Tag Archives: Black Butler

Reviews of yesteryear: Kuroshitsuji II

Last week I looked at Kuroshitsuji. This week I’m looking at the sequel. What’s odd about Kuroshitsuji having a sequel is that the first series is complete. It tells the story of Sebastian and Ciel beginning, middle and end. Going into this, I have no idea how they could make a sequel, unless it’s some kind of spiritual successor. Well, let’s take a look at the series and find out how they handle it.

You can’t see it, but I’m face-palming right now. Given the quality of the first series, I gave them credit. I didn’t think they would go for a true sequel, but I was wrong. This series is a direct continuation of the first. With Ciel and Sebastian both making return appearances. Why, just why? The first series may have had an ending that was obvious and kind of rushed, but it was also suitable for the series. Why would you take a series with a pretty satisfying conclusion and add to it? That’s actually my biggest issue with the story in this series. It’s unnecessary. You have a young man named Alois Trancy with an impossibly talented butler. One evening they’re visited by a strange traveler covered in heavy clothes. The man is revealed to be Sebastian and he’s brought Ciel along in a briefcase. He steals something from the mansion and makes his getaway. I’m not going to give away the reasons behind all of this, but they’re kind of stupid. After that Ciel and Alois gain a lot of animosity for each other so that there can be a plot. Now, let’s start with the negatives, aside from it being an unnecessary addition. The first is that the retcon is very poorly handled and the plot that’s added in to explain it is weak. Then there’s the ending. It’s pretty terrible. The story itself is lazy. A lot of it is just devoted to the rivalry between Sebastian and Claude. The series does have some episodes devoted to Ciel, Sebastian and the rest of the characters from the first series that are entertaining. It also has some plot elements that have merit, but they aren’t really handled well enough to be as interesting as they could’ve been.

But at least the characters are still good, right? Well, kind of. Sebastian and Ciel are still good characters, although not nearly to the degree that they were in the first series, probably because they retread a lot of the same ground and development that they already covered with less competent writing behind it. Ciel’s staff still provides the same comic relief they did before, albeit less of it since they barely show up. On the downside, Grell reappears with the same problematic elements from the first series. Then we have the new characters. Alois, whose an obnoxious and very annoying brat with little personality aside from being a sociopath. We also have Claude whose incredibly dull. we also have Hannah, a maid in the Trancy household. When you learn what her motivations are the sheer stupidity will likely make your head hurt. We also get some triplet servants in the Trancy household. They have no personalities whatsoever.

The art is still well done. The character designs are still good, for the most part. The backgrounds are well done. The action sequences in this one really aren’t as good. Part of that is just that they involve a lot of awkward scene transitions.

The cast is still really good. Tamura Yukari, Hirano Aya, Sakamoto Maaya, Ono Daisuke and most of the other actors all give strong performances. Fukuyama Jun is still a weakness based solely on the fact that the character he’s portraying is ridiculously exaggerated. Mizuki Nana has the same problem, although she does a little better at putting some nuance into the performance in spite of it. Sakurai Takahiro doesn’t give his best performance either, largely due to his character having less emotional substance than a tapeworm.

The yuri factor is still a 1/10. there’s no yuri here.

You probably deduced this already, but I didn’t care for this one. It has some of the elements that made the first one great, but most of them are either weakened by idiotic contrivances and/or terrible new characters. My final rating is going to be a 4/10. It’s a sub-par piece that doesn’t stand well either on its own or as a continuation to the Kuroshitsuji. Next week, I’ll look at Usagi Drop. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is next on my request queue, but I’m not going to have time to finish all of it in time. So expect that on the 29th. This was originally posted on Gamespot on May 15th. For you guys, the Jojo review will be posted next week and Usagi Drop will be up tomorrow. 

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Reviews of yesteryear: Kuroshitsuji

Kuroshitsuji was written by Toboso Yana, published by Square-Enix and had an anime adaptation from A-1 Pictures, a studio that I have never watched an anime from. I’ve actually reviewed six more since this one: OreImo, Kuroshitsuji II, Shinsekai Yori, Sword Art Online, AnoHana and Valkyria ChroniclesSo, let’s take a look at the series and get a vague idea of what the studio is made of.

The story is pretty simple. A boy named Ciel Phantomhive, the orphaned son of a wealthy family, is on a quest to get revenge on his parents’ killers while making his business a success. Naturally, he sets up a cave hideout and puts on a garish costume after training his mind and body extensively… Wait, that’s a different orphaned son of a wealthy family. No, Ciel takes a more supernatural route. He makes a pact with a demon. The demon will serve as his butler and protect him until he has his revenge at which point Ciel’s soul will be forfeit. For all the serious story elements, the story itself has a pretty goofy tone. It’s one of those series that blends more serious content with heavy comedic elements. Which is risky since the approach can fail horribly with all kinds of tonal issues. Of course, it can also work pretty well. In Kuroshitsuji’s case, it works more often than not. There are some awkward shifts, but most of the individual story arcs keep a pretty consistent tone throughout and the changes are paced well enough that they don’t come off as stilted or awkward. One complaint I do have is that the climax is pretty rushed. There are basically two climactic scenes, one of which is a battle that gets a lot of build up, and they’re both crammed into the final episode without much spacing or time for the action to wind down. That being said, the story is mostly really good with some intriguing elements and nice twists.

Now we move onto the characters. There are some really good characters in this. Ciel has some great moments but the best character has to be Sebastian. He’s a very interesting character. There are a lot of facets to him that seem contradictory. He always seems to be in control, but he takes on a subservient role. He’s a very dark character, but he also has a clear sense of honour. In many ways he’s selfish but in others he’s kind of selfless. The facets all work together to make an intriguing character who has depth. That being said, not all of the characters in this are that good. Ciel has four other servants who are largely comic relief characters without that much in the way of developed personalities and there are some really problematic elements to Grell’s character.

The art in this is well done. The character designs are pretty unique and interesting. The action sequences look good and the backgrounds are nice. There are also some moments where the art is legitimately creepy.

The cast in this is amazing. You have Paku Romi, Ono Daisuke, Sakamoto Maaya, Yajima Akiko and a bunch of other highly skilled actors giving great performances. If there’s any weakness it’s Fukuyama Jun, not because he’s a bad actor, he was quite good in Bleach, Code Geass and Witch Hunter Robin, but because the way his character is written requires a lot of exaggeration that gets pretty grating. The music in this is quite superb as well.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s really no yuri here.

So, how does Kuroshitsuji fare overall? Well, it has some issues, but most of them aren’t too detrimental. The story is interesting and the disparate tones work surprisingly well together. There are some great characters, and they’re the ones we get to spend the most time with while the weaker characters are less prominent. The casting and art are really strong. So, I have to give it an overall score of 8/10. It’s a great anime and well worth the time. I’m honestly not sure how they managed to have another series with it. Find out next week when I look at Kuroshitsuji II.