Kuroshitsuji II is Moronic

What. The. Fuck.

See that weirdo licking chess pieces in the picture above? Honestly, I could just leave this post at that picture – it really sums up Kuroshitsuji II so well.

(TL;DR version at bottom of page)

Excuse me. Sorry – it should’ve summed up K-II so well, except… it didn’t! The first episode would trick you into thinking that this sequel is basically an entirely different story altogether, with the only thread connecting the two being the fact that its about a Victorian-era rich kid and his demonic butler… and with a healthy dose of creepy shoutacon just to make it all go down a little more smoothly. And, that would’ve honestly been for the better, as Alois, he of the chess piece-licking tendencies, is such a fucking freak that he really could’ve carried the show all by himself. In fact, he also would’ve done a fantastic job of illustrating one of the massive problems with the original season – Ciel just really isn’t that great of a character; in fact, he’s pretty bland and dull. Definitely not the kind of character who can carry a show.

Actually, let me revise that slightly – Alois starring in his own show would’ve hinted that Ciel wasn’t a very good lead in his own show. But bringing Ciel back and having him share the screen with Alois makes it painfully clear how poorly constructed a character he is. While Ciel looks quietly pissed off, Alois is spinning around with psychotic grins plastered on his face, merrily gouging people’s eyes out and licking people’s ears. That’s some pretty stiff competition.

Bringing Ciel back also makes Kuroshitsuji II more or less completely fucking retarded. The first season wasn’t that hot; I’ve commented before about how the highs were great, but the lows were horrific and also vastly outweighed the high points in that season. The finale redeemed the entire endeavor somewhat, as it ended on a very strong note. K-II basically takes that strong note, chucks it out the window, throws a roman candle on top of it, and then pisses on the ashes. No, really. And they do it in such a head-bangingly horrible fashion, too. So you thought Ciel’s soul got nom’d at the end of the first season and about half the cast died? LULZ JK!!1 Look, now Ciel’s on a date with the shrieky Elizabeth, and they’re looking for a stag! And Sebastian is sparkling! So much fun!!!

Ugh.

Again, though, K-II basically does what the first season did before it – a whole lot of shit, with a few diamonds scattered throughout it. I’m slightly tempted to say that it has more good points than the previous iteration, but I’m not willing to fully commit to that since its been a while since I saw the first season and I have absolutely no desire to revisit it. Any improvements I attribute fully to the presence of completely insane Alois, who does a great job of bringing the crazy. No wonder Ciel tries to kill him! He realized who was the better character!

K-II also did a great job of not just bringing back the rampant misogyny of the first season, but turning up by a factor of about… hmm… five. We’ve got another woman-turned-criminal because of love or babies or something. Not only that, though, this time the woman gets to be subjected to being called a sow the entire time she’s running around lighting people on fire. Oh, and the people she originally attacks? All women. Lovely. There’s also a former prostitute who gets needlessly shot in the head.

The most brutal on-screen violence, though, is reserved for Hannah, Alois’s maid, who gets her eye gouged out by Alois. She also gets strangled, is pinned to a tree via chainsaw through her chest, and is regularly hit and thrown to the ground by other characters in non-combat situations.

As for the rest of the women: Ran Mao remains basically a fanservice doll, Elizabeth is still obnoxious and useless, and Lady Red is still dead (the character last season who got a chainsaw buried in her chest). Other female characters just exist to shake their boobs around more or less.

Actually, I saw a criticism by someone of the fact that people complained about female fanservice in K-II, saying that the folks who complained about cleavage were the same ones thrilling to shirtless shots of male characters. Guess what? Men as a general population have not been subjected to thousands of years of oppression, and they continue to dominate the world’s society. So, nope, its actually not even remotely the same. Nice try, though – good job tearing a page straight from the books of the male empowerment movements. Maybe you can go climb on your roof and refuse to come down until a woman agrees to make you dinner for your next trick. I hear that one works pretty well.

I will say this, though – Hannah might get tossed around and abused a bunch, but she ends up having basically outsmarted everyone else in the damn show. So while the misogyny is much more palpable in K-II, at the same time it does a great job of making Hannah pretty kick-ass ultimately. However, that doesn’t really wipe out the fact that the only male character subjected to brutality on-screen is Alois, and this in a show where the core cast is all male.

Let me make a comparison – the violence in Queen’s Blade is not inherently misogynistic (although the show is), because the cast is largely female, so of course it will be female characters who get harmed (the key word here is ‘inherently’; we could have a longer argument about whether or not it is actually misogynistic, but I’m not really interested in doing so). The violence in a show such as Ga-Rei-Zero is not inherently misogynistic because there is equal opportunity brutality taking place – female and male characters are fighting each other, and hurting each other in fairly equal amounts. K-II, on the other hand, has only one regularly appearing female character, and yet she takes more damage than anyone else in the show, and more than everyone else in the show combined. She also is the only character who is regularly abused on-screen. Other characters do get hurt, yes, but it happens off-screen – when Alois is killed, for example, the shot shifts to a distant view and we only see that he has been mortally wounded when the camera closes in and shows blood running down his torso and legs, the injury not visible from the vantage point.

