Black Butler II Episode #11 (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Release Date: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

With Ciel at stake, Sebastian and Claude must navigate an amusing labyrinth to save their respective master.

What They Say
Sebastian and Claude compete for the affections of their masters while attempting to navigate a treacherous labyrinth! Meanwhile, a struggle between two tortured souls rages deep within the mortal form of Ciel Phantomhive.

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Black Butler takes an amusing turn this episode as it puts Sebastian and Claude in competition with each other in a different way, one that has a decidedly video game feel to it. With Ciel off at the Clocktower where his mind contains the memories of both him and Alois, a trap has been set where the two butlers have to go through a labyrinth in order to reach him. Each stage of it has a place where they must get their card stamped to prove they made it through there by answering the questions and dealing with any particular challenge they may have. Things that seem obvious aren't since it's dealing with Alois' version of reality, and that puts Sebastian at a disadvantage, at least at first, until he can use Grell as a weapon of sorts by throwing him through doors.

The game is pretty heavily weighed towards Claude since it's all about Alois, but since the two young men are essentially sharing a mind right now, Ciel is able to start tweaking things along the way to give Sebastian a chance at moving forward throughout the maze. It's all fairly revelatory material that's likely been covered in the first season but is a bit fresher to me since I haven't seen that. Going through their pasts and little quirks help to flesh them out and it's amusing how some of what Ciel is able to slip into the game causes Sebastian to be amused in what he's being called, such as a silly goose with the ink stamp that he gets on a particular question.

A good chunk of time is given over to Hannah and her overly protective ways with Alois as we finally understand her true connection to him and to Alois' younger brother that died years earlier. Having this little drama play out while the butlers are progressing is good since it breaks things up a little bit and it gives Alois a chance to react to something that he didn't expect as he now understands what happened to his brother. All this uncertainly and new information puts a bit of strain on Alois who is already having a hard time controlling Ciel's body and pushing his mind down. Seeing the struggle the two have is pretty decent since it's not externalized in any way or done through a dreamscape kind of setting. It's just one young man grappling with two inner selves and practically clawing at himself at times to wrest away control.

In Summary:
Black Butler doesn't exactly do an info dump here, but it spends a lot of time in this episode bring out the past while showing the connections that it has between the characters. Hannah gets explore rather nicely as well, leading her to being more of a key player than I would have imagined based on her earlier role in the show. The butlers have some very good moments throughout the episode though as they go through the challenges, but it was watching the struggle that Ciel and Alois were going through to maintain control that was the most fun since it provided a fair bit of emotion and angst, something we don't see from most of the cast in general. The teasing of things continues pretty well here and I'm still curious about where it's all going to go.

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: B-
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 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