How would you like to spend Christmas in a massive mansion with a butler and a maid at your service? You don’t have to cook since the maid serves delicious meals, plus she is beautiful and has taken quite a liking to you (guys, rejoice!), while the butler does all the cleaning! Wait, it gets better: you also don’t have to work since you’re a Duke and come from a wealthy family. What’s the catch, you ask? This is anime, so of course, there has to be at least one!
In The Duke of Death and His Maid, our main character, who is known simply as the Duke, has been cursed so that whatever he touches dies. A plant, for instance, will wither away even with one touch of his finger. To prevent any fatal accidents, he wears gloves and avoids contact with anyone beyond his mansion. This has led him to live a very lonely life since the day his mother, who rules the family with an iron fist, cast him away to live out his days alone. At first, he had multiple butlers and maids, but they all quit, except for Alice and Rob, the aforementioned help.
This Christmas Eve though, the Duke has decided to hold a small Christmas party with two friends, Cuff and Zain. They are magic users whom he met while searching for the cure to his curse. Viola, the Duke’s sister, also arrives with a gift for Rob the butler who she has quite a crush on. (It’s pretty creepy seeing such a young girl have feelings for a much older man, but we will leave that there for now.)
Antics abound throughout the day, with the usual flirtatious advances from Alice towards the Duke, while Zain tries to tempt the Duke into entertaining lustful thoughts of Alice and Cuff. Then Santa arrives unexpectedly, shocking Cuff who has always wanted to meet him! Unbeknownst to her, it’s only Walter, the Duke’s younger brother, in disguise, having followed Viola from their home. He complains that he isn’t next in line for the family fortune but the Duke doesn’t seem too bothered by it. He would rather everyone be united as a family.
The gang has a wonderful time playing cards and drinking champagne. As I watched everyone enjoying themselves to the sound of an anime-original Christmas tune, it gave me that warm feeling that I often get around this time of year. Being around friends and family is important during this season, as well as celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, but I can also relate to the Duke and the loneliness he feels at times throughout the series.
Because of his curse, the Duke has never had the kind of lavish, popular gatherings that his wealth and station should afford him. Instead, his Christmas celebration is more humble. My family is pretty small and I am an only child, like my mom. But we did have small gatherings when I was younger. Now, as a much older adult, I have a wife and son to spend the holidays with, but it’s usually just us. Our friends are with their own clan during this season, and none of our close family live nearby so our Christmas may not be the stereotypical grandiose family gathering, but we do our best to make it fun, just like the Duke.
Even though there were only six people (including Walter, the unexpected guest) at the Duke’s party, they made the most of it. It’s in these moments—when people are gathered together purposefully even though there aren’t many of them—that lasting memories are made.
We too have an unexpected guest who always joins us, even when we forget to send out his invitation! God himself, through His presence and His word, helps us get through the loneliness we may feel at times, with verses like this one below giving us comfort.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10
In those times when it’s just a small handful of us instead of that big happy group, or when it’s just us by ourselves, God does not leave us or forget about us, even if we have been quick to forget Him. During some of the loneliest times of my life, I can remember being in a quiet place in prayer, asking God to be with me as I dealt with difficult situations. Whenever I have asked for forgiveness or help, even though I am physically alone, I feel His presence in those moments as He gives me the strength and comfort to move forward.
If you are like the Duke, either by yourself or experiencing family issues at this time of the year, I encourage you, reader, to reach out to those that are close to you (preferably in person) and spend some time with them. Go out of your way to meet with them or even have Christmas dinner with their family. Maybe there’s a fun event you can go to with some friends during the festivities so that you aren’t just alone at home. Have fun, give God thanks for all He has given you, and make it a Christmas to remember!
This post is part of an annual series entitled, “The 12 Days of Christmas Anime.” Join us from December 14th through the 25th, as each day we examine an episode of anime (or sometimes a movie, manga, or light novel!) set at Christmastime and see what it brings to mind about the holiday as celebrate the birth of Christ, who was born to set us free.
The Duke of Death and His Maid can be streamed on Crunchyroll. Christmas comes in episode 9, “The Duke, Alice, and the Christmas Eve Vow”.