Butlers X Battlers – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Butlers: They are guardians that hold a thousand-year history and a certain fate. Jay lived in peace with his little sister Tenna and a fellow Butler named Hayakawa. However, those peaceful days came to a sudden end. Tenna was swallowed up into the void and Jay was sent a hundred years into the future. Jay finds there is now an academy called Koyomi Academy standing in the place where his mansion once stood. Jay took up the name Jinguji Koma and became the student council president of the school as he looks for clues about the past. Jay will eventually find out the truth behind this world. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Here we have another show that seems to me was the result of either a frenzied brainstorming session OR throwing darts on a board filled with popular cliches and tropes to pick the basic elements to form the story. We have handsome high school boys, we have butlers, we have combat…things that in all honesty, most of us might not have put together in one place, especially when all three words can describe the same character/characters. Butlers X Battlers starts off with a flashback; enough to let us know that our hero, J (yes he only gets an alphabet as a name for most of the show) has a younger sister who he is likely separated from. Then it’s on to the credits which starts with playful imagery of bishonen goofing around in a cafe then switches to more ‘dark’ imagery that further strengthens and teases the whole tragic sister story line from the beginning of the episode.
Butlers X Battlers then transitions into a school show where all the girls can’t stop drooling over J and his crew of other high school Bishonen types; the stoic hottie, the playful but smart tech wiz hottie, and finally, the tiny shota like hottie. The episode employs a classic, some would even say ridiculous, amount of sparkle and glitter to showcase and introduce our Bishonen characters, further cementing its pretty boy theme. We follow them around as they walk around school, get drooled over and even manage to ‘defeat’ a jilted classmate upset that he lost the school election to J and accuses J (falsely, of course) of spreading false rumours against him in order to win the election. Oh! That’s right; not only is our lead the hunk of his school and going to be eventually revealed to be a battling butler but he is also Student Council President. Could he BE any dreamier?
Butlers X Battlers all feels very generic pretty boy show for the first half of the series, which might confuse and/or bore more action oriented viewers considering the show has the word BATTLERS right in the title and unless you’d been paying close attention to the opening credit visuals, nothing else in the episode itself so far even remotely hints to any sort of combat besides the flinging of a few verbal insults. This feels like a bit of a misstep, in that the show has already made it clear that combat is going to be a huge part of its story through its title and credits, BUT then spends an inordinate amount of time parading the pretty boys around school. Whether this was an attempt to throw off the viewers for the sake of a shocking twist reveal, or just really plugging the Bishonen angle, I do not know. But for anyone who picked this up for the combat part, it may feel like a chore to sit through most of this first episode.
It also doesn’t help that the show throws pretty boy after pretty boy at you for a while; at a rate that’s more dizzying than appealing. Most of these pretty boys get little more than a name reveal and one or two set up lines as if the show is ensuring that any viewer watching will find atleast ONE pretty boy to gravitate to. It’s insane how many pretty boys this show wants to cram into its story within its very first episode. It also gives a lot of them nicknames like Holmes, Watson and Dracula; something that seemed a bit lazy to try to define your characters by just slapping on other famous names onto them.
The episode isn’t a complete snooze fest during its school based content though (despite all my ranting); slowly but surely introducing the fact that there’s more serious matters running through our hero, J’s mind as he asks his tech wiz hottie friend to look up someone in the school records using their positions as members of the school student council. This constant if a bit uneven tease of a much darker plot line should grab the attention of people who are already sucked in by all the pretty faces and will thus likely care about them and want to know more about them and whatever plot line the show has in store for them. But it also further brings out Butlers X Battlers’s ultimate appeal is its boys. If you don’t find them dreamy at all or don’t care for pretty anime boys, the plot progression and narration just isn’t tight enough to work on its own. There’s no real fight in it throughout the entire episode save for one quick showdown at the very extreme end that basically acts as the catalyst for the show. Also, as Butlers progresses, it becomes more and more clear that it has more tropes to throw at you in the form of a brother and sister pairing that’s not only going to be the reason of our hero’s battle but also gives off bro-con/sis-con vibes. The show just doesn’t do enough with its tropes to make them feel fresh or engaging enough to non Bishonen fans.
Is Butlers X Battlers for you? Yes, but ONLY IF pretty boys are one of your favourite anime tropes. If you take away the pretty boy aspect, you’re left with a show that’s got plenty of tropes and not enough narration and charm to make them feel intriguing and entertaining. It saves all of its action for a last minute reveal which would have worked if it wasn’t already very obvious from its title that it was coming. And it spends soo much time parading and jamming in as many pretty boys as it can in a school setting, making it feel like a show that just wants to flaunt its male characters in as many fantasy scenarios as possible rather than telling a convincing story. So let’s leave the Bishonen fans in peace to enjoy the newest show made just for them, and everyone else move onto shows better suited for our tastes.
Butlers X Battlers is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.