Recently I've been on a bit of a Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) kick, so I hunted down the OVAs for the second season, which are included on the Japanese releases of the DVDs, as a way to entice buyers to get them. There's a strange parallel between the West and Japan. In Japan, anime is ridiculously expensive (something like £70 for a 3 episode DVD apparently), and manga is really cheap (around £3-£5 per volume). In the West, anime DVDs can be found cheap (well, sometimes), and yet manga gets a little bit more expensive as the years go by. So, of course, the DVD companies need a way of getting that money from DVD sales to combat piracy. Male otaku are given the promise of uncensored ta-tas and muff in series like Manyu Hikencho and Seikon no Qwaser, whereas fujoshi have the promise of extra OVAs and included drama CDs, I guess.
The first few OVAs included with the second season DVDs weren't really worth writing home about. Oh, they're a funny twist on the formula of the series, yes, but the Ciel in Wonderland two-parter, the rather extraneous Welcome to the Phantomhives short in which everything is shot from a visitor (AKA the viewer)'s point of view, and The Making of Black Butler II, which imagines all the characters as modern actors filming the series... I don't know, I enjoyed them at least? D:
However, that all changed when I started watching the fifth and sixth OVA. I think these are by far the best of the bunch, but I've yet to watch the final one.
The fifth OVA is called The Tale of William the Reaper, and concerns Grell and Will giving some rookie Grim Reapers a tour around their workplace and reminiscing back to when they first started. Grell used to be rather snotty, and Will was quite focused but earned a lower grade overall. Their final exam to become fully-fledged Grim Reapers is to follow around a human for a week or two until his date of death, and see if they can handle reaping his soul when that time comes.
Their target is a Bristolian living in late 1700s London called Thomas Wallis, who works hard in the printing press all day, and then goes home and stays up late writing. Will and Grell introduce themselves, but Thomas believes they're just actors. But, inspiration hits him and he starts writing a story about a Grim Reaper who falls in love with a human girl. When she dies unexpectedly, he appeals to the God of the Underworld to have her soul restored, but only if he agrees to take her place. Whilst rushing to the publishers to get his novel printed, Thomas is hit by a carriage and dies.
Will and Grell have an argument about whether or not his soul should be spared because he could potentially make a difference to this world, but after Grell gets a taste of his own medicine and falls in love with Will in the process, they eventually realise that Thomas probably won't make a change to the world, and work together as a team to reap his soul, which is fighting to stay alive. With their exam passed, they go to get their glasses customised as a rite of passage. William chooses function, and Grell chooses style.
This OVA was pretty good. It was cool to see the world of the Grim Reapers, and how they actually work... while the animation was a bit bare at times, fans of William and Grell should be pleased with this tale of how they started working together. Plus it's the only time you'll ever see Grell with short hair. And in what appears to be piratical dress. ;P
The sixth OVA... well, it's a continuation of 'Alois' life sucks, boo hoo, what a tragedy'. AKA 70% of the second season of the anime. Alois captures a birdwing butterfly, but he rips off one of its wings in a rage. He then muses on how he wants to do the same to Claude, rip off one of his wings so that he can forever be caught in his web. He asks Claude to put it in a birdcage decorated with roses so his new pet can recover, but pre-eye-gouged Hannah later suggests using bluebells rather than roses, which makes Alois cry because it reminded him too much of Luca.
Alois then berates the triplet servants for speaking amongst themselves. (Since he gouged out Hannah's eye in the first episode because she had the temerity to look at him, goodness knows what he'd have done to the triplets had he been in a foul mood.) However, in a rather comedic moment, the triplets are revealed to be completely annoying gossips, so Alois tells them to shut up again.
After that, we have a few moments in which Claude is completely evil. Talking about how he wants a soul with more passion whilst running Alois' bath, physically threatening Hannah ('You're nothing but a sheath for Leviathan.') when she tells him not to hurt Alois anymore, and remaining rather phlegmatic to a screaming, terrified Alois when he accidentally starts a fire trying to cremate the butterfly. And then completely fucking creepy when he tries to cheer Alois up before bed and decides the best thing he can do is mess around and make his eyes look comically big with a pair of Harry Potter glasses. Well, that turned me into 'Claude really cares about Alois' believer!
The ending has quite a little bit of atmosphere and nicely references the beginning of the OVA, as Alois says he's now the butterfly caught in Claude's web. Well, who'd have thought a young, delicious, ripe soul like Alois' would ever get ensnared by a spider demon? Well, if said soul was stupid enough to sign a ridiculously complex contract with Claude just like his little brother did with Hannah, I guess.
These are indeed the best two OVAs of the second season's septet. One is light-hearted and for the fans, and the other is really quite dark and full of misery.
So, two fairly good OVAs for Kuroshitsuji fans everywhere. Let's hope the manga continues the dark and dramatic tale of a boy and his demon butler for a few more years to come.