Butlers x Battlers – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser April 12, 20180 Comments
the four members of the student council

What’s it about? Jinguji Koma (“J”) lives a charmed life as a brilliant student and student council president. But secretly he’s marked by birth to be a “Butler” and unable to accept the disappearance of his younger sister.

If Butlers x Battlers was a physical object, I’m pretty sure I could put a hole in it with zero effort. I wouldn’t even need to, in fact, because the second I touched it the whole thing would collapse into a cynical pile of choking, musty ash. It’s been a few seasons since I laid eyes on something that felt this perfunctory and soulless.

journalists nicknamed "holmes" and "watson" seated at a bar

Everything about Butlers drips with an aura of disdain. J and his cadre of student council members walk the school, engaging in brief vignettes with other students to showcase how superior they are—these monstrous normies guilty of the grievous sins of “drank underage at a club one time” and “had a crush on a popular boy.” Each new male character of importance is introduced with a title card and lots of sparkles in color palettes that drain away whenever the plot decides it’s time to be Serious and Important, each of them as devoid of notable personality as they are of charm.

Their interactions are so brittle, so blatantly manufactured, that I was half expecting the twist to be that they were actually the villains of this series. But no, Butlers continued to punish me with their ongoing presence all the way up to the end credits, with the very real threat that I might have to see their unbearable faces and hear their insipid, mawkish pleasantries for another eleven episodes. Torture would be kinder.

As for the women, the script’s attitude can best be summed up as “Can you believe these dumb broads?” The indistinct chorus of female admirers constantly cut one another down as they ogle the male character du jour; when one girl actually gets a chance to confess to J, he leads her on before realizing she can’t get him closer to finding his sister, then turns on a dime and coldly rejects her. It’s fairly common to see shows about pretty male casts with hoards of female admirers, but they rarely feels so spiteful toward them.

Oh, and that missing sister? She’s an indistinct cipher who might as well be a cute kitten, given how little agency or personality she has outside of “being gone make J a sad.”

J walking through a party. caption: are you sure she wasn't just stupid?

By the time the show pulls its trump card and reveals that it was actually a supernatural fighting show all along, the only question I can muster is why. Why did you structure your episode toward a big reveal when you made your main character’s Tragic Past screamingly evident from the word “go”? Why do you think I want to spend time with a humorless asshole who has no charm or human warmth even in flashbacks and whose cadre of cohorts are the human embodiment of a root canal? Why do the writers think it’s charming to portray their target audience as bubbleheaded harpies? Why am I now 23 minutes and 35 seconds closer to the senseless demise that awaits us all?

Torture-porn-o-rama put in more effort than this. Try again.

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