With its deliciously dark overtones and black humour, the first series of Kuroshitsuji was possibly my favourite anime of the Fall 2008 season. At the announcement of a sequel featuring a brand new master and butler, I was concerned that the franchise was merely milking the bishie fangirl cow. Sadly, it seems my fears were justified.
More erratic than a Jackson Pollack painting, the beginning of Kuroshitsuji II doesn’t attempt to make any sense. The first episode starts out well enough with the introduction of two new antagonists: the utterly hateful little shit, Alois Trancy, and the tedious Sebastian-clone, Claude. Then halfway through, a familiar face returns and it feels like a gripping tale of rivalry, hatred and nefarious scheming is about to commence. Unfortunately with the beginning of the second episode, that hope and expectation gets unceremoniously lined up in front of a firing squad and ruthlessly shot through the eyeballs. Instead of continuing with the initial intriguing plotline, Kuro II ignores Alois and Claude, choosing instead to go on a picnic with the cast of series one – after all, why bother with narrative or explanation when we can have Sebastian whipping up a tower of food in the middle of a field?
The next few episodes fare little better and consist of short storylines where Ciel and Sebastian deal with another mysterious incident in that flamboyant way that only a butler of the Phantomhive family can. Vague hints as to the connection between Ciel and Alois occasionally worm their way into these tales, but with no explanation as to the events of the series’ opening, it’s almost impossible to follow how these anecdotes fit into the timeline of events. Episode two skips around with its fingers in its ears yelling “LA LA LA” pretending that the end of series one never happened and happily ignoring the two new antagonists. This makes it unclear whether these stories follow on chronologically from the opener or if they actually take place during the previous season. While entertaining enough and perfect for swooning over bishies, the disjointed nature of the show’s first third leads to frustration for those that care about plot.
Luckily, not all is lost as the middle finally leaps into action and explains what’s actually going on while providing plenty of wet bishounen action to dampen any fangirl’s panties. After wading through the filler-esque beginning, Kuro II’s central plotline emerges spectacularly from its cocoon to reveal a glorious butterfly – albeit slightly deformed with mismatched wings and a limp. The fundamental conflict remains solid with themes of betrayal, conniving conspiracy and the no holds-barred battle over Ciel’s soul, and there are twists and turns aplenty – but that’s just the problem. Sure the narrative gets shaken up more than one of James Bond’s martinis, but instead of the suave agitation of a seasoned bartender, the show behaves more like a frenzied rookie desperate to impress the infamous 007 only to end up spilling gin all over his crotch.
Furthermore, the second half gets more complex without allowing enough time for it all to sink in. Like a good wine, any decent rivalry needs some time to breathe, but the antagonism between the Phantomhive and Trancy households receives barely any build-up before the main clash between Ciel and Alois. As such, the bout loses some of its fizz, gradually getting flatter by the minute when followed by an episode of backstory. This then leaves a measly four installments to bring out the meaty part of the tale, with a mere five minutes dedicated to the final fight. Considering how little happens in the first half of the series, this is not enough to do the story any justice.
As the strongest part of the series, Kuro II’s visuals brilliantly set the mood for the story. Muted colours and darker hues cast an ominous shadow over the brightness of the nobility’s grandeur, beautifully conveying the narrative’s content. Coupled with smooth and crisp movement, the visage is delightful to gaze upon. The anime generally integrates CG well, though the digitally animated horse drawn carriages look awkward and out of place.
Meanwhile, the show’s many bishounen characters are particularly drool-worthy, and with the two butlers striking many a stunning pose, there’s certainly no shortage of eye-candy.
While the opening and ending themes are rather nondescript, Kuro II’s background music fits the series’ dark, yet genteel nature well. With a dramatic theme for several of the battles between Claude and Sebastian heavily borrowing from the third movement of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ summer concerto, and haunting orchestral and operatic melodies, the musical score perfectly sets the scene for the plot’s developments.
Daisuke Ono reprises his role as Sebastian with a voice like slick butter seeping down your ears tickling the very pleasure centre of every girl’s brain. The rest of the Japanese seiyuu give vocal performances that are just as strong with Jun Fukuyama’s showy Grell, Takahiro Sakurai’s deadpan Claude, and Nana Mizuki’s ideally spoilt Alois all making up a stellar cast.
