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Black Butler: Public School Arc
Episode 10

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Black Butler: Public School Arc ?
Community score: 4.1


There are no heroes in Derrick's story. He was unquestionably a terrible person, spoiled by a life of privilege and the peerage system to believe that he was better than everyone else and could therefore do as he liked—and adults like the Lower Master supported him in this belief. But did he and his cronies (including the Lower Master) deserve death for their crimes? After all, they didn't kill anyone. And while bullying is horrific, does it merit the death sentence that the prefects carried out? The result is everyone coming off badly—Derrick, his friends, the P4, and the Lower Master all made terrible decisions at the moment that ultimately brought Ciel to Weston to investigate. There aren't any good answers except that no one should have done what they did.

Ciel remarks that there's a fine line between education and brainwashing, and we see that on both sides of the conflict. Derrick has been taught that as the heir to a dukedom, he's untouchable; his relationship with Queen Victoria only reinforces his feeling of invincibility. He has no problem hurting other students and taking their work because of his social position over them; he's better than they are, so he deserves to be the academic best as well. But the prefects have been drinking a different flavor of Kool-Aid—one that tells them that the school comes before all and that their first duty is to the institution and its reputation. In their worldview, bullying will shame the school, and therefore Derrick and Agares must be stopped—but word also can't get out that they murdered six people because that would also harm the school. Each decision based on these flawed philosophies only takes everyone deeper down a hole with no real bottom and no way to climb back out.

There's a certain irony here in that bullying is hardly unknown at English boarding schools—particularly in the 19th century. It's common enough now at any school that many people have stories about it, myself very much included. Greenhill's reaction to discovering what Derrick was up to, to instantly resort to violence, in some ways simply underlines the school's culture of bullying—although “murder” is obviously not synonymous with “bullying.” But his use of the cricket bat, and the way the other three went along with him, speak to the pressures of being at boarding school that can lead to bullying in the first place. Schools can be a pressure cooker of teenage angst, hormones, and developing brains, and children like the P4 who have the additional onus of being in charge of their fellow students can break just as easily as anyone else. Derrick found a way to live up to the expectations placed upon him as the scion of a ducal house. The prefects did the same with their responsibilities. Both just happened to choose the worst possible solutions to their problems.

For Ciel, this isn't a very satisfying conclusion. Yes, he fulfilled the duty Victoria charged him with but he didn't capture the Undertaker—and his school days were cut short. He'll deny that that last point bothers him but there were some genuine moments where he got to just be a twelve-year-old boy and I don't think was him putting on a show—particularly during the aftermath of the cricket match. Weston allowed Ciel to just be normal for a bit and to follow in his father's footsteps. That's not likely to be something he's afforded again—especially with Queen Victoria's too-keen interest in the undead. Even more worrying, it's a discussion that's held entirely too close to a portrait of the late Prince Albert for comfort—especially in the context of her guard saying that he'll protect her in Albert's stead. Wouldn't it be better, you can almost hear her thinking, if Albert were to come back to do it himself?

That's likely to be a plot for another series, however. Black Butler is about to wrap up, and with the Weston storyline finished for everyone except a newly somber Edward, that means that it's time to move on. Hopefully, Ciel will get an episode to rest at home before Victoria decides to fulfill the old joke about Prince Albert in a can and let him out.


Black Butler: Public School Arc is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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