Princess Usagi

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「笑う執事」 (Sono Shitsuji, Warau)
“His Butler, Having a Laugh”

We pick up from last week’s cliffhanger. The P4 are way more shocked, I’d even go so far as to say horrified, than Ciel that Derrick Arden is in good form. Or at least so Arden seems, until he takes Greenhill for a tea biscuit, outing his true zombie form- eerily like the zombies that sailed on the ocean liner in the previous Kuroshitsuji movie. Of course, Sebastian is delighted to capture him in high style (I love how he uses his table dressing trick).

We knew all along the P4 were complicit in the mystery, but I had assumed the adults were the instigators and the boys were taken along for the ride. To my surprise, it was quite the opposite, they started the whole thing when they killed Derrick, then called on the whackjob Aurora Society to mop up the mess. Things are a whole lot worse than they appeared at first- not only is the boy dead, he’s undead, with a crazy underground society roped into the mix. This is an excellently cohesive piece of storytelling, bringing in threads from the previous arc to pull the plot behind the scenes in this one.

That was certainly one way of doing a flashback. Minimal animation probably saved on the budget, but done so with artistic effect, like paging through a watercolor picture book. I will say, the flashback was a big help. I have not seen Book of the Atlantic, and it’s been a few years since I read that arc in the manga, so I was kind of rusty. My memories of this big reveal in the school arc were also hazy as well, so it came as a shocker to me that the Headmaster was none other than the Undertaker (Suwabe Junichi). I was expecting another bored devil like Sebastian, though I suppose in some sense, the Undertaker isn’t too far off the mark from that. The Undertaker is always looking for a laugh, and in a twisted way, this whole situation is outlandish enough to satisfy that craving for a long while. It all totally explains why the Headmaster was so elusive.

The P4’s actions scream such a privileged rich boy attitude, thinking that money and status can be used to fix anything. Which, it can in the basest sense of the word. Derrick is animated- but not alive in the truest sense of the word. Some things you can’t patch up in life, as they’re now learning the hard way. If anything, they’ve made a bigger mess than when they started, involving dangerously erratic characters like the Undertaker, creating a hungry zombie, and so on.

Thinking about it, the rule that only the P4 can step on the grass, bending the sacred school rule is symbolic in a way. Those at the top rungs can stretch the rules, trampling on those below them, so long as they convince themselves it’s to protect tradition, thereby perpetuating an oppressive hierarchy. The school rule “all students are equal before the Headmaster” is absolutely laughable- everything we’ve seen at this school is the exact opposite of that. There is probably no scarier line of reasoning than “for the greater good”. With that mindset, it is only matter of course that they would kill Derrick then attempt to resurrect him, in the arrogance that normal morals don’t need to apply to them because it was for the school’s protection. The psychology behind the characters, the school in this arc is intriguing, digging into how such views are fostered from an early age through Weston’s rigid hierarchical structure.

That message was the most Baroque thing I’ve seen in a while- veiled so heavily in high faluting subtext, it seems almost unreal for Redmond to get it at a quick glance, as Bluewer notes, though highlighting key phrases also helps. Following the poetic trail, they catch the bullies red-handed, where it turns out Derrick Arden was a wolf in sheep’s clothing all along, which isn’t going to sit well with the zealous P4. Bullying is never acceptable, but killing Derrick is awfully extreme, talk about going from 0 to 100. Something had to have happened in between, and that something is what we’ll get to next week.

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Kuroshitsuji Kishuku Gakkou hen – Episode 09 Review