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DVD Review

DVD cover

Black Butler
Season One - Part Two


Starring (voice): Daisuke Ono, Maaya Sakamoto, Akiko Yajima and Emiri Katou
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 15 August 2011

When Ciel Phantomhive’s parents are brutally murdered, he inherits great wealth built on the making of toys. But this child of Victorian aristocracy wants much more than this, he wants revenge. To that end he makes a bargain with a demon, Sebastian Michaelis, who promises to defend him, as his butler, until such time as Ciel has avenged himself on the people who killed his parents. When he has completed his revenge, the demon is then allowed to eat his soul...

Dark Butler (2008-2009) is a fantasy/comedy anime directed by Shinohara Toshiya and written by Mari Okada. Like many before, the show was adapted from an original manga - written and illustrated by Yana Toboso. The original series ran for twenty-four episodes with an OVA. Here the first part is presented on a two disc DVD set.

Disc one holds the first seven episodes of the show, with the added bonus of a full length commentary on episodes one and seven. Disc two has episodes eight to twelve with a bonus episode, The Story So Far, with narration from Tanaka, the disc also contains a BECCA Musician Profile, of one of the title songs singers, and the inevitable textless opening and closing song.

Both discs get a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer from a native PAL source. The quality of the show is a little above the average, which looks good with the sharp and bright picture quality.

Although the premise would suggest some form of arc to the season, the truth is that many of the stories are stand-alone affairs. Ciel has inherited not only the wealth from his father but also the mantle of defender of the realm, for Queen Victoria. So, many of the stories have Ciel and Sebastian off into the grimy parts of London to root out evil, an odd profession for a demon, but at least it gives him licence to kill.

As well as a demonic butler, Ciel mansion has a motley crew of staff who provide much of the slapstick humour of the show, although I was hard pressed to find much of it funny, though I will concede that this is probably aimed at a younger audience, as the violence is mostly muted throughout.

The worst thing about the show is the English dub. This is starting to get a bit of a bugbear for me, having to listen or read American interpretations of English and mostly London accents, which seem to have been ripped off from Mary Poppins, where only two accents existed, the toff and Dick Van Dyke, neither of which have ever been representative of how English people actually sound. The point is that it is pretty awful, this Dub is for Americans, Brits would do best to avoid.

That said, there is something engaging about Ciel and Sebastian and as individual episodes the show is eminently watchable.


Charles Packer

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