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DVD Review

DVD cover

Black Butler
The Complete 2nd Season and OVA Collection


Starring (voice): Daisuke Ono, Maaya Sakamoto, Akiko Yajima and Emiri Katou
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: 15
Available 16 July 2012

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 is a supernatural comedy/thriller directed by Shinohara Toshiya, for the A-1 Pictures Studio and adapted from Yana Toboso’s original manga.

The premise of the show had wrapped within the narrative the seeds of its own doom; the show only makes any sense while Ciel moves closer to his parent’s killers. If the process takes too long you would have to look at the small print of his agreement with Sebastian, to see if there is a ‘useless devil’ clause which gets him out of the whole thing. Possibly the writer and illustrator Toboso didn’t think that the format would prove so successful that the main reason for the two characters being together would have to be side-lined, or in the case of season two, completely negated by a narrative trick.

So we find that the show, which was never properly concluded, moves into its second season, with its strange mix of detective novel, Victoriana and fantasy. Overall, the mix works well, probably helped by the strong relationship between the two principle characters. Even though we thought we saw Sebastian eat Ciel’s soul at the close of season one, it appears that the intervention of Alois and his own version of a freaky butler Claude Faustus have other plans for Ciel, which may involve saving his soul.

The season, as a whole, is a bit of a disappointment compared to season one, with less episodes to play with the show wastes almost a third of the episodes on standalone chase stories, before settling into a continuous plot. The scope of the show appears to have restricted, from audaciously destroying cities, laying waste to all kinds of sacred cows, the focus come down to a demonic costume drama. The show looks as beautiful as ever, but the visual splendour cannot hide the paucity of narrative complexity which marked the first season.

Season two is presented as a three DVD set, with disc three containing the six OVA’s, the season is fairly short, running to only twelve episodes. There are fill length commentaries for episodes one, with Luci Christian and Jason Douglas and twelve with Brina Palencia and J. Michael Tatum.

You have audio options for either an English 5.1 or the Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles.

Extras are fairly generous for an anime release, you get a full length commentary for OVA 3 with Ian Sinclair, Outtakes (3 min, 10 sec), Trailers for season one (1 min) and two (1 min 29 sec) and textless songs for Shiver (1 min, 26 sec), Bird (1 min, 26 sec) and Kagayaku Sora no Sbijima ni wa (1 min, 27 sec).


Charles Packer

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