instructions the user inputs. This tempest in the tea pot could probably all have been avoided if Ciel had been more suspicious of Maurice from the start and sent Sebastian to confirm the details. But, in the end, the boy is only human. Though, we all know who will win in the end- because after all, Ciel’s pawn is naturally much stronger than Maurice’s.

I get the sense that flipping roles with his master is all a very amusing charade for Sebastian, while for Ciel, it’s all a bloody bother. But like his servant, ever the good little liar, he keeps a perfect act in his demeanor. Outside, Ciel uses respectful, ultra polite language, but the second he gets alone with Sebastian, he switches right to the short, curt language of a demanding master without blinking an eye. Having extensively studied the many forms of keigo at my university, I appreciate how well Yana Toboso follows through with the linguistic stratifications, taking care to write the characters’ speech according to class. This is not something you see all the time in animanga, but certainly is important in grounding characters into their environment- it makes it more believable, as opposed to the opposite scenario where the same language form is used equally amongst characters.

When it comes to aristocratic society, it really is a small world I suppose (or at least only as small as the mangaka makes it), and Ciel runs into his future brother-in-law Edward Midford (Yamashita Seiichirou). We’ve only seen Edward in one context before, so now it’s like seeing him in the wild, which is where we can see people’s true colors. Which in Edward’s case is green. Unfortunately, Ciel pisses him off with his late arrival and apparently isn’t the type to listen to excuses. We’ll see how things go from there with him, as that’s certainly a bridge Ciel can’t afford to burn.

Having to take a detour from Plan A, Ciel sends Sebastian on a hunt to find and recruit Maurice’s labor abuse victims. It’s terribly ironic that Maurice is doing the same exact thing as Ciel, which Sebastian doesn’t fail to point out, much to Ciel’s chagrin. It doesn’t take long to find one young impressionable lad who caught Maurice’s ire, presumably for being smarter than he is. After a quick trip to the confession box (oh, the delicious irony of who’s in the priest’s chair), Sebastian does his sweet talking, and we know the rest.

Any small sliver Ciel had of staying on the down low (which, was that even a reasonable hope in the first place?) goes clear out the window when he has no choice but to call in backup support from Prince Soma as his spy in House Red. Who, of course, arrives larger than life on that elephant. I don’t know how well a free spirit like Soma will fare in the harsh rigidity of Weston, but he is kind of naïve, so it might just bounce off of him.

Hats off to Sakamoto Maaya for her stellar performance as Ciel. The way she carries the cold steel of Ciel’s cool cunning balanced with his artificial lightness gave me goosebumps. CloverWorks is certainly pulling all the stops out for this production. There were many gorgeous scenes throughout the episode, particularly at the beginning.

End Card

One Comment

  1. I’m glad the anime has (SID) play as one of the theme songs; it feels less “canon” even though this arc is original following the manga. The show’s on point, good so far.

    random viewer

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