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Black Butler: The Complete Second Season (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 23, 2012 by  



More exciting than the first season…  If you are looking for an anime series that is dark, violent but also has enough humor,  “Black Butler: The Complete Second Season”, along with the first season, are recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Black Butler: The Complete Second Season

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2010

DURATION: 12 episodes + 6 OAV episodes (450 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: April 3, 2012

Originally created by Yana Toboso

Directed by Hirofumi Ogura

Series Composition by Mari Okada

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design by Minako Shiba

Art Direction by Manabu Otsuzuki

Anime Productions by A-1 Pictures Inc.

Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Ono/J. Michael Tatum as Sebastian Michaelis

Maaya Sakamoto/Brina Palencia as Ciel Phantomhive

Nana Mizuki/Luci Christian as Alois Trancy

Takahiro Sakurai/Jason Douglas as Claude Faustus

Aya Hirano/Caitlin Glass as Hannah Anafeloz

Jun Fukuyama/Daniel Fredrick as Grell Sutcliff

Junichi Suwave/John Swasey as Undertaker

Emiri Kato/Monica Rial as Meirin

Hiroki Touchi/Ian Sinclair as Bard (Bardroy)

When last we saw dear Sebastian, he was poised to feast on the ripened soul of his young master. Unfortunately for the debonair demon, there’s a new butler in town…

Enter Claude Faustus, a malevolent manservant uninspired by the drab flavor of his own contracted master, Alois Trancy. This pedestrian lad holds no allure for Claude, so the bespectacled butler sets his sights on a finer delicacy from the menu of the damned: none other than Ciel Phantomhive. And so begins a devilish dance of death starring crow and spider.

The demonic duel rages beyond the limits of good taste, culminating in a debaucherous maze of madness pitting butler against butler. Sebastian and Claude: two ravenous rakehells filled with the power of darkness and locked in a macabre battle for the soiled soul of the young master they so long to savor/devour.

This limited edition includes an artbox sized to hold both this set and the season 1 DVD/Blu-ray combo pack.

In 2006, mangaka Yana Toboso (“Rust Blaster”) began working on his second manga that year for Square Enix’s “Monthly GFantasy” magazine. The series nown as “Kuroshitsuji” (Black Butler) would receive a large fanbase due to its bishounen characters.

By 2008, “Black Butler” would receive an anime adaptation featuring production by A-1 Pictures (“Tetsuwan Birdy: Decode”, “El Cazador de la Bruja”, “Valkyria Chronicles”) directed by Shinohara Toshiya (“Lupin III: Crisis in Tokyo”, “Gurren Lagann”, “Samurai Deeper Kyo”), a screenplay by Mari Okada “CANAAN”, “Aria the Natural”, “Red Garden”, “PoPoLoCrois”), music by Taku Iwasaki (“Angel Heart”, “R.O.D. – The TV”, “Soul Eater”), character designs by Minako Shiba (“.Hack/Sign”, “Letter Bee”, “Madlax”) and art direction by “Hiromasa Ogura” (“Ghost Hound”, “Aquarian Age”, “Appleseed”). The opening theme “Monochrome Kiss” is by SID and the ending theme “I’m Alive” is by BECCA.

And since the release of the original manga series and anime series, the popularity of “Black Butler” has led to a musical, drama CD’s, a video game and books have been released in Japan.

While the manga is still ongoing in Japan, the anime series has continued with two full seasons at 48 episodes long and now both seasons are being released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

What is “Black Butler” about?

“Black Butler” takes place in London (during the Victorian Era) and revolves around a 12-year-old named Ciel Phantomhive, who is from the Phantomhive noble family who is known for their toy and candy empire. A long time ago, Ciel used to be a happy boy but his happiness was destroyed when someone murdered his family.

Now Ciel wants to find the killers of his family and makes an exchange with a demon for his soul. He wants vengeance on those who disgraced him or the Phantomhive name and to find and kill the murderers of his family.

The demon approves and to stay close with Ciel, the demon Sebastian Michaelis will become his butler and protect him. But once Ciel’s duties are done as upon their agreement, Sebastian will be able to take his soul and kill him.

Black Butler Season 2

The first season concluded with Sebastian taking Ciel’s soul as agreed.  And the new season begins with butler Claude Faustus who works for the spoiled and vulgar Earl Alois Trancy.  We learn that Earl Alois Trancy is a bit evil to his servants, sticking his finger in the eye for one of his maids and also showing his lack of care for anyone in the world but himself and his butler Claude.

Meanwhile, his uncle Arnold Trancy, the Viscount of Druitt, suspects Alois’s legitimacy as the former head’s son and we learn that Alois had a traumatic childhood in which he was kidnapped at birth and sent to slavery.  Alois was the only survivor of a plague that spread throughout the village he lived.