Speaking of Alois, I may as well take K-II to task for the disturbing fanservice involving both Alois and Ciel. I honestly can’t analyze this as well as I can the misogyny, mainly because it just made my skin crawl. I really dislike lolicon stuff, and I also find myself equally repulsed by shoutacon content in shows. You want to show a demon butler with his shirt off to make the audience squeal? Fine. But all the creepy innuendo involving our underage protagonist and antagonist, all the moments where the camera lingers while panning over them while they are being dressed by their butlers, all the moments when the camera zooms in on these barely pubescent bodies… its creepy, and its gross. I don’t care that they aren’t real – its still the sexualization of children, and its deeply unsettling.

Anyway.

I come away from K-II feeling about the same way after I finished Kuroshitsuji: deeply divided. Again, the good content is very good, but the bad content is beyond atrocious. There really is no middle ground here, no wholly inoffensive and bland moments. And yet, like I said before, the entire premise of the show is simply stupid. While I could manage to suspend disbelief by the fourth or fifth episode and accept the stupidity of the very grounding of the show, after it all ended that sensation of “Wait, this was dumb.” lingered strongly. Which is too bad, since K-II’s second half was actually overall legitimately good (overall because Grell plays a larger role in the second half, and he sucks, and also because scene-killing moments were still happening with a devastatingly high frequency – you can’t really play dark, serious music and then throw sparkles all over a bishounen butler in the same scene if you’re not doing a comedy to begin with). And having a success rate of seven out of twelve episodes (the first episode was good) certainly pegs it pretty high above the first season’s rate (uh… eight or nine of twenty-four).

All of which is to say… you should watch this if you’re interested in watching any Kuroshitsuji and haven’t seen anything yet. Just ignore the first season, this’ll take less time and the stupidity factor is less if you haven’t seen the conclusion to the first season. It also has a better pay-off rate, as I said. The only other reasons to watch this is if you really dig Kuroshitsuji (I’ll try not to pass too harsh a judgment on you), or if you just have nothing else to do. Alois is such a freakasaurus rex that it’ll make it somewhat worth your time. But K-II is more or less a repeat of the first season’s squandering of potential. The second half is decent, and the final three episodes are quite good (moron moments aside), but it really isn’t worth slogging through the dumb crap nor is it ultimately worth having to see one of the worst characters ever during the good episodes. So, no, not exactly a ringing endorsement you’re seeing here. I remain thoroughly baffled by the popularity of this series.

TL;DR version: Alois overwhelms Ciel as a character, which weakens the show overall, there’s lots of creepy-ass shoutacon fanservice, and K-II hates on women even more than the previous season managed to.

EDIT: For more on how K-II sucks about it’s women click here, as Caddy C gets more in-depth about some of the other female characters in the show.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Kuroshitsuji II is Moronic

  1. Caddy C says:

    Ooh, ooh! I love how sometimes you so clearly sum up my feelings on a show and so much better than I could’ve! I also love that you continued it, so I didn’t have to 😛 I didn’t make it past ep 7 or so …

    I wrote a review at another site and said:
    … Enter Alois Trancy and Claude Faustus. Fandom geared up to hate the duo, and then a funny thing happened. The new characters were somewhat interesting! Alois is not simply Ciel 2.0; he is bat-shit insane, with the casual cruelty of a child and the psychotic laughter of, well, a psychopath.
    …Instead of rebooting the series or explaining away the end of the first season, we got a tease. By season two’s second episode it’s clear that the old gang is back for more of the same. Die-hard Sebastian and Ciel fans will be pleased, but I’m actually disappointed. Black Butler could have taken a risk and gone in a new direction while preserving the gutsy end to the first season, but instead settled on a gimmick to bring back the fan favorites. Alois and Claude may stick around, but Ciel’s running the show. I just hope he can do something more interesting than flood management in the coming episodes.

    From: http://www.ani.me/zine/anime/article/55/

    I was actually totally on board with the Alois crazy train, but then Sebby & Ciel came back and the whole thing got muddled. Like the first season, there are some things this show gets right, but the things it gets wrong are just so much worse! Frustrating!

