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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: 15
Available 24 October 2011

What more could you want, after your parents have been murdered, but a demon butler. For Ciel Phantomhive, this is exactly what he gets in the form of Sebastian Michaelis, who performs the duties of butler, whilst at the same time helping Ciel solve crimes in Victorian England, all the time hopefully bringing Sebastian and Ciel closer to catching the killer of Ciel's parents. But there is no such thing as a free lunch, especially where demons are concerned and in return for Sebastian’s help, when the killers are finally caught Sebastian gets to eat Ciel’s soul...

Black Butler: Season One - Part Two (2008) is a supernatural comedy/thriller directed by Shinohara Toshiya and adapted from Yana Toboso’s original manga.

It’s a funny sort of show, part Sherlock Holmes, part demon story, all permeated with a ludicrous level of comedy. If nothing else the combination makes the show stand out; I’m just not convinced that it makes it successful.

The premise is pretty good; sell your soul to catch your parents killer. Once you have had your revenge/justice, depending on your moral stance, the demon get to eat your soul. So why is Ciel completely unconcerned that his butler is a rather charming and efficient butler? They spend many episodes working well together, even if you don’t get the feeling that anyone is that bothered about getting their finger out to find the killers. In truth if they did it would make for a very short and messy show, we allow the makers that small affectation.

So, this is the second part of season one, spread across two DVDs. It covers episode thirteen to twenty three, with another episode thrown in as a bonus, though you do get the feeling that this is a single box set which has been halved to increase revenue - the discs are numbered three and four.

All the stories follow a familiar format of Ciel, possibly the world’s smallest and youngest detective, being sent off on a case by Queen Victoria. A couple of episodes later and like any good Scooby-Doo episode the bad guys are bang to rights and everybody makes it home for tea. Only the last story departs from this format as the series originally ended with this season, so the story between Ciel and Sebastian had to be concluded one way or another.

The disc is presented in the same 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen as the first part of the season, with audio options for either an English DD5.1 or Japanese DD2.0 track, with subtitles. The English (well American) dub is pretty iffy, as it is predominantly dubbed by people who appear to have no idea what English people sound like.

There are some reasonable extras. On disc one your get a full length commentary for episode sixteen and on disc two you get the OVA: His Butler, Performer (25 min, 31 sec) as well as a reasonable full length commentary for episode twenty-one and the textless opening and closing song.

For all its faults the show did at least come to a satisfactory conclusion. Its above average production values meant that a shorter season two was commissioned, though I suspect this was on the strength of Sebastian’s character rather than Ciel's.


Charles Packer

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