Not since Miu from Strawberry Marshmallow (or that annoying sniffy kid sitting beside me when I went to see the last Harry Potter film) have I wanted to claw out the eyes of a child so badly. Alois Trancy became one of my most despised anime characters within five minutes and now reigns supreme over all the other irksome twats on my hated list. The selfish, sadistic little turd has zero redeeming features and his general arseholery nullifies any sympathy that his tragic past would otherwise generate. That being said, the fact that he manages to provoke such an extreme reaction means that his characterisation as an antagonist deserves some praise as he certainly makes an impression.
Sadly, the same can’t quite be said for Claude who, as a more uptight and anal version of Sebastian, initially demonstrates as much originality as your average amoeba. As one of the series’ primary antagonists, the Sebasti-clone never fully endears himself to the viewer – though I’m sure plenty SebxClaude shippers would vehemently argue to the contrary.
As for the returning cast members, little has changed from the first season. Grell remains as clingy and lovestruck as ever when it comes to Sebastian and the flamboyant floozy serves as the primary source of blatant fangirl fodder as he squeals in orgasmic ecstasy each time the sultry butler strikes a pose. However, Kuro II’s best character development gets reserved for Ciel and Sebastian and the trials and changes their relationship undergoes throughout. Far from the close-knit and trust-filled bonds of series one, the duo face nefarious schemes intended to tear them apart, and seeing how the pair fare on their own certainly makes for an intriguing change of pace.
Despite its encouraging components, Kuroshitsuji II fails to make good on its promise. Instead the series wastes time with pointless filler-like episodes when it should be building suspense. It has its moments and can still provide some good entertainment, but for fans of the first series it will likely prove a let-down.
I immediately rushed into this anime after finishing the first season. I was absolutely shocked by how much I enjoyed the first season of Black Butler. I had heard that the second season was even better, so I was really looking forward to watching it and enjoying myself further, but I'm sorry to say that I found this season hard to finish...
The story follows young Ciel Phantomhive who is about to get his soul eaten by his demon butler Sebastian, except his soul seems to be missing. Sebastian tracks it down and finds another demon butler named Claude and his master, Alois. Claude becomes enchanted with Ciel's soul, too, and the two demons fight over who will ultimately be able to devour it.
Also, heads up: I hated the ending. I actually hated it.
The animation was just as solid as the first one, except I was not super thrilled with how similar Claude looked to Sebastian. Maybe this was done on purpose (I'm sure it was), but it just took away from the animation, in my opinion. The only new character whose animation I liked was the other demon servant, Hannah. Other than that, everything was the same as the first and the animation was just fine.
The sound was, once again, okay. At least this time the OP and EP matched the theme and atmosphere of the anime, which was nice. I didn't mind the new voice actors at all, but I'm still just not the biggest fan of dubbed anime.
The characters were kind of awful, to be honest. I really didn't like Claude at all. What a boring and terrible villain. I expected more of him, which might be why he fell flat for me. The first season had such interesting villains, but this season was just so boring in that department. I was also really over Alois after episode three or so, to be honest. The only one who had any worth or was even the least bit interesting was Hannah, and she didn't get as much screen time in the beginning as I would have liked. Even the characters I loved last season didn't feel as well-developed or exciting this season. Absolutely everything just felt so dull and uninspired.
Overall..I wish I had skipped the second season. The first season left everything wrapped up smoothly and I should have let Black Butler end there for me.
My personal enjoyment of this was very low. I really wouldn't recommend it unless the ending of the first season left you unhappy. If you liked the first season and if you liked how everything could've ended really cleanly, then don't watch this. Let it end there.
Story: Season one was disappointing so I intetionally did not intend on watching season two. However, I read the manga (which is actually good) and I missed seeing Sebastian. Therefore, I decided to watch season II. I should have known better. The plot is scattered and haphazard. It felt like it was all over the pace and pacing was not good to say the least. I had low expectations to start out and it didn't even meet those. The positive aspects of season one was the dark humour and interesting premise (although it fell flat). This didn't have much humour and the premise was....mediocre compared to the first. In exchange, there is much, much more fanservice for both guys and girls. I mean blatant fanservice which borderlines ecchi. In addition, it is much more grotesque and has much more violence and cringe worthy scenes. In addition, the ending was bad. I though the first ending was bad but that holds no comparision to this. All in all, you have pretty people to look at with little humour. It's a different kind of fanservice but it doesn't offer much else.