Meanwhile, that night, a cloaked man carrying a trunk comes to the mansion of Earl Alois Trancy and Alois desperately wants to know what is inside the trunk.   Sebastian makes a deal with Alois that if Alois shows him a special black tea box inside the mansion’s basement, he will show him what is inside the trunk.  But immediately, Claude attacks Sebastian and during the melee, it is revealed that Ciel Phantomhive is inside the trunk.

Alois wants Ciel Phantomhive, meanwhile Sebastian manages to escape with the special black tea box and his trunk.  Inside the tea box is a blue ring, which Sebastian places on Ciel’s finger and immediately Ciel has been revived.

As the story progresses, we learn that Sebastian was not able to consume Ciel’s soul as originally planned in the contract, because Claude Faustus was able to snatch Ciel’s soul before Sebastian.

And now, because of this…there is unfinished business between Sebastian and Ciel, but most importantly between the two butler demons, Sebastian and Claude.  Meanwhile, Alois continues his pursuit of capturing Ciel.

So, you get all 12 TV episodes of “Black Butler” season two and also six OVA’s featuring more lighthearted, upbeat, humorous episodes revolving Ciel and Sebastian, Elizabeth, Bardroy, Spears and Grell and Alois Trancy and his butler Claude.

The main characters of “Black Butler” are:

  • Sebastian Michaelis – The butler for Ciel Phantomhive and also a demon who will protect Ciel until he accomplishes his task to help Ciel find who murdered his parents and avenge the Phantomhive name. When all tasks are accomplished, as agreed by his contract with Ciel Phantomhive, he will take his soul and kill him. Sebastian has taken the form of the previous Earl, Vincent Phantomhive. Although he protects Ciel, the two have an uneasy relationship as they don’t care for each other all that much.
  • Ciel Phantomhive – Once a happy boy who’s life was changed when his family was murdered. Now that he is older, he tries to avenge his family’s name and search for his parent’s killer by taking part in a contract with a demon (Sebastian). The demon will protect Ciel by pretending to be a butler, but once all duties are accomplished, he will consume Ciel’s soul. Ciel has lost his eye when he was a slave and was used as a sacrifice in a cult ritual. He has become a cold person since his family’s death.
  • Bardroy (Bard) – The American cook who uses weaponry to make the food for the household, despite not making anything edible.
  • Finnian (Finny) – The clumsy gardener who has superhuman strength.
  • Mey-Rin – The clumsy maid who wears cracked glasses because it’s the first gift Ciel had purchased for her. She has a big crush on Sebastian.
  • Tanaka – The steward who has served under Ciel’s parents and now serves Ciel. When his parents were murdered, Tanaka was there and was stabbed in the back.
  • Madame Red – The aunt of Ciel, she is a doctor who practices at Royal London Hospital. But when she was pregnant, she was in an accident in which her husband was killed and the baby died. So now she feels hatred towards those she performs abortions on and kills them along with the grim reaper named Grell Sutcliffe. Together, they are known as Jack the Ripper.
  • Grell Sutcliffe – A grim reaper who decides if a dying sould should be allowed to continue living, Grell is a gay man who calls himself a woman and is infatuated with Sebastian. He murders people alongside Madame Red.
  • Earl Alois Trancy – Kidnapped at birth and later becoming a slave, Alois Trancy had suffered major trauma as he was sexually abused by his father.  He has a contract with demon butler Claude.  Alois has been after Sebastian and Ciel as Claude had told him that Sebastian destroyed the village he lived in under the orders of his master, Ciel.
  • Claude Faustus – A demon butler who is a perfectionist.  He has a contract with Alois Trancy.  Claude also has an interest in Ciel’s soul and it is revealed in season two that he had snatched Ciel before Sebastian could consume him.
  • Hannah Annafellows – Alois’ maid and servant, who is constantly mistreated by Alois.  She is revealed to be a demon who has a contract with someone that Alois knows quite well.

VIDEO

“Black Butler” is a violently, dark and bloody anime. Anime production by A-1 Pictures, Inc. is well done as artistic backgrounds of London during the Victorian Era is painted with great shadowing and the action sequences are also well-done as we get several styles which include a serious to more fun and hilarious style of animation.  The second season is a bit dark, as Alois is a vulgar individual who does some really bad things to his maid Hannah Annafellows (ie. gouging her eye with his finger) while blood drips.  So, there are short moments of bloody violence.

