Alternative title: Shinigami Bocchan to Kuro Maid
Manga Adaptation by J.C.Staff
Streaming on Funimation
A young duke, known to us simply as Bocchan, was cursed by a witch when he was just a child. As a result, anything he touches dies. Though his family has abandoned him, he’s served by his ever-loyal maid Alice, who enjoys nothing more than teasing the easily-flustered duke.
Euri’s verdict: Edging close to something interesting
The Duke of Death and his Maid is one of those strange shows that treads a very fine line for me. Episode one dives straight into the boob jokes, including a very telling introduction to the titular maid, which is very quick to set off the ‘not for me’ alarms. But admittedly, as the show progresses, Alice’s teasing of the Duke becomes considerably more endearing.
As slow paced as this episode is, there’s no denying that it does a pretty excellent job of conveying just how lonely the Duke is. He was cursed by a witch for seemingly no reason, and is subsequently abandoned by everyone he loves beyond his maid and butler. The scene on the swing when he accidentally touches and kills the tree its attached to is heart-breaking, and paints a great picture of how painful his life has been since receiving the curse. On the other side of things, we see his power strike fear into his visitors later in the episode.
Alice isn’t much of a focus in this intro episode, but we do learn enough to know that she has feelings for the Duke, despite his curse. Her constant teasing of him made my eyes roll early on, but as we saw more of his backstory and how the curse has affected his life, it became hard not to come around on it. Of course, it helps massively here that both of them are adults, both have feelings for each other and nothing so far has been mean. Most importantly, the Duke literally cannot become close to another because of the curse – Alice knows this, and despite the risks makes a point of getting considerably closer to him. It stands in defiance of his curse, and also has the benefit of teasing the Duke, which she’s obviously also into.
This show is a J.C.Staff work, and it’s very reminiscent of the look they gave High Score Girl – both in background art, 3D style and oddly-animated mouths. Not a deal breaker by any means, but it becomes one of those odd shows that looks better in stills than it does in motion at points.
The big question, of course, is whether this show can go the distance. Even with a change of opinion regarding Alice’s habitual invasion of the Duke’s personal space, flustering him by getting him up close will get stale fast. There’s promise in exploring both of their backstories, and whether there’s anything the duo can actively do about the curse, but the frequency of moments revolving around Alice being a bit lewd could easily wear thin.
All in all, The Duke of Death and his Maid was a surprise for me, as it managed to pull together an interesting story after the boob-barrage in the early scenes. I’m almost certainly not going to keep up with it, but if it ends up anything like the aforementioned High Score Girl, it might be better suited to bingeing once the entire season is out.