Animation: The animation still holds par to season one. The scenery is beautiful. There is nice attentiona to detail. Thre is a pleathora of bishounen and an addition of Hannah to add a pretty female to look at. However, the movements tend to be awkward. The opening and ending sequence are alright. Nothiing spectacular but nice to look at.
Sound: I really enjoyed the soundtrack for season II as I liked the soundtrack for season I. The opening and ending pieces were nice. Daisuke Ono's does a wonderful job again. Overall, the seiyuu's did a great job. Since Elizabeth's role was smaller, I didn't have to listen to her irritating voice as much.
Characters: Subpar at best. The development was all over the place along with their emotions. I just didn't understand what their angle was. Simply put, the characters didn't make much sense. I just became annoyed with the bunch of them. There just isn't much there.
Overall: Nice animation and sound can only make up for so much when there is too many bad plot elements and characters. So watch it for the: pretty people, fanservice, soundtrack, and Sebastian because you're not going to get much else.
Critic's Log - Earthdate: May 3, 2013. Review #45: Black Butler II (Kuroshitsuji II)
Whenever I review something, I usually don't demand anything. I just sit down and try to enjoy a show as much as I can. While I am watching an anime, I keep a handy journal in my hand and a pencil in the other hand, after I am done viewing the show. I then evaluate the show with whatever I marked down and I then count up all the scores and then I give my rating. Please keep in mind that all my reviews are solely based on opinion and not fact. I try to be as honest as possible as I can while I review an anime. Please be assured that I am not extremely harsh towards someone for liking a show I don't think is great. I will admit that I believe that there are some animes that really do stand out from the average anime, Such examples are
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
and Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Don't know what Legend of the Galactic Heroes is? Expect me to go over that one soon.
You can agree with me if you'd like, but you don't have to completely agree with everything I say. Assuming that you're an anime fan, I am a fan of anime too, I have just as much fun watching a show and I take the time to write these reviews and post them for you to enjoy before you watch a show as well as after you watch the show I reviewed. Honesty is key for me, because if I wasn't being completely honest when reviewing a show, what kind of anime critic would I be? With that said, allow me to be of great service to you while I review Black Butler II (Kuroshitsuji II)
In late-nineteenth century England, one year and three months after the dramatic events that took place in the first season of Black Butler, Black Butler II introduces a new butler and a new young master. The sadistic yet cheerful Alois Trancy has went through hell. He was kidnapped as a baby, and was forced to work in a village as a slave. Gradually, he lost his parents, his best friend, and everyone he knew. Alois eventually returned home and became the head of his mansion, but seemed to exhibit some strange behavior ever since. Even more curiously, he returned with Claude Faustus, an enigmatic, emotionless butler with unfathomable talent...
To be technical, this is an A-1 Pictures production and just like the first season, they do not disappoint in the art department except that they did take some shortcuts that are painfully obvious and I hate to say this but the first season is a bit better in the animation department. I don't have much to say regarding the animation here.
The music by Taku Iwasaki is fitting in the show but isn't as memorable as the first season, there is not much to say about this either. It's a soundtrack that doesn't have much to offer I guess.
When it comes to voice acting, The Japanese Cast is pretty good. Daisuke Ono is terrific as Sebastian just like the first season. Maaya Sakamoto is also terrific as Ciel Phantomhive. As far the new faces being voiced, Nana Mizuki is pretty good as Alois Trancy and Takahiro Sakurai is pretty damn good as Claude Faustus. Also, Aya Hirano is in this and she plays Hannah. Jun Fukuyama proves in this show again that he is delightfully terrific in the show as Grell Sutcliff. As far as the English Dub goes. J. Michael Tatum proves once again that he is one hell of a voice actor as Sebastian. Brina Palencia is pretty good as Ciel Phantomhive. As for the new faces being voiced, Luci Christian plays a pretty good Alois Trancy, here's a voice you might not be too familiar is Jason Douglas. He voices Claude in this show, if you want to know what role he played that got him pretty good recognition in anime dubs was his role as Lord Ilpalazzo in Excel Saga. He does play Claude very well. Here's a surprise, Hannah was voiced by Caitlin Glass in the dub and I didn't know it was her until I looked up the dub cast. Then of course we got Daniel Frederick's delightfully fun performance as Grell Sutcliff. This show is pretty good on either version.