What I enjoy about the series are the overall character designs and the costume designs. The series is very bishounen-driven but its combination of themes that are dark and hilarious actually work quite well for “Black Butler”. Also, the second season does benefit from being made two years later than the first season and there are good amount of details on the characters and art background.  But it’s important for people to know that this is a TV series, so the softness that usually appears on TV series can be seen in “Black Butler: The Complete Second Season”.  Neverless, for a TV Series on Blu-ray, the second season of “Black Butler” looks very good in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, you get a English Dolby TrueHD Audio 5.1 mix and Japanese Dolby TrueHD Audio 2.0 mix. Typically, I listen to the Japanese soundtrack but in this case, because it takes place in the Victorian era, the English voice dub and accents are done very well. The voice talent for the English dub have said that “Black Butler” is one of the most challenging anime series as the voice talent had to perfect their spoken dialect and it does give the series its own personal feel and for the most part, it works. There is also a bit more of a dynamic range when it comes to the English lossless track.

The Japanese soundtrack is also very well done especially when it comes to the more emotional moments, the voice acting is stellar. But the English dub has the advantage because of it’s 5.1 mix but if you prefer to watch it in Japanese or English, both soundtracks are excellent and should appeal to Sub/Dub anime fans.

Subtitles are in English but you are unable to switch the subtitles on or off.  When you click on the Japanese lossless soundtrack, then you will get the English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Black Butler: The Complete Second Season” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Luci Christian (voice of Alois) and Jason Douglas (voice of Clause Faustus).
  • Episode 12 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Brina Palencia (Ciel) and J. Michael Tatum (voice of Sebastian).
  • OAV 3 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ian Sinclair (ADR Director and voice of Baldroy).
  • Outtakes – (3:20) Featuring the audio flubs by the English voice talent.
  • U.S. Season 1 Trailer – (1:02) Season 1 FUNimation Entertainment trailer.
  • U.S. Season 2 Trailer – (1:32) Season 2 FUNimation Entertainment trailer.
  • Becca Musician Profile – A text info. on BECCA
  • Textless Opening Song – Featuring the opening theme “Shiver” by The GazettE.
  • Textless Closing Theme Song – Featuring the ending theme “Bird” by Yuya Matsushita and “Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni Wa” by Kalafina.

EXTRAS:

“Black Butler: The Complete Second Season” comes with a slipcase which fits both “Black Butler” season one and two Blu-ray cases.

Butler Demon Sebastian Michaelis vs. Butler Demon Claude Faustus, Ciel Phantomhive vs. Earl Alois Trancy…. Total opposites from each other, both having suffered tragedy but this time around, both Sebastian and Ciel are the hunted and Alois and his butler Claude will do whatever they can to get his revenge!

There is no doubt that “Black Butler” has a strong fan following and is a different kind of anime series that most people are used to watching. For one, it deals with the occult and it does have its share of dark, violent moments but the series itself thrives on its darkness and humor. And for many of the female fans, it’s strong bishounen character designs.

The storyline for “Black Butler” is quite dark and like the first season, there is quite a bit of violence and blood featured. While the first season had a good number of upbeat moments, the second season of “Black Butler” has a more brooding theme, darker situation as so many things are revealed in regards to Ciel and also Alois, especially more that revolves around their backstory and also in regards to Sebastian and Claude.    In someways, the two are like each other’s doppelganger but  yet they are completely different in personality.

As the season does feature more darker episodes (I found the second season much more entertaining), fans who want the upbeat and humorous episodes will get them as there are six OVA’s included with the 12-episodes.  For example, the first OVA is like a “Black Butler” meets “Alice in Wonderland”, OVA 2 revolves the residents of the Phantomhive Estate in a role playing game style of episode, OVA 3 features Bardroy narrating a behind-the-scenes of “Black Butler” as if it was an actual movie set, OVA 4 returns to the “Alice in Wonderland” storyline, OVA 5 features Spears and Grell training to be grim reaper recruits and OVA 6 features Alois Trancy wanting Claude to fill his room with flowers and finding a way to keep a butterfly from leaving.

The character designs, the art design are very well-done for “Black Butler” and as mentioned, the detail is well-done for this second season but for a TV series, also incorporates the softness as expected from a TV series on Blu-ray.  As for the special features,  you do get several audio commentary tracks and also the audio flubs.   And as far as acting is concerned, the Japanese soundtrack is very good but I really have to commend the voice talent of “Black Butler” for pulling off the dialects, as I have seen many anime series that tend to fail. So, fortunately, the English dub was well-done.

Overall, “Black Butler: The Complete Second Season” is a much more exciting, darker season than the first.  I do enjoy the battling demon butlers and to see Sebastian and Ciel become the hunted and seeing how the overall storyline manages to conclude with a major twist and an ending that I never expected to happen.

If you are looking for an anime series on Blu-ray that is a bit dark and has it’s crazy moments, both seasons of “Black Butler” are worth recommending!






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