Kuroshitsuji Live Action Review / by Storyaboutagirl

Please be aware of some possible spoilers.

In University I remember learning about the progress from manga to anime and beyond. If I still remember correctly it goes something like this: A manga starts out serialised in a magazine, then if it does well it gets its own volumes. If it sells well it gets an anime, may be some drama CDs and finally a live action movie or a drama series. During this process it acquires a large number of fans.

These days it seems that more and more animes are being made into live action movies, some are huge hits and some don’t do so well. It all depends on how the fans feel. Anyway, last week I came across a list of the top ten live action movies that had disappointed fans and in there was the Kuroshitsuji live action movie. Despite the fact I really quite enjoyed the movie, I can kind of understand why the fans weren’t all that happy.

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I first came across the actor Hiro Mizushima when I watched the drama Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend). I thought he was a pretty good actor and have watched a few other dramas which he popped up in. However, when I heard he was going to play Sebastian Michaelis and saw the first promotional picture (the one with him sat in the arm chair) I wasn’t sure what to think.

To be honest, I’m not such a huge fan of Kuroshitsuji. I liked the first season, although I felt it lost its way towards the end and I wasn’t exactly enamoured with the second. Also I found that Sebastian’s character in the manga differed from his character in the anime and I much preferred the latter. So, I decided I wouldn’t bother going to see the movie at the cinema and would wait for the DVD. That didn’t mean I didn’t keep up with posts about the progress of the movie and storyline details.

The more I read about it the more I decided I’d made the right decision, but when the trailer popped up in my youtube feed I couldn’t resist taking a look at it and ultimately it persuaded me to go see the movie, if only to challenge my Japanese language skills.

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The plot of the movie itself, has very little to do with the manga or anime, with only a handful of characters from the series being featured and the fact it is set 130 years in the future. It also isn’t set in England but in some kind of imaginary area which is a mix between Eastern and Western cultures. Due to the amount of time having passed between the original series and the live action film there is no Ciel Phantomhive. Instead we are introduced to Shiori Genpou, a distant relative of Ciel who, disguised as a boy (only males can run the company that the Phantomhive family originally started), has taken over the Phantom Corporation and is tied to Sebastian by contract. As Ciel did, she still acts as “The Queen’s Watchdog” and is tasked with looking into a series of gruesome murders. Something she does with Sebastian’s help. Overall, I thought that the plot of the movie was pretty interesting and I enjoyed the homages to the original series. Although, in hindsight the storyline probably wasn’t all that original.

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I guess what most fans were interested in, as I was myself, was the way that Hiro Mizushima portrayed the infamous Sebastian Michaelis. I found that his performance as the butler was interesting and for want of a better expression he seemed to put his own slant on the character. There were still some elements of the character Yana Toboso created, in particular his love for cats. However, this sometimes seemed somewhat out of place. Furthermore, the relationship between Shiori and Sebastian didn’t seem to have nearly the same dynamic as that of Ciel and Sebastian. Whilst Ciel and Sebastian seem to be constantly embroiled in a game of cat and mouse in the anime, at least in the first season, I’m not really sure how to describe the relationship between Shiori and Sebastian. It just doesn’t seem to be quite as deep, or complex. I think that much of the banter between the two was missing.

On the whole, I do feel the movie is worth a watch. The opening sequence, in particular the first fight scene, is definitely a must see. The storyline itself is interesting, but the lack of the original Kuroshitsuji characters and for the most part the portrayal of those who did make it will be disappointing for fans of the original.