Region: 2 - UK
Length: 450 minutes
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Fans of the deranged escapades of Sebastian and Ciel will be perversely delighted by a new season of demonic adventures. Claude exists only to serve his young master, Alois: a boy who no doubt carries a dark secret.
The second session of Black Butler picks up some time after the cliff-hanger of the first season, in which demonic Sebastian was moments away from claiming his master's treasured soul. As the narrative timeline is not linear, there is odd feeling of displacement in the earlier episodes, almost akin to emerging from deep sleep in an unfamiliar place. The balance of Sebastian's finely ordered world has been shunted off its axis. Ciel lies in a lifeless state of eternal sleep, which locks away the desirable (and delectable) soul within his corporeal casket and far beyond Sebastian's clutches.
The stage is set and new players are introduced to the deadly game. Demon and lord are pitched like for like against the wild and warped Alois Trancy, a boy who – like Ciel – has sold his soul in order to command an powerful servant. His Butler Claude is a dark and humourless entity who hungers only for a worthy soul to devour. New additions to the supporting cast are the servants of the Trancy estate – the most enchanting of which is the mysterious and (seemingly masochistic) voluptuous maid Hannah.
All of the original cast (who managed to survive the first season) make their way back to the screen for more adventures.
When I had seen the promotional artwork for Black Butler II, I was sceptical about the introduction of another young lord and demonic butler to the mix. At first glance, it seemed to be a just an unimaginative copy of the Sebastian and Ciel formula, however, Alois, Claude and the Trancy servants are not cookies cut from the same dough as the Phantomhives. They are complimentary treats to be savoured and sampled alongside the original course. Their aggressive interventions in the lives of Ciel and Sebastian add a great depth of new flavour to satiate even the most picky of viewers. Their addition truly takes the adventure to new and unexpected heights.
As a fan of the original series, I can say that Black Butler II outclasses season one easily. The quality of the animation (with the exception of the CG horses) is pretty spectacular and the events are exciting and on the kind of grand scale that you might expect from a cinematic release.
The collection also comes with the bonus OVAs, which includes the rather disappointing Ciel in Wonderland (which cannot even be redeemed by the appearance of Grell as the Cheshire Cat). The gems in the mix of OVAs are the background stories of the Shinigami William T. Spears and the supporting story of Alois Trancy.
Overall this is a remarkable sequel that is sure to satisfy most fans and even entertain newcomers with its action, class and impeccable style.