Black Butler II Episode #08 (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Release Date: Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Key elements of the back story are finally explained, but is it enough to make us care deeply?

What They Say
A series of haunting flashbacks revisit the tragic events of the night Claude and Alois first met. As their story unfolds, a devilish partnership is forged, and their unholy interest in Sebastian and Ciel is finally explained!

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Alois in a significant amount of pain after his encounter with Ciel, he's struggling with it and going in and out of consciousness a fair bit. While Hannah offers to help him, he's in a state where only Claude can provide what he needs and he's becoming desperate. As the pain washes over him, his mind starts to slip back towards the past and we go to when he was a younger child and has quite the haunting tragedy occur. While going out to the river with his younger brother, they come across bodies floating down the river and a fire further upstream that has killed a lot of people, mostly those who he considered were cruel and mean towards them. Tragic though it may be, the two highlight the issues they have and their youth by dancing and being excited about it.

Alois' descent into darkness has him taken in by Trancy who is quite the disturbing old man who sees Alois as someone that he can totally lust after and savor every inch of. Alois himself is using him of course, urged on by the shadows that speak to him, with Claude being the one to highlight that Sebastian is the one who wiped out Alois' village. This comes close to the same time as the death of Alois' father and it puts him in an interesting position for dealing with things now. The information given to Alois when he's older and in control of the Trancy estate has him set for vengeance completely on Ciel as we see how Claude is using him for his own goals.

This bit of exploration of the past helps to show part of why Alois is as cracked as he is and the events that caused it. Claude himself is still the more interesting of the two in a way because he's so subservient to Alois yet is the one that is actually in control and manipulates events in a way to his advantage. There are a number of fairly cinematic scenes here that show us Alois in a variety of states, from passionate to weakened as well as abused, but none of it carries any serious emotional weight to it. The show jumps around so many times that the larger narrative does not flow well and while it reveals things, it does it in a way that felt more like it was pushing me away than drawing me in.

In Summary:
Black Butler made Alois my favorite character when it started and then got back to him later in a way that made me like him even more. He has a certain flair for the crazy that I just adored. Getting more on his back story was definitely something I was looking forward to, but their method of bringing it out just didn't work all that well and it left his past less than interesting and fairly disjointed. For whatever the reason, the show feels like it went a bit off the rails with this episode in its execution and I didn't care for the way things came to a conclusion either, as it potentially kills a certain aspect of my interest in it. Still, I'm curious to see what it has in mind and how far it will go to tell the story so it has its hooks in me in general, just a bit less tightly than before.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: C-
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 24
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Black Butler