    I also agree with you about the shota-bait. I despise lolicon and this is no different – visually implying sexual acts with children is gross no matter the gender of the child. I’m all for sexy Sebastian, and a little bit of a tease is fine, but some of the promo art for K-II makes me gag.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I’m alright with the visual implication of sexual acts involving children BUT ONLY if it actually has real meaning to the plot and characterization. So, the implication of Alois’s sexual abuse is okay, because it isn’t there to thrill the audience – its there to demonstrate why Alois is so completely psychotic. His weird seductive moments also work because they help further the fact that he is a deeply disturbed individual. Contrast with the seductive actions perpetuated by the little girl in Kodomo no Jikan, where the audience isn’t meant to interpret her behavior as evidence of abuse but as something erotic and titillating. Also contrast with the creepy panning of the camera in Kuroshitsuji II.

      The second half is better than the first half if only because the crazy train really picks up steam and adds Hannah to it as well. And since Hannah then outsmarts the other two butlers and robs them both of their dinners, more or less. But she definitely falls on the crazy end of the spectrum.

      • Caddy C says:

        Of course that’s also why plots that feature other terrible acts may creep me out but I don’t object to them – with Alois, I didn’t see enough of his abuse background to tell (except for the first episode, where it was very much implied but not shown). But things like this:

        are taking the Seb/Ciel thing a bit far. I get it if it’s Sebastian preying on Ciel’s soul – that’s a valid plot reason to have Sebastian towering over him. But to use it to be titillating is bit gross.

        I’m glad that Hannah gets her revenge in the end. I may have to watch it with my nose held just for that. I did want to like KII, I really did, but …. sigh.

      • adaywithoutme says:

        Yeah, I just kind of feel like if you bothered to watch the first seven, you may as well watch the last five. Sebastian gets screwed over big time, which was hilarious.

        Ok, I clicked on the link, and the sad thing is, my first thought was, “Why is there a Gundam Wing reference here?” Only after that did I look over at the picture itself and go, “Ew.”

        There is more background on Alois’s abuse in episode eight or nine, I forget which, which is extremely creepy and also demonstrates pretty well how screwed up the kid is.

        Oh, and while Hannah does get some revenge in the end, she also ends up showing that she, too, is totally bonkers. So not exactly full-on empowerment… but it does redeem her character a bit.

  2. Chris says:

    Honestly, I can’t even think of that many ups in this anime. Not even crazy ass Alois kept me entertained because if I had to see him lick his shouta lips one more time… I obviously agree completely with your shouta comments.

    I view Hannah only as an excuse for fanservice which is awkward cause they seem to forget Kuroshitsuji’s gender demographic is primarily female. And apparently they think these females want some shouta action.

    “So while the misogyny is much more palpable in K-II, at the same time it does a great job of making Hannah pretty kick-ass ultimately.”

    I did not see any kick ass Hannah at all sadly. I wanted so badly to not see her as a waste of space semi female lead like every female in Kuroshitsuji! It’s frustrating! I sadly didn’t even think her twist counter drama was good at all. I felt like it was a rushed excuse for character development and a reason for why they abused her so much. It felt a bit like a cop out for me. She discovers LOVE~ and trying to show how she’ll struggle through whatever cruelty in the name of LOVE~ (insert Sailor Moon pose). In fact, they even justified Alois actions because of LOVE~ for Claude just so in the end Hannah and Alois can discover LOVE~ in each other.

    Ugh, Grell makes a better female lead then any of the actual women.

    All-in-all, this show was a major disappointment. ):

    • adaywithoutme says:

      See, I didn’t exactly take the role of ‘love’ to actually be that – I took it more that all these folks thought they’d found love, but it was just more of them being fucked up. I really didn’t take the fates of Alois, Luka, or Hannah to be particularly good; it just struck me that their profound delusions were continuing on even in the ‘afterlife’ (with the exception of Luka – he was misguided, but the love he felt for his brother seemed legit). Alois thought he loved Claude, and he thinks he loves Hannah, but its just the desperation of a crazy boy. He’s just terrified of being alone, which isn’t at all the same as loving someone.
      Hannah thinks she loves Alois, but she was bummed out over having eaten Luka’s soul and so sought out his elder brother to eat his, too. Her blithe acceptance of brutality from Alois confirms to me that she’s nuts, and that her notion of a happy afterlife for all of them is crazy as well – we last see her curled up by Claude’s bloody corpse, after all. There is zero indication that they somehow all manage to exist in some kind of shangri-la.

      As for kick-ass, I think I probably could’ve phrased it better – I meant moreso the fact that she outwitted and screwed over both Claude and Sebastian. She gets Sebastian to do her own dirty work in getting rid of Claude, and then prevents Sebastian from getting what he wants (admittedly at the behest of Alois). I count her regeneration of her own eye under this, though, as well as the fact that she survived the chainsaw attack.

      I really don’t see how Grell makes a better female lead than any of the other women – he’s pretty much defined by his lust for Sebastian, and being crazy. He suffers abuse from his ‘beloved’, Sebastian, almost every time he appears, yet continues to gush about him and follow him around. How does this make him much different from Hannah?

Comments are closed.