Kuroshitsuji is not an anime about food, but it certainly presents its fair share of Victorian-era English and Indian culinary delights! By all rights, this post should really be two separate posts, but given my laziness, I’ve decided to slap the two together.
A Brief Plot Summary
Kuroshitsuji follows the lives of Ciel Phantomhive, his butler Sebastian Michaelis, and the Phantomhive servants–presenting them all in a visually delightful Victorian setting. The anime opens with a disturbing scene where Ciel makes a contract with a demon to avenge the death of his parents. In return, the demon must accompany Ciel at all times, and once the revenge is complete, will devour Ciel’s soul. The demon takes form in the butler, Sebastian, and demonstrates his demonic powers with frightening accuracy as he maintains perfect household order and aids Ciel in his role as head of the Phantomhive toy and sweets company and as Queen Victoria’s “watchdog.” Ciel’s nobility and accumulated wealth from one of the most prominent companies in all of Europe afford him the money and connections necessary to help keep England safe behind the scenes, as well as seek out the murderers of the Phantomhives. Throughout the course of the show, Ciel and Sebastian undertake multiple assignments, inspired by well-known crimes and works of literature like Jack the Ripper and The Hound of the Baskervilles, by order of the queen and continually creep closer to the truth of his parents’ murder.
*Spoiler* We later discover that the culprit is none other than Queen Victoria herself, along with the sexually ambiguous angel known dually as Ash/Angela. Their removal of the Phantomhives stems from a desire to purify England and move away from the older, stained methods of the former eras. Coupled with the desires of the angel, they also seek to purify the entire nation by burning London to the ground and using the souls of the dead as sacrifices to his Sacred Bridge. An epic battle between angel Ash/Angela and demon Sebastian ensues, the bad guys are defeated, and the anime closes on Sebastian about to take a bite out of Ciel Phantomhive. */End spoiler*
Overall Impression 7/10 (Good)
What impressed me most about the show was its wonderful use of visuals to convince me of the setting and time period. We are given a huge array of Victorian-era clothing and food and I believe in the probable large amounts of research done to accomplish this. The idea of the show is a good one as well, with Faustian and Sherlock Holmes themes driving the story.
An interesting note on the genre, however, is that MyAnimeList labels it as “shounen,” for “young boys.” Kuroshitsuji abounds with homosexual desires, displayed between Ciel and Sebastian, Sebastian and the death god Greil Sutcliff, and between many other characters. The males are also extremely bishounen pretty, as if to please a female audience. Shounen? I think not. The anime is rife with violence and sex, making it more appropriate for a mature audience, and not for children or older members easily offended by such matters.
The main irk of this show was its sad use of Ciel as a dress-up doll. Perhaps a fun counter to his otherwise sour personality, the show writes up scenes that require him to at times don female clothing and minimal male clothing. I find it tiresome as I’d rather they spend more time convincing me of the validity of his angry character. I want to believe in him the same way I believe in Hamlet as a tragic protagonist (or fool, as some critics believe).
Well, that certainly wasn’t as brief as I initially intended, but finally I’m onto the good stuff: the foods of Kuroshitsuji. Every episode comes with its fair share of desserts and other delights, beautifully representing the Victoria era, but also nodding at the theme of appetite as displayed by the demons and Ciel’s thirst for revenge. So follows a listing of as much of the food as I could find in the first season of Kuroshitsuji, along with images and any necessary explanation:
Neither a dessert, or curry, the show opens up with a yummy sounding meal all the same.
This dish is neither British, or Indian, but distinctly Japanese. Due to the limited resources at hand and as inspiration from Tanaka-san’s tea cup, Sebastian serves this hearty Japanese dish of simply sliced meat over rice.
The Charlotte may be served hot or cold, and fruit varieties usually include a custard or whipped cream filling. Stale bread dipped in butter is traditionally used as the lining, though nowadays it’s common to use sponge cake or lady fingers instead.
This sure looks better than any picnic I’ve ever been to! This looks like a picnic version of afternoon tea, with the scones/jam, sandwiches, and cake.
A very traditional English dessert, this pudding uses steamed and molded breads/sponge cake and is often served with a cold cream, like custard.
Is this a pun on angel food cake? If so, this version looks delicious as well, shaped like biscuits!
Christmas puddings hail back as far as Medieval England, and as the name implies, is served on Christmas Day. Kuroshitsuji stays true to the Victorian-era’s take on the dessert, with the shape formed by the basin it was steamed in, as opposed to hung into the shape of a ball, and garnished with a sprig of holly.
In this episode, the Phantom Company participates in a competition to win the Royal Warrant, an article that grants the company renown of royal standing. The curry displayed here is from curry’s country of origin: India. I’ve never had Indian curry, but I sure wouldn’t mind the opportunity!
This dish was very easy to skip over, as we never have a head-on view of it, and the scene passes very quickly. BUT, I couldn’t leave it out since it sounded so delicious.
As the name implies, this dessert was named after Queen Victoria due to her preference for sponge cake along with her afternoon tea. The sponge cake only receives the title ‘Victoria’ Sponge cake when the jelly and whipped double cream are sandwiched between the layers of sponge cake, with the top typically left unadorned.
What’s interesting about this image is the three-tier curate stand presentation. Judging from the light in the background, I would think this to be afternoon tea (earlier in the day) as opposed to high tea (closer to evening). However! The arrangement of the food of the stand makes no sense. Afternoon tea should include scones on the top tier, small sandwiches in the middle, and sweets along the bottom. I have no idea what’s on the tiers in this scene.
And there we have it! The foods of Kuroshitsuji! If I missed any, please bring them to my attention. The second season brings in even more delectable meals, so perhaps I’ll cover them another day. I hoped you enjoyed our tour through the various foods of this anime.