Monday, December 27, 2010

Anime Review: Black Butler II

I think I've said it before, the Black Butler manga is a manga where I like some parts better than others and wouldn't mind owning it, as long as it was on an e-reader and not taking up my precious shelf space (and it would probably be cheaper). And I really didn't like the first anime, I thought it got just too convoluted and strange when compared to what the manga-ka was doing and just don't want to own it. But I wanted to give Black Butler II a go since it had new main characters (I actually like Ceil, I just thought I may enjoy new characters more) and Funimation was simulcasting it so no skin off my back. I'm not sure which of these anime I like better or worse actually but since I don't feel like buying either season now I don't think that's a huge problem.

Black Butler II also known as Kuroshitsuji II, one of the cases were fans prefer the Japanese name over the translated one for some unknown reason.
 Summary: Alois Trancy is also an earl at a young age, also has a tragic past, also works for the queen, and has also made a contract with a demon who serves him as a butler! Beyond that the similarities end, Alois is as twisted as Ceil is tragic and he's fairly tragic too and pretty darn creepy too considering his first thought upon seeing Ceil's dead body was that he wanted it...

The Good: Well, the staff here did the impossible, they made a second season that actually works with the first. And considering the how the first season ended that's pretty darn impressive, and they did produce an amazing twist for this ending which I don't think anyone saw coming. This season also had less camp than the first season, I never liked the one-off episodes that were meant to be more humorous than anything else and this show makes use of almost all of it's 12 episodes.

The Bad: So I don't like the new kid, Alois, at all. I did like him towards the very end of the series but it's not good that I wanted Ciel back and nothing to do with the new characters (bad because remember I didn't like where the first series went either). To be honest, I'm not sure if I like the ending or not to the series. The staff seems to have had a bit of fun with the fangirl's minds (which I don't mind), but for me to accept an ending it has to be foreshadowed, hinted at, or just plain logical for the story at hand and I'm not sure this ending fit any of those things. I suppose it's a little logical but it was so out there that I still just can't believe the staff even thought of it.

The Art: My first thought is "oh yeah the art was great!" and then I remember that there were some very strange and very CGI looking bits in the series (like, all the horses and considering this is the late Victorian era and there were no cars this is a problem). Some parts were very good like both of the OPs and the numerous fight scenes in general. And then you had that very odd CGI moment, I expect most of the fans were drooling over the characters at this point but since I wasn't it was pretty noticeable.

The Music: I think I may be starting to recognize J-pop-/J-rock bands since the OP sounded familiar to me before I saw the credits for The Gazette on it and I know I've heard them a few times before. Liked the song, even if Funimation didn't give a translation*, didn't like the ED as much. That could also be because I liked the animation that went with the OP while I found that the art for the ED was rather generic (erm, generic as in exactly what you should expect from the series, slightly different definition).

It's certainly not a bad series, I think I do prefer the overall story for the first series but like the way this one was executed better, but it just wasn't for me. Heck, I was thinking at some point this summer "Gee, why aren't there fanservice shows for girls? I wonder what those would be like..." and then realized that Black Butler was in that category and all the other examples my friends or I could come up with were stories I didn't like. So, as odd as it sounds, I think I'll avoid stories that are girl targeted (as in, filled with hot guys to draw the female viewers in, I'll still watch/read all the shojo and josei I can find) since I don't find them as satisfying.

*I saw a post recently on CR which made it sound like the Japanese company had to approve the translation of the OP before it could be added in, that would certainly explain why almost none of the simulcasts I've seen have translated lyrics.