To start off, this is an original story in the anime adaptation and it is not based on any of the manga. It’s also non-canon from the events of the anime and was written by the original author, Yana Toboso.
The story takes place a year later after the first season ends where Ciel Phantomhive disappears with Sebastian after a massive fire destroyed large sections of London.
Season 2 introduces brand new characters that are exclusive to this story and not the manga. Another character, Robert Knox, a member of the Grim Reapers also makes his first anime appearance in this season and is included in later mangas.
Enter Alois Trancy, who is the polar opposite of Ciel Phantomhive. Where Ciel is cold, quiet and very focused on the task at hand, Alois Trancy is playful, openly sadistic and is very childish. Alois’s demon butler Claude Faustus is apathetic and less than enthusiastic about anything. Claude also has a demented creepy side to him despite his apathy.
Alois, like Ciel Phantomhive, has other assistants. Hannah, the maid is quiet, meek and submissive. His mostly mute servants are efficient and performs any task flawlessly. Ciel’s assistants, except Sebastian are clumsy and serve for the main purpose of comedic humor. The servants for the Trancy household are much more serious and rule oriented than the Phantomhive’s.
I liked the rivalry dynamics between the Trancy family and the Phantomhive family. In Claude, Sebastian has met his equal as both demon butlers can perform any task, no matter how difficult it is. Season 2 delves more deeply into the relationship dynamics between the demonic butler/maid and the ones they hold a Faustian Contract to. Ciel and Sebastian relationship is formed from mutual respect for each other's goals. Alois and Claude relationship is the opposite. Claude doesn’t really have any feelings of personal connection to Alois, but Alois has a deep attachment towards Claude and he cannot stand being away from him at all.
There are many plot twists and turns in the story that make things unpredictable. The convoluted paths of the story can make it confusing and out of touch. It sometimes even leads to unnecessary complications to the characters plans, and makes finding solutions to problems too difficult. The story also dropped many plot points while bringing new plotlines. Characters could even act outside of their established character in certain parts of the story, like it’s not normal for Sebastian to make mistakes especially smaller ones. Viscount is changed from a kinky BDSM playboy doctor into a comedic happy go lucky comic relief who serves little purpose in the story. He is also very melodramatic and would often exaggerate things and sometimes even cry tears of joy just for dramatic effect.
Much of the main plot of the first season story is dropped. In addition, many of the same characters return from Season 1 and they carry on as if past events never happened. The story builds up events that you think is going to matter later on only for them to be discarded later on. There are many unexplained parts in the story as well. Claude and Sebastian have apparently met before the series started but it is never fully explained how they have met. This makes the story disjointed and unsatisfying.
Ciel has amnesia in this version of the series which is the major contributing factor in throwing out the majority of established plot points in the first season. He often is being reassured by other characters that everything is perfectly fine now and nothing really seems to be unusual or out of place.
The new character Alois is really bratty. While he does have a sympathetic backstory, he comes off as really arrogant and he treats his servants even worse than Ciel does. In one scene on the first episode after Hannah has a small mishap, Alois gouged out one of her eyes with his finger. When Alois was hosting a costume party in order to get information on Ciel Phantomhive, he forced his maid Hannah to strip down. Claude Faustus does not have much of a personality appears as a flat two-dimensional character. Many supporting characters from the first season are also underutilized as well in lieu of the newer cast. Many of the cast do not get any form of character development save for Alois Trancy.
Ciel is slightly taller than he was a year earlier. The world design of Victorian London looks really faithful once again. I like the visual designs for the new characters like Ronald Knox, Claude Faustus, Alois Trancy and the maid Hannah
This season count is 12 episodes and it tries to fill in many plot points as possible. The story is well paced and takes its time into explaining events. The frequent action scenes in the show are good and they are much more violent than before. The visual art style and the animation is mostly the same as in the previous season of the series, it is smooth and almost flawless. The CGI is much more prominent and it feels like an update as well. There are brand new pieces of music in this season with the song for the opening and the ending themes being a standout. Some of the songs from the previous season makes a return.
Season 2 uses an overarching narrative to tell a bigger story and each episode focuses on the Trancy vs Phantomhive rivalry. Episodes in the show gets more and more bizarre as time goes by. One episode was about Ciel investigating several cases of recently married women being killed by spontaneous combustion. The amount of adult content in the show has increased as well there is more violence and more adult oriented themes in the episodes.
Fanservice is really prevalent in the show you either are going to really like it or be turned off by it. I for one don’t mind fanservice most of the time but it feels forced in just to appeal to the YAOI fans.
In addition to sexual content there is also themes of sexual abuse and child prostitution which is unnerving and not meant for the faint of heart.
Like in the first season of the show it has tonal balance issues but there is much less comedy in this season.
The black comedy while still very funny can be really out of place at times. Viscount who had little importance to the story was just there as comic relief while Sebastian and Claude were fighting each other in different competitions. I like the dark atmosphere the show has and with its adult rating it can do even more now to make the viewer feel unnerved. The story elements of mystery is also still there and it is engaging.
There is often filler episodes that do not relate to the main plot of the story and because of this it often detracts from it.
In fact, the show in its early episodes builds its plot through filler episodes. You don’t even know what is really going on since it throws you right in the beginning of something outside of the main storyline and they don’t take the time to explain what has happened during the events of the last show.
It does pick up the pace later on in the middle of the series where the story is more focused on stopping the Trancy family.
There is also a 6 OVAs which serve as a side stories to the second season. There was a self-parody of making a Black Butler episode to a Black Butler adaptation of Alice In Wonderland.
Because of the short length of the show, the ending is abrupt and it feels anti climatic as there are some loose ends that are left unexplained.
Voice acting for the English dub is well done. The voice actor of Claude Faustus really captures the apathetic and dull tone of his personality. All of the voice cast from the first season returns to reprise their respective roles.
Alois sounds like is supposed to be a sadistic playful brat. His voice much more upbeat in a twisted way and hearing him can be unnerving.
Season 2 is fairly decent show despite its shortcomings in storytelling and is not as good as season 1.
It gets 3 stars
If you enjoy Black Butler and fiction that is set in Victorian Gothic London, you could still find some enjoyment from this series.