I already mentioned that the animation and music is great as well as the voice acting on either side is great as well, Well that's where the show is only good for because everything that the first season was decent for went totally wrong in this second season. First off are the three new characters. Alois Trancy's backstory was ok but I really hate this brat. He comes off to me as some bratty spoiled kid that I just want to beat the shit out of. Secondly, we get Claude Faustus (The Trancy Butler) He comes off to me as a rather bland adversary to Sebastian and there's really not a whole lot of redeeming quality for him, which is kind of a damn shame for this anime, and then there's the other butler Hannah who I find severely underdeveloped and uninteresting in the whole bunch throughout the whole show. I know I may be nitpicking, but these new faces did not improve the series up one step, instead they bogged the show down in expectations,
If there is a major disappointment with Black Butler II, it is the story. The writing is half-assed, as well as being poorly directed by Hirofumi Ogura. the story goes nowhere at certain points and it can be quite boring from time to time. I actually found the story decent in the first season, but Black Butler II was half as long and full of problems. Everything with the first season that made the story decent goes to the depths of hell with a half-assed continuation of plot. if you gave up before the ending, then I'll save you the trouble without spoilers... It all leads to an ending that makes no damn sense and will have you watching Black Butler II much less than the first season.
Black Butler II is available by Funimation. The Black Butler II OVA's are also available by Funimation and were released alongside Black Butler II.
With all that said, Black Butler II turned out to be a real disappointment as a followup to a decent series. It may have nice music and some really good-looking animation, but the Story and Character development and writing quality plunges the series into the depths of hell with it's half-assed plot and weak character development. speaking of characters, remember those familiar faces like Mey-rin, Bardroy, Tanaka and the bunch? You won't be seeing them much in this sequel, GOOD JOB CREATIVE STAFF! I'm sorry, I can't really recommend this sequel. Watch it if you want, but I can't guarantee you'll be satisfied with this continuation.
I give Black Butler II (Kuroshitsuji II) a 4.9 out of 10, It is NOT REALLY GOOD!
Feel free to leave a comment and Have a great day.
The second season of Kuroshitsuji was a fine season indeed. Overall, I’d give it a 9/10. The anime was great! The action and plot kept me interested, the music and animation were most delightful, and the characters (though not the greatest) were good as well.
The season starts off by tricking you into thinking that there will be new main characters, but it turns out that this is not the case. Due to that fact that it is sometimes difficult to have more than a few popular main characters, the new characters that were introduced in the second season were slightly more….irritatingly bothersome than returning characters. This made it difficult to ‘care for the character’ because you couldn’t really get close to them. In fact, you were neither surprised, nor upset if one of those particular characters were killed off. I found this to be, in terms of character development, rather disenchanting. In favor of the newer characters, I can say that they did further the plot along pretty nicely. They may have been annoying to some degree, but at least they served a somewhat meaningful purpose.
I liked the songs they chose for the story. The beginning theme song didn’t really change, but I liked the ending themes. Not only were they catchy, they fit in pretty well with the flow of the story. Since we’re on the subject of sound, I’ll take a moment to mention the voice actors. I watched the entire thing subbed, (because this season hasn’t been dubbed yet) and I must say that I liked the voice actors in the Japanese cast. Their voices were pleasant to listen to; there weren’t any particularly shrill or raspy voices, unless you include the voice of what is supposed to sound like a bubbly, 12 year old girl.
I say the animation was one of my favorite things about this anime. The time period is set in the Victorian era, so the clothes they wore (which sort of resembled the Gothic Lolita style of clothing) and the way they spoke intrigued me. The colors they used were tastefully vibrant and the fluidity of the animation was definitely something to be praised. If nothing else, I would’ve continued watching just for that.
As for the storyline and the plot, I was utterly disappointed in the way it ended. It left my mouth agape, my brow furrowed, and my fists clenched. I was not pleased. Since the ending for season 2 wrapped up the entire series, I was hoping for a bit of a bigger bang, or at least some satisfaction in closure, but I got neither. I give it a 9/10 though because even after all of that, I’d still be willing to watch it a multitude of times. Something in the scattered bits of dark humor and the way the characters related to one another (i.e. Sebastian and Ciel’s relationship, and so forth) managed to enrapture me. I would recommend it to anyone who likes anime. Kuroshitsuji FTW!