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Black Butler: Public School Arc
Episode 6

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Black Butler: Public School Arc ?
Community score: 4.2

black-butler-6

It doesn't look like the apple fell far from the Phantomhive's family tree. Despite his parents' deaths being the catalyst for Ciel's involvement with Sebastian, we haven't seen much of them—so it feels like a rare treat that this week's episode opens with a snippet of his father's time at Weston. Even Ciel wasn't aware that his dearly departed papa was a Weston man, much less the prefect of the very house where he currently resides. However, there's a nonzero chance that that's why he's in Sapphire Owl House, given wealthy schools' love of a legacy. The elder Phantomhive seems to have had a devil-may-care attitude towards school life—or at least towards his P4 duties—and while he doesn't appear to have had a Sebastian of his own, he certainly had a devious streak a mile wide. While we don't know what his tactic was for the so-called Sapphire Miracle of years past, the fact that he pulled it off and forced another prefect to be his drudge points to similarities between father and son. The father may even have been more ruthless, seeing as he was acting entirely on his own—at least, as far as we know.

Sadly, apart from Ciel's father and Sebastian's tricks, this episode isn't quite as strong as previous ones. I don't want to blame it on the cameos, because it is nice to see former cast members show up to watch the cricket match—if only as a reminder of where the series began many seasons (and books) ago. But there's not much of a forward trajectory here until the very end. Does it come down to the fact that everything I know about cricket I picked up from my mother's addiction to British murder mysteries? Maybe; I've certainly absorbed more Midsomer Murders episodes than is good for me. But I think it boils down to a cricket match simply being less exciting than the storylines that this series has been working with. Somehow a run-of-the-mill anime sporting event can't quite compare with the mysterious vanishing of schoolboys and Ciel burning a dormitory down.

And really, would it be a typical anime sports episode without someone bringing laxatives to the party? Okay, yes, it would, but it's still much more of an anime than a Victorian thing to do, especially considering what the Victorians used to combat constipation. One particularly popular method was the antimony pill—a “pill” made out of the toxic metal antimony that was swallowed, passed, and then could be reused. I doubt that this was what Sebastian laced the pie with but if anyone was going to be able to assemble a vast collection of metal pills on short notice, it would be him. (And yes, too much usage or consumption of antimony led to something that looked a lot like arsenic poisoning, the “inheritance powder” of choice for the Victorians.) Of course, Sebastian could also have given them blue mass, a mercury-based 19th-century cure-all, or Beecham's Pills, which weren't poisonous but still likely disgusting: they were a mix of soap powder, aloe, and ginger. That last seems most likely but I'm sharing this information because it says a lot about the plan and the people who made it—the decision to lace food with laxatives was ruthless given the options available.

Still, the unlikely return of a potential Sapphire Miracle seems to have worked better than the attempt to smoke out the missing boys. The Head Master has at last shown up—although whether he would have done so without Ciel's prompting is unclear. He's in Sebastian's sights now, though, and that means that even if Sapphire Owl House doesn't win the day, Ciel and his butler have at least marked the man. Is he truly the one behind the mysteriously missing boys? They're one step closer to finding that out.

Rating:

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


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