And here’s my final First Impression of the season! Apologies for the delay – nothing happened in Episode 1, so I needed to give it two episodes to have anything to say about this show.

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To capture the feeling of basically watching 2 episodes of nonstop character introductions, every screencap in this episode will just be a character picture. Her’s J (right, in blue jacket) and the Council….

At prestigious high school Koyomi Academy, the most popular student is a recent transfer named Jinguji Koma and nicknamed “J” or “J-sama”. Despite being new, he is elected as student council president and is admired by students and teachers both. In fact, the headmaster likes him so much, he allows the student council to operate out of a fancy abandoned mansion next to the school. Rounding out the student council along with J are the goofy and casual vice president, the fashionable and quiet treasurer, and the “cute” secretary who looks several years younger than he actually is and dresses vaguely like Kaito the Vocaloid.

Also popular in town is Tsubasa Hayakawa, the newest employee at the fancy Cafe de Vain. His skill, impeccable manners, and gorgeous owl-themed latte art have earned him plenty of female fans of his own. He also is accompanied by his own supporting cast, including the cafe’s easygoing manager Akira, a constantly class-cutting student nicknamed “Dracula,” and a pair of reporters for Koyomi Academy’s student newspaper who see themselves as great detectives and refer to one another as “Holmes” and “Watson”.

After a party to welcome the new student council, J confronts and attacks Hayakawa. He acknowledges that they are both BUTLERS, individuals with as of yet unspecified supernatural powers. Hayakawa was present when J’s younger sister Tenna mysteriously disappeared (or died? It was very unclear) and J blames Hayakawa for failing to protect her. However, Hayakawa refuses to speak with J and pretends not to know what he is talking about.

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…Hayakawa and Tenna…

The second episode begins with a flashback to Tenna’s disppearance. After touching her necklace, J and Hayakawa are suddenly transferred to Koyomi City 100 years in the future. J is taken in by Mikuni, the academy’s headmaster. Mikuni is surprisingly totally accepting of the fact that J has supernatural powers and comes from the past, and even does research to try to help him. However, while there is tons of information to be found about the BUTLERS themselves and their purpose (which was to protect a priestess called the Blood Spirit, implied to be Tenna) there are no records of what happened to Tenna or why the BUTLERS / Blood Spirit no longer exist in the current timeline.

Meanwhile, Hayakawa deals with a far more mundane plotline. A malicious article is published slandering Cafe de Vain and calling Hayakawa out for being a playboy, which causes the cafe to be shunned by all its regular customers. J pretends to have “heard the rumors” and sends the other student council members to the cafe to investigate. In truth, he (or rather, some students he hired to help) started the rumors with the goal of discrediting Hayakawa. However, the cafe’s manager presses the council members (and Dracula) into temporarily working as waiters, which foils J’s plan by restoring the cafe’s reputation and customer base. By the end of the episode, the council members have all developed a positive opinion regarding Hayakawa – and the vice president even begins to suspect that J was the one behind the rumors all along.

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….the newspaper reports, “Holmes” and “Watson”….

I think that that may just have been the shortest summary of a full two episodes that I have ever written for this blog. BUTLERS: Chitose Momotose Monogatari possesses one immediate, glaring flaw: it is INCREDIBLY slow paced. In fact, so little happened in the first episode that I felt I couldn’t even produce a proper review, and waited until a second had been released to write and post this First Impression. I get it, they’re trying to build suspense, trying to gradually introduce the supernatural / time travel element into the “everyday” world…but they’re doing it so slowly. Too slowly, I would say. Over the course of two episodes, we’ve only gotten a few brief flashbacks (entirely from J) about what happened to him and why he is there. I’d say each episode had no more than 5 minutes discussing / dealing with the supernatural/backstory stuff and the rest was all school hijinks. As someone who’s not a huge fan of the “school and daily life hijinks” genre, it definitely felt like a failure to strike an acceptable balance, and as a result the show did not keep my interest.

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….”Dracula” (did they ever explain why that was his nickname?)…

The other flaw I feel BUTLERS possesses is its characters. While no individual character is a particular problem, there are just simply far too many of them. Most of the first episode seemed to be spent introducing a vast cast composed entirely of male characters, each (supposedly) more attractive and (definitely) quirky than the last. We’ve got the four Student Council members, the headmaster, Hayakawa, his manager, the workers at the school newspaper, the class-hating “Dracula,” a mysterious guy who wears a black cape and talks to plants, and even a few more that will appear later if the OP is to be believed. I think there might have been a time, a while ago, when I would have fawned over a show like this. Tons of attractive guys! In either suits or suit-like school uniforms! Working at a cafe where they call women “miss” and “my lady” and compliment them at every turn! And I do think there will be fans who like this aspect of BUTLERS, but for me…I guess I wish they had just focused on a smaller number of characters and developed them more instead of introducing the cast herd all at once.

I will say that I think the aesthetics of this show are really nice. The outfits on the characters are a bit over the top but still extremely sharp-looking. Some of the guys do manage to be genuinely attractive, especially the cafe manager Akira and the quiet Student Council member with the long hair. (I think his name was Ren?) The location design / background art is top notch, with the cafe especially coming across as very cute and the food looking good enough to eat! My favorite character by far was also the cute owl who lived in the cafe and seemed to be its mascot. Owls are great, and not an animal you see a lot of in anime, so that was a nice touch.

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….this guy, who talks to plants and has a name that I forgot…

I get where BUTLERS is trying to go with its premise, really, I do. Everyday life with a mysterious supernatural backstory gradually becoming revealed is a totally valid storytelling tactic. In fact, a story about two men sent 100 years into the future due to a devastating accident sounds, on the surface, like something I would love to watch. However, I really feel that the story this show is trying to tell is getting lost in the slow pace, over-emphasis on “hijinks,” and overly large cast. I bet there will be a lot of people who really enjoy this show but, as for me, it unfortunately just feels like 40 minutes I’ll never get back.

Out of 5 Dios:

dio

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…and finally Akira, the cafe manager. (I skipped the headmaster, oops. Just imagine any brown-haired anime guy with glasses and you